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"At Home"
In Conversation with Sophie Strobele

For the launch of our new House Slipper collection, we interpret the feeling of home with model, artist, and mother Sophie Strobele. Originally from Vienna, Sophie moved to Paris at an early age and has since spent her time traveling the world—ultimately calling many places home. Through an intimate photo story captured by Sophie’s close friend and collaborator Charlotte Lapalus, we explore the concept of home and whether it is in fact more a feeling than a place.

Images: Charlotte Lapalus
Words: Katie Cazalet-Smith
aeyde: How would you define the feeling of home?

Sophie: I left my hometown of Vienna at the age of 14, so I’ve spent a lot of my time away from family and friends. For me, home is connected more closely to the people you’re with, and how you can bring that feeling along with you. There can even just be a few objects that evoke that sense of calm and comfort. I have a daughter and I think she also has a different understanding of what home is because she’s never had one specific house or room in which she grew up. We’ve moved a lot and we’ve changed her environment many times so I think for her, home is linked to where her parents and loved ones are. Home is about the comfort you can create with other people, and the environment you are in. What Charlotte managed to portray beautifully in the photography is this sense of light and shadow, and even a specific light can evoke the feeling of home—or on the flip side, different light can be hostile if it doesn’t feel right.

a: As a model and artist, your work has taken you far and wide. How has that impacted your idea of ‘home’?

SS: Moving around has certainly impacted the way I think about home. I was really interested in writing at one point, and I was traveling a lot with my boyfriend, visiting societies very different from my own to meet people with different ways of living. This definitely put a lot of things into perspective, because I grew up in a very comfortable and safe home. I learned a lot about how other people live and have grown to appreciate certain comforts, and from this, I understand how important it is to leave your comfort zone and experience unfamiliar situations and environments. I think ‘home’ is also something you can make someone feel. I have always appreciated being welcomed into someone else’s space. And that’s when you feel at home—when someone opens their door and welcomes you in and makes you feel comfortable. It could be anywhere in the world but it’s very much about the gesture of sharing your home with someone. It creates this deeper connection between two people, like a kind of chemistry.
a: The new House Slipper collection was shot by your friend and collaborator Charlotte Lapalus. Can you talk me through the process of working together on this concept?

SS: The relationship I have with Charlotte is really beautiful. From the very first time we worked together, it was clear we had a connection. When she initially reached out to me she immediately invited me to visit her at her place in Marseilles and to stay with her, which was such a kind gesture. It went quickly from not even knowing Charlotte to feeling this immediate trust. We have so much fun shooting together, so much so that it doesn’t even feel like work. This time around we met at her place and we had the slippers and just jumped into the day, reacting and interacting with each other in an organic way. There was always a constant conversation between us which is pretty representative of our relationship in general. She took me into her home which is very vibrant and very clearly her style, and we just had a lot of fun together with it. We tried things out and allowed the process to be very organic, and indulged in Charlotte’s personal style and our surroundings.

a: What is your favorite part about collaborating with close friends on creative projects?

SS: When modeling when I was a lot younger, I would often arrive on set and not speak the language, so felt detached from what was going on around me. Now I am no longer a small girl so really strive to integrate myself, make friends, and have conversations with new people. Working with friends means the sense of hierarchy is removed, and that’s where the best collaboration arises. You can be more inspired when there is no ego at play. Plus, it’s fun of course. Generally speaking, I try not to take myself too seriously, which I think leads me to be more daring as I’m less concerned about being judged. When you’re amongst friends, no one has a defined position, so in that sense, it’s a lot freer and you avoid being pigeonholed. In certain situations, there can be almost too much structure which means people may not be aware of a certain talent, which is such a shame. Collaborating with close friends results in happy accidents and an opening up of understanding and opportunity.
a: Tactility and intimacy are clear themes of the photography. How did you manage to capture these themes?

SS: Charlotte is a very tactile and relaxed person who likes human contact, so it was natural that this came through in the photography. Tactility can translate so much in cases where you can’t be verbally expressive. This is another reason why it’s so brilliant working with friends—you can feel totally comfortable exploring these more intimate moments. Often if there are lots of people on set, things can feel a little too staged or too premeditated. This time, because we were on our own schedule, we found ourselves being lost in time and allowing moments to linger.

a: When you are traveling, what do you do to keep yourself grounded? Are there any possessions or rituals that remind you of home?

SS: There are a few items that I have with me all the time, like my notebook and my old-school calendar. The calendar would probably be the worst item for me to lose! I don’t even necessarily write everything down in there anymore, but for me, it’s about the sense of stability—it’s almost like an extension of my brain. I appreciate the tangibility of things, even something as simple as a pen and a notebook, or a book to read. I also find comfort in taking time to explore a new area I may be staying in. Whenever I travel I try to take at least an hour to walk and really place myself in my surroundings.
a: What is your ideal routine for a relaxed at-home day? How has this changed since becoming a mother?

SS: If I am by myself and don’t have a wake-up call from my daughter—currently she has the habit of waking me up by opening my eyes for me—I like to wake up naturally with the sunlight, as I never have curtains. I would then do some yoga or stretching and have some tea. Then I would take a walk outside. I find this calms me the most. When I’m with my daughter I actually don’t have a strict routine—I’m someone who contemplates a lot and I like to stay in the moment and be spontaneous, which isn’t conducive to a stable schedule. I say yes to everything and try to fit too many things in one day, which often ends up being impossible. A day also goes so fast when I am with my daughter, and I have to be so much more efficient. But at the same time, time seems to run between my fingers and the day passes so fast because I’m enjoying it so much. When you’re a parent, everything is timed, like eating and sleeping, so you’re always looking at your watch. Now, I seek those rare moments where I have no notion of time.

a: What is your go-to at-home outfit?

SS: I love wearing comfortable shoes which cushion you and make you feel warm, like the shearling slippers. I don’t like it when my clothes restrict my movement, so I usually wear a shirt or t-shirt or a sweater that allows me to move freely. I wear clothes to cover myself and to be functional. It’s also about the textile—if it’s a really good quality material, it will make me feel good.
Images: Charlotte Lapalus
Words: Katie Cazalet-Smith
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