Viewfinder | Model Citizens

In a city where the streets double as runways, Michelle Rick shares her experience capturing local fashionistas.

bitter lemon

“Like any girl with a TV set in New York during the 1970s and 80s, I formed my first impression of “high” fashion watching the Ritz Thrift Shop commercial. It evoked everything glamorous about that time: mother dabbing Givenchy perfume on her wrist, and Bloomingdale’s, which was the height of chic. I return to my comfort zones almost every day to take pictures; a red wall where I know how the light hits at 5 p.m., for example.”

a certain something

“I’m especially fond of this woman I shot during the golden hour. I once had a dress like hers from Tehen: slightly shaped for a 1940s feel, but soft and feminine. She must be French. She’s luminous, wrinkles be damned.”

wrappedPictured: Model, Shakara Ledard

“I make a conscious effort to not take pictures of celebrities. It’s bad enough that I’m often mistaken for a paparazzo. After I posted this photograph on flickr, I found out that the subject is a model. At some point, it’s unavoidable in New York, especially Soho, where I live. Accidents happen. But the unexpected interests me more than perfection. In this case, her astonishing hair.”

hat head

“I imagine that she eats kale soup for every meal, lives in Brooklyn with her boyfriend, and gets her clothes off the rack at fashion shoots. I won’t talk about her thighs because what can I say that you haven’t already thought of? Like Carol Kane said in Annie Hall, ‘I love being reduced to a cultural stereotype.'”


“Here the juxtaposition of blue and red is striking. But then, blue and red are ubiquitous in New York, a detail I overlooked before I took up photography.”

who knew sipping on a straw could be so sexy?

“Once or twice a week I take a starving artist’s vacation to another neighborhood. The South Street Seaport was one trip that was mostly disappointing. It was too Disneyfied, too fake beach. I’d call that trip a loss except for this sexy straw sipper. I love her Afro, her blue shirt, her angled head, and closed eyes. She may not be striking from another angle (or she may be), but in that moment she was a queen.”

red, Bleecker Street Station

“Fashion isn’t just aesthetics, it’s a visual biography. I took this train and exited this station from seventh grade through my office years, so it was almost inevitable that I’d over-identify with this picture. So much so that I’ve imposed a story on it (well, my story): This young woman dresses like she’s still in college. She’s got a fashion editor for a boss and a hairstylist on a shoot who asks her why she’s hiding her body and if she’s joining a convent.”

decisions, decisions

“Winter is coming. High-heel ankle boots, hair pulled half-back, girly pink lipstick, thick brows, swing coat; all these things suggest a peculiar immaturity, which never goes out of style (at least in her eyes).”

It's THAT girl!

“It is serendipity that the woman and mannequin see eye to eye.”

Michelle Rick, a contributor to The Local, has worked in the fashion department at Vanity Fair and contributes photos to multiple publications. Her work is currently on display at the Terrain Gallery in Soho through November. Her website can be viewed here.