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The Devil Wears Purchase

By Maxime Munoz


Lily Conlan, editor-in-chief of Gem 67 outside of the Durst Humanities Building (Photo by Maxime Munoz)


The two arcades that stretch through the Purchase Campus are how students get to where they need to go. It is also a runway where boots and heels strut, and colors and patterns brighten the day. Purchase was once referred to as the “gem” of the SUNYs by former Governor Nelson Rockefeller in 1967. It’s not the campus that makes it shine, but the clothing that hangs off the student body's back.

           

With a campus this stylish, people need an outlet to express their creativity and stay up to date on all things fashion. Gem 67 is Purchase’s first student-run fashion magazine. A place where writers, artists, photographers, stylists, makeup artists and all creative people collaborate to create a print magazine for students.


Lily Conlan is its editor-in-chief. She is a media studies major with a minor in visual arts and with a focus in photography. Gem 67 is Conlan’s senior project.


“I want the magazine to be a space for people interested in fashion as well as the history of Purchase fashion,” says Conlan. “The magazine also includes important issues in fashion, like environmental sustainability and body image in the media.” Conlan says that her work is very research heavy and would like to enter the fashion industry in that aspect.


“Research is what the industry lacks,” she says, “it's fun for me.”

           

Conlan dresses as if she was already the editor of Vogue. “I like to be expressive and experimental with my outfits,” Conlan says.


She sports a pair of jeans from her mother and a silky black top with gold details at the bottom that looks like it was hand-picked for her. A silver necklace with a miniature hand mirror rests on her chest. Peeking out of the jeans are purple wood clogs with zebra stripes and green leaves. These Betsey Johnson steppers are of course paired with a Betsey Johnson black leather backpack designed to look like a camera.


“Oh I am a Betsey Johnson baby,” Conlan exclaims. Along with the backpack Conlan holds a tiny black beaded purse that makes the outfit seem like it could not go without it. Conlan’s love for fashion came from her mother who was also a photographer, and “who also has great style,” she says.


“I have memories of dressing up and creating outfits and her taking photos of me in her studio, that's where it all started,” she says, “I just love to play dress up.”

           

After Conlan graduates she wants to see Gem 67 continue to thrive.


“It's my baby, I’ve been thinking about it since last Spring,” she says. Conlan explains how she never thought it was possible, “It really takes a village.” The team includes almost 40 people.

           

A key team member is Kayla Uzoma Dike—Gem 67’s creative director. Her role includes creating and curating photoshoots, reaching out to potential models, and having a hand in post-production when choosing which shots are finalized. She also has input on the formatting of the magazine.


“My favorite part of the process is definitely working with the models on set,” says Uzoma Dike. She explains how she loves doing fun and inventive posing and staging. “It's really fun directing the models and trying to get them to try new things.”


You can’t have a good magazine without good writers. Liz Baldino is a junior English global literature major and the art director, editor, and writer for Gem 67. Baldino wrote a bit for The Beat on campus which is a Purchase culture magazine. Baldino saw an Instagram story posted from Gem 67 looking for writers.


“I thought it would be fun to write something small for them,” she said. Baldino explained how Conlan liked her application and wanted her to come on board to join the creative team. Baldino was originally an environmental studies major but always had a passion for writing, specifically nonfiction. Baldino says, “I hope to be on next year and have a bigger role.”


What makes Gem 67 stand out from other school media, is that it is going to be a print circulation. Conlan said that being able to have a physical magazine in your hand is beneficial and creates a whole different environment.


The print itself will be sustainable, for example it will use matte paper instead of glossy paper, as it’s easier to recycle. Baldino describes how it’s hard to actually own anything on the internet.


“Nothing is yours,” she says, "when something is physical, it has ownership.”


The magazine will be published and pressed in White Plains at a local spot called Minuteman Press.


“We got a deal,” explains Conlan, “we will get 100 copies with 32 pages.” Conlan was provided with a senior project grant which helps support the production.


One of the photoshoots Gem 67 held was all about the “clown core aesthetic.” This look incorporates fashion, circus, and costume, sometimes bright and maximalists and at other times muted and eerie.


Baldino and Conner clowned-out (Photo by Liz Baldino)


Gordon Conner, a junior studio composition major, was one of the models for the shoot. Conner, who also goes by stage name CALYPSO, had their attention grabbed when they heard about this themed shoot.


“I've been a scare actor for five years, so I am no stranger to clown makeup,” they say. “There's so much creative freedom with the looks you can do.”


As the tallest clown in the photoshoot, it made for some very menacing photos, they say. Conner is a musician who also has experience directing shoots for their album covers and other self-promoting content. Conner says, “to be under someone else's direction was a nice change.”


“There is a lot of life and people you don't usually see that the magazine will show you,” states Baldino.

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