point of you: arianna valbrun
i-D asked our readers across the USA for their point of view on beauty. Arianna Valbrun tells us about Afro Futurism, looking to her ancestors, and why people of color can be goths too.
Photography Micaiah Carter. Styling Shawn Lakin. Hair Kendall Dorsey. Makeup Raisa Thomas.
Earlier this year, i-D asked our readers across the USA for their point of view on beauty, asking them to submit stories to us that encapsulated what the future might look like. The six winners then came to New York to be shot by photographer Micaiah Carter, and tell us all about what informs their worldview. Here, Arianna Valbrun tells us about Afro Futurism, looking to her ancestors, and why people of color can be goths too.
Tell us about your submission for Point of You.
I started with the letter A, my name is Ariana. I take a lot of pride in my name, and if not the actual name, just pride in being who I am. I wrote the A to Z and i-D liked it, I guess.
How did your beauty look came to be, when did you start experimenting with beauty?
So, growing up, I was always in charity shops and thrift stores because I didn't grow up with a whole lot of money. So it was just always a natural thing to just go to the thrift store and experiment and buy what I could find. That definitely helped me create my personal style, just because when you go to the thrift store, there's not always name brand things, you have to just experiment and actually like the clothes for liking them, not liking them because they have the label.
There's no context.
Exactly. So that definitely helped me find my style and I would say that my style has a lot of aspects of retro and vintage things, but I try to twist it and make it into my own, into a new Afro Futurist way.
How do you define Afro Futurism?
For me, Afro Futurism is just definitely people of color, artists of color placing themselves into these narratives that show us in a light where we're basically advancing, we're moving forward. Because you don't often see those narratives with people of color in them, we're not written into ...
Yeah, exactly. We're just really not, and if people of color can't really be written into the narratives of our past, a lot of times we don't see ourselves in our history, so we wanna show ourselves in a light of advancement, if that makes any sense?
What are some of your go-to big looks, if you've got a day like today, or Afropunk?
Definitely a liberty spike. This is basically where I just take like, a bunch of hairspray and a bunch of hair gel, and it's probably not that great for my hair, but I'll like spike my hair up. Just because a lot of times with Black girls, a lot of people don't see us as the Goth, Punk kind of type and that's another reason why I did the liberty spikes for Afropunk. To show that as Black women, we can do whatever we want. Just being part of the African diaspora is punk, if you really think about it. We're really challenging norms, we're changing things.
Who in your community inspires you?
I go to Spellman, so I'm just really inspired by all the amazing diverse Black women that I see every single day. I'm realizing that there's so many facets to Black people. Within communities, there's so much diversity. Just seeing the amazing Black women that I see every single day doing amazing things and just being who they want to be and challenging norms is really awesome, and I'm super inspired by that.
I'm also just inspired by my ancestors. One of my friends always says that she doesn't do anything if she can't see her people in it, if she can't see her ancestors in it. That's definitely how I would explain my style, as well, because like I said, I do have a lot of retro or vintage aspects to it, and that's because I want to see the people who came before me in my clothing, and then take it and make it my own.
What do you imagine what you might like to do after college?
I actually want to work at a magazine. I would love to do — this is a very vague term — but fashion journalism, if that makes sense. I'm really into sustainable fashion, which I got into through always being at the thrift store. Fast fashion affects a lot of people of color, in countries and nations of the world, the South, so I want to travel, I'm currently an International Studies major, so I want to travel and go see for myself and try to figure out some solutions for that.
If you could say one thing, through how you present yourself, what would you want that to be?
This sounds corny, but just doing yourself, being yourself. At the end of the day, once I really started to embrace myself and who I was and all of my identities and just kind of brought them together, is when I started to thrive the most. Just being yourself.
Photography Micaiah Carter
Styling Shawn Lakin
Hair Kendall Dorsey
Makeup Raisa Thomas
Nails Leanne Woodley
Producer Chloe Mina
Production Manager Elina Angel
Senior Creative Emery Coopersmith
Associate Account Manager Sam Mark
Talent Director Andrea Haber
Photography Assistants Nigel So Hang, Rahim Fortune
Digital Technician Victor Tate
Stylists Assistants Nicole Chan, Charlotte Jackson
Hair Assistant Natalia Borgas
Makeup Assistants Keyana Morrisson
Production Assistants Ryan Hall, Tiye Amenechi