Sunday, 20 December 2009


Born 11th June 1985, Anja Rubik’s success stems from fashion’s ability to turn a classic beauty into a very modern commodity.

Anja, born in Poland, took an active interest in modelling from early childhood. At the age of 15, she decided to pursue the goal of becoming a model and took part in a local modelling contest. This would prove to be a pivotal decision: there Anja was spotted by a Parisian agency that immediately recognised her potential.

Anja’s debut into the fashion world marked her from the outset as someone to be reckoned with. She debuted at the A/W shows in Paris, walking for Givenchy, Rochas and Nina Ricci. A hit with Paris, Rubik moved to New York two years later to pursue modelling full-time.

Success came quickly for Rubik. In February 2003, she appeared in the A/W shows for Burberry, Jil Sander and Stella McCartney: all names that can seriously boost a girl’s portfolio.

With naming her the rising star of 2005, Rubik landed contracts with Emporio Armani and Emanuel Ungaro. In the autumn of 2005, she became the face of the Jimmy Choo brand and walked S/S runways for Donna Karan, Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren and Proenza Schouler.

In 2006, Anja’s career went supernova when she signed a contract with cosmetics giant Estee Lauder. If Rubik needed proof that her career was moving in the right direction, this was the moment that did it. A long-established beauty brand, to sign up Anja (at that point still relatively unknown) was a gamble, but one they clearly felt justified in taking.

With a campaign shoot in Alaska for all-American label Tommy Hilfiger, Rubik capped off an amazing year with 50 runway appearances including couture shows for Dior, Chanel, Jean Paul Gaultier and Valentino. Being selected for a couture show is the one of the highest accolades a model can receive, and with Anja’s popularity continuing to grow in Paris, the demand for the face that merged the best of commercial and editorial also showed few signs of letting-up.

With eight Vogue covers to date, Anja Rubik has become one of the top beauty faces working in fashion today. In addition to her numerous fragrance, beauty and eyewear contracts, Anja has walked runway for every notable designer, ranging from Dolce & Gabbana to Loewe, Vera Wang, Thakoon and Gareth Pugh.

Classic beauty, like the little black dress, never really goes out of fashion, and like the LBD, Anja’s look is one that will always be in style. Anja’s list of credits bear testament to the fact that there is always a place in fashion for beauty. Whatever fads come and go, classic beauty finds favour in the fashion industry because it is creates immediate style shorthand by utilising pop culture icons like Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly. The blue-eyed blonde continues to fascinate because the look is loved by designers, used over and over again by advertisers to sell virtually any product, and directors such as Hitchcock dedicated much of their careers to exploring our obsession with the blonde.

Nowhere is this ongoing obsession more evident than in Anja’s signing with Chloe. The signature fragrance for the French label, only launched in 2008, feels far more established, but the campaign, introduced to the fragrance industry in late 2007, featured Anja alongside actors Chloe Sevigny and Clemence Poesy. The trio, simply styled, represented a very fresh, modern slant on femininity. Deliberately underworked, Chloe’s brand of new femininity has been so successful that the fragrance can already claim modern classic status.

Luxurious and aspirational, but striking the crucial balance between cool and allure, the success of the perfume has proved that the reported demise of the print ad is somewhat premature. By adopting a clear-headed approach to marketing, its subdued glamour has made the fragrance a worldwide hit, ensuring that not just the fashion literate have heard of Chloe.

By hiring Rubik as the only model to front the brand, Chloe cleverly tapped into Anja’s accessible and easily identifiable beauty. No previous knowledge of fashion required: anyone can look at a Chloe advert and understand the connection between model and product. Anja is the perfect match for Chloe because she herself represents a modern femininity that has nothing to do with flounces or frills. It dials into a simpler aesthetic: something that is refreshing in an age where even reality TV contestants are groomed to within an inch of their lives.

Anja’s reputation rests on her ability to make elegance approachable. Ice-cool hauteur isn’t in vogue anymore: advertisers can’t afford to alienate consumers, and the models who are doing well right now are the ones who can tell a story in a single frame. Being relatable isn’t the same as being over-commercial or not high fashion. Making that link with the person buying the magazine or passing the billboard is a skill and one definitely worth cultivating.

High-fashion and beauty have not always been synonymous, but Anja, with her impressive CV of covers, editorials and runway credits, clearly operates within the realm of high-fashion, but is still recognisably beautiful in the contemporary sense of the word. Being ‘pretty’ used to be a distinct disadvantage if you wanted to get taken seriously, but not anymore. The respective successes of models like Lara Stone and Jessica Stam show that fashion has widened its own horizons to allow faces like Anja to not only work in the modelling industry, but to succeed and excel.

Faces like Anja get the attention that they do because they simply don’t come around that often. Finding that lucky mix of genetics that permits Anja to be equally convincing in couture as she is in a Gap commercial is a rarity even in the modelling world where outstanding beauty is par for the course.

Its rarity is what makes beauty so desirable. Everybody wants it; and those who do have it are the subject of intrigue, fascination and envy. It’s still, even in these times of shaky finances, the most potent form of currency we have. Anja’s extraordinary body of work shows that, whatever is on fashion’s agenda, beauty takes pride of place. It not only sells magazine covers and bottles of perfume, but it sells the promise of something better than we already have, and at the end of the day, that is what fashion is all about. A face that represents the ultimate in versatility, Anja Rubik is well on the way to becoming one of the most formidable forces in fashion history.


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