It's an Internet Thing is a series featuring a person who is cool on the internet, who is wearing brands and trends that are also cool on the internet, styled by senior editor Kristen Nichols.
Orion Carloto has two books under her belt, coveted partnerships with brands like Cartier and Louis Vuitton, a closet brimming with Marine Serre and vintage Prada, and can somehow make coffee-stained teacups look chic. With her work as a writer, poet, photographer, and content creator, it's hard to neatly categorize what Carloto has carved out for herself, but there's no way to deny her mastery of artful storytelling.
She recognized her impulse for storytelling when she sat down to watch the McQueen documentary—a moment that Carloto describes as eye-opening. "It wasn't just about fashion for him. It was about art and poetry and creating a story out of his pieces," she explained of Alexander McQueen in the film. "And I find, in a way, I try to do the same thing with poetry in my work and also with fashion and creating images for people. It's not just about a beautiful piece that I'm wearing, but it's about a story that I'm creating."
With one book of poetry, Flux, published in 2017, and a new book, Film for Her, released this week, she's once again tapping into expert storytelling, and we chatted with her to find out more. Ahead, Carloto talks about the inspiration behind her new book, what people ask when they slide into her DMs, and her insider secret for finding the best vintage fashion on the internet.
I would love to hear about your exciting new book launch. Can you tell us about Film for Her and what inspired the project?
Film for Her started off as just an intimate solo project for myself. I never really went into it thinking it would be something tangible like a book. But I picked up a film camera when I was about 19, and I always loved the magical beauty that came with it in the sense that everything felt sacred, everything that I would shoot because I only really got one chance to make it right.
I noticed that I was using that sort of venture to capture moments in my life that were very personal to me and felt so intimate. But also just kind of the whole basis of it is just the mundane moments in my life that at the time that I was taking the photos just felt like any other passing moment. When I would get my film back, I would look at the photos and think, "Why did I take this random photo?" and kind of sit with that, and realized that I took these moments for a reason. It was really to reflect and appreciate life's smaller moments that we go through. This is just sort of a space for me to reflect on those instant moments of my life that I didn't want to forget in the midst of growing up.
You published Flux in 2017. How is this a progression of what you've written already?
I definitely matured a lot in both who I am as a person and in my writing as well in the three years since my last book. With my writing, it always felt like it had to come to me, and I couldn't come to it. So naturally, I took the years off to gain experience in who I am as a person. I'm learning new things, unlearning old habits, and also taking the time to really focus on the beauty and the history of poetry and storytelling and reading other writers who I admire. And just kind of gaining a sensibility for life and this lust for life that I didn't really have before. I was always so focused on taking one feeling and running with it, taking one emotion and running with it, and this is just an accumulation of three years of everything I felt and everything I've learned.
Though it seems like I'm going to hand this book to people that has all these secrets and ways of living—when that's certainly not the case—it definitely scratches the surface of how comfortable I am with revealing parts of my life to other people and sharing those more intimate moments with others.
Do you have any other projects in mind that you'll be working on next?
Like I said, my love for film just started as a very innocent hobby—I never would call myself a photographer by any means. But it has opened this world for me to appreciate it much more, especially being surrounded by such incredible creatives in my field of work. It has definitely opened this idea of taking that more seriously—I want to take photography more seriously and really teach myself more than just pointing a point-and-shoot camera at something.
With my own photography, I'm shooting more subjects rather than focusing on my own life. So much of being in front of the camera for so many years has been great, and while I love it, I really found this love and admiration for being behind the camera and creating things, not just for me, but for other people, for other brands, and of other people and documenting that as well.
What about fashion?
I've gotten my foot in the fashion world over the past three years in ways that I really did not expect to. I've been working with these brands. And even speaking to you, we were at fashion week together, which was in Milan. Hello? That's insane. I would never imagine that world for myself. I follow other people who I admire who do that and so having that little foot in the door has been just so heartwarming and still doesn't feel real. So I just think there are so many things with fashion that I want to continue moving forward with.
I would love to hear more about the content on your Instagram and how you got started with that.
I think really having this love for aesthetics kind of grew early on. I mean, I say this all the time. It's so silly, but as a Virgo, there's a perfectionist side of me that is both a blessing and a curse, but that ties hand-in-hand with growing up in the age of Tumblr. As a teenager, I found myself putting things that I found aesthetically pleasing to the eye and not really worrying about what other people found to be of their taste and really loving that. Especially as a teenager growing up in a town where the love for art and fashion and design was not ever surrounding me at all. So it was this little mini world I created for myself where I was putting together these photographs that felt like this mood board for a life that I really wanted to live.
The older I got and the more I began to teach myself and really grow those interests, read more about it, and research more about the things that I found beautiful, I was able to put that into my life in a sense as well and create things. Instead of creating mood boards for other people, I just kind of became my own mood board in a sense of things that interest me and things that I like.
Speaking of Instagram, what do people message you when they slide into your DMs?
It's obviously easy to get the DMs like, "Where did you get this?" or "Where did you find this?" But I've always felt lucky to have in my scope of messages the people who reach out that are also writing and want to further that career. So many readers of mine DM me asking, "How did you get started with writing?" Or even smaller things like, "What is your writing process?" or "How do you get there?" And though it's very personal, and I think everyone has a different way of going about their own art, I think it's wonderful to have those conversations and important to have those conversations. So definitely, the questions that have to do with young writers really, really makes me happy because I was there at one point asking the same questions, but I didn't have anybody to ask those questions to.
I personally get DMs about my job in fashion very often. I think with careers in fashion or writing, the chart is so unclear, so people are interested in finding out how they can make it into those spaces—and social media opens up those lines of communication.
We didn't really have that because the internet is still a fairly new thing. Growing up, it was just kind of trial and error—what works and what doesn't work. Not having anybody to answer those questions and also being kind of the test dummy for it all was an interesting endeavor, but I'm very, very grateful that the youth now can find people online that they feel closely connected to in any sort of way and ask those questions and get a response or see it really happening in front of them, unfolding in front of their eyes.
Let's dive into fashion. I would love to know how you describe your personal style and if there are any personal style heroes you look to.
I don't think there's a particular person that I look to. I think early on, and still today, I would get a lot of my fashion inspiration from a lot of the films that I would watch. And again, mood boards on Tumblr growing up as well. Some brands' direction is very inspiring. Any of Jil Sander's archives that you look at or Maison Margiela—they’ve always killed it throughout the years. And it's always so fun to look at their archive of branding and how they grew throughout the years. Specifically for me, I feel like it would be films and brands and seeing how they've grown. Like I said, Jil Sander, Maison Margiela. Prada now is killing it, and Givenchy's last collection almost killed me. It was insane.
You mentioned being inspired by films. Are there any specific films or characters within films that you've been inspired by?
Recently, I watched a French film called Claire's Knee. And the fashion in that was just… it was very classic. That's what I tend to do with my pieces. I keep a very minimal color wardrobe, because I know that's easiest. If I keep it down to five solid colors, I know anything in my closet that I have will all go together. But I love how you can make something so classic like a plain white T-shirt and a pair of shorts looks so elevated by how you accessorize it and how you wear it.
Do you have a most-loved item in your closet?
I bought these Prada platforms last year, and I was a bit regretful because when I had first gotten them it was obviously very trendy. I was just like, "I'm feeding into a trend. I'm probably going to wear it for a season." And, oh, I'm still wearing those babies every single day.
Are there any cool, on-the-rise brands on your radar right now?
It's very hard to say because I've been trying to shop secondhand now rather than buying directly, but Totême, and I think one of my also favorite small brands—who I actually recently posted about—is a lingerie brand called The Great Eros. They have pieces that you can actually wear in your day-to-day and not just as lingerie. I've been wearing it nonstop—like this sheer shirt that goes over a matching bra.
Since you're mostly shopping for secondhand pieces, do you have any favorite spots to find vintage? I love a good insider secret.
Everyone sleeps on this, but ThredUp is an online thrift store, and they also carry a lot of designer pieces as well. The other day, I brought a pair of secondhand Prada trousers for like 60 bucks, and they are insane. Obviously, I tried my hand at Etsy and eBay, but I feel like the best buys that I have ever found were on both Depop and ThredUp. I think everyone just assumes that it's just basically an online Goodwill. And while it genuinely is, they have an amazing designer section. They carry The Row, Jil Sander, Margiela, Prada—every brand you could possibly think of.