"I’m from Brazil, born and raised. When I was 21, I was studying graphic design in Rio—but I wasn’t excited about it. My two friends and I found a program where we could get a student visa and study in New York. We did one year at Parsons and then my friends left and I decided to stay. I transferred to FIT to study fashion design and at some point I started making leather jackets and leather accessories, and I realized I really liked working with leather. I was making everything by hand—spending hours and hours in the workshop. The people from the footwear course shared a lab with us, and I hadn’t realized that there was a footwear course. I decided to switch into that, and here we are. [I graduated] in 2015. I interned for different brands when I was in school, and I was also modeling. My friend Dan Macmahon found me on the street on the LES, and asked to photograph me. I started shooting with him and for the brands that he worked with and one thing led to another. I wasn’t just modeling though—I was paying attention backstage, talking to the photographers, the designers, the stylists and learning a lot from it. When I graduated, I realized I could either start working for someone else or I could start my own thing. I didn’t have anything to lose. At the time, I was making samples by hand and posting them on my social media and I was getting really good feedback. A lot of people asked to buy things, and it was frustrating to have to say no. So I thought, maybe there is a market for this. I gave it a shot—I just went for it.
I started with like $5,000 that I had saved from modeling. I went to Brazil and found the factory that I work with. I had emailed them and then I showed up and was like, ‘Hi! Do you guys want to do this with me?’ They believed in me. I think we made seven samples. That was it! My first season was Fall/Winter 2016. I did a little showroom on the Lower East Side and I got wholesale orders. I got into stores that I never thought I’d be in. That was February 2016. I I applied for an artist visa and 7 years later, I’m still struggling. Every time I travel and come back, I go to an immigration room and spend ten minutes telling my story, again and again and again. It’s a process, and also a lot of money but I want to stay. I’ve made amazing friends here and I have my business. I go back [to Brazil] once a year to see the family and visit the factory, which is also there. The materials I chose are what I could find in Brazil. I try not to get materials from all over the world because when you ship things around it creates a lot of waste. We source everything in Brazil. We have amazing natural resources and the wooden heel that I use in basically all the styles is this certified wood we found in the south of Brazil that is really beautiful and very unique.
Every morning, I get up, start boiling some water to make tea or coffee, and then I wash my face. I use the Shu Uemura Skin Purifier. It’s an oil so it takes off makeup and is also very moisturizing, which is awesome. I’ll also use the Shiseido Benefiance Extra Creamy Cleansing Foam. I really like the way it smells. I go back and forth between natural stuff and chemical stuff, but for anti-aging I feel like you need strong stuff. [After I cleanse] I go straight to serum. This Skinceuticals Hydrating B5 one is very moisturizing, and I have another that is anti-oxidizing. After that, I put on a little of whatever moisturizer I’m using at the time. I mix the Tata Harper Rebuilding Moisturizer with Juice Beauty PHYTO-Pigments Flawless Serum Foundation and apply it with the YSL Foundation Brush No. 5. I love Tata Harper stuff, I use that more than anything, but I like rotating between different products. I do that with my shampoo too—if I use the same shampoo every day, my hair gets used to it and it stops working. I use Dior Fix It Concealer in No. 25 on my eyes to cover dark circles. It’s so easy to apply because it’s a stick. I’m really bad at matching my skin, and this one is really easy to use. [I don’t wear sunscreen] every day, but I should. I use Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense sometimes. I’ll put that on after I put on my moisturizer.
I switch between the La Mer Moisturizing Gel and Obagi Dermapower Lift Cream at night. I like that it’s in glass. That’s another thing—there’s so much trash and plastic in beauty that it’s overwhelming. I think [sheet masks] are so bad for the environment—I don’t like single-use products and I don’t use cotton pads. I also use the Facial Treatment Essence Eye from SK-II at night. Sunday Riley UFO Oil is good for when I break out. It smells really funky, but it works. I put it all over. [For a spot treatment] I use Aesop Control, but I don’t even know if it works, I just put it on. I like using Castor oil as a mask. It’s very sticky, so I apply it and leave it for 15 minutes and then I rinse it off with a wet towel. It’s really, really nice. I try to do that often and I like that it’s natural, organic and cold-pressed. The Sans Ceuticals Activator 7 Body + Hair + Face Oil is also really amazing. This Vitamin C is from Obagi—they have different levels of intensity, this is the 10. It evens out your skin tone and smells like oranges. It feels like a serum but it’s not light at all. In the winter, [my skin gets very dry] for sure.
My hands get really dry, too, so I got this Wacca Hand Cream when I was in Philly. It’s really good! [My humidifier] is from the ‘70s, and still works. I love that thing. I use Nasya Oil by Banyan Botanicals to moisturize my nose or when I’m feeling a little sick. This Ayurvedic Herbal Oil is also good. I usually rub it on my feet after a long day of walking, or if I have pain in my neck. I use a lot of Aquaphor on my lips all the time, but the one I use the most is Homeoplasmine. It’s super cheap, and it has some herbs in it. Every makeup artist that I’ve worked with had it. Whenever I go to Paris I buy some.
I wear foundation and the Dior concealer stick, and sometimes I use the Clinique Chubby Stick in Amped Up Apple on my cheeks. It’s just a little color and I use it when I’m feeling really pale. Sometimes I put one drop of the Dr. Hauschka Bronzing Tint in my foundation, but again, only sometimes and I use the Glossier Haloscope in Quartz around my eyes. I pluck [my brows] just a little, because they connect. [Laughs] I don’t let anyone touch them because it’s really easy to mess them up. I brush them sometimes to make sure they’re in the same direction but I feel like the less I touch them the better they look. That goes for my brows, my hair and my skin. Natural vibes. I use this Clinique High Impact Mascara in Brown if I’m feeling really fancy. I like it because it’s brown, not black. Black doesn’t look real. I do one little layer just to make sure the lashes are separated and in place. That’s if I go out and feel like I need something. It’s either that or a little cat eye that I do with the Diorshow Art Pen. Most makeup people are obsessed with my eyelashes because they’re really long. They’re like, ‘Oh, you curl them?’ And I’m like, ‘Ah, no.’ It’s just a lot of hair! I have a lot of hair.
Growing up I really wanted to have blonde hair, so I dyed it, and then I had pink ends at one point and even blue. I also had dreads for five years. I was trying things out. I realized that the more I fussed with it the worse it got, so now I don’t dye it or anything. I just wash it and let it dry. [I shampoo] everyday because it gets oily. I wash with the Aesop Equalizing Shampoo, and this Public Organic one that I got in Japan. I don’t use conditioner. I use Sans Ceuticals Shine Corrector Oil sometimes—I think it’s basically just apple cider vinegar, because it smells like it. I spray that and let it sit for a couple minutes and then rinse it. It makes it shine more. I shower at night and I go to bed with it wet. Sometimes I wake up and it’s super crazy, and I [style it with my hands]. I don’t brush it – I don’t have a brush – I just tousle it a little bit. I’m gonna go shorter for the winter, because when you wear scarves and stuff it tangles in the back.
I wear a few [perfumes] and it varies with the season. I keep John Masters Organics Sparkling Citrus Roll-On Fragrance in my bag. I put it in my hands and inhale – it’s very relaxing. It’s funny because I got it in Japan, and I was like, I should’ve gotten more! But then I was walking in Soho and noticed they have a store there, and I was like, great! It’s not Japanese at all! I’m glad that I can get more here. I really like Regime des Fleurs Gold Leaves. Their identity and packaging – everything is so nice. I wear that one the most. I feel like it’s feminine but not too girly. This one I got in Japan Monocle Scent One Hinoki by Commes des Garçons – everything is from Japan! [Laughs]. That one’s very special. Hermes Eau de Pamplemousse Rose I wear for summery vibes. I buy fragrances depending on where I am. This one I got in Tokyo, this one I got in Kyoto…[they’re like souvenirs]. I really like [fragrances].
For breakfast I usually have avocado toast and I sprinkle these things on top from Moon Juice and Sunpotion. One is happy-making and one is for stamina, if I’m feeling a little sluggish. Sometimes I put them in smoothies too, and even over pasta. This stuff is amazing too—Banyan Botanicals Ayurvedic Herbs Chyawanprash. You can put it on toast. I just heard that kombucha is really bad for you, because it’s yeast and we already have enough yeast in our bodies. But, there’s a version that’s supposed to be way healthier called Rejuvelac. It’s basically quinoa soaked in water for a few days, and then you drink the water. I’m trying to figure out what works internally. Evening Primrose for PMS, B12 supplements, Zinc when I’m feeling sick. I get massages at Pure Chi in Greenpoint—they’re amazing. But I never do anything like facials or acupuncture. Actually, I got acupuncture once, and I fainted. So never again. I didn’t know [I was afraid of needles], but she put one in my knee and I was like, ‘Woah! What happened?’ And she was like, ‘I think we should stop.’ And I never tried again!
Before I moved here I was really into Iyengar yoga—I started practicing when I was 16. I’ve totally abandoned it because when I moved here I didn’t have any money and Iyengar is expensive, like any other gym membership. Iyengar is very focused on alignment and you use props—blocks and belts and ropes tied to the wall. It’s not about flowing and transitioning, it’s about holding the pose and feeling your body adjust into it. When you flow and go fast, you’re not really entering the poses or the postures. It’s very healing, and there’s a lot of anatomy involved. I’ve been doing high intensity interval training, but I recently found out that I have an issue with my knee so I have to take it easy. Lately I’ve been going to the gym just to stretch and steam. I love the steam room. I love Korean spas! [My favorite in New York] is called New York Spa in Queens. It’s kind of my secret spot. They have four or five different kinds of saunas and a steam room. They have a hot tub—extra hot—and an ice one, and you can get a scrub, too, which I love. It’s far, so I go once a month. I don’t have a car, so it takes like an hour to get there.
I love baths. This thing is really good, but it’s in Japanese. There’s no name but it says ‘Arthritis Bath.’ [It’s very strong] and is really good for joints and pain. It has orange, mint and menthol. The Sans Ceuticals Bio Active Body Exfoliant is amazing too. It has little bamboo beads. By the way, I don’t use those little plastic beads. No way. I use this Brazilian soap that’s called Phebo Amazonian. It [reminds me of] growing up. I buy it back home but there’s also a Brazilian grocery shop in Queens that I go to once a year if I’m craving something very specific. When I moved to New York, I was fascinated with the abundance and everything that the city has to offer. But after seven years, I’m like, this is crazy overwhelming and I need to reconnect with my essence. My good friend Daphne once said, “You don’t have to move to a remote place to be connected with who you are, and be healthy. You can do it whenever, wherever.” That really changed my perspective because I was of course thinking, ‘Let’s move to LA.’ LA is growing in the fashion industry and it’s really a good moment to be there for it, I just don’t know if I’m ready yet. I decided I’m going to try to connect with who I am and my essence here, because that’s the ultimate challenge. And it’s been good!"
—as told to ITG
Mari Giudicelli photographed by Tom Newton in New York on January 29, 2018.