We’re a generation defined by our distractions. But obsessions, the kind that cloud our brains and take over our lives, often pave the way for great art. In 1993, photographer Mario Sorrenti was obsessed with his muse and girlfriend, Kate Moss. His insatiable desire to capture her image ultimately produced the iconic Calvin Klein Obsession perfume ads that are still all over Instagram today, 24 years later. This fall, Calvin Klein launched two new OBSESSED Calvin Klein fragrances, one for men and one for women, and asked Mario Sorrenti to comb through old footage of Kate to bring his once-upon-obsession back to life for the campaign.
There’s something impressive about an interest honored so intensely that it holds up after so many years. It’s an approach that stands in contrast to the bite-sized pieces of attention so many of us spend every day doling out. So in celebration of the relaunch, and in an effort to tap into that alien focus, Harling, Amelia and I dipped our toes into the worlds of the obsessed: the diehards, the collectors, the life-long lovers — the people who tend to their favorite interest like the rest of us tend to our navels. Read on to tap into the perspective of the one-track minded.
Kate is the founder of The Daily Miniature. Below, a little about her obsession with tiny things, as told to Haley.
“I was scrolling through Instagram one day when I came across a gorgeous, chunky necklace from the 80s with all these little charms you could clip onto it. When I saw it, I was flooded with memories I couldn’t place. I asked my mom what it was, and she said, “Oh, I had that hanging on your stroller.” So I like to think that, as a child, my first lens through which I viewed the world was peppered with miniatures. My love for them is deep-seated. They’re part of my DNA.
I’ve been collecting miniatures for as long as I can remember. Whether it’s on my person or where I live, I’ve always had them. I had a pretty substantial collection in my dollhouse as a kid, but somewhere along the line there was a miscommunication and my mom donated the dollhouse when I was 18. When I came home to find that all my minis were gone, I started collecting them again. I’m a little quirky about how I store my miniatures now. I keep them in a few different spots around my house for fear of them just up and disappearing one day.
I started The Daily Miniature as a personal project and it grew exponentially from there. I still work full-time as a copywriter, so it’s a labor of love. It’s a way for me to share my passion for miniature things, art and design with the public. I feel really fortunate that I have access to tap into these artists. It wouldn’t be possible for me to do it if it were not for the amazing talent out there making these tiny things.
I love minis because of the sheer delight brought forth by seeing something in small scale. You can take any object in the world and recreate it in miniature. Minis transcend languages, age groups, industries. They shift the perspective of your current surroundings, they reset you and delight you. An empty bottle is boring, but as a mini? That’s adorable. I love it!”
“I started dancing ballet at 14, when I auditioned for the Nutcracker and was cast in a small children’s role. I kept it up and it quickly escalated from an hour of dancing a week to five days a week. I left my parents and my childhood home in Louisville, Kentucky at the age of 15 to move to Boston and study with the Boston Ballet.
I was obsessed with ballet pretty much from the moment I started. I thought male ballet dancers were the coolest of the cool — literally spinning on their toes and lifting people over their heads and sitting around on the floor doing splits. I was also enthralled with the idea of being part of a unit in which I would be able to work so intimately with other people, in a way that is so physically rewarding, as well as mentally challenging.
Working 12 hour days and being so hard on your body is cathartic and exhausting at the same time. Sometimes you don’t get a chance to let yourself heal, so you are working through pain, dancing through pain. There’s a weird facade expected of ballet dancers wherein you’re always expected to make everything look easy even though it’s incredibly challenging. You’re under an immense amount of pressure, constantly trying to prove it’s easy enough and you’re strong enough. Ballet is a very narcissistic art form; you are always looking at yourself, correcting yourself, analyzing the shape and size of something as indiscriminate as an ankle.
One time I was so exhausted — my calf was on the brink, my hip was a mess, I was wearing this ridiculous costume — that I lay down on the side of the stage before the show and just cried. I couldn’t stop crying. As I lay there, I closed my eyes and listened to the orchestra. I thought about the 3,000 people in the audience who were there to escape their world for a night, and I realized I needed to escape mine to give them that. Sometimes you have to step outside yourself and do what do you for someone else. That’s when you remember why you started doing it in the first place.”
Kiah Welsh and Jamila Husbands
Kiah is a video editor for CBC Arts and Jamila is a first grade teacher. Both are the founders of She.Lace, a website that aims to make the male-dominated sneaker industry a more inclusive place. Below, their obsession with sneakers and the women who love, make and wear them, as told to Amelia.
“I’ve gravitated toward sneakers since I was young. My first pair made me feel powerful. But I quickly realized that whenever I went into stores for new sneakers, the sizes didn’t reflect me. They were all geared toward men and children. I wanted those styles and colorways, but they didn’t make them for women. (Three quarters of my sneakers are men’s and kid’s for this reason.) That’s the missing part of the puzzle piece we want to fulfill. It’s why we created She.Lace. I just want people to know that there’s a space for them even if they don’t see themselves reflected on the shelves.
I also love telling stories; that’s why I got into journalism. Each sneaker has a history, a reason it was created in the first place. On She.Lace, we combine these stories with those of the women involved and feature them each week on the blog. We highlight a spectrum of women: sometimes they’re artists, sometimes they’re filmmakers, sometimes they’re fashion designers… That’s really my obsession: how sneakers are a conduit for female expression.”
“I’m a sneaker enthusiast. I have a growing collection. I love to hear about and research female sneaker designers because I’m always looking for myself in this world. My most prized pair is always changing with my mood, but I’ve grown to love the Nike Foamposite — it’s predominantly made for men, but this year, they have a women’s exclusive. I’m really excited for those to be released.
The real obsession for us is to empower women of all ages to believe in their dreams no matter what, and we want to show positive role models for the youths coming up into this world. She.Lace is a social initiative. We realized there’s a lack of representation of women within the sneaker culture. We want to change that, and we plan to change that by highlighting women of various backgrounds who chase their dreams while wearing dope kicks.”