Virgil Taylor and Sarah Koppelkam are two senior Studio Art majors, with opposing senses of fashion, who came together to talk with The Argus about art and style at Wesleyan. The duo vastly differs in style: Taylor’s aesthetic matches his own color-blindness, while Koppelkam has a more feminine style. They both agree that the studio art major has forced them not to take their clothing too seriously, however, as garments without paint on them have become a rarity. Both of their theses are currently on display at the Zilkha Gallery, and they talked with us about how their projects compare with their personal style.
The Argus: How would you describe your interest in fashion?
Virgil Taylor: Freshman year, during Painting I with Tula Telfair, our professor, she made a really big point about how artists have to present themselves to the world. And since freshman year, I’ve gone from wearing like party-colored harem pants to basically only wearing black, partly because I think I’m fulfilling some kind of art major prophecy. But also because I found that… I just like having a straightforward way of presenting myself when I put on my clothes.
Sarah Koppelkam: I’m not like a super fashion-y person, but it’s funny that you’re interviewing the two of us, because I feel like we’re on two opposite ends of the spectrum. I love color, very bright colors, and Virgil likes to wear zero colors. You’ll see [that] our outfits tomorrow [shown in picture], and our theses, are this way.
A: Can you guys describe your theses briefly?
SK: How about we describe each other’s thesis projects!
VT: Sarah did these massive paintings that are mural-sized … that are difficult to look at in that there are so many things happening, in a way that draws you in. There’s four total paintings in the north gallery, and it’s kind of like a chapel-like experience because it’s surrounding you on all three sides. And the pictures kind of absorb you totally in this really wonderful way, and I like them because the painting is so thick and rich.
SK: And Virgil’s thesis is incredibly minimal. It’s all about shapes and space and lines, and it just sort of floats in the gallery in a really beautiful way. So basically, yeah, they’re completely opposite things.
A: So would you say those two projects can be a reflection of your personal styles?
SK: I think so, although my personal style’s not as excessive as my paintings. I’m a little bit more tasteful.
VT: Totally… In my art, and in my clothes, I like being able to make statements without saying too much.
A: How would you describe your personal style in three to five words…each?
VT: Simple, but a little too tight.
SK: Colorful, classic, slightly sexy… or sexy soccer mom.
A: What do you like most about style at Wesleyan?
VT: Is it weird to say that I like that we’re close to such an amazing thrift store like Savers?
SK: I like that there are some people on campus who are really innovative and original with their style… Shout out to Karmenife [Paulino ’16]. She’s amazing.
A: What do you dislike about style at Wes?
SK: I think style at Wesleyan is not as individualized as it should be. I think people are really eager to conform while thinking that they’re being unique.
VT: I think Sarah really hit the nail on the head there.
A: How has your style changed since you came to Wesleyan?
VT: Well, I used to wear a super shitshow of colors, in a kind of super colorblind way, and now I’ve reduced down to the colors I can see, like black and grey and blue.
SK: I’d say I’m more fearless with my style. When I first got here, I was definitely more concerned about fitting in with a certain norm. Now I don’t give a fuck.
A: Where do you draw style inspiration from on campus?
SK: Honestly, I would say that I dress like [Professor] Tula Telfair.
VT: It has recently been pointed out that I started wearing the same denim jackets as my advisor [Professor David Schorr]… Julia Randall is a style icon on this campus.
A: Where do you draw style inspiration from off campus?
SK: I look at a lot of celebrity stuff online. Gwen Stefani, ultimate style icon… TBH, I love Pinterest. Underrated as an artistic reference.
VT: Another thing I look at online… Mykki Blanco and Boychild’s Instagram.
A: Is there a current trend on campus you like or any trends you dislike?
VT: I like Doc Martin oxfords. I think they’re mad cute.
SK: Though I might like the trends themselves, I generally hate trends at Wesleyan because they’re so prevalent… Clogs are a trend that I both love and hate, because Sarah Esocoff [’15] started it, and everyone else is late to the game.
VT: Since we’re in a moment of seasonal change, it’s hard to tell what trends are these days. ‘Cause people stopped wearing Canada Goose jackets so now I don’t know what everyone’s wearing.
A: How do you guys cope with dressing for seasonal transitions?
VT: I basically overdress year-round.
SK: As soon as it becomes spring for one day, I refuse to wear any of my winter coats or tights. So even if it’s cold out, I just commit.
VT: I say black pants, black shirt, is a [Foss] hill outfit.
SK: I say floral dresses.
A: For prospective students, what is the most important item of clothing to bring to college?
VT: A shocking amount of underwear.
SK: I think it depends based on your gender identity-
VT: No, I think no matter what you identify as, you’ll need a lot of underwear.
SK: and a giant winter coat. You will be cold… those are really practical things, but we’re keeping it real.
VT: I found this year that having a velour maxi-skirt really goes with any outfit or activity.
A: Do you have any other advice for incoming freshmen?
SK: I’d say try to be yourself, because it’s easy to get sucked into dressing like everybody else.