INTERVIEW: STEPHANIE VAN BURK

Stephanie van Burk is an international fashion model, fashion designer and activist from Geneva, Switzerland, looking to empower human diversity through art with a focus on fashion. She displays all the different aspects of her life, her feelings, her torments, her sensual sides through photography, painting and fashion.

How did you start modeling?

I started modeling when I was 14 after I got discovered by a scout in the street. I signed up with Ford models in New York and this led me to travel everywhere in the world. My first job was a billboard for Mc Donald’s that was everywhere in Europe. I got cast then to do the runway shows in Milan, Paris and continued to shoot editorials, commercials, and campaigns.

What was the experience of transitioning from a model to a fashion designer like?

Well, as a child I always loved to draw, paint, express myself that way. Then, when I got into the fashion industry I started loving fashion. I decided after years of modeling that I wanted to merge my 2 passions in one. So I went to study fashion design at the Marangoni Institute in Milan. The transition from model to fashion designer was awesome to me as I could again express myself drawing, creating, still being in some ways in the fashion world. I was fascinated by the creatives I used to work for in the modeling industry and wanted to be able to do what they were creating. I felt the urge to
be more emerged as a creative in the industry.

What inspired you to create your fashion brand?

I always felt an urge to create something on my own. It is my way to express myself fully as I display all the different aspects of my life, my emotions, my feelings, my torments, my sensual sides through it. I worked for other brands which helped me grow as a fashion designer but I wanted to create my own vision directly coming out from my soul. A brand that would help others embracing themselves and bringing back the inner child living in them through colors and boldness.

What is the message you want to promote through your art?
“Society doesn’t define you.
YOU define YOU”

You also promote body positivity in your platform. What is the thing you struggled the most accepting about yourself (internal or external)?

I do promote body positivity. I am an activist looking to empower human diversity through art with a focus on fashion. I believe that everybody is beautiful in their own way no matter what age, body, color they are. I struggled a lot to love myself. I heard a lot that I was unworthy in my childhood so it didn’t help me feel at the time very self-confident. I used to question myself a lot. I went through hard times, felt misunderstood and not
loved. This led me to bulimia. I started to hate myself as my body was changing and I was feeling miserable.
Art helped me a lot going through this phase. I used to draw and paint a lot, putting out on paper all my tears, feelings, from sadness to despair. Then, the modeling thing happened just by chance as I got scouted, so I could distance myself from the toxic people that used to surround me. So somehow it helped me grow back self-confidence and have a better perspective about myself.

Which was this one moment when you felt the proudest about your work?

My main happiness is when I see people wearing my designs in the street, being themselves and being bold. My jackets are handpainted and one of a kind. I love to see people coloring the world and just want to bring back their inner child through it.

What is the aim of your non profit organization?

I want to share with those who struggle with what I’ve been through, and help them go through their own struggles with what helped me at the time: Art.
I want to guide them through this process and help them turn their negative energy into something positive. Many try to solve their problems by drinking or taking drugs, which is basically not solving anything but it just makes them avoid confronting them.
Expression through art can help people overcome their fears. Many lose self-confidence because of their body, age or they are just missing some self-love and acceptance. It’s an excellent outlet to put all kinds of emotions into and to create something positive. It helps release emotions, heals depression, calm anxiety, builds self-confidence, self-love and acceptance, and opens the door to many creative opportunities. So I want to be able to open a space for those ones and help them express themselves by creating a fashion collection, do photoshoots and be part of the runway shows. I think it’s a great and healing experience.

How do you define the word “beauty”?

To me, beauty is being comfortable in your own skin. It’s about loving and accepting the human that you are. Everybody is beautiful in their own particular way.

Any new projects on the way? What are you working on at the moment?

I am looking forward to sharing videos on youtube about deep subjects. I also recently opened a Patreon to share my art as I started to do artistic nudes. I want to show through this that there is no shame to be the way we are, no shame to become older, no shame to have wrinkles or anything. For some people, I should follow the guidelines of the society. Fit in! They are very judgmental and are afraid to disregard social norms, so they become uncomfortable around others who aren’t afraid of it. But I do this for my own sake and for the ones that need it. It’s a place where I open up completely through photography, fashion, art and express my feelings. I was born to stand out so it is what I do. I create Art. My images support my voice.
Also, a percentage coming out of this Patreon will go straight to complete my mission with the non-profit organization.

IG www.instagram.com/stephvanburk
Patreon www.patreon.com/stephvanburk
Website www.vanburkofficial.com
Youtube www.youtube.com/stephanievanburk