Issue 114
Ali Michael
Playing Fashion geeks out with model turned cyber princess Ali Michael, the quirky millennial who personified 2014.
#alimichael If you know fashion glossies, then you have definitely seen then teenage Ali Michael from as far back as 2006 growing up from the pages of Vogue to her more recent campaign for Calvin Klein. With her azure eyes and dream brows, Ms. Michael who hails from Texas, became one of the few American models on the front lines of fashion. Now at 24, Ms. Michael has developed quite the cyber following with her ever-awkward (but quite witty) Instagram. Meta posts, kitty pictures, and anime girls are just a few surprises from the self-professed diginerd. “I’m a geek in every way. I’m into anime and video games. I have this one video game character who is a cat girl with blue hair, she’s a warrior goddess and everything I wish I was.”

Here, Playing Fashion gets to know the geeky yet effortlessly cool Ms. Michael. As she talks Japanese food, growing up, and her venture into photography.

I GREW UP VERY FAST. I needed a second to finish being a kid, so I took a break for a year in 2011. I moved to Los Angeles and spent a lot of time on a horse ranch outside of Las Vegas. This industry is so surreal that I think you need to take a step back every now and then catch your breath.

WHEN I WAS 5 YEARS OLD, I had a pet tortoise named Blitzen who I spent years with. I was obsessed with reptiles and would catch lizards in my backyard. I had one lizard named Hammerhead and another one named Elvis. Hammerhead ate Elvis after a month though…

MOM KNOWS BEST. Growing up in Texas, being a pale girl with huge eyebrows was not cute. I wanted to wax so bad but my mom wouldn’t let me. I was so mad at her at the time, but I’m thankful now. I leave them alone for the most part.
MY BOYFRIEND MARCEL USED TO LIVE IN JAPAN SO HE COOKS FOR ME, which is awesome. We get raw fish and vegetables and he’ll make soba noodles or homemade miso soup. My favorite place in New York is this Japanese microbiotic restaurant Souen, which I live across the street from.

YOSENABE IS MY FAVORITE THING EVER. It’s a Japanese dish, pretty much a big bowl of soup with salmon, cod, lotus root… All this delicious food thrown together. It’s strange because that’s comfort food to me, but I grew up on Poptarts, cereal and chicken nuggets.

I’M GETTING MORE AND MORE INTO PHOTOGRAPHY. I post random messy stuff on my website ( I don’t want to master the craft, because I feel that would take the authenticity away from my photos. I feel like a kid who sees something they like and tries to capture the sentimentality. The innocence would be lost.

I DRESS VINTAGE, VERY 90S, AND I HAVE ALMOST ALWAYS WORE CALVIN KLEIN DENIM. I’ve always loved the ads, especially the overtly sexual ones that were banned. That’s why it was so awesome when I shot the CK One ads this past summer. It was just a bunch of us with our cell phones shooting the whole thing. Calvin Klein totally knows how to capture the “times."

Ali Michael on Instagram, Twitter

Photography by Kinya Ota; styling by Robert Mishchenko; casting and stylist's assistant: Bert Martirosyan; model: Ali Michael / IMG; makeup by Colleen Runne using NARS Cosmetics; hair by Shlomi Mor.

Opening Image: sweater by A LA RUSSE; silver ring by Tiffany&Co.
Words by Bert Martirosyan