Paige Reifler is living the life! Meet the 21-year-old New Yorker who stumbled upon the modeling industry and has already become one of its most in-demand talents.
Where did you grow up?
My time was split between New York City and upstate New York. I was always bouncing back and forth. I lived on East 93rd Street and then slowly moved my way downtown. The balance between the two was really important. Upstate, I got to run around and play in the dirt, and in the city, I made my dearest friends and became confident in being unique and original, because the city is such a melting pot. You see everything at such a young age, and that was really important to me.
What do your parents do?
My dad is in finance, and my mom was the ultimate mom. She was always there for us and helped me with my homework and my art projects. She’s always been really philanthropic. She does it all.
What were your summers like growing up?
My parents were huge advocates of travel. They thought it was really important that we see the world, so we traveled every summer as a family. I’m obsessed with my family. The South of France holds a dear place in my heart. We spent a lot of time there, which was great.
We understand your childhood house in Millbrook, New York, had an ice-skating rink!
We don’t have that house anymore, but it was incredible. I always had friends over, and it was a blast. My dad didn’t grow up with much, and he wanted to give us everything. Not in a bratty way, but he wanted us to enjoy it.
What kind of ice-skater are you?
I’m terrible. My sister and brother played hockey in school because that was the sport to do, but I’m not a hockey player. I tried figure skating, but it never worked out. My boarding school had a mandatory rule that you had to play a sport, and I did every sport that you could wear a skirt in. I played field hockey, tennis, and squash, which is a very East Coast sport.
Why did you want to play sports in a skirt?
I liked the idea that you kind of played a dirty sport in a skirt. I wasn’t a girlie girl. I was always interested in fashion, but I didn’t know how to express that when I was young. When I was in preschool, I wore these black lamé pants, and I think at that moment my parents knew I was going to be a handful. I wore them every day. I had five pairs.
What’s your fashion interest these days?
I’m more into vintage than fashion. I’m a vintage freak. The craftsmanship of vintage clothes was just different. Not to say that designers now can’t make clothes of that quality. Finding a perfect pair of vintage jeans can make my day. It’s incredible!
How did the modeling thing come about for you?
I was going into my senior year of high school, and I met a photographer named Jacob Sadrak. He took a few photos of me, and without my knowledge, he sent them to agencies, and shortly after he got in contact with me and said, “Listen, all these agencies want to meet you.” I thought about it, and decided to give it a shot. I wasn’t a confident teen. I didn’t think I was really beautiful.
And now you are signed with The Lions!
When I signed with them, they asked me to make a list of 30 things I wanted to accomplish. It could be anything, not just modeling. I had never heard of anything like that before.
What was on your list?
There were specific photographers I wanted to work with, and Bruce Weber was on the list. A week later, I was shooting with him. I was so fortunate. Right off the bat, I felt like I could do anything. Bruce was incredible. To see such an icon be so humble was really important for me. You can be successful but still remain humble and sweet. He took me in the garden and we talked about Tchaikovsky and Hemingway, and his life and his loves. I soaked it all in, because it may never happen again.
What are some of your other goals?
I’m 21 and I’m not sure what I’m going to do the rest of my life. This industry is so amazing because it opens so many doors for you, especially as a creative. I have goals, but I don’t know where I’ll go. I’m riding the ride.
Carine Roitfeld appointed you a “Beauty Queen” in Harper’s Bazaar. What was that like?
It was amazing. I met Carine through my friend Remi [Barbier], and it was me, Stephen Gan, and Bruce Weber. I went to the dinner and I was authentically me, which I think was refreshing for them. I had no idea who they were, with the exception of Bruce. I didn’t know about their mega power in the industry. I sat down at the table and one of the first things I did was to speak in French to show Carine my accent, which is ridiculously embarrassing, but I think she found it refreshing. We became friends. After Carine and I spent time together, I got a leopard pencil skirt and a patent-leather jacket because I wanted to be her! I’m so grateful to her.
We shot this editorial in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood. What was the experience like?
It was really nerve-racking, and I haven’t been nervous in a while. We were on the street with a lot of men, and I was wearing skimpy swimsuits. I had to think of myself as an actress playing a role. All those people are extras, and I’m going to strut down this walk 17 times. A guy with his girlfriend gave me the eye, and people were taking photos. It was hard, but the team was incredible. Everyone was there for me.
Who do people tell you that you resemble?
I get Drew Barrymore from E.T. She was four years old! It makes me want cry. [Laughs] Can’t I get Drew in the ’90s? I also get Kate Bosworth and [model] Bridget Hall.
What do you do on your days off?
I paint. It’s therapeutic for me, and not for the public to see. I’m learning to play the guitar, and I’ve been decorating my apartment. I’m never in New York so it’s been a slow evolution. I catch up with friends, listen to music, read a book. I try to stay creatively stimulated.
You’re wearing a sweater that says Lucky on it. Do you feel lucky?
I feel so incredibly lucky! I never thought that this would be what I’m doing. I’m around my idols every day, and working with such amazing people!
PHOTOGRAPHY BY GIORGIO NIRO
STYLED BY REBECCA DENNETT
FASHION EDITOR PAIGE REDDINGER
MAKEUP BY PAOLO ORLANDO FOR MAYBELLINE NEW YORK
HAIR BY STEVE HOEPPNER FOR MOROCCANOIL
RETOUCHING BY JUSTINE FOORD FOR SILHOUETTE STUDIO NYC
PRODUCER MELISSA CORREA
Read the issue HERE.