paloma elsesser on why there's no fashion week like new york's

The model tells i-D about her friendship with Eckhaus Latta, fashion's ever increasing diversity, and why she can't be bothered to go out.

by Jack Sunnucks
22 March 2019, 8:13pm

“I’m finding going out less and less rewarding,” laughs Paloma Elsesser when asked how she copes with being one of New York’s busiest models. “Just because I have shit to do in the morning, which really depresses me!” Since her debut for Pat McGrath’s namesake line, Elsesser has become increasingly in demand both on the runway and in front of the camera, walking biannually for friends Eckhaus Latta, becoming a front-row regular, and appearing on the cover of i-D (among a host of publications). With this in mind, we thought Elsesser would be great to appear in our latest film, The New New York, celebrating the designers and the ever-changing dynamic of New York fashion week.

“I think New York has really been at the forefront of diversifying what makes fashion week,” she says a few weeks after shooting the film. “When I look at people who are pushing gender forward, and are representing the identity in New York, it is no longer a thin white woman. Truthfully, you know, it's not.” It now feels like the world (of fashion, at least) looks to the shows in New York in a way they previously didn’t. The city’s always been a hotbed of innovation for sportswear and wearable fashion, but it perhaps wasn’t seen as pushing the envelope like other cities. That’s changed with the rise of designers like Telfar and Eckhaus Latta, who laid a path for younger creators who care about making clothes for people who look like them. Or, as Elsesser laughingly puts it, “There's no women that look like me in any shows in Paris.”

Chief among her supporters has been Eckhaus Latta, which have Elsesser walk every season. “I feel so included in the process,” the model says of her work with Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta. “I mean shows for me are, I'm not going to lie to you, quite stressful. For every girl, whether she is a classic model, or me, people are running around, there are new people who have no basic humor that you can enjoy sharing with them... Plus, I'm like, the only plus-size model in the show. It's almost, too much attention.” Indeed — backstage can be a fraught place whatever you look like, without the pressure of standing out. But Eckhaus Latta do it differently, which one feels as their models walk the runway. There’s a serenity that sets them apart from the usual frantic scene. “I felt like every person in that room is a friend to a degree. I don't get so anxious, I don't feel I have to prove to a bunch of people who don't really want me there. So that's why, no matter what, I prioritize working for them, because they make me feel safe and they make so many, all of the individuals in the show feel safe.”

“They ask, ‘how do you feel? You know? That's not like a thing that gets asked to girls. [You get told] ‘Put on the garment and just like walk,’ and then they’re talking about you like you're not there. In fact, the last outfit that I wore for the Eckhaus Latta show was different when I first tried it on, and [I said] it should be longer. To be involved in that process is such a blessing, and I feel incredibly lucky and grateful to work with people who have vision to also have morals.” Designers, while brilliant, aren’t often described as particularly moral. Elsesser laughs. “Yes. Which is a crazy thing to be surprised by.”

Eckhaus Latta
New York Fashion Week
Paloma Elsesser