Marla Paul, the blogger behind the Instagram feed @rebellewithmarla, photographs street fashion in Chicago. She scouts the sidewalks for distinctively stylish humans or critters, then shares their outfits and personal fashion stories. From men in kilts to dogs in leather jackets, her quirky feed captures the rich parade of fashion on the city’s streets. She’s a former editor of Women’s Wear Daily and W Magazine, a longtime journalist and now the health sciences editor for the Office of Global Marketing and Communications at Northwestern University.
Why did you start your Instagram feed?
I am fascinated by how people present themselves. It’s an art form, like painting a picture. I want to know why people choose their clothes and accessories and what their message is. And, there’s often a fun story once we start chatting.
I also love meeting and talking with strangers. It makes the world seem like a friendlier place. And when I share people’s photos and stories with Instagram readers, I hope I’m imparting some of that friendliness.
How do you find such interesting people?
Some of it is IG karma. But many people have a great story if you spend a few minutes talking. From my reporter days, I’m naturally nosey. And my feed gives me a passport to break down the barriers that often exist between us.
Do people ever say no when you ask to photograph them?
A few, but most people are flattered when I ask to photograph them.
What makes you decide to take someone’s picture?
It’s an intangible “wow!” factor. I especially like when people combine pieces in a fresh, individual way. Color is important.
It may take me a moment to decide whether to photograph someone, and I’ve had to chase people down the street. I ran after one distinguished looking gentleman for an entire block. When I caught up to him, he said no.
What are you wearing in the photo?
The skeleton choker and my jewelry is by my favorite New York jewelry designer Martine Ali (@martineali), a Highland Park native, whose unisex, edgy necklaces and bracelets adorn rappers and musicians like Kendrick Lamar and Rihanna. Her cool pieces connect to each other so they can be worn in multiple ways. The dress is from Anthropologie. I love birds.
Can you give us a piece of fashion advice?
Find someone whose style you admire in your life or on Instagram. Let their style inspire you as you refine your own look.
What is fashion?
To me, fashion is the art of presenting who you are. Clothes are powerful symbols of what’s inside.