One thing to know about Salem Mitchell: Even if you just shared a brief encounter with her once on set, she will meet you with warm embrace at the next fashion party — from a Loewe function at the Sheats-Goldstein Residence to a Miu Miu soiree at the Malibu Pier. Mitchell’s gift in social settings is the same one she exhibits in front of the camera: to connect with the person standing across from her, to look them in the eye. The L.A.-based model is recognized instantaneously by her look (long knotless braids, a constellation of freckles that has had us in a grip since Mitchell’s Tumblr days, and a gold nameplate), but it’s her aura that stays with you (an affable Gemini who is finding joy in making steamed soy and ginger fish at home for her homies, and always smelling slightly like a Byredo store.)
A highlight reel of Mitchell’s last year might include campaigns with Heaven by Marc Jacobs and Replica by Maison Martin Margiela, or her latest collaboration with Wildflower Cases. But a mainstay for Mitchell is always making art with, and supporting, the creative communities she’s a part of in L.A. She is living her best “Insecure”-esque grown life. Now, if only she had courtside tickets to a Lakers game ...
Name, occupation, neighborhood: Salem Mitchell, model, Studio City.
My mantra for the end of the year is “stay in the flow.”
The gift I would buy myself that coincides with my astrological sign: Probably a Magic 8-Ball or a big wheel that says “yes” and “no,” because I’m a Gemini and we are known to be indecisive. I think that that is very true for me.
An L.A. artist whose work I want in every room of my home: It’s tied between Deshion McKinley and Jan Gatewood. They’re both super incredible, talented, L.A.-based Black artists. I recently went to Deshion’s show at Des Pair Books in Echo Park. Jan is just so amazing because he uses a lot of materials that are not paint to create his art.
There’s a sense of humor to summer, a deeply ingrained belief that it’s a time when rules not only can be broken but should be. The brand’s Paula’s Ibiza collection can take you from the beach to the beach house party with enough juice to get you on the list, plus one.
The designer/brand I rocked the most this year: Another tie, between Martine Rose and Acne Studios. I wore my Martine Rose Nikes maybe every single day. I also just got a really cute crewneck from Martine on the SSENSE sale. I have a pair of Acne jeans that I’ve just really ran through crazy.
The clothing item in my closet I consider high art: I have two pieces from Comme des Garçons. I have a gingham skirt — I found it on Grailed, [I believe it might be ‘96] — and every time I put it on and tie it, it has a new form and a new shape. I also have a knit colorblock T-shirt that is ‘90s Comme des Garçons as well. It has really vibrant colors.
(Jennelle Fong and Yasara Gunawardena / For The Times)
My L.A. happy place: It’s honestly going to be my house or wherever my friends are. I’m loving nesting right now.
The thing that has been sitting in my online shopping cart for months: The Bottega Jodie. Everything that I’ve worked for this year is adding up to this Bottega bag.
What I’m getting the people I love this season: I think something functional and sentimental. Maybe even travel gift cards or airline gift cards. You know when you buy somebody a gift and then you go to their house and you see that it hasn’t been used? That’s happened to me one too many times, specifically with my family. I know I have good taste, maybe they just don’t know how to apply it. So they’re getting functional things that are maybe sentimental because I want them to go to use.
The one thing I wish the people I love would band together and buy for me this season: I wish everybody would band together and get me courtside seats to a Lakers game so I can live my 2010s Rihanna courtside cosplay fantasy. I would love for that to be me.
The zine/book/item on my coffee table that I want people to see: “Tummy Ache!” by Zamar Velez. I actually have a glass see-through coffee table and I only put books on it that I want to be seen. That one is right in the middle — bright red, you can’t miss it. I always want people to look at it because Zamar is so talented. (Also, I’m in it, but it has really amazing images that I’m not in that I think are incredible.)
I will never stop rocking my Wildflower phone case that I made for the brand. And maybe a nameplate necklace.
The cause or organization I’m supporting right now: The Black Image Center. They’ve only been open for a couple of years. They have been doing jazz nights and fundraisers. It’s really nice to support a creative space that your peers are putting on to set up a safe community for people like ourselves, Black artists, to display their work without a lot of costs.
Authenticity is the energy I’m on creatively right now.
I’m manifesting a shoot in 2024 with Carlijn Jacobs. She is one of my absolute favorites. She just shot the most recent Acne Studios campaigns with Anok Yai and Kylie Jenner. She’s done some amazing Vogue covers. She also has a really good book, “Eyes,” that I just bought for my coffee table as well.
The soy and ginger steamed fish recipe from Bon Appétit is the meal I’m cooking on rotation right now.
The fictional character inspiring my style the most lately: It would be a combination of all of the characters from “Insecure.” It came out when I was 18 and I’m 25 [now], so I just rewatched it. It’s so much more fun to watch in your 20s when you have a better idea of what’s going on, but also now that I know a little bit more about fashion I can tell when certain characters are wearing certain designers that I’m familiar with, like Wales Bonner Adidas stuff.
The color I’m dreaming in/obsessed with: I just got my nails painted red for the first time in my life. When I was a kid my family was like, “You can’t get your nails red because it’s too grown-up.” I totally understand what they were talking about. I’ve never felt like more of a boss.
The 2023 drop that still haunts me: I didn’t go to the Boy Smells sample sale. And it haunts me because my friend got me a candle from there and I am obsessed with that candle. I just think about how many other great candles I missed out on.
All of 2024 I’ll be smelling like: My signature scent right now is Casablanca Lily by Byredo. It’s so floral and bright but not in an overwhelming old lady way.
Makeup: Carla Perez
Hair: Belen Gomez
Styling assistants: Stacey Barton, Karina Boylan, Annunziata Santelli