We all buy clothes, but no two people shop the same. It can be a social experience, and a deeply personal one; at times, it can be impulsive and entertaining, at others, purpose-driven, a chore. Where do you shop? When do you shop? How do you decide what you need, how much to spend and what's "you"? These are some of the questions we're putting to prominent figures in our column "How I Shop."
My interview with Dilone is scheduled to take place on a street corner on the edge of Soho, where she'll be posing for a photo shoot promoting her Fall 2018 campaign for DKNY. I'm prepared for some massive production, with blocked-off streets and hordes of PR and security. But instead, I'm greeted by two friendly publicists (and a photographer) ready and waiting for the recently buzzcut-shorn Dilone, in front of a larger-than-life version of the model, still with her famous curls.
A few minutes later, the model (and just one also-friendly rep) arrives, but dropped off on the wrong street corner. No problem, as Dilone — in a baggy tee and jeans, with a hoodie tied around her waist and a high-low mix of Converse high-tops and Balenciaga's Souvenirs bike chain belt bag — good-naturedly walks over and greets each of us with friendly smile and a warm hug.
Super-chill, considering the 24-year-old's career skyrocketed after her powerhouse Fall 2016 season in which she walked 40 shows. She consequently graced two Victoria's Secret Fashion Show runways and covered a number of glossies, including "The Beauty of Diversity" issue of Allure for April 2017. Dilone's digital-led "100% DKNY" campaign for this season celebrates diversity through her background and heritage, and also gave her the chance to work with friends Soo Joo Park and Alanna Arrington.
"It was freezing that day," she says, as we stand and chat on the bustling sidewalk. "So, me and Soo and Alanna were cuddling up a lot. It was really cute."
Dilone — known professionally by her last name only (full name: Janiece Altagracia Dilone) — also just came off an equally impressive New York Fashion Week. "It went really well," she says, with a smile. "I opened with Jeremy Scott — I love him — and I ended with Marc Jacobs. It was beautiful. He's one of my favorite designers and I love that he doesn't give in with his creative work. He does it for fashion, not to sell, and I'm so grateful when I'm part of his show."
In between, she walked Tory Burch, Brandon Maxwell, Prabal Gurung, Zimmermann, Anna Sui and Coach, thank you very much. But closing out NYFW with the tardy designer turned into a family affair when the Dominican-born and Long Island-raised model brought her youngest sister, who helped her wait out the 90-minute delay backstage. "We were just running around," she says, discreetly.
Growing up in such a big, super-tight family also involved sharing — voluntary or not — wardrobe items amongst her nine siblings: four brothers and five sisters. "Share or stole, however you want to put it," she laughs.
Accustomed to multi-tasking and about to jet off to London to kick off her international runway blitz, the personable and down-to-earth model was more than gracious to chat in detail about what she loves about her new hair, how her older sister reacted after she "borrowed" a pair of too-small shoes and why she's on a self-imposed shopping moratorium.
"I keep forgetting [about my hair]. I can't see it, so... I feel more feminine now with the buzzcut than I did with my hair curly. I don't know if it's because my sides are buzzed, but this feels so feminine to me, actually. It really does, so bringing in the earrings [pointing to the oversized hoops and multiple studs framing her new look]. The other day, I was wearing red lipstick. I haven't done that in forever!
I'd say my personal style is laid-back. I really love to be comfortable, but I've learned that you can be comfortable and chic at the same time. So, loose-fitted pants — I have these amazing pants from Céline that I love — with a cool, vintage tee. You can mix it up and a vintage tee goes with everything. I have a Prince & the Revolution one, which is awesome. Rolling Stones and this Balenciaga one. I feel like Céline is more for older people, sometimes. If you take their really sophisticated pants and throw a nice vintage tee on top, you've got something a little bit more laid-back, younger and cooler and still has that chicness.
I went through this period when I was in high school when I thought, 'Okay, yeah, I'm going to be stylish,' and that wasn't necessarily the style that fit me or my personality. But I tried it and then I was like, 'Okay. I'm going to go back to just wearing basic clothes.' Then, when I moved to the city and I started [modeling] and I was more involved in fashion, I was like, 'Now I'm going to express myself,' because everyone expresses themselves in that way and it's a lot of fun. I'm not afraid to take chances, I guess. I'll put on a crazier piece or something more colorful, because of fashion, for sure.
I have this amazing Prada leather jacket that I haven't worn yet and I cannot wait to wear it. It's from their last collection and it has this comic strip — this amazing girl with this beautiful Afro on it — and it's just sick and it's really powerful. It's very 'Black Panther'-ish. It's gorgeous.
Rihanna was definitely one of [my style inspirations], [as well as] the way my aunts would dress up at holiday parties. You come to one of our huge holiday parties — with our massive family — and everyone would put their best foot forward, you know? They put their best looks on, so my family is a huge part of my style influences.
My sister is probably the most stylish one in the family. She's almost a whole foot shorter than me, but two sizes smaller than me in shoes — now three sizes since I grew — and I borrowed her shoes. I loved her shoes so much. I came back from school and I had ripped the back of the heel. My big-ass feet had ripped through the entire shoe. She started throwing it at me! She's like, 'What are you doing? Putting your big feet in my shoes?!'
It was really funny, but we borrowed each other's clothes all the time. She would steal my clothes, too, so it was tit for tat. [My family is] great. We get along really well. Our parents worked a lot, so we really had each other and raised each other. I give my clothes to them now. It's like a free for all. I'll bring a bag of clothes. 'Here, you can take this. This is from two seasons ago.'
I leave tomorrow [for London Fashion Week]. I packed literally yesterday. I hate packing. I have to be two steps ahead of myself because otherwise I just fall apart. I have two and a half suitcases right now, but they're two big ones, then a little one and then a duffle bag. Plus, you don't know what to wear during this weather. Is it hot? Is it cold? So, you bring the sweaters. I'm bringing a few Céline pieces that I really love. Acne, Céline, Balenciaga are three of my favorite brands. Then a bunch of stuff from The Vintage Twin. I love them, so much. I'm actually really good friends with the owners there, so I have a lot of stuff from them, too.
I'm not an impulse shopper — anymore. I try to tell myself, 'If you love this, come back in a week.' And then my mind goes crazy, and it's like, 'But maybe it won't be there in a week...' But I try not to. I've got more important things to spend money on: a mortgage. I was just with my accountant who said, 'Uh, you gotta save, girl.' The Prada jacket was probably [my last impulse buy]. It was really expensive.
I work with a really wonderful stylist, Ketevan Gvaramadze [to prep for Fashion Month]. She would send me a few pieces here and there throughout the summer — 'What do you think of this? What do you think of that?' — and we go back and forth with our opinions. It's been great collaborating with her and seeing her perspective of how she puts things together. I feel really good about this season. Like I said, my aunts, my sister, my mom taught me to put my best foot forward during the shows. You're representing yourself here, so it's important.
But I'm done shopping. I gotta save my money. Grown moves, you know? I'm 24 years old and I don't want to throw my money away. I'm gonna make grown moves. Boss moves. It's smart."