Candice Lake breezed into Hotel Costes, camera in tow, fresh from the Viktor and Rolf show at the Tuileries. Located on Rue St. Honoré, the hotel's courtyard is the destination during Paris Fashion Week. Candice and I wind through the throngs of editors and models, eventually plopping down on a red leather banquette in a far corner.
Candice, like many working girls in fashion these days, is what I like to call "a slash." Beginning her career as a model after a stint at law school in her native Australia, Miss Lake's current title of blogger/photographer/model and spokesperson is a little more complicated. We met on a recentshoot in Shanghai for Vogue Australia where I played model/stylist to Lake's role of photographer/editor/tastemaker, and we were eager to catch up. After struggling to order 'frîtes' and two flutes of champagne, Candice offers: "I hate that 'blogger' has become a throwaway comment. Or that there's such a stigma around people who are working on multiple projects... why is this frowned upon?"
Good question. Bloggers have unquestionably altered the fashion landscape over the past few years. With Scott Schuman and Garance Doré, the patriarch and matriarch of street-style photography recently being honored by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) with the 'Media Award,' it was as though the fashion establishment conceded: bloggers are here to stay. Once just shutterbugs documenting the traffic during fashion week, bloggers like BryanBoy, Leandra Medine and Elin Kling are now regular front-row fixtures at blue-chip shows. The next generation of online superstars are parlaying their online celebrity into television appearances (Bryan Boy for America's Next Top Model), e-commerce opportunities (Medine for copious.com) and endorsement deals (Kling for Guess by Marciano). So to echo Candice, why are these entrepreneurs still labeled with the singular title of 'blogger'?
Lake expands: "Everyday I have to be a different person -- all of us do. Being a blogger these days is so much bigger than just managing a little online space. It's about being a business owner." Candice negotiates her own contracts, works closely with her producer on her shoots and manages a team of five assistants -- a far cry from the perception of a blogger as a lone-ranger, tapping away on a keyboard late into the night. Late nights are not uncommon though, as I learned on our Shanghai tour. After long days of shooting, Candice and I attended events for Louis Vuitton (our China-adventure sponsor) in the evenings. Swapping her beat-up Converse for Vuitton pumps, Lake would later slide into slippers when we returned to the hotel late-night for editing sessions that would extend into the wee hours, all while juggling posts for her popular blog.
Nibbling on almonds, Candice tossed her blonde mane and laughed: "I'll do anything! One hundred percent isn't good enough -- it's 110 percent or I'm not satisfied. To create something out of nothing is incredibly difficult. When people say 'your job is amazing,' I don't think they realize the insane amount of work that goes into it." Lake is the first to admit that she's fired a couple assistants; the workload often overwhelming for newbies to the "slash" lifestyle. After spending time with 'bloggers' from New York to Paris this fashion month, I've been surprised to discover that this "business first" attitude is not uncommon. These online entrepreneurs know their analytics, crunch their data and are guns at the negotiating table. Many like Miss Lake have only recently acquired agents, and still insist on personally handling the majority of their various projects.
As golden hour hits Lake and I gather our things and slide out of the Costes courtyard, now teeming with the crème of the fashion set. We snap a few pictures at Place Vêndome, passing the Lake's trusty Canon back and forth. As she does the 'model leap' in front of 'colonne Vendôme' I shout: "She's still got it!"
Candice's pretty face breaks into a wide, red-lipped grin and she replies: "Like riding a bike!"
* When Candice Lake is not working on her blog, she regularly contributes to Vogue.com UK and Glamour UK in addition to her role as the brand ambassador for the French Luxury brand, Rue du Mail. Next year she will launch her own line of clothing with Australia's largest retailer and embark on a book project that will combine her interests of fashion, travel and portraiture.