Couturesque has long admired Gabby Richardson (@fridacashflow), the 21 year old activist, artist, model, and curator for Art Hoe Collective. Based out of Brooklyn and Philadelphia, Gabby uses her talents to create a space for queer artists of colour to share their work. When she isn't busy curating, creating personal art projects (including an upcoming musical endeavour!), or designing the collective's website, Gabby also has a strong social media presence; her Instagram following clocks in at 50K devotees. 2016 has been a banner year for her, having starred in a campaign for Adidas Originals shot by none other than whizkid Petra Collins, as well as a story with Gucci for Vogue. It seems like everyone wants to work with Gabby, to hear her voice, and to showcase her effortless yet powerful style.
A few weeks ago, we met up with Gabby at a studio in Manhattan to shoot some fall looks with Topshop, and discuss her career over Sweetgreen salads and juice. In an industry full of competing voices, Gabby has no problem standing out as an individual with integrity and determination. Next stop, world domination?
You’ve been in an Adidas campaign, a story for Vogue.com, and worked with a plethora of really talented, socially conscious, and digitally-savvy young people. How do you think social media is changing some of the politics around identity and visibility?
I think social media just gives people a platform to be seen and heard. If I wasn't on social media I'd still be me and have my opinions but social media just gives room for a connection between people that wasn't there previously.
What role does fashion in particular have to play in terms of dispelling discriminatory beauty standards?
I think fashion is just a tool really. Fashion in its basest form is the reason why we have discriminatory beauty standards. We dismantle it by existing and integrating into it and being seen. We can use it to normalize other beauty. But even then that's still another standard of beauty that still hold some form of attractiveness as the end all be all.
How do you see representation in 2016? Do you think that ‘diversity’ is a passing trend in fashion and media, or an actual effort towards creating visibility for people of colour?
I think diversity in fashion is possibly a passing trend if we don't work towards making it stay. We all need to fight to keep it in the forefront or it could be gone tomorrow.
What does being an activist mean in 2016?
Being an activist in 2016 means the same thing it meant in 1965 and any other year. It means holding on to your values and fighting for what's right for yourself and the people around you. And not compromising your beliefs for the safety of yourself and other disenfranchised groups.
What has the response to “Art Hoe Collective” meant to you? How was it received initially?
The response for AHC has been overwhelmingly positive. Initially it was received with some doubt and tentativeness and backlash from people who didn't understand why we were creating this safe space.
How can someone be a good ally to the work that you do?
We don't need allies, we need accomplices. You can be an ally by talking; you're an accomplice by hitting the streets. Allies at this point are an outdated concept.
What is your biggest hope for your work?
My biggest hope for my career is to continue my activism through art and dedicate my life to that.
Photography & Styling: Tia Elisabeth Glista
Production Assistants: Maya Kotomori and Taylor Warner
Gabby wears Topshop clothes and her own jewellery