When we first featured India in 2009, she was a 16-year-old who paired mismatched prints, layers of Harajuku socks, Keds, and a Burberry trench coat in a way that made us drool . Four years later, the hand-me-down princess no longer resides with her parents, still has a painterly ease with color and patterns, and is taking her unfettered expression to a cultural level with her art collective, Luck You.
While settling into her first apartment with her best friend and the co-mother of her cat, India's parents split up and her little sister was taking over her old room. "My mom and dad told me, 'You need to take everything,' so I had a lot of clothes, and my roommate had a lot of clothes. There are proportions of our bodies that differ, but we're basically the same size. Since we're both super about sharing, our two mega closets totally meshed."
"By the end our first year together, my roommate broke the news, 'I found bedbugs in my bed.' It was summertime, so I thought that perhaps mosquitoes were getting in and biting her. I didn't get any bites, because I was on the top bunk. Though it was traumatic, we managed to be hyper optimistic, thinking, 'This is nature teaching us that we need to detach ourselves from our material obsessions.' The amount of effort that it took to treat things was not worth it. There was a huge purge of many special things."
"There's times when the petty part of myself thinks, 'Oh man, I remember that one T-shirt that was really cute. I want to wear it right now, but I threw it out.' Yet that only lasts for a second. Now, I'm inspired to get rid of the things in my closet. Either I’ll get new things by trading or I'll take a big bag and drop it off at Beacon’s Closet and then treat myself to one dress. I curate my closet and don't let clothes pile up anymore."
"More and more of the girls my age know that what they wear is a 'costume,' regardless of how they’re dressed. But they can take control over their 'costume' and make it empowering. You look at couture, and they say that it’s empowering, and sometimes it is, but most of the time, the collections end up like big brands. It's a collaboration with a cool artist as a guise to sell plain, boring T-shirts made in China."
"My godmother gave me a sound system with a tape deck and a CD player. My dad has a huge CD collection, and there were a few random tapes. I listened to his CDs, but they’re more cumbersome and harder to take care of. Tapes, however, have something very satisfying about them. Nobody wants them -- you can find them anywhere, and all the good ones are amazingly cheap. As for MP3s, I don't care about them -- they're not antiquated; there's no nostalgia."
When she's not listening to Chances with Wolves mixes over and over, the girl who could've posed for Rossetti is cultivating her acting career. She played the sole American in Olivier Assayas' award-winning coming-of-age film Something in the Air, and is set to play a sexually disturbed teenager in a dystopian movie based off of an Eric Bogosian book. "I don’t like to be an extremist," India told us, "but I can be. I would love to just go all the way for something, be it love or my creative projects. The best feeling is when I can trust my gut."
As for her art collective, Luck You, the artists have been doing installations at Collette's water bar and pushing the limitations of poetry readings at the Newsstand. But what has us frothing with excitement is the group fashion show that they intend to present. According to India, the purpose of the project is to "reject limitations in fashion design imposed by corporate or commercial obligation by creating an open-ended platform to present ideas on approaching the human form. We want to create an opening that allows fashion to enter art and art to enter fashion."
In the first photo, India wears a handmade dress, a vintage sweater, and hand-me-down tights.
Photographed and interviewed by Elisa.