“Creativity is flow, growth, moving forward… and practicing the unusual.”
This season, Zalando reimagines fashion for the good of all by celebrating freedom of expression with their new Free To Be campaign. Glamcult joins in with a line-up of talents who embody that spirit in both artistry and being. First up was rising DJ Mairo Nawaz, and now we shine light on yet another young talent that breathes and thrives through freedom, Romy De Vries that is.
A model citizen in more ways than one, Romy has forged a successful modeling career well beyond Europe, worked as a journalist for the Dutch Vogue, all while continuously nurturing an array of creative pursuits. Recently, after experiencing burnout, Romy left the rigid conventions of the modeling industry behind to focus on doubling down on her talents for furniture design, photography, and sonic experimentation. With her confidence ever-growing, and gifts and skills multiplying, we couldn’t think of a more fitting young talent to quiz on the subject of creativity and unapologetic self-expression.
What does creativity mean to you?
Creativity is everything to me, it’s how I live my life! I think it’s always about fighting the status quo. I grew up with parents who made everything by themselves. They made their own furniture, they build their own house, my mom’s clothes are all thrifted, and so on. That was the norm I experienced—fixing everything with your creativity. Sometimes it’s hard, because you don’t have anything logical to hang on to. It’s about always searching, and so not everyone will understand you. Creativity is flow, growth, moving forward, finding new and authentic paths when something is stuck, and practicing the unusual.
You have previously spoken about your experience of burnout—what would you like to see change in the fashion industry?
So much! There’s a need for a big online community for models, a safe space where they can talk about everything and feel less alone. I also think agencies need to be more educated about the power imbalances they’re a part of—for instance, they take an equal 20% off the model fee and the client fee, so they don’t necessarily protect you as a model, since they have the same amount of interest in the client. A lot of models are not aware of this conflict of interest when they start out! More laws and regulations are needed, which is tricky because we work in so many different countries. I think it’s already shifting a little bit, because you now see categories such as plus-size models, but still, you have to be a certain size in order to be a traditional professional model. The body moves, it’s organic, it changes throughout the day even! If the designers and agencies saw the body as ever-changing, it’d be better for everyone.
Who are your role models in general?
Many people inspire me, mostly women. I’ve been reading the biography of Suzan Sontag lately, and she is a big inspiration. She is one of the reasons I went to university. Then FKA Twigs, for her multidisciplinary talent, Cameron Russell for her activism, Carlota Guerrero for her sisterhood art. And as a model I was always inspired by the career of Guinevere van Seenus. I’m not sure of this, but it always seemed to me that her body would fluctuate in size, that although she wasn’t always a sample size, she would be booked anyway, for being herself.
Who and what influences your personal style?
I watch fashion shows and movies, and then go to vintage stores to find things that always kind of resemble what inspired me. I like to tailor what I find so that is fits perfectly.
Which item of clothing would you never get rid of and why?
Once, about 12 years ago, I found this Valentino top somewhere in a thrift shop, and I still have it, it’s the piece I’ve had the longest. It’s a super beautiful knitted top.
What does free to be mean to you?
To be aware of intersectionality. You have to be aware of that in order to feel free, you know? You need to be mindful of your privileges. I feel free the most when I connect with others and when I’m in a diverse group of people.
Do you feel entirely free to be?
There are moments that I feel entirely free to be, mostly in a group of inspiring people that I feel I’m on the same level with, or in nature, or when I’m creating things on my own. To be honest, I don’t feel entirely free most of the time. Sometimes I wish I were a man, so I wouldn’t be objectified as much and wouldn’t experience other forms of sexism that women experience on a daily basis.