Charlotte Cardin has walked for the likes of Jacquemus and Moncler Gamme Rouge (the Giambattista Valli-designed sibling to Thom Browne’s Gamme Bleue) in Paris and Christopher Kane in London. But when she arrived in New York last week, she found herself in the midst of her first New York Fashion Week as a front row-er, rather than a model.
Last week, Cardin released Main Girl, her first EP since signing with Atlantic Records earlier this year. A quick stop in New York to promote the new record happened to coincide with the beginning of the Spring 2018 shows, so the 22-year-old French-Canadian musician took the opportunity to take it all in from the other side.
Though Cardin first entered the public eye as an up-and-coming model with runway and editorial credits alike, she quickly realized “it just really wasn’t for me,” she told me on a recent afternoon in New York. (She had just come from the Desigual show, where legendary photographer Jean-Paul Goude made his debut as artistic director.) So in 2013, Cardin entered the first season of La Voix—Canada’s answer to The Voice, which also incubated the career of fellow French-Canadian artist Gabrielle Shonk—and ended up placing in the top four.
Fast-forward four years, and, after releasing an EP (2016’s Big Boy) in Canada and signing a record deal, she decided to release a new EP of songs she had already begun writing and demoing. Main Girl focuses on different facets of relationships—just not necessarily Cardin’s own relationships. “I write from meeting people and then feeling something,” she said. “Sometimes, a friend will tell me the story, and then it will inspire a different story, and I’ll write something about that—and it never really happened to me,” she added.
Meanwhile, Cardin has also begun writing her debut full-length album, though it’s still in its early stages. Though the runway is now in the distant past for the model-turned-musician, she paused in the midst of New York Fashion Week to share her style tips, and to discuss how she might have been the last person in the world to grasp the joys of socks.
How would you describe your style?
Simple. I like simple and classic things, and I always wear the same thing on stage: a white t-shirt and black jeans, and then boots or sneakers.
What are some of your favorite shops in Montreal?
I really like this shop called Les Étoffes—it means “fabrics.” They don’t have a lot of stuff, it’s just really well-selected. They have a bunch of Scandinavian brands that I don’t really know that are really nicely cut. I’ll shop at Aritzia sometimes, for basics and for day-to-day stuff. Sometimes I shop at Wal-Mart. It just depends.
Do you shop vintage at all? Do you have any favorite vintage places?
A little bit. In Montreal, there’s this really nice vintage store on Boulevard Saint-Laurent. It’s called Citizen Vintage, and it’s cool. It’s just really nice jeans and jean jackets and funky glasses and t-shirts and polos.
How would you describe your nighttime look?
The same, probably, just darker. Still simple. When it’s a bit colder, I’ll wear a nice pair of black boots. I like black jackets, so I just switch between a leather jacket or this really long jacket I like to wear.
What is your best recent discovery?
I used to not wear nice socks. I used to always wear the little socks that you can’t really see. Now, I’m having fun wearing colorful socks with jeans. But I guess I’m the last person on earth to discover socks. [laughs]
What is your style pet peeve?
What was your last purchase?
A pink sweater from Aritzia. I also discovered pink lately—a soft kind of pink that looks good with everything.
What are you lusting after?
I really want a nice travel bag. I’m always traveling lately and I have a shitty carry-on. I want something nice to travel with—not necessarily super fancy, because it’s going to be thrown in a van, but just a nice suitcase or a nice travel bag. Gucci has really nice travel bags…
What is something you always have in your bag?
Dry shampoo for my bangs, always.
What are your on-tour essentials?
Definitely a bunch of white t-shirts, a few pairs of black jeans, and then I bring a pair of loafers, a pair of boots, and a pair of sneakers. I’ll just switch them around. Then, also, my skincare products: I have this oil. It’s all natural. It has a rose scent to it and I go to bed with oil on my face—just a little bit, not like, full-on olive oil. Instead of cream, I put a bit of oil. It’s a dry oil called Pure Essentials. You can get it from the drugstore. I used to have really dry skin, and we have really rough winters in Montreal, and that oil changed my life—it’s so good for your skin, and it’s all natural. I like looking at the ingredients and recognizing the names.
Then, what do you do in the morning?
I wash my face with water in the morning, because I always take my makeup off at night. Then, I have this really light skin cream from Kiehl’s.
What is something you would never wear?
I would never wear shorts that are so short that you can see butt cheeks. [gestures two arcs, like the shape of a butt] I just did the shape of a butt cheek for you. [laughs]
Thank you for that. What is the most prized possession in your closet?
This bag that I just wear all the time. [gestures to Chanel bag at her side]
When did you get it?
Probably a couple months ago, but I wear it all the time. It was a gift.
I got this ring that my grandparents gave me on my 18th birthday, and I never take it off—never, ever, ever. It’s really simple, it’s just a silver band, but I never take it off.
What are you listening to right now?
A lot of Radiohead, as always. Daniel Caesar—he just released an album. It’s really good. I always listen to old classics, so I’ve been into Otis Redding a lot, for a long time, but I’ve been listening to him a lot lately as well.
The last Radiohead was so good.
It’s such a good record, and I have it on vinyl. I just love listening to it on the turntable. It’s the best feeling to listen to Radiohead on a vinyl.
Are you a vinyl person?
I’m starting to. I just got a turntable, but I had been collecting vinyl before I even had the media to listen to it. I’m getting into vinyl more. It’s so nice to listen to an album from A to Z—I feel like we don’t do that anymore, and when you listen to a record like that, you don’t have the option to just skip songs. It’s something I had forgotten about, almost.
What was the last movie you loved?
I recently watched The Talented Mr. Ripley, and that was so good, and I had never seen it before. That’s the last movie I saw. It’s a really sick cast, and the movie is so f---ed up and amazing. I feel like most people have seen it, but I had never seen it.
What are you reading right now?
I’m reading a book called Le Monde de Sophie. It means “Sophie’s World,” and it’s a philosophy book that was written for teenagers, explaining all the different philosophers. It goes through stories about this teenage girl, and she gets letters from this secret philosopher, and he explains to her all the different periods, so you’re basically learning at the same time she is, but it’s super detailed and it’s really interesting because I didn’t know much about philosophy and I’m just learning about different movements and philosophers.
What are some Instagram accounts you love to follow?
I like all the obvious ones like @fuckjerry. I really like Solange’s Instagram, @saintrecords. It’s really good. And then there’s Pete Souza, @petesouza, who used to be Obama’s photographer, and he has really good photos.
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