Interview: Molly Bair

published on 14 June 2016

As part of the 1017 ALYX 9SM catalogue, Matthew and Jennifer Williams interview model Molly Bair.

As part of the 1017 ALYX 9SM catalogue, Matthew and Jennifer Williams interview model Molly Bair.

Image from 1017 ALYX 9SM S/S 16 catalogue

Matthew Williams: When did you first realise that you wanted to be a model?

Molly Bair: I think when I realised that I could, I dunno…I was pretty over school, so if I could just not have to go to that last year of school or whatever and get out of my town.

MW: So it was just more like a way to get out of your town and high school. What did you think you wanted to do before that?

MB: I really want to work in environmental law. Before, I had figured that I was going to go to college, and be a chemist or whatever.

MW: Was your family supportive of you being a model?

MB: Yeah I mean they were pretty much like, 'do what you please.'

MW: They just wanted you to be happy, or said 'let’s just give it a shot and see what happens?'

MB: Yeah, that’s pretty much it. Like, yeah why not? It’s kind of weird. I think my dad was probably convinced it was a scam until 6 months after I started.  

MW: Haha, what kind of stuff was he saying?

MB: I just think it’s something that my dad had literally no idea about. We were all probably suspicious. I think it finally set in in Paris when I did the Chanel show, that’s one brand that we all sort of knew. Because, really we had no idea. I mean I didn’t even know what Prada was, I was like 'What is that?'. And they asked me to do Miu Miu and I was like, 'Why I am I doing this weird Asian brand?'. I thought Miu Miu was Asian. So after Chanel we were like, ok this is for real.

MW: Karl would like to hear that. That’s amazing. What do you love most about being a model?

MB: I guess I really like the fact that I just meet so many different people. The experiences and interacting with so many people from opposite ends of the world is pretty unique.

MW: That’s so cool. What do you hate most about being a model?

MB: I just don’t like not having my own schedule, my own life. I like to have some sort of stability and schedule. This definitely does not provide that. It’s something that I had to kind of accept and something that I am still accepting.

MW: And do you think that that can ever change, or that is just the life you chose? Even the models who are a bit older than you, have you seen people manage it with some kind of balance and happiness, or is this just kind of what the life entails?

MB: Yeah I mean, I think you just kind of have to live your life, I think it’s really hard. I think the thing that most models might struggle with is being able to live your life without searching out jobs and stuff. It's hard because, you know, at a normal job you have a salary and a guaranteed schedule. But for us, people might start hating us, and if they don’t book us any jobs, you go from being a high paid person to being someone who’s not making any money. It’s pretty crazy. You have to be ready. I’m definitely very alert. If I don’t feel that the industry is vibing with me anymore then I have a plan. I can spot that and then get out before they kick me out.

MW: That’s insightful, I don’t think a lot people have that kind of sense about the industry. How do you feel about people saying that you’re anorexic?

MB: Oh I literally hate that. Because I think it’s really… it’s just straight up rude to judge me on something that you don’t even know. I would never judge anyone else for his or her body type, like why are you bringing that hate on me? They just want something to hate on, you know? I find it ridiculous. I’ve dealt with it my whole life. I’m so over it, why can’t everyone else just get over it?

MW: Judgement like that is just terrible. I can’t even imagine. That sucks. What is the difference between working in New York and working in Europe in your profession?

MB: I feel like working in New York and Europe is pretty different. In Paris, the whole team is French, and when you’re in London the whole team is British and that sets the tone. I mean, I really relate with American people from the get go, of course. When I get to work in New York, I’m pretty hyped because I know I’m going to get along with all the production and stuff. Because sometimes when you’re working in Paris, everyone is talking in French and you’re just sitting there like, 'Um hi'. I mean obviously in London everyone speaks English, but I don’t know it’s kind of hard to explain.

Jennifer Williams: So you just feel most comfortable working in New York.

MB: Yeah. I think New York is very similar to home. So I’m on my chill there.

MW: Is there any relationship between modelling and tennis? You used to play tennis a lot right?

MB: Yeah, I used to. Both are quite competitive. The focus that you need in shooting, I have a lot of focus from tennis. I feel like tennis is based on skill and mental capacity. Modelling is about the fact that you can be totally random. It’s on some whim. It’s all about weird momentum. And quite arbitrary.

JW: Like weird trends: you have big eyebrows right now, so you’re cool, but then next season you’re not cool?

MB: Yeah exactly! For example, I’m pretty lucky because when I started, everyone wanted very, very unique faces. So I think the timing of my entry into the industry just worked. Sometimes I see these girls who are entering into the industry at the wrong time for whatever reason. And unfortunately, they never pick up momentum, because for that moment they want something else. It’s very random.

It’s crazy. You literally just go from one day taking the bus to school, to the next day flying around the world by yourself.

JW: Do you feel like the modelling industry forced you to grow up really fast? Do you think girls entering at 14 or 15 are forced to mature really quickly? What’s your view on that?

MB: It’s crazy. You literally just go from one day taking the bus to school, to the next day flying around the world by yourself. What is that! That is crazy. I was shocked. I think that everyone is so mature and sometimes when I’m home, my friends are just talking about whatever, normal stuff and I’m just like - well, of course they didn’t have the opportunity to know any different, but I’m literally just like, oh my God. The magnitude of your problems is so on a different level, it’s crazy. Obviously it’s based on their experiences, so I can’t really judge them. I’m working on an equal level with everyone, with people who are 30 years older than me sometimes. To them, that’s like a student versus a professor. It’s very unequal.

MW: What was it like for you growing up? I’m assuming when you were young you didn’t really dream that you would become a model? You told me that story about that woman finding you and your friends at a swap meet in Hell’s Kitchen. And you thought she was joking with you and then she was so bummed that she didn’t get your contact. Tell me about what it was like growing up and how drastically your life is different now than what you imagined.

MB: Yeah, I definitely enjoyed my high school experience. That was really fun. I mean it was definitely stressful, I took school pretty seriously. Not by anyone else’s pressuring, just by my own. I was pretty set on going to school, to college. As with most kids, middle school or junior high was pretty not-fun for me because everyone is ridiculously rude for no reason and I didn’t really like that. I was pretty chill when everyone was trying to chop on me. I was like, 'Everyone relax, I’m just gonna chill with my mom at home, it’s cool'. But I think growing up, a lot of my friends were guys. I definitely was never involved in that stereotypical high school clique or anything. I was always just hanging out with guys. The fact that I have an older brother definitely influenced the way I am today. Because I feel like surrounding yourself with guys, you definitely end up having a more masculine side. I’m definitely really happy to have an older brother. Just thinking about how my life would be different, there is a lot of me that didn’t feel comfortable. A lot of parts of me where I felt like I wanted to break out. But I think where I’m from people are not super accepting. They don’t know any better. They don’t understand. I’m really happy that I entered the industry because I think I can really be myself there.

MW: When you were talking before about your childhood, you said that people used to 'chop on me'. That reminded me. Can you please tell us some of your favourite Philly slang that you know?

MB: Yeah. Ok so my favorite is jawn. J-A-W-N. That’s like a person, place, or thing, it could be anything. Just like, it replaces 'that. 'Pass me that jawn'. Like 'are you going to that jawn'. I had to eradicate that from my vocabulary when I started modeling because literally, I don’t think a single person in the industry knows that slang. A big one is drawlin. D-R-A-W-L-I-N. That just means something is messed up or something is lame. Like, 'Oh Gucci cancelled me, that’s so drawlin'. Or like 'Oh that drew or 'he drew', or 'she drew'. You can say, 'She drew'. That’s past tense.

There’s so many good ones. There’s one: 'boul'. B-O-U-L. A young boul. We say that a lot. A young boul is a person like acting immature or childish. I would be like, if one of my friends got kicked out of class I would say, 'Oh my god he’s acting like such a young boul, he shouldn’t be acting so immature'.

JW: So it’s kind of like fool?

MB: Yeah it is, and if you use it without the young, it just means a person. Oh we also say 'boulin'. And boulin just means you’re doing nothing like, 'Oh hey you wanna hang out, what are you doing?'. 'Oh I’m just boulin' which means you’re not doing anything. It gets very confusing. Yeah those are probably the main ones. It gets very strange.

MW: I love these! So, what is your dream meal?

MB: I think that just some really really fresh fruit. That’s probably the best thing. Very sweet, hydrates you, you’re feeling very good after eating that. Very pure. Whenever someone has some really fresh fruit I’m always like 'Oh my god, yes'.

MW: What’s something that makes you relax?

MB: Um, I definitely like to read I guess. Reading and playing video games. I’m pretty relaxed in general.

MW: What’s your favourite video game? Because I remember the first time I met you, you were like 'I was up playing Call Of Duty with my roommate until like 2 in the morning! And then we went to Best Buy to buy a big screen TV to play Call Of Duty on'.

MB: Haha, yeah. Um I think my favourite is GTA. Cause it’s like, I like to play the games online because I’m really terrible, so online you just troll around and shoot other people, but then they can’t find you so I’m like, 'Alright, I’m cool with that'.

MW: Do you work best to music, if so what music?

MB: Um I mean when I’m doing model work and stuff like that I really like listening to, I don’t know how to say the genre. Have you ever heard of Thundercat or Flying Lotus? I guess like soft jazzy electrical music? That’s basically my jam when I’m trying to focus.

MW: What is your biggest fault?

MB: Um I’m flawless. No I’m kidding. I’m trying to pick one. No I’m just kidding. I feel like I definitely, the people who are around me, I feel like I kind of want to fix them I guess? I think that I can identify people’s problems and I want to help them, but it’s definitely not a cool thing to do. I feel like a lot of times in my life I try to help people, but people really don’t appreciate that.

JW: I think I can do that too. I always want to help people and make them feel better, but maybe they don’t always want/need that.

MB: Yeah, it’s hard for me to let that go.

MW: Do you believe in God?

MB: That’s a good one. I feel like it’s really hard for me to believe in God. I would absolutely love, love to believe in that. But I feel like maybe if I was older, for something to actually make me believe in something. I feel like when I’m older I will actually need to believe in something. I feel like there are a lot of old people in church. I think eventually I will believe in something, but right now I just can’t and I don’t have any desire to.

MW: What’s your biggest fear?

MB: I’m pretty sure my biggest fear is death of other people around me. I am not really that scared of dying. Because if you die yourself you probably don’t know, it’s probably going to be ok. But I just don’t want people around me to die.

MW: Death of loved ones is definitely a big fear of mine too. What will you do after modelling? Or do you want to keep modelling forever?

MB: Oh yeah definitely…no. I really wanna go to school. I really really like learning and I have things I wanna do with my life. I feel like a lot of my problems with modelling, or like my own problems, is the fact that I feel like everything I’m doing is actually just to help myself and I feel really crappy about that. I feel like almost every other job is giving to others. I dunno I feel bad about it. I definitely want to give back. I have had so many good things in my life that I definitely want to help other people. That’s why I want to help the Earth and do environmental stuff. I definitely am thinking about going to either UC Irvine or UC Berkeley. Both are very cool places.

MW: I completely agree. I want to do fashion for the rest of my life, but helping the environment is something that I really care about. So I’m trying to do it in whatever way I can, and the most immediate thing is trying to transition as many things that make sense to sustainable fabrics.

MB: Yeah that’s amazing. Because the amount of, everything is so wasteful, it’s insane. It’s something that people should actually know about, how bad it is. We are just ignoring it, but actually we’re just kinda screwed. So yeah.

MW: It takes 700 gallons of water for one t-shirt, to grow the cotton, dying processes etc.

MB: Oh my God I did not know that.

JW: It’s pretty scary… So, you have seen ALYX through a couple seasons now. What are your thoughts about how the brand is developing?

MB: I definitely am really really happy that I got to be involved with ALYX. It’s a very good mix. You can wear it down or wear it up, which is why I can feel confident in it. It’s literally perfect. I think also the materials are very wearable and really high quality. I’m sick of buying new clothes that are so stiff, I would rather buy things which are worn in, that have something real about them. And definitely in ALYX you feel comfortable, not like in a weird stiff shirt. It feels like it has been loved. That’s a very good thing for me. Also, as far as the text and stuff. It has a purpose it’s not just random words on a shirt. I think there are so many shirts that have random text. I think ALYX has a lot of subtle and meaningful text.

JW: Matt definitely thinks about all of those details until they’re perfect.

MW: What are some of the things you remember most of our shoot with Nick and what is it like for you shooting with Nick? Maybe some experiences of shoots you’ve done with Nick, because I know you’ve done a few of them.

MB: Yeah, I mean every shoot that I’ve done with Nick, has been super amazing. I feel really comfortable, I feel like he really wants you to try things and do weird stuff and he’s really nice about it. I feel like a lot of times on shoots people just want you to stand there. I think Nick is all about movement and visual shapes and Nick’s pictures are so much more interesting. He’s definitely one of my favourite people to work with. I’m super happy I’ve had an opportunity to work with him. And the ALYX shoot was super fun. We were all over the place with the background, downstairs, behind the cars!

JW: And the makeup was so insanely rad.

MB: Oh yeah, I just feel like I could be me and when you feel comfortable shooting that comes across in the pictures and it makes a huge difference.

MW: When we were shooting on top of that skyscraper did you feel like a superhero protecting the city, or a superhero about to rob someone?

MB: Definitely more evil thoughts. About to smash people up haha.

Interview by:
Matthew Williams and Jennifer Williams



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