Bordeaux-born, Paris-raised Camille Charriere is one of fashion’s most successful and lauded bloggers. Her carefully curated feeds and coltish limbs are the envy of many and over 490k people follow her every Instagram move. Here she frankly reveals the realities of living a life that ‘a million girls would kill for.’
Becoming Camille Over The Rainbow
My taste is pretty much 100% acquired and not something I was raised or born with. Fashion wasn’t a part of my upbringing at all. I read a very interesting comment on Reddit yesterday—generously forwarded by a friend— which said, ‘I just found out that someone I used to go to school with now has 490k followers on Instagram. Just goes to show you shouldn’t make fun of awkward, ginger weirdos.’ The post was about me. Growing up I was a long way from being an It-kid. I really was not that girl in high school or even in university. I didn’t dress well, no-one thought I was cool. In fact the opposite was true.
One day I just made the decision that I wanted to have style. I was looking at lots of fashion books and blogs and decided that I wanted my own little world too. Thats’s why my blog is called Camille Over the Rainbow—it was supposed to be a parallel universe. I was working in finance and I’d trained as a human rights lawyer so these were not arenas where there was any discussion of style which meant I needed to create a totally separate space from my real life. Very few people knew about the blog at the start—simply because I was extremely embarrassed about it.
Getting Over The Cringe Factor
That Christmas I went home to my family and my uncle had a visitor from New Zealand coming to spend time with us. She was a human rights lawyer and he said to me, ‘I really wanted your email so I could introduce you to this girl. I almost told her about your blog, but I didn’t want her to think that my niece was a total airhead.’ At the time that really hurt me. I was already feeling pretty ashamed and struggling internally with the blog. I knew exactly how cringe it is to be perceived as a massive show off who takes a million pictures of herself. But after I’d taken a minute, I realized the reason that everybody was struggling so much was because I was ashamed myself. I was too cringed out to talk to my friends and family about what I was doing and their reception was just a reaction to my behaviour.
Even more than that—I realised I was only doing it half-heartedly. I remember thinking at the time, ‘if I’m going to do this, I’m going to have to do this properly’. I came back and wrote a piece on my blog entitled Sticks and Stones and vowed to myself that it was going to be success. From that day I started working on my content as if someone I really cared about was reading it. I wanted to impress and gain recognition for what I was doing.
“My taste is pretty much 100% acquired and not something I was raised or born with. Fashion wasn’t a part of my upbringing at all.”
I still feel embarrassed of what I do. Every day. It’s tedious that I can’t get over it. I still fudge it when people ask me what I do for a living and half mumble some lame explanation. I don’t even know how to voice it. What am I supposed to say? I influence people? How wanky would that sound? I don’t consider myself an influencer, though of course that’s part of what happens when you have a number of people following you. But that wasn’t my aim—it was just to share this other side of who I am and gain respect for my work.
Most bloggers need to share everything they do and as a tribe we’re just not very private. Aside from social media, whenever I meet anyone for the first time, I inevitably over-share. It is both a blessing and a curse. It’s put me in a number of sticky situations, but it’s also opened a huge number of doors. I got my first job in England because I talk too much and share so much of my life with strangers. On that occasion I was working in a shop near my home in Paris and got chatting with a customer who ended up putting me in touch with my first boss in finance.
On the other hand it has also got me into a lot of trouble. Often it’s because I’ve said too much and as a result someone has got really upset or a boy hasn’t called me back because he thinks I’m too full-on. When you meet a lot of bloggers, it can come as a surprise that they’re really shy. The reason they live online is because they can’t be that open in real life. I’m kind of the opposite. Or both. I’m so extroverted that my friends worry that I don’t take time out to be alone and recharge. It’s true—I really feed off other people. If I spend time with people that I find interesting and smart and stimulating, I feel like I’ve achieved something from my day. But that’s why I can also spiral. If I go through a few days of not being stimulated, I suddenly feel very low and depressed. I start questioning everything about my life. Why am I not doing law? Why have I failed everything? Should I be living in Paris? Why don’t I have a boyfriend?
I’ve always been ultra competitive and put a lot of pressure on myself to the point that I’ve made myself sick. I was actually really depressed when I was younger and had to be taken out of classes for a few months at high school. There was no other reason than the pressure that I had put on myself. I still only feel I’m achieving in life if I’m under extreme pressure. The thing is, Instagram has almost become a job for everyone. It’s not just influencers who are constantly looking for content. It’s any gang of girls at brunch. You’d think that the more followers you had the less pressure there would be, because obviously you already have thousands of people following you. But for me the opposite is true. Every picture I post, I’m thinking, is this good enough? Should I be posting more of this or that? Why didn’t it get enough likes? It can drive you mad. I do not want to waste my brain space on the amount of likes I’m getting on Instagram. Unfortunately as it’s part of my job, its going to be natural to worry about it.
It’s obviously impossible to say anything negative about my career choice without it sounding like a first-world sob story. There is no doubt that I have a wonderful job—hands down, it is fantastic and I am incredibly fortunate. But it definitely screws up other aspects of my life.
Because of the way I’m wired, bouncing around the world form nice hotels to cool events ends up eating me up from inside. As my family is abroad, I’m single and I don’t have a job routine per se, I can lack a solid structure to my life. It’s so easy to get sucked into the ‘jet-set’ life. This hotel review here, that party there. A stop-off with a friend, another three day trip on the other side of the world. Suddenly you’ve been on 10 trips without a reality-check. Your washing is piled high to the ceiling and none of your bills have been paid. No boyfriend, no family time. Your life is in a total shambles and you’re constantly, endemically exhausted. It’s easy to escape all that by just jumping on another plane, but for someone that can get really down, it can be a slippery slope.
“I was feeling like complete shit and instead of dealing with it I had to put a filter on everything and make it look like I was having the time of my life. It’s not real. Instagram is not real. It’s a world that we create.”
I would really like to have a boyfriend, but unfortunately I’m quite difficult. I don’t find it easy to compromise and because I have such an incredible job and a lifestyle which takes me across the world, I don’t have time to waste on bad dates. Someone who can slot into my schedule would have to be a pretty amazing guy. Adding to that, when I like someone I’m terrible at disguising it. I literally have no game. I’m pretty terrible at the whole dating thing to be honest. Aside from the fact that what I do can be pretty intimidating and make men judge you immediately, it’s also just a hassle to nail me down. I’m not a girl you can call randomly on a Tuesday and find me at home. I do try to make myself more available if I really like someone, but for some reason that seems to come across as being super-intense. It’s not actually intensity—I just have to make a big effort to accommodate someone in my life and that can be seen as jumping the gun.
The punchline about the boyfriend thing is the fact that this crazy, incredible career took off at exactly the same time that my heart was being completely broken. The only reason that I came to London was to follow a boy, despite everyone advising me otherwise. And they were right; it’s a dangerous game. We didn’t end up staying together and when we broke up three years ago I was a mess. My personal life was so bad that I was probably clinically depressed. I was in such a bad place and having this particular career take off at the same time as everything fell apart was disorientating to say the least—I spent at least a year in full tail-spin. I was feeling like complete shit, completely helpless and lost but instead of dealing with it, I had to put a filter on everything and make it look like I was having the time of my life. It’s not real. Instagram is not real. It’s a world that we create.
Being a ‘Difficult Woman’ in Fashion
Where I am very real is when it comes to the brands and products that I put online. I’ve always been so careful to only post and talk about things that I actually like. And that goes for all the sponsored posts too. Every blogger you interview will have some spiel about integrity. But you can see the difference between what I do and what some of other bloggers do—the truth is that I’m tricky. It’s partly because I’m French and partly because I know my opinion is precious. If I don’t like something, I’m going to be vocal and I’m certainly not going to put my name next to it. People think I’m difficult, I know I have that reputation. But I have to believe in something. Sometimes I do go a little bit off-brand— I might work with a label which is perhaps not the natural choice— but only if I have the creative freedom to put my own spin on it. My integrity comes from is working with brands that trust me. Conversely there might be a label I’ve loved forever, but if the team are going to be super-rigid and take all creative control, I won’t work with them.
“It is a bit tacky to share the interiors of every hotel you stay in. In my family and friendship group, it’s not considered chic.”
I am slowly becoming more proud of what I do. It’s a little bit scary knowing that so many people can see your every move and what you’re wearing. Also you know how we all have WhatsApp groups where we send screen grabs to each other? My pet fear is thinking that people have screen grabbed the latest thing I’ve posted and they’re laughing at me behind my back. While this may sound self-absorbed, it comes from my own insecurities and probably goes back to the days when I was that awkward girl that people made fun of. I know that haters gonna hate and I also know that I’m having the last laugh. But I’m not going to say the road is over yet. I’m definitely still working on not caring about all this stuff.
Imposter in Disguise
For a very long time I had massive imposter syndrome and I think that’s one of the reasons I’ve found it so hard to be proud of my work. Because there’s this constant little voice in my head saying, ‘you’re not hot enough to be this successful,’ or, ‘you’re not funnier or smarter or better at writing than a lot of people you know’. So why is it that you have all of these followers? It doesn’t make any sense, I don’t deserve them. But ultimately, the answer is really simple— it’s because I’m a risk taker. I do the things that most people wouldn’t do because it’s too cringey or bolshy. I’m a little bit of a rebel.
I think I learnt form an early age that it’s better to put yourself out there, try and fall rather then spend your life regretting and bemoaning not achieving something. We’re all so caught up with worries of what will happen if we fall. But then, what if we fly? You’re never going to get anything you want in life unless you put yourself out there. Especially in our world. It’s hard to succeed in fashion today if you’re timid.
Lessons In Love & Life
We are all human, we all make mistakes and we are all layered beings. Most people can put on a front, but behind closed doors everyone has things going on. We all have issues at home, with family, with friends and with ourselves. A lot of people go through life trying to disguise what’s actually happening. What I’ve learnt is that it’s impossible to hide that stuff and live a balanced life. For me that’s meant finding new platforms to express myself. One day a week I now work on a podcast called Fashion No Filter which has made me feel connected to my own voice again. It’s been a long process, but now it’s up and running I’m so looking forward to all the things we’ve got lined up for 2017. Of course a podcast needs real structure to make sure that everything is completed on time, so it also serves to anchor my life and keep everything else on track. I also feel so happy with the more intimate connections I’ve made with my audience through Snapchat and Instagram stories. I still love my Instagram feed, but now see it much more as a gallery space—something curated which isn’t a full reflection of life lived.
I’m also finding some level of internal peace and I think that’s because I’ve gained the respect of some of the people that I respect the most. This year I was invited to talk at the Vogue festival alongside people I’ve looked up to since I was a teenager. I’m being asked for my opinion and brands trust me. I have a voice. In this world that is so amazing and being able to speak to an audience that listens to you is an incredible achievement. In saying that, I can definitely imagine doing something other than this. I’ve already had so many lives and the chances that I’ll get bored and go off this version of my life are quite high. But at the moment, it still does makes me happy overall. The pros outweigh the cons, but like everything else in life, it’s definitely complicated.