Rachel Chandler Loves Her Belgian Loafers

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A self-portrait. Photo: Courtesy of Rachel Chandler

Since February, 22-year-old Rachel Chandler has been snapping shots for the art, nightlife, and fashion worlds for Purple Diary. The L.A. native came to New York to study art history at Gallatin in 2005, and in the meantime, picked up regular D.J. gigs at the Beatrice Inn and now Avenue, as well as a steady slew of cool, private parties. We sat down with the Purple Diary contributor and D.J. to discuss disposable cameras, Peter Pilotto pants, and comfort shoes.

Many of your photos for Purple Diary seem intimate and glamorous, but also very human. Who are your influences in your work (photographers or otherwise)?
My favorite photographers are Guy Bourdin, Irving Penn, and Robert Mapplethorpe. I also watch the film The Night Porter, by Liliana Cavani, a lot.

Do you have a favorite photograph you've taken for Purple Diary?
When I went to Venice to D.J. during the Biennale, I had my bag stolen at the airport. I couldn’t replace my camera in Venice, so I ended up shooting with disposable cameras. I love how the photos turned out. A bunch of them are up as a gallery on the site. My favorite one of the bunch is taken of the artist Franz West dancing in the Palazzo Grassi Museum.

Do you have a favorite person you like to photograph?
Hanna Liden. And my favorite New Yorkers, Finbar Craig-Martin (age 6), and Secret Snow (age 2).

How do you decide which photographs end up on the site?
I take a lot of photographs every day, and I only submit the ones that pertain to the concept of the blog. Olivier Zahm edits my submissions.

What are some of your staple songs in your D.J.-ing?
Right now my favorite song to play when I D.J. is "House Jam" by Gang Gang Dance. A few songs that have stuck around since day one: "Goodbye Horses" by Q Lazzarus, "Strangelove" by Depeche Mode, "Because the Night" by Patti Smith, "Player’s Anthem" by UGK.

What would you like to do once you graduate from NYU in the fall?
For now, I am lucky enough to get paid to play music at parties. Next year I hope to work on my photographs and self-publish some books.

What's the inspiration behind your own look?
Being broke. I am inspired a lot by a few films, by my friends, by photos of my older friends when they were my age. I am an art-history student, so I get to look at a lot of pretty things all the time.

What pieces or labels do you wear most?
I don’t buy a lot of new designer clothes. I have some designer staples that get recycled quite a bit — a Rick Owens jacket, cashmere from RRL, Acne leather leggings I bought in Stockholm, and way too many shoes. I also should tell you that I have an old striped jumpsuit that I wear three to five times per week. Most of my friends think it should be illegal.

What was the first designer item you bought?
A baby-blue nylon Prada bag that I bought at the Neiman Marcus day-after-Christmas sale when I was 13.

Who are some of your favorite designers?
Norma Kamali. Christian Lacroix. Olivier Theyskens. Rei Kawakubo. I also bought some Peter Pilotto pants for my last birthday, and I really love them.

Is there an item you are currently saving up to buy?
A new pair of Belgian loafers (they don’t last long in the city). They are basically like wearing orthopedic shoes — I never want to wear anything else ever again.

Finish this sentence: I never leave the house without ...
My camera.