Contrast, Vassar’s art and style magazine, is published at the end of each semester, marking a celebration of the current fashion dominating campus and pop culture. While they prepare for the issue ahead, The Miscellany News sat down with style editors Dana Chang ’19 and Hannah Nice ’18 to discuss the publication [Disclaimer: Nice is the Assistant Social Media Editor at the Miscellany News].
Miscellany News: How did you become involved in Contrast?
Nice: I personally have always been interested in fashion. Growing up, I read magazines such as Elle, Vogue and Marie Claire. I loved looking especially at their photo shoots, and I would cut out photos and make collages of them. So when I saw that there was an opportunity at Vassar that had a fashion-focus, I was beyond excited. I had done some things my freshman year with the styling of the publication, and then got quite busy my sophomore year with other activities. However, when I saw that there was an opening for a leadership role in the beginning of my junior year, I definitely jumped at the opportunity to get more involved.
Misc.: What does a style editor do?
Nice: I feel like everything. It’s really exciting because you would think that a style editor would just be focused on styling the garments and getting the clothing together, but there’s so much in the process that goes behind the scenes. You do everything from putting together model castings and choosing models, and then you have to find time to fit them, get the clothing and brainstorm the concepts for the photo shoots. Then you have to run meetings and schedule stuff. This was especially apparent last semester when we put together our 1969 fashion show in the Loeb, which involved collaborating with the Drama Department and the staff in the Loeb, so there were a lot of moving parts. It seems as though the styling is the smallest part of the job, as it’s more about coordinating and making sure everyone is on the same page.
Misc.: What is Contrast’s goal as a magazine?
Nice: It seems like a lot of people here are interested in what they wear and how that can be a form of expression. We attend a school that, compared to a lot of universities, is very accepting, and so fashion plays a large role in people expressing themselves in ways they might not be able to do in other communities they find themselves in. Contrast not only helps to promote the fun that can come from fashion but also how it can be a way to express yourself, which you can see in our 1969 fashion show.
Misc.: What do you think separates Contrast from other fashion magazines?
Chang: The biggest thing is that it’s run by students, and it’s not like it’s a work study or an independent study. We need to really carefully plan out the time we want to put into it. Since it is made by students for students, it definitely affects how it’s created and what the magazine ends up looking like at the end. Contrast also changes who the exec board is each year. As we are the ones that end up making the decisions and every team has a different vision, individual issues of Contrast are a different version of the magazine. However, each one still delivers the quintessential style and flair that Contrast is known for.
Misc.: Vassar truly is a place of firsts, including breaking out in terms of fashion, social issues and the publication of a college newspaper decades before most schools. As different publications, how do you think the Misc and Contrast intertwine in the promotion of the arts?
Nice: As Dana said, one thing that I think is really impressive with both publications is that they’re both student-run, and people on the receiving end may not realize how much work goes into the finished product. There’s deadlines and a lot of moving parts. Working with the Misc and being the style editor for Contrast, you constantly see how passionate people are about their work. In terms of promoting the arts, people who are writing, researching and interviewing are learning things themselves, which can definitely be difficult at times. The fact that they’re able to promote that and get the word out is amazing. This is a school that shines in a variety of fields, which I think really is something that’s valuable.
Misc.: Where do you see Contrast going in the future?
Nice: We have been trying to take things up a notch, which you can see in our last issue. We had the president of IMG Models speak at our fashion show, which isn’t something a lot of schools can say. In terms of photo shoots, we have tried to be a little more creative and push the boundaries. This upcoming semester, expect to see more than you even wanted. We also want to tap into current Vassar style. Our street-style photos, which we post on our Instagram (Vassar Contrast), are not just us doing fantasy play but also trying to be connected to the student body.
Chang: I want Contrast to be taken seriously. I’m not saying that it’s not taken seriously now, but I want it to be well-received. One of the biggest thing is this is an extracurricular but creating content is a full-time job. So, sometimes it’s hard that people may not be able to put in all the effort that’s needed to create a publication. I’m excited to try to not fall into pushing Contrast aside. Although I’m not getting paid, this truly is my job and something that I love to put my ideas and creativities into, and especially collaborating with my fellow community members. I hope that it’s good, thought-out, well-received work. I really do see it expanding in the future. I think we can do more in regards to social media. Hannah and I are thinking of doing a podcast or even zines to promote street styles, or even just creating content that could be readily available rather than just having build-up. As we expand and get better as a collective, we can put out more content because fashion is always on the go and changing. It would be cool to capture moments in the now.
Misc.: What have you taken from your experience as a style editor, and how do you see this carrying with you in the future?
Nice: It has definitely helped my communication skills, and also visually to be able to combine the studio art aspect of my creativity to something I’m really passionate about (fashion) is something I’ve never had the opportunity to do before.
Chang: The biggest thing is teamwork with other creatives, and learning early on that all of your ideas are not always going to work, and allowing other people to shift your vision. I find that I get attached to an idea but at the end of the day when creatives collaborate on one thing it’s not just one set idea but rather a collective. That’s when the real magic happens. Having to abide by schedules and take into consideration other people’s ideas and visions is definitely something I hope to take with me.
Misc.: Do you have any final comments?
Chang: If you are interested in joining Contrast, definitely watch out on our Instagram and social media, as we’ll put the meeting times there. The thing I find hard about clubs here is that at the end of the day the exec boards are the one that make the decisions, so it can be hard to just be a member. I realized that I wanted to have my ideas in the magazine, so rather than being frustrated by a lack of input, I got more involved so my voice would be heard and I could make the changes that I want. I’ve just heard people complain about organizations, but if you have a vision for something, stick with it and make those changes. People are so willing to talk but won’t put in the work to get what they want. If you want your voice to matter, you have to make it matter.
Contrast encourages anyone with an interest in art or fashion to join the publication. Their semester is off to a great start, and they are having their first photoshoot this Friday. Be on the lookout for future events, as they are always visually stimulating and brilliant, which can be seen in their jaw-dropping 1969 fashion show.