Photography by Fiona Torre
Styling by Jennifer Eymere
All clothes by Fendi
Devon Lee Carlson’s energy is infectious. The 25-year-old is lively and chatty over the phone from her home in Los Angeles, despite having just woken up. One conversation with her leaves you feeling like you’ve found your new best friend; everything about her persona feels genuine and relatable. It makes perfect sense why the internet and fashion brands alike are obsessed with this entrepreneur turned influencer.
Before the coronavirus outbreak relegated everyone to the confines of their own home, Carlson starred in Louis Vuitton's Spring/Summer 2020 accessories campaign, and was a guest of Saint Laurent at its Paris Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2020 show. In February, Carlson, alongside boyfriend Jesse Rutherford (of The Neighborhood), collaborated with Marc Jacobs on a Valentine’s Day T-shirt, which sold out in mere minutes.
Carlson originally made a name for herself as a co-founder of Wildflower Cases, a phone accessories company she started with her family after a chance encounter at a restaurant with Miley Cyrus.
Cyrus gushed over Carlson’s phone case and posted a photo online tagging Carlson, who, on the car ride home, was swamped with notifications from people asking where they could get one for themselves. “My phone started going crazy. I was freaking out,” says Carlson. “We came up with a name in the car, so I started replying to people on Twitter saying wildflowercases.com.” Her family put together the website in one night.
At the time, Devon was halfway through her senior year of high school, and in the midst of trying to figure out her future plans when the business fell into her lap. “All of my friends were going out of state for school,” she acknowledged, knowing at the time that if she were to continue with school it would be at a local community college.
Carlson ended up doing a semester at community college before dropping out, deciding to focus exclusively on the family business. “I didn't really have time to focus on school and put my all into the company. I was just kind of teetering between both," she explained, noting she could always return to school at a later date. “I figured I'd go 100 per cent Wildflower.”
She figured right. College woudn't teach her how to grow a business in real time, nor would it teach her how to manage a brand. "I think running the business with [my family] was a lot easier because we all respected each other as co-founders. I wasn't looking at my dad as my dad,” Carlson says, “I was learning from him. My mom was teaching me how to stud and how to come up with designs. I gained a whole new respect for my sister because she's so tech-savvy."
But like many her age, she’s still trying to figure out her true passions. “Having started Wildflower completely by accident, it wasn't like I was passionate about making phone cases. It's something that I learned to find a passion for," she mused. Fashion and its transformative powers, on the other hand, have been a lifelong love. “During the day, I'll wear no makeup and sweatpants, but whenever I'd go out to dinner, obviously pre-quarantine, I felt like I could dress up and be a different version of myself. I could show a new side to myself, all through clothes.You can become whoever you want to be on the outside. I think that's so powerful.”
It's the authentic nature of this passion and excitment that Carlson's 886,000 followers look forward to every day, and the reason why major fashion houses have started to take notice. Whether she's in Louis Vuitton or a leopard print bikini with her hair up in a banana clip, she's smiling, or even better, making some ridiculous face that feels incredibly in the moment. “I'm just going ham and wearing all this stuff that little Devon would want me to wear,” she says, notinig that she takes inspiration from the styles she saw growing up — very ‘90s and early noughties. “It’s like 13 Going On 30; 13-year-old me is telling me what to wear every day.”
In addition to fashion, modeling fills some of the void she felt when she stopped dancing, and being behind the camera feels like second nature to being on a stage. “There was a similar energy that I felt on set to when I was performing with dance.”
There's also her YouTube channel, where she often posts vlogs of herself and her friends, which can blur the line between her work and her life. “I feel like I'm constantly working because I do blog a lot of my life,” she says, “so even when I'm doing that it's kind of work, but I'm also just being myself and hanging out with my friends.”
“I'm very optimistic and easy-going; that's the main part of me,” Carlon says, when asked what she really wants people to know about her, and what they may not necessarily glean from looking at her feed. “I think there are a lot of sides that I don't show on the internet, mostly because it's just for my friends and my boyfriend and my family. I am my real self online, but there's also more to me.”
We're here for that, so long as the fashion looks keep coming. “I do have a lot of exciting things that hopefully still happen coming up in the future,” Carlson says, “But I just want to make 13-year-old Devon proud.”
Styling assistant Kenzia Bengel de Vaulx
Photography assistant Mathilde Hiley
Hair Kevin Jacotot
Makeup Carole Lasnier
Interview Caroline Mas
Text Pauline Borgogno