Introducing The Originals 2022

To be unique is to take risks. Each of these 20 multifaceted creatives makes the case for pushing boundaries, questioning the status quo, and forging new paths.

Written by W Staff
Originally Published: 

Christina Ricci Actor

What makes you want to say yes to a role when it comes your way?

I always look for something that I haven’t seen before—that feels new and will be challenging because I don’t have an easy reference for it.

What advice do you wish you could give your younger self?

To lean into what was different about me instead of trying to change so much.

Read the full interview here.

Christina Ricci wears an Alexandre Vauthier dress; Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello earrings; Alexander McQueen ear cuffs (worn as rings).Photographed by Max Farago; Styled by William Graper.

Tyrell Hampton Photographer

Did you always know you wanted to be a photographer?

Dance was my first love. I started train- ing when I was 7 or 8, and it has given me a sixth sense: I’m able to watch people and learn their habits and mannerisms very quickly, which comes in handy when photographing new people.

People always say that great photographers have personalities to match their work. How would your friends describe you in real life?

Present or unhinged.

Read the full interview here.

Tyrell Hampton wears a Wales Bonner T-shirt; Carhartt WIP jeans; Converse sneakers. Photographed by Tyrell Hampton; Styled by Jenna Wojciechowski.

Pat Steir Artist

What does the word “originality” mean to you?

Originality means not trying to be somebody else—to follow your own instincts and thoughts and desires. Because everyone is original, and no two are alike. Even identical twins are original. So, I don’t think one tries to get a good idea. A good idea is doing what you have to do.

Read the full interview here.

Pat Steir wears her own clothing. Photographed by Marisa Chafetz.

Devin Halbal Digital Creator

Where does that confidence and energy to do your own thing come from?

It stems from healing my inner child. Growing up, I never really felt comfortable saying what was on my mind. As I’ve grown older, I’ve realized, This is your life, and you either do what you want to do or you die not having expressed yourself, not having tried new things that you’ve always wanted to do.

Read the full interview here.

Devin Halbal wears a Valentino dress and tights; stylist’s own shoes. Photographed by Nick Sethi; Styled by Allia Alliata di Montereale.

Agnes Gund Philanthropist

In the past, when asked why you’re a philanthropist, you’ve repeatedly said “guilt.” Is that still the case today?

Well, I still do feel that, but not as badly. I’ve learned that you can use money to help people, or to try to affect something that wouldn’t be affected without the money. And I’m not content to rest. There’s still so much suffering and injustice in the world, and there is always so much more that I wish I could do. One of the things that bothers me right now is how I’m told that I’m spending too much money and there’s not going to be any left to go anywhere. But I think that if I live a few more years, I’ll get it readjusted.

Read the full interview here.

Agnes Gund wears her own clothing and jewelry. Photographed by John Edmonds.

Selema Masekela Actor, Producer, Commentator, and Philanthropist

What do you consider the most important elements of your life?

I am influenced by nature, the ocean, and the mountains. Also, I like being able to sit around a table with old and new friends, have hours go by in exchange, and leave a dinner table with my worldview sharpened.

Read the full interview here.

Ami Paris coat and sweater; Adidas sneakers; his own pants. Photograped by Tracy Nguyen; Styled by Savannah White.

Steve Lacy Musician

What makes for a great collaboration?

Chemistry, humor, talent. With every single person I’ve collaborated with, there’s a relationship that I keep, even after; it’s not transactional. The Inter- net set the tone for how a collaboration should be: super natural, everyone should feel safe, everyone should feel free—’cause everyone works so differently. Over the years, I’ve learned collaboration is keeping the space open and full of jokes.

Read the full interview here.

Steve Lacy wears a Bottega Veneta tank, pants, and sunglasses. Photographed by Texas Isaiah; Styled by Tori López.

Ed Mendoza Designer

Your debut collection was textile-heavy and used color in a surrealist, almost cartoonish way. At the same time, your clothes have a serious mission statement: Fashion should also be for men and nonbinary people of all sizes.

The community of plus-size people is big. We are connected with one another and really want to see ourselves be the norm, which means having clothes designed for us in stores and shown in magazines. As a designer, trying to change the status quo of fashion around the sizing of garments is a scary thing. But the audiences of the future exist now.

Read the full interview here.

Ed Mendoza wears an Ed Mendoza jacket and pants; his own sneakers. Photographed by Amber Pinkerton.

Rina Yang Cinematographer

Did you always know you wanted to pursue a creative career? My mom was really into music, and she’d take us to jazz and classical ballet classes. She noticed I liked drawing and making comics, so she sent me to painting class. I would also take pictures and make home movies, so she knew I was creative. But in high school, I studied economics, like I was going to become an accountant or something.

As a cinematographer, you work incredibly closely with different directors. What are the qualities of a great one?

Taste is very important; so is talent and creative instinct. But you need to be able to communicate your grand plan to everyone—hundreds of people in all these different departments—in a way that makes sense.

Read the full interview here.

Rina Yang wears her own clothing. Photographed by Courtney Sofiah Yates.

Yam Karkai Artist, World of Women Cofounder

How do you think Web3 has changed the game for artists?

You’re able to put your art out there in front of collectors around the world, and people don’t care where you’ve shown, who you are, or where you come from. It’s all about the art and how it touches people. It is harder to make a living from your art when you don’t have the right connections. This allows anybody to do that.

Read the full interview here.

Yam Karkai wears a Colville dress; her own jewelry and sneakers. Photographed by Andrew Nuding; Styled by Kieran Kilgallon.

Adam Eli Author, Community Organizer, Consultant

What does originality mean to you?

It’s about doing something in a manner that is so you that nobody could really replicate it—even if they tried. For example, the French author Édouard Louis is not the first queer person to write about their own story in a way that unites people and pushes our movement forward. Yet he is, appropriately, hailed as an original. The same is true of other queer icons, like Janet Mock, Abby Chava Stein, Edmund White, and Leslie Feinberg, whose stories came to represent something greater than themselves. Originality is when you can remove whatever that thing is that’s preventing you from bringing your whole self into the world.

Read the full interview here.

Adam Eli wears a Gucci shirt and crown; his own necklaces. Photographed by Tommy Kha; Styled by Allia di Montereale.

Earl Cave and Devon Ross Actors and Models

Who are your style icons?

Devon Ross: Keith Richards. He’s probably the first person who taught me that it’s okay to break the rules. And Anita Pallenberg, Bob Dylan, Patti Smith—that whole group. I always look back to the ’60s and ’70s.

Earl Cave: Iggy Pop is an icon for me in every sense. He’s not going anywhere, that guy. He’s going to be here until the end of the world, just like Keith. They’re the cockroaches. They’re going to be the last people on the planet.

Read the full interview here.

Earl Cave wears Celine Homme by Hedi Slimane clothing and belt; his own sunglasses. Devon Ross wears Celine by Hedi Slimane clothing and accessories. Photographed by Hanna Moon.

Sandra Lanshin Chiu Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner

What’s your biggest professional pet peeve?

Cultural appropriation in the wellness and beauty worlds. As someone with a Chinese ethnic background, I find it hard not to roll my eyes when I look at a lot of Traditional Chinese Medicine-related content on social media. Not only for the obvious reasons, but also because in order to maintain the power and the efficacy of non-Western healing traditions like TCM, Ayurveda, or various traditions from Africa or Latin and South America, you’ve got to keep them accurate and authentic. The Western culture tends to think that it knows best and doesn’t ask questions from a cultural perspective.

Read the full interview here.

Sandra Lanshin Chiu wears a Tory Burch skirt and belt; Manolo Blahnik shoes; stylist’s own bodysuit; her own ring. Photographed by Huy Luong; Styled by Christina Holevas.

Harris Reed Designer

You live in London. How do you think your American accent shapes how the Brits perceive you?

The thing I love about America—and I think this is both bad and good—is that the country stands for being a place where anything is possible. You can take over the world. Not to generalize, but British people tend to be very humble and quiet, almost self-deprecating. They’ll be like, “Oh, it’s not that good,” whereas I have this American thing where I walk into meetings being like, “This is the best thing you’ve ever seen.” My friends roll their eyes when I talk about wanting my work to be a huge success. They’re like, “How can you talk like this?” And I’m like, “Well, I have to, because I need to find 200 grand to make this show happen!”

Read the full interview here.

Harris Reed wears a Harris Reed jacket; Harris Reed x Vivienne Lake hat; his own pants and jewelry. Photographed by Frederike Helwig.

Charo Musician, Icon

When you were 9 years old, you auditioned to study with the master classical guitarist Andrés Segovia in Madrid, and you were accepted. What do you remember about Segovia?

He would show up always dressed in black. He probably thought, What does that girl want? What’s she trying to do in a world of men? He seemed very interested in my style—the way I hit the guitar was like a cat swatting its paw. And he’d say to me, “Who taught you that? Because you hit the guitar como un gato.”

Do you still play guitar every day?

Minimum three hours.

Read the full interview here.

Charo wears her own clothing and accessories. Photographed by Luis Alberto Rodriguez.

Jacqueline Stewart Film Scholar, TV Host, Historian

When did you realize you were in love with cinema?

I grew up spending a lot of time with my aunt Constance, who was born in 1921. She loved old movies, and I always stayed up really late with her watching black and white films. She would talk to me during the commercial breaks about all the stars and the theaters that she used to go to. I was fascinated by the alternative world that I saw, the way that people talked and the way they dressed.

Read the full interview here.

Jacqueline Stewart wears a Proenza Schouler dress; Sophie Buhai earrings; Manolo Blahnik shoes. Photographed by Naima Green; Style by Rebecca Ramsey.

Eli Russell Linnetz Designer, Photographer, Director

You’ve had a uniquely multifaceted career: You’ve directed music videos for Kanye West and designed concert sets for Lady Gaga, and now you run a clothing brand, ERL, which was awarded the Karl Lagerfeld Prize in June. You were even a child actor at one point! Is there a quality that you feel unites all of the work you do?

My intuition drives me. When some- thing doesn’t feel right, I’ll switch to something else. From a distance, it can seem chaotic, but for me it’s actually one journey. When I was younger, I wanted to be a filmmaker. I even went to school for screenwriting. But ever since I can remember, I was always drawing clothes and I loved playing dress-up. That childlike sense of make-believe has really suited all the paths I have taken.

Read the full interview here.

Eli Russell Linnetz wears a Dior Men hat; his own T-shirt and glasses. Photographed by Eli Russell Linnetz.

Precious Okoyomon Artist, Poet, and Chef

What media are you prioritizing right now?

I’m constantly writing poems. They are my prayers. I’m falling in love with ceramics; I think they are in the future. I want to make playgrounds—I’m thinking about how to fall gracefully. Always the soil. Always planting. Soil and plants are big in my work.

What do you feel living matter can communicate that inanimate objects cannot?

It’s about the power of not being able to control. Materials that I don’t have control over can hold the miracle of surprise.

Read the full interview here.

Precious Okoyomon wears a Simone Rocha top; Chopova Lowena belted skirt; her own earrings. Photographed by Lia Clay Miller.

Harry Lambert Stylist

How did you become interested in fashion?

As a boy, I never picked up Vogue or anything like that. I was just really focused on putting my own outfits together. When I was 16, I got a job at a clothing store called River Island, and I would ask the manager if I could dress the mannequins and head the visual merchandising. At the time, I didn’t really get that styling was a career. When I got to university, I initially studied photography. But I quickly realized that what I was really interested in was the concept and the narrative behind the photos. I loved everything around the image, but not the technical side of photography.

Read the full interview here.

Harry Lambert wears his own clothing and accessories. Photographed by Anton Gottlob.

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