Caroline Vreeland is arrestingly down to earth. For someone who’s captured the eye of industry influencers like Ellen von Unwerth and Carine Roitfeld, chatting to her from Los Angeles is like being on the phone with an old friend. "I love getting calls from Australia," she says when we first speak, "it's so exotic." Which is fitting, because this ultimate multi-hyphenate is quite otherworldly herself. Not just physically - with exaggerated feminine proportions, captivating blue eyes and icy blonde hair - perhaps more importantly, it’s her singing voice and all-round presence as a model, musician and actress that are enough to throw you off guard.
Or would be that is - except that she is completely at ease, which seems to make those around her feel the same. At least, this is the sense one gets on the other end of the line with Caroline, as she pauses momentarily to kiss a friend hello, or warmly greet another passing acquaintance. It’s really little wonder, then, that this talented songstress has been tapped for a new musical TV series by Fox, or has graced the pages of some of fashion’s most respected titles. All it takes is a 30-second Instagram video of her singing in dulcet tones and you’re hooked.
Here’s the thing about Caroline Vreeland: she is the great granddaughter of famed fashion editor Diana Vreeland, so that ‘something extra’ is part of her DNA. Although she was only two years old when Diana passed, the young talent feels she inherited Diana’s penchant for peculiarity. “It must be in my fucking blood, because obviously that’s exactly how Diana was,” Caroline says of their shared eye for the unusual. “She saw Barbara Streisand’s nose and said ‘I want her profile on the cover’. I really feel like she gave me that, because I will always compliment someone on the thing that stands out with them. To me that’s the most beautiful thing.” Which certainly isn’t the norm in LA, a city where the social currency is perfection. But amongst it all, Caroline is campaigning for something more genuine.
Genuine doesn’t even begin to describe Caroline. Within the modelling world, she is the exception rather than the rule. But not fitting a specific mould has also allowed her to get candid about problematic female beauty standards today. Instagramming a picture recently about how the ideal female figure has shifted, she says it’s important to appreciate that women come in all different shapes and sizes. Gradually we’re moving towards this, she believes, with models like Gigi and Bella Hadid, as well as Ashley Graham, taking the industry by storm. “I really love my curves and I love to eat,” she says, but the unshakeable confidence she’s renowned for hasn’t always come easily. She recalls being sent home from a Vogue Italia shoot, for example, simply because of her bust.
All that changed when she met Carine Roitfeld. In fact, the very next shoot she did was with Carine and Caroline remembers worrying if she ‘knew’ about the boobs. “Then when I got there, she was like ‘honey, it’s all about the boobs’ and she taught me to really embrace everything I am and make people come to me, as opposed to me trying to fit some kind of mould that I’m not. I don’t have the body of a supermodel, you know, I have a different thing, so she really taught me to embrace that.”
This authenticity has become something that Caroline truly values in all walks of life - from fashion to a really great bowl of pasta. “When I’m intimately close with a designer, I start to see their collection in a whole new way,” she explains of her friendships with designers like Scott Studenberg from Baja East, or Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow from Public School. “Now that I know them personally, the clothes they make are even more exciting to me. I like when there’s a spirit behind it.” It is for this reason that she feels so drawn to Australian fashion right now too. “I think Australians are approaching things from a really new vantage point and that’s exciting.”
Perhaps it’s this discerning eye for up-and-coming talent that makes Caroline’s personal style so inspiring. Either way, her Instagram feed reads like a dream style diary, the perfect confluence of relaxed femininity and all-out sex appeal. But it’s approachable too, like everything Caroline does on social media. “Whenever I cry, I Snapchat myself crying, because I want people to feel at ease,” she explains. Which is also why she considers Snap her platform of choice. “I love the idea that everything disappears in 24 hours, because it’s like a Zen garden. You create this whole thing and then you scrape it away. It’s nice to kill your darlings I think; not to get too attached to things.”
It is this boldness that inspires her 195 thousand followers on Instagram too, and Caroline says she has really come to appreciate what social media has given her. The ability to help her mum pay rent on the one hand, but also a voice to inspire others. Of course, it can turn her into a bit of a monster too, she laughs. But it allows her to help send a positive message: “It sounds cheesy and stupid to say it, but I totally see [social media] as a tool, to not only show who I am and what I’m doing, but also to help [others].”
It’s clear that Caroline loves people. She tells me that she is attracted to both men and women, and is drawn to a person’s idiosyncrasies above all. It’s this passion to connect that sets her apart, and has no doubt lent a hand in her transition to acting. Like her most recent role for Fox music-drama Star. “As I’m delving into the acting world, it’s those nuances - the little twitches in your face and the things that are off, or that trigger you - that’s what’s exciting,” she explains. From the creator of Empire, Star tells the story of three young female singers as they navigate the Atlanta music industry. Deviating from mainstream television’s usual pop soundtracks though, it gets deep into bluesy vibes, mostly because Caroline’s tracks were written especially for her voice.
“There are so many parallels between acting and performing music,” Caroline says when talking about her role as a ‘Courtney-Love-style heroin addict and rocker’. This has helped her to make the transition with relative ease, but it has also meant taking a temporary break from her own music. That said, one gets the feeling that when she does launch her newest project in about six months’ time, it will be well worth the wait. “For a long time, I’ve been doing stuff that’s really dark and super slow,” Caroline explains of her distinctive sound. “That really is in my heart but I wanted to put out something that, while it still has dark subject matter, can also be a little more upbeat.”
Drawing inspiration from strong female influences like Erykah Badu, Fiona Apple and Amy Winehouse, she says it’s all about the substance behind the songs. “I really try to be open and genuinely who I am,” she explains, which is why she now finds performing on stage so natural. It hasn’t always been this way, but Caroline says that a residency at famed LA club The Viper Room, really helped to overcome her childhood stage fright. “You have to do it a lot to feel at ease with it,” she explains. “But I think that also comes with age - as I’m inching towards thirty, it’s easier to just be yourself and love yourself as you are.” As a result, she now finds the stage a safe space, where she can do or say whatever she wants.
This confidence has helped Caroline in a style sense too. “I know who I am inside [now] and I don’t let the clothes wear me,” she explains. “But I’m eccentric too. I live in Silver Lake and will literally wear a kimono, fluffy Birkenstocks and winged eyeliner to the coffee shop at 8 am. It’s all a matter of confidence and knowing that you shine from within.” Diana Vreeland once said of style that, “all who have it share one thing: originality.” Suffice to say that Caroline has it in spades. This is obviously something that has an effect on those around her too, as a stranger leans out the window of a passing car to ask where her pants are from. “That’s LA for you,” Caroline laughs down the line. But perhaps that’s also just Caroline for you; humble in life as she is in success.