Upon first meeting her, you’d never know Vesper Wolfe—stylist, photographer, art director, and model who starred in the I Am Hugo campaign as well as MILK Makeup’s Live Your Look campaign—is a bona fide wunderkind. But it’s true—the San Diego-bred multi-hyphenate achieved academic and artistic excellence as a very young child, being accepted into the Fashion Institute of Technology before she even graduated high school (which she did well before the age of 18). She swiftly worked her way up the grueling New York fashion ladder, including a stint on the PR team at Saint Laurent, where she first met our Global Marketing and Communications Director, Mary Peffer; they bonded over their love of designer denim and an outside-the-box approach to fashion. But sitting across from her for breakfast at The Standard on LA’s Sunset Boulevard, her humility is striking.
“Luckily, thank God, my parents are amazing people and so supportive, and decided to just let me move to New York and do my thing when I was young,” she says. “I credit my worldview to my parents, because when I was a kid I traveled a lot with them, all over the world. There were times when my parents actually took me out of school to travel. I was born and raised here in America, but I have a lot of cousins in India, and most of them are living a very, very modest Indian life. Especially being here in California, I had a comfortable life, so it was important for me at a young age to see how life can be so different. It certainly had a big impact on my forming a more worldly view.”
Her childhood explorations became a self-fulfilling prophecy—Vesper continues to travel to exotic and far-flung locales for editorial shoots and other projects. Although she’s still based in New York, she finds herself in LA and Europe several times a year, among other destinations, through her work alongside renowned stylist Tom Van Dorpe. She somehow manages to find time to pursue her own passion projects on the side, of which she has many. Her latest interests? Art and creative direction, some modeling, and photography.
“Lately I’ve been shooting more and more,” she explains. “The past four years [with Tom] have been a really great primer for me, looking at composition and at what really makes an image special. I’ve always kind of done things in my spare time creatively, whether it be writing or shooting or sometimes styling. I don’t really know what’s going to captivate me next, but I feel very close to it right now. It’s an exciting time.”
And she doesn’t just mean in her own life—she means globally. Coming off what she considers a somewhat somber time in the world over the past year or so, Vesper sees a bright future on the horizon.
“I think everybody’s more aware now and whatever their goals are in life, they’re taking a more active role in doing and learning more,” she expresses. “This year, I think people will be more interested in using their voices for a positive effect. Fashion in particular went through a bit of a weird, negative, dark place, and I think people now want to get out of that dark place. They’re saying, ‘Maybe we should try to up the mood a bit to get people proactive.’ It’s important to stay excited even when you feel uneasy and you don’t know what to expect.”
A sense of ease inside unease is a quality Vesper emanates when she walks into a room—and it’s also reflected in her views on how young women like herself can achieve success in their careers and creative endeavors.
“You have to have an unwavering belief in yourself—which is really hard for anybody, whether you have confidence or not—to really, 100% believe that you can do something,” she urges. “Always have that in the back of your mind, that you can really do anything—no matter where you come from, that there is a way and that there will be people who will help you. You can meet a lot of people along the way who will try to make you believe otherwise, but I promise there are a lot of really good people out there even in a cutthroat industry like fashion. Just keep going.”
Her intelligence, persistence, and ability to persevere no matter what are the qualities that attracted J Brand to her in the first place—and the feeling is mutual, she says.
“J Brand was my first pair of designer denim when that craze initially came out,” Vesper reminisces with a distant grin. “So it’s really cool to work with this brand because it brings me back to my roots. I work with so many models, so I know that even if you are a model—which I’m really not!—but even with professional models, it helps so much to feel like you look good in the clothes. I’ve never tried on an uncomfortable pair of J Brand jeans. There’s a lot of denim out there that doesn’t consider life in general. Whether you’re active or not, you don’t want to put on a pair of jeans and not feel like your best self. Why would you ever do that?”