Friday, 31 December 2010


There are three main ways to contact a modelling agency:

- By post
- By email
- In person

Many model agencies specify which method they usually prefer, but note that when you’re starting out and shopping for agencies, cold-calling is a no-no. The odds of being signed to any agency are slim, but bugging an agency with calls isn’t the way to even out those odds. The key to getting seen is to play the hiring game by their rules. If the model agency you’re after prefers emails, send an email. If another agency holds Open Days, turn up on that day ready to dazzle. Persistence is a valuable asset when starting out in modelling, but use it intelligently and channel that determination.

The first step in contacting any model agency is to prepare some photos. This doesn’t mean spending hundreds, even thousands, on a portfolio. All you need at this stage are a couple of recently-taken photos, one head-shot (head and shoulders, facing the camera) and a full body shot (head-to-toe, again facing the camera). Some agencies also like a profile shot to see how your face copes with different angles - it’s worthwhile checking their websites as they will list exactly what they want.

The key to getting good photos is to keep it simple. Your background should be well-lit and uncluttered – standing up against a plain wall is perfect. In terms of posing, resist the temptation to show off your killer impression of Anna Jagodzinska: for these photos, try to keep your face in a neutral expression – this means no pouting or smiling. It’s harder than it looks and it might be worth practising in the mirror beforehand to know how your face settles naturally and what looks best.

Think of the process as a chance to present yourself as someone who could handle lots of different looks. With this in mind, think about what you wear whilst taking these shots. A simple t-shirt or vest with jeans is ideal: you’re looking to market yourself as that perfect blank canvas, ready to be signed.

In terms of grooming, simplicity is the key: over-working your skin and hair is a rookie mistake. A busy agent doesn’t want to have to spend time scrutinising a photo of someone who’s covered in make-up to see what’s underneath. Keep the skin clean and fresh – no make-up is preferable but a little dab of concealer here and there is fine. With hair, swept back off the face to show your bone structure works well, and it will also demonstrate how light hits your face. These photos are very important, and the temptation to hide behind a comfort blanket of make-up and hair product is immense, but any good agent will be able to tell if you have potential from a couple of simple shots. Once you are armed with a set of photos you are happy with, here’s how you go about approaching an agency.

By post

Contacting an agency by post is fairly straightforward. Send your photos, along with a SAE and brief covering letter (outlining any previous experience and your vital statistics), to the model agency marking it for the attention of their ‘New Faces Division’ (every agency has one).
Your vital statistics will be the following:

- Height
- Chest / bust size
- Waist & hip measurements
- Age
- Hair and eye colour
- Dress and shoe size

When compiling your statistics, it is crucial to be honest. Not only is it good modelling karma, but adding an inch or two to your height, or shaving an imaginary inch off your waist would be a terrible mistake. If you write off to a modelling agency, stating that you are 5’9” when you’re in fact 5’6”, the agent will not thank you for wasting their time when they agree to meet you in person. If you hover between measurements, always state your exact size. There’s no shame in being 5’8” ½, but saying your waist is 24 inches when it’s closer to 25 can make a difference. You want to start your relationship with any agency off on the right foot, and being absolutely honest is the best way to start.

By email

Rapidly becoming the most common method of contacting a modelling agency, many agencies now have their own dedicated page for people who want to be considered for their New Faces Division. If your chosen agency has a page like this, you can directly upload your photos directly onto their website. Many of these agencies will also have an online form you can fill out, adding your contact info and vital statistics. Bear in mind that if the agency likes your photos, you could well be asked to meet with them in person: padding your CV or spinning your stats so they look more attractive to an agency doesn’t work in real life. Modelling is one of the few professions where starting with zero experience isn’t a problem. If you have potential to work in the modelling industry, someone will spot it.

In person

Some agencies have regular ‘open castings’, which anyone can attend and meet with agents to see if they have modelling potential. Usually, if this is an option, it will be listed on an agency’s website with dates and times.

Take this as gospel: if an agency has an Open Day and wants would-be models to attend the agency on Tuesday at 10am, turn up on Tuesday at 10am. Do not assume that the agents will have hours at their disposal to spend looking at new faces; many times the ‘Open Day’ is little more than a couple of hours at most, because time spent away from existing clients and models has the potential to lose the agency valuable income. Therefore, take their time seriously and be punctual. It’s also good training for when you become a model, as time-keeping is as important as having a decent runway walk. If you know you’re one of those people who’s at least 10 minutes late for everything, plan and organise your day accordingly. Adjust the time on your phone so it’s running 10 minutes fast if you have to, and work to that.

If you’re able to get to an open casting, present yourself the way you did during your photos. Think clean, modern and polished. Presenting yourself in this way not only flags up to an agent that you’re someone who’s done their research, but also someone who’s serious about committing to a career in modelling. Don’t forget to bring a copy of your original photos along with you as well, so the agent can see how your features translate on film.

Whatever way you decide to approach an agency, listen to any advice and constructive criticism that’s offered. If an agent suggests you may not be right for a sector of the industry because of your height, don’t automatically give up. If you’re aged 16 or under, it might be worth waiting 6 months before trying again, as you may grow that extra couple of inches which might make all the difference.

However, if you’re about as grown as you’re likely to get, and the issue is that your look won’t fit in a particular section of the industry, you may have to accept that you’re getting advice from someone who knows what they’re talking about. If you’re 5’5” and want to break into high-fashion where 5’9” is the norm, you will have to face the fact that the odds of succeeding are stacked against you. There are always exceptions, especially in high-fashion where tastes and trends change so quickly, but in order to break through those barriers you will have to be truly exceptional.

When you are contacting modelling agencies, accept that rejection is part of the whole experience, and be flexible and open-minded when it comes to looking out for opportunities. If an agent suggests you might be better off exploring another area of the industry, don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations on where to go next. They will know who will be best placed to help you in that search. Don’t give up too easily: it’s a big modelling world out there – if you’re not quite right for one agency, you could well be a perfect fit somewhere else.


Sunday, 19 December 2010


Born in Belarus in 1991, Tanya Dziahileva had an early start in modelling. Signed to an agency at the age of 14, her debut on the Spring / Summer 2006 catwalk saw her appear for Prada, Chloe, Chanel and Alexander McQueen.

Tanya’s launch into high-fashion continued with editorial work for British Vogue in February 2006 and a campaign for Hugo Boss featuring Tanya with Agyness Deyn. Both models were a telling choice for the brand; Deyn had just broken into the industry herself, with her unique street style and peroxide hair already making waves.

Aged 15, Tanya scored her first major solo campaign when she became the face of YSL, photographed by Juergen Teller. Normally such a high-profile booking would daunt even an experienced model, but Tanya handled the pressure and expectation like a seasoned professional.

2007 saw even greater success, with Tanya booking a campaign for Lanvin, photographed by the legendary Steven Meisel. If Tanya felt nerves, she didn’t show them – and within months she had also secured a fragrance contract with Nina Ricci and became the face of the Michael Kors brand, replacing Carmen Kass.

The model-switch represented a key change in fashion’s tastes. Michael Kors, a label synonymous with American luxury chic, Tanya was not the most obvious choice, but her hiring was a sign that fashion was already beginning to shed the idea of a certain type of model for a certain type of campaign.

Tanya’s first runway season of 2007 saw her walking in shows for Alberta Ferretti, Calvin Klein, Chloe, Dior, Givenchy, Marni, Oscar de la Renta, Proenza Schouler, Vera Wang and Zac Posen. Her booking sheet was a smattering of newly-formed design houses, such as Proenza Schouler and Zac Posen, plus more established labels like Oscar de la Renta and Givenchy.

But her breakout season came in September when she was hired for 71 shows. She was also picked to open the Versace show, and closed four shows including Phillip Lim, Celine and Valentino. Incredible as these achievements were for a model that was only 16 years old, 2008 would ultimately be Tanya’s blockbuster year. She landed two major campaigns; one with Anja Rubik and Maryna Linchuk for DSquared, and the second with global brand Ralph Lauren.
Tanya’s growing status as one to watch was cemented further when she booked over 70 shows for February 2008. The same month, she got her first cover, with Russian Vogue. The seal of approval from Vogue took Tanya’s career to the next level, getting her bookings in the couture shows in July. Standing at 5’ 11”, Tanya was height-perfect for couture and made appearances for Armani Prive, Dior and Valentino.

Couture’s reputation for being notoriously tricky to model is well-founded, but Tanya’s body of runway experience meant her debut in Paris was earned fair and square. Far from being elitist, haute couture is probably the fairest sector of the industry when it comes to hiring: ability wins over hype every time. Couture modelling requires a level of skill beyond ready-to-wear, with models being asked to effectively play a character – whether that’s giving Armani’s space-age glamour gowns a touch of gravity, or embodying John Galliano’s haughty equestrian fantasy. Haute Couture is a hybrid of fashion meets theatre, and Tanya disproves the myth that having a memorable face means you can’t be adaptable.

In August, Tanya did her first major editorial with U.S Vogue, shot by Steven Meisel, followed by a slot in Japanese Vogue and a feature in Russian Vogue where Tanya was dubbed a ‘top model’. Russian Vogue has a particularly good track record of recognising model talent: their decision to devote an entire issue to Natasha Poly launched her career into the stratosphere.
Tanya’s runway season in September was further proof that if a top model needs to be versatile, she met that requirement in spades. Opening and closing shows for Elie Saab and Yohji Yamamoto, Tanya’s ability to morph from one aesthetic to another couldn’t be clearer: it’s hard to think of two designers more different than Saab and Yamamoto. Saab’s reputation as a perfector of red-carpet glamour and Yamamoto’s clean, post-modern vision make them direct opposites, but Tanya’s keenly-honed runway skills meant she booked appearances for both.
September ’09 saw Tanya skip New York, London and Milan Fashion Weeks, concentrating solely on Paris with bookings for Alexander McQueen, Dior, Hussein Chalayan and Lanvin. But her experience of dealing with challenging catwalk was tested to its limit in March 2010 when she was asked to participate in a runway show, housing the final collection by Alexander McQueen, only a month after his sudden death. Part of a select group of seven models, the resulting show was subdued, but the work, stunning.

Tanya’s working relationship with the designer came full circle when she was asked to take part in an editorial for U.S Vogue. Called ‘Noble Farewell’, the layout showed Tanya and other models also featured in McQueen’s final runway show, wearing the collection and about to be packed away in crates, preserving McQueen’s work for all time.

It’s hard to fully gauge a designer’s worth during their lifetime, but the moving tribute paid by American Vogue was industry wide in its impact. Tanya’s final note of 2010 was another act of homage to McQueen. Fronting the September cover for Spanish Vogue, Tanya modelled one of Alexander’s now famous final looks. The heady baroque design was anchored by Tanya’s quiet and dignified gaze. No tricks required; this was modelling done so deftly that it looks like Tanya is doing nothing at all. A true sign of a top model is their ability to do more by doing less, and it’s a skill Tanya has mastered absolutely.

Her face has become one of the most recognised and recognisable in the industry, and even though her name is somewhat less familiar outside fashion circles, Tanya has become a supermodel by stealth. Her mix of quirky beauty and traditional supermodel traits sees Tanya competing – successfully – with newer models, even though her career is heading into its 6th year.

Tanya’s status as one of fashion’s most prized models has been hard-worn, with Tanya being catapulted into the spotlight when she was just 14. Acing an YSL campaign shoot at 15 years old is an extraordinary accomplishment. Her exhaustive body of work, featuring runway, editorials and campaigns with every major designer in the world, points to a model that thrives on hard work.

Tanya’s launch into the fashion world in 2005 came a decade after models Kristen McMenamy and Stella Tennant created a storm as faces that were ‘ugly / beautiful’. The mid-Nineties saw models appear whose look was unusual and challenging, a significant departure from the glamorous faces that populated the Eighties. Especially loved by European designers, such as Karl Lagerfeld and Jean Paul Gaultier, public opinion was strongly divided. Many didn’t get the appeal of such faces, others saw it as further proof that ‘high fashion’ had very little to do with ‘real life’. As vague as both these concepts are, the willingness of fashion to make beautiful clothes just that little bit ugly, transformed the industry. This was fashion taking the blinkers off and looking out on a wider definition of beauty. Poses became more angular, less defined: supermodels like Tyra Banks and Kate Moss began to appear in editorials where their bodies were slumped and their eyes cast away from the camera. The guiding principles were awkward rather than poised, quirky rather than sunny.

These new ideas on how to present high-fashion trickled down through the industry with modelling agencies finding themselves not automatically looking for ‘money girls’ – the kind who sell perfume by the barrel-load – but girls who could not only do, but embody, one word: editorial. But as editorial took hold, everyone wanted a piece of the new look. The quirky girls began getting hired not just for the high-fashion jobs, but for everything. It was nothing short of a revolution.

Tanya, along with Agyness Deyn and Coco Rocha, has become one of the first quirky girls to get the big-budget, big-name campaigns that were normally reserved for more conventional beauty. But Tanya isn’t considered a token choice: she has become one of the leading faces of a generation that accepts diversity as the norm. What’s considered on-trend alters constantly, but faces like Tanya’s have changed fashion’s mind about what beauty really is, and that idea refuses to budge.

Tanya’s portfolio boasts the expected avant-garde shoots and campaigns, but she is also a cover girl several times over. With seven Vogue covers to date, Tanya’s career is part of a much larger success story for modelling in general. With current hot-ticket Joan Smalls just announced as the new face of Estee Lauder for 2011, widening the terms of beauty has allowed models from every ethnic background to not only enter the industry, but to get their shot at those big-name bookings.

This revolution started on the runway, and this embrace of every kind of beauty came full circle during Jason Wu’s show last September. Featuring models from European, Asian and African-American backgrounds, it is incredible to think that ten years ago; this gathering would have been unthinkable, simply because it would have been impossible. Finally, their faces fit.


Sunday, 5 December 2010


Born 6th June 1993, Swedish-born Frida Gustavsson has, in the space of two years, become one of fashion’s most wanted.

Frida began modelling at the age of 15, moving to Japan the same year to pursue a career. Signing with IMG in 2009, Frida began her runway career in earnest, booking spots with Elie Saab and being picked to open the Valentino Couture show – an extraordinary honour for a newcomer.

Her connection with Valentino resurfaced in September, when Frida did her first editorial with Italian Vogue. Photographed in head-to-toe couture, Frida’s debut on the international fashion stage singled her out immediately as no run-of-the-mill model.

The impact of the editorial was confirmed when Frida secured ready-to-wear bookings with Carolina Herrera, Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta, Rodarte and Lanvin. Her super-stellar arrival, including closing spots for Just Cavalli and Gareth Pugh, put Frida firmly in the fashion spotlight. Both and subsequently featured Gustavsson as a Top 10 Newcomer.

January 2010 began with another couture season, with appearances for Valentino, plus Armani Prive, Elie Saab, Dior and Chanel, with additional editorial work for W and Italian Vogue. But Frida’s next RTW season would prove to be a monster hit.

Opening shows for Sophia Kokosalaki and Costume National, Frida’s mega season featured over 70 appearances ranging from Phillip Lim, Burberry and Chanel to Louis Vuitton, Rag & Bone, Thakoon and Versace.

Frida was in every show of note in a season filled with hit after hit, becoming an indispensable feature of Fashion Week, from Burberry’s aviator chic to Louis Vuitton’s glamorous retake on Fifties style. Frida’s astonishing run of success continued to grow, with her first international cover in May. Appearing for German Vogue and shot by Greg Kadel, the end result was both glamorous and enigmatic. With half her face obscured, Frida’s performance was pure modern retro. Referencing models from the 1940’s and 50’s, the cover could almost be from the archives, but it managed to be both classically appealing and absolutely contemporary. It’s hard to handle retro shoots as the aim is to evoke vintage, rather than directly copy it, but the tone struck by Gustavsson and Kadel was note-perfect.

Frida also made her debut in American Vogue in May, and in July, covered couture season, walking for Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier, Armani Prive and, again, Valentino. Gustavsson’s reliability on the runway had eventually translated into some lucrative campaign work, with Frida impressively landing a spot as the face of Marc Jacobs’s fragrance, Daisy.

Her next bookings for runway (Spring / Summer 2011), included prestigious opening spots for Anna Sui, Marc by Marc Jacobs and Lanvin. Also scoring a finale spot with new designer Prabal Gurung, Frida’s bookings included appearances for every major design house. Frida rounded out the year with editorials for French, American and British Vogue, and as couture season begins again in January, Gustavsson’s career trajectory is set to transform this fashion favourite into a force to be reckoned with.

The glory may be heaped on the campaign girls, but success in runway should never be underestimated. Frida’s success hasn’t rested on face-time with the public. It’s unlikely that anyone outside the fashion world (or not an avid follower), would be able to identify her with any degree of success. But fashion’s multi-discipline arena allows to models to find and develop their own strengths. While undoubtedly talented at editorial, and with cover and campaign work beginning to rack up, Frida’s true strength has been to master the very core of modelling: runway.

It is easy to forget, but runway remains for designers the most important aspect of their career. Twice a year designers submit their ready-to-wear collections to be scrutinised by the fashion world. Runway, more than any campaign, is a calling-card, telling us where the designer wants to take their vision not just now or for the next six months; it is a projection of their game plan; the designer they ultimately want to become.

A ‘good’ collection becomes part of the fashion experience, drip-feeding hem lengths and colour combinations down to the high-street, but a ‘great’ collection forms its own style language. Prada made us fall in love with the humble bowling bag; Karl Lagerfeld’s modernising of the Chanel tweed jacket made it a wardrobe essential and Marc Jacobs gave grunge a glamour makeover, transforming it into the urban uniform worn across the world.

A runway collection that has true impact does more than raise a designer’s profile: getting it right – and that includes hiring the best models – can make the difference between a designer being moderately successful and becoming a legend. When your name and your label become interchangeable, you’re definitely doing something right.

Frida is part of a select group of models that hold a unique influence. Fashion may love star power, but it loves consistency more. Frida’s face may not have the immediacy of a Lindsey Wixson or a Jessica Stam, but she – and models like her – form the backbone of the fashion business.

Frida’s runway CV features some of the most hotly-tipped talents to emerge in a decade. Designers like Prabal Gurung and Mary Katrantzou hire Frida because she is an established name that comes without the baggage normally associated with a star turn. She can fully commit to any vision, any sartorial point of view, and make it believable. For a new designer, wanting to make their mark, it’s an easy sell.

Frida’s power as a top runway model is made even clearer when it comes to couture. Standing at just over 5’9”, Gustavsson is nearly two inches shorter than the industry standard for couture, where models normally peak at 5’11”.

It is highly unusual for a model under 5’10” to get any couture bookings, simply because the often complex and dramatic designs demand height. The fact that Frida routinely appears on some of the best couture runways in the world, points to her ability to understand high-fashion. Models at this level aren’t just glorified clothes-hangers; they’re interpreters.

Translating a designer’s vision into something beautiful and, crucially, covetable is a task that falls to the model who is required to take something that could in the wrong hands become costume, and instead take it to a level where clothes become poetry. Runway modelling, at its best, works when the model truly knows and appreciates high-fashion.

Her appearance in the final collection by Alexander McQueen earlier this year, shows how much a part of the community she is; the collection was left incomplete by McQueen’s death in February, with only 16 completed looks to showcase, only 7 models were required. Frida was selected to form part of this group, along with Iris Strubegger, Tanya Dziahileva, Polina Kasina and Karlie Kloss.

With all eyes on this final tribute to the designer, Frida was part of a history-making moment, and in fashion, those tend to be few and far between. When everything is focused on the here and now, those rare moments, where fashion steps back and takes a breath, leave a mark that is indelible.

Girls like Frida are the life-blood of high fashion. Strip away the hype and the glamour, and what’s left is a core group of models who are there because they respect high-fashion. Frida has created a space for herself in the fashion world by virtue of her genuine love for fashion, because fashion evolves not just on ideas but relationships too. A model that gets it, the lure of designer fashion, not as a status symbol, but for its own intrinsic worth, is a model who will always be in favour. It’s as simple as that.


Sunday, 28 November 2010


This may seem like an obvious question, with an even more obvious answer, but on closer inspection, determining which agency you want to aim for says a lot about the kind of model you want to become.

Most people think of modelling purely in terms of high-fashion. But the faces you see, such as Liu Wen (pictured), in editorials for W or Marie Claire, are only one small section of the modelling industry. If you take even a brief look around you (billboards, promotional events, even television adverts), it suddenly becomes clear that modelling is a much larger industry than you may have first thought. This is ultimately good news, as when you assess your weaknesses and strengths as a model, you may find you’re suited to more than one style of modelling, or even belong in an entirely different category than you might have first imagined yourself in.

Being flexible about your career aspirations is the key to being a great model. Being realistic about where you can place yourself in the industry will save you a lot of heartache and rejection, and may even get you started sooner than you think.

Fashion / editorial
Has a well-deserved reputation as the toughest section of the industry to crack. If you’ve even watched one episode of any ‘Top Model’ series, it becomes self-evident that the requirements to get even a foothold in this sector are often exacting and complex.

It sounds strange, but being beautiful isn’t an automatic right of admission. This corner of the market is notoriously competitive, and agencies are always looking for the next face that will become the darling of high-fashion. If you’ve watched ‘Top Model’, you will know that the ‘cheerleader’ contestant – the girl who turns heads in real life – isn’t always guaranteed success. It’s a harsh truth that conventional good looks do not always translate well in the world of high-fashion. Many models prosper when their look offers something a little off the beaten track. Having features that photograph well is a must, along with height (usually at least 5’ 9” although exceptions are sometimes made), and a body that’s slim and evenly proportioned (the famous ‘clothes hanger’ body type).

Having a body that’s born to wear haute couture is a definite plus, but with model agencies looking for high-fashion faces, it’s all in the x-factor; that indefinable quality that makes someone memorable.

This can be an advantage if you’re quirky rather than pretty and tastes change so fast in editorial fashion that you can quite literally be ‘wrong’ one week and the absolute ‘face of the moment’ the next. It goes some way to explaining how a catwalk model can work for months, sometimes years, and suddenly become the girl everyone wants to work with.

However, rejection is a guarantee when trying to break into fashion modelling. The spots available are limited, as editorial is so specific in what it asks of new models. This is the sharp end of the business, and it’s not unusual to find yourself retiring before the age of 25.

But if you really think you have what it takes (and be brutally honest with yourself), you could end up working with some of the best photographers, stylists and editors in the world. Your time in the limelight may not last long, but a good career specialising in editorial could provide opportunities you never thought possible.

Catalogue / commercial
Once considered the poor cousin to editorial, commercial modelling is rapidly becoming one of the success stories of the industry. If you have good, photographable features but think you’re too old / short / girl or boy next door to get into high-fashion, this could well be the best option for you.

This type of modelling spills over from print ads into TV work and you don’t have to be an expert to figure out that there’s a lot more work to go round. Think of the number of adverts you see in any one day: toothpaste, lingerie, sportswear, hair-care – each one requires a face to sell that product and that person could be you.

The requirements listed by any commercial agency are similar to high-fashion, but with one crucial difference: you must have a look that is photogenic, warm and accessible. A great smile could quite literally make your fortune.

Having the basics – good skin, hair, teeth and nails will help you get through the door of an agency, but personality and flexibility is what could get you signed on the spot.

Just as with high-fashion, the client rules. What they want, you have to deliver. Being a good listener, and more crucially, able to work quickly and effectively with a creative team is an essential for this type of modelling. It’s a misnomer that ‘catalogue’ is for models that weren’t good enough for high-fashion. You need many of the same skills, and pressures of time and budget are just as high. Getting the right look on camera is a non-negotiable, and the only difference is that you could be modelling catalogue rather than couture. But making cheaper fabrics look just as good on film as their pricier counterparts is all about attitude. Wear catalogue with the same panache you’d reserve for Chanel, and your career will soar.

The key difference with commercial modelling is the work, or rather the amount of it. If you’re a success you will definitely know about it, because you will be working around the clock.

As I said earlier, catalogue has been one of the most resilient sectors of the modelling industry when it comes to bucking the economic downturn. In order to buy a product, we have to know about it in the first place, and the smarter companies have kept their advertising budget the same or even increased it during the recession.

Commercial modelling may have suffered from a self-image crisis in the past, but with commercial models finding themselves in constant demand, this area of the industry has finally had its Cinderella moment.

The good news for any budding commercial model is that your career could indeed have healthier long-term prospects than your editorial counterpart. Look at many of the big-brand beauty ads and they’ve been in the habit of using models that are a similar age to the consumers who will use the product. Gone are the days when an 18-year-old would advertise anti-ageing face cream. Everyone’s more media-savvy these days and that includes us, the consumers.

Advertisers have latched onto this, and it is now not uncommon to see models in their thirties, forties and beyond fronting campaigns for names like L’Oreal, Revlon and Nivea. Want to work in an ever-expanding industry? Commercial modelling may well be your best option to that most elusive thing in modelling: longevity.

Body parts modelling
One of the newest sectors of the industry, this is exactly what it says it is. Watch any advert for washing-up liquid and you’ll instantly spot a pair of perfectly-manicured hands. These will almost certainly not belong to the commercial model fronting the ad, but will belong to a model that specialises in body-part modelling.

Hands, legs and feet are usually the most in-demand and if you have hands that get regularly complimented, there might well be a career in it.

The work can range from the kitchen sink to beauty editorials or accessory shoots (very often a hand-model is drafted in to assist with fashion shoots where close-ups are required and the main model’s hands may not be up to such scrutiny).

This type of modelling can be extremely lucrative, but it requires a lot of patience on your part as it can involve repetitive, sometimes uncomfortable, awkward poses. If you’re low on patience and your tolerance for discomfort is set at zero, this might not be the best modelling option for you.

The downside to this kind of career is that you have to be extra vigilant when it comes to knocks, scrapes, bruises and falls. If you fell and bruised your hand, the worst case scenario would be no work, no bookings or even go-sees until it had fully healed. Some established body-part models even have separate insurance policies taken out in case of even more serious or prolonged injuries which can seriously impact on their ability to make a living.

The good news is that this kind of modelling provides regular work, and just with normal modelling, if you work well with creative teams and deliver results that clients are happy with, you can make a name for yourself and a very comfortable living into the bargain.

Finding your niche in modelling can take a while, but doing some preparation and groundwork is never a waste of time, in fact, quite the opposite. Whether you want to aim for the giddy heights of high-fashion, or want to opt for a more commercial angle, knowing your strengths in relation to what an agency is looking for is crucial if you want a career with a game plan. In the world of modelling, a little well-aimed self-promotion goes a long way.


Sunday, 14 November 2010


Born in 1992, New Jersey native Jacquelyn Jablonski started her career signing with prestigious agency Ford Models in 2007.

In January 2008, Jablonski hit the headlines when she became a finalist in Ford’s ‘Supermodel of the World’ contest. A competition famous for cherry-picking the very best of new modelling talent, Jacquelyn’s placing got her noticed by the industry, with showcasing her as a face to watch.

Ford, an agency with a reputation for not only spotting but cultivating talent, built on Jacquelyn’s early success with runway bookings for resort collections (Proenza Schouler, June 2009) and pre-fall appearances for Emanuel Ungaro.

The obvious move on Jacquelyn becoming a Ford finalist would have been to launch her immediately into Fashion Week. But Ford instead let Jacquelyn develop her skills on the runway, with regular appearances making her increasingly visible – and credible. The drip-feed effect paid off, with Jablonski getting hired for a number of editorials with V and Italian Elle, but later that year, Jacquelyn made an impact that was hard to ignore.

The all-American girl scooped a campaign with the ultimate American brand. Hired to appear in ads for Calvin Klein Jeans, Jablonski’s high-fashion look added edge to the iconic campaign. Her status had transformed overnight from new arrival to the latest must-hire model.

Jacquelyn experienced her breakout runway season in September 2009, walking for names such as Thakoon, Gucci, Prada, Balenciaga, Lanvin and YSL. She was now coveted by every major designer, and named her one of their Top 10 Newcomers of the entire season.
While 2009 was undeniably successful for Jablonski, 2010 would prove to be the year where her career really took off. Landing campaigns for D&G and Celine in early 2010, she walked the couture runways in January for Valentino and Chanel.

Her next ready-to-wear season in February saw Jacquelyn walking in an incredible 74 shows. In a season that boasted hit after sartorial hit, Jacquelyn’s astonishing presence on some of the world’s most important runways, elevated her to fashion’s newest superstar, joining the likes of Chanel Iman and Karlie Kloss; models that combined old-school star power with editorial know-how.

Further editorial work followed an extraordinarily successful season, with Jacquelyn appearing in French, German, American and Japanese Vogue. She also landed the S/S cover of French Revue des Modes, and appeared in the A/W look-book for Givenchy.

Jacquelyn’s year has ended with a prolific signing for Tommy Hilfiger’s label, and a 61-show season for S/S 2011 including appearances for designers such as Dior, Dries Van Noten, Marc Jacobs, Proenza Schouler and Sonia Rykiel. Still a runway favourite (anything approaching 30 shows is considered a huge success), Jacquelyn’s future as a new addition to fashion’s latest clutch of multi-tasking models is now firmly established.

Jablonski’s strong editorial features and couture-ready body directly counter the myth that American girls can’t do high-fashion. The outdoorsy, high-energy angle required for campaigns such as Tommy Hilfiger may seem at absolute odds with walking the runway for Chanel Couture, but the skill-set required to master them both are one and the same.

Jacquelyn’s success is not an isolated incident, but forms part of a group of young American models who are wowing the industry. Hannah Holman, Lindsey Wixson, Arlenis Sosa and Kendra Spears fulfil fashion’s fantasy of the all-American girl, but their ability to wear European labels that require edgier faces to bring them to life is something entirely new. The notion that an American can’t win over Paris – the home of haute couture – is rapidly becoming old-hat. Karlie Kloss is the current face of Dior; Karl Lagerfeld has been equally charmed by Chanel Iman and his current infatuation with Jacquelyn’s fellow American, Emily Di Donato, points to the fact that when it comes to high-fashion, American girls have no problem in making their presence felt.

But it’s not a simple case of take-over: the modelling industry has been wholly dominated by European talent for the past decade. Russia, France, Holland and Germany have turned out some of the strongest faces for a generation, and while America did lay claim to producing some of the greatest models of the Eighties and Nineties, its stake in modelling talent has got left behind. Fashion’s tastes for edgy and fashion-forward models got associated with quirky European faces, whilst American talent became increasingly linked with swimwear and lingerie. Success isn’t a dirty word in modelling, but it can be possible to have too much of a good thing.

This new breed of American model takes on every kind of fashion personality – not just the sunny, California girl or the moody, New York intellectual. Jacquelyn’s generation have actively steered away from cliché, and this simple approach has proved devastatingly effective. By ducking and dodging what’s expected, these American models have created careers on their own terms. Although she has been working less than two years, Jacquelyn’s work to date includes 60’s chic, neo-Grunge and post-recession minimalism. A quick scan through her credits and it’s clear that no two projects are alike.

Jacquelyn and her peers understand implicitly that fashion wants models that can embody any age, any era and any mood. Being a one-note wonder, however well-starred, no longer hits the right spot for the designers currently calling the shots. A model’s reputation – more so than ever before – relies on the premise that a new face can take on editorial, runway, covers and campaign work. A high-achiever in modelling today excels across the board.

Jacquelyn’s CV already boasts a wealth of runway experience and campaigns with iconic brands. The fact that Jablonski is also getting booked for couture shows is important too: it is the definitive marker of a great model. Even tougher than RTW, it takes bravado to wear couture and not get swamped by its grandeur. Being fashion-fearless is a definite asset if you’re to conquer couture and the sheer numbers of models making the trip to Paris indicates that when it comes to couture attitude, the Americans finally have it nailed.

It’s taken some time for America’s modelling talent to emerge from behind the shadows of such colossal names as Crawford, Turlington and Banks. The key has been to think (and act) laterally. Jablonski’s success occurred when she borrowed aspects from America’s modelling heritage, but her performances are far from being pale imitations of another woman’s genius. Jacquelyn sits front row and centre in a group of models that are proud to be unique, and their body of work is as much about embracing America’s modelling past as it is about carving a place for themselves in the years ahead.

Daring, diverse and dazzling, Jacquelyn is a perfect example of an American model that is anything but apple pie.


Sunday, 7 November 2010


Born July 7th 1992, Toni Garrn was discovered aged 14 at a street festival in 2006. Initially signing with Modelwerk, Toni modelled locally in Germany before signing with Women Management in 2007. In April that year, she landed her first international editorials with U.S and Italian Elle.

Toni’s career accelerated further in May when she was booked for a French Vogue editorial. Spearheaded by Editor-in-chief Carine Roitfeld, French Vogue, along with its British, American and Italian counterparts, can count itself as one of the taste-makers of the industry, especially when it comes to launching new faces. Garrn’s appearance was enough to secure her an unforgettable runway debut. In September she walked in New York Fashion Week, exclusively opening and closing the show for Calvin Klein.

The all-American label took to Toni so much that just a few months later; news broke of her replacing Russian supermodel Natalia Vodianova as the face of the brand. Garrn’s Teutonic charm formed the perfect aesthetic for the design-house that made its name on clean lines and uncluttered silhouettes. Garrn’s coup in getting the Calvin Klein contract lined her up for a year of impressive editorial bookings. From February to September 2008, Toni did print work for Italian Vogue, German Vogue and Numero, finishing the summer with a cover for her native German Vogue.

The high visibility approach worked. Garrn experienced a breakout runway season in the autumn, opening and closing shows for Carolina Herrera, Herve Leger, Fendi, Just Cavalli and YSL. She also made appearances for Alberta Ferretti, Alexander McQueen, Chanel, Gucci, Michael Kors, Prada, Stella McCartney, Valentino and Versace. It was a textbook season, with Toni representing every facet of the industry.

November proved to be a particularly well-starred month for Garrn, with an editorial in Chinese Vogue, shot by the late Corrine Day, and her first cover of Italian Vogue, sharing the honours with model Katrin Thormann.

Capping the year off with an editorial collaboration with Italian Vogue and Steven Meisel, Toni’s New Year began with a bang: a cover for Russian Vogue, and a signing to represent Prada, working alongside Anna Jagodzsinka and Giedre Dukauskaite.

As incredible a highlight as this was, the signings kept coming. Toni replaced Catherine McNeil as the face of Hugo Boss, and Raquel Zimmermann as the face of Italian luxe label, Fendi. Toni also got substantial roles in campaigns for Chloe, Etro, Emporio Armani and Shiseido cosmetic line, Cle de Peau. Toni’s journey from newcomer to established face was now complete.

Her success on the runway continued too, with Garrn managing to equal her own record from the previous season, signing up to appear in an incredible 49 shows. With many designers hastily re-booking Garrn, Toni scooped further opening and closing spots from Donna Karan, Bottega Veneta and Preen.

September saw Toni take part in a mammoth couture layout for Italian Vogue. The title of the piece was ‘Dream of a Dress’, and Garrn appeared with models Heidi Mount, Sigrid Agren, Rose Cordero and Constance Jablonski.

Like the seminal U.S Vogue May 2007 cover that launched names like Coco Rocha and Agyness Deyn, this grouping of new models was intended as a launch-pad. Dark and supremely gothic in tone, it was a couture shoot designed to challenge the most confident model, and their collective success heralded the arrival of a new generation of modelling talent.

Toni’s stock rose further after the Italian Vogue shoot, and her rise from editorial star to international cover girl continued, with Garrn performing cover duty for German and Japanese Vogue, including a cover shoot with Karl Lagerfeld in February 2010. An incredible tribute to a model that had not yet turned 18; it was a bona fide career high.

In March,Garrn landed another editorial that got the entire fashion industry talking. The Italian Vogue couture shoot, ‘High Glam’, saw Toni paying homage to haute couture’s last – and most loyal – customer base. Staying in character for a multi-page layout, Toni played the role of a bored, but fabulously dressed, socialite. A good editorial is always about more than just the clothes, and Toni pushed through the pricey garb to create a series of shots that portrayed genuine modern glamour. With haute couture, the secret to making it look contemporary is all in the attitude.

Following on from a very successful runway season for Spring / Summer 2011, in print, Toni’s final appearances of the year have included a double-editorial booking for Spanish Vogue, plus the cover shared with Caroline Trentini, Kasia Struss and Iselin Steiro. Snapped by Victor Demarchelier (son of legend Patrick Demarchelier), the cover represents a gear-change for fashion, and a significant one at that.

The secret to Toni Garrn’s success is very simple. She is fashion’s latest representative on the glamour front-line. Following on from the likes of Cindy Crawford and Jerry Hall, and more recently, Catherine McNeil and Raquel Zimmermann, Garrn is the face of fashion’s latest shift in aesthetic. If you want to know what fashion’s take on glamour looks like right now, Toni is as close a match as it’s possible to get.

At 18, Toni is already a veteran of couture editorials. She wears thousands of dollars worth of couture as if they were her favourite pair of jeans. Google her ‘High Glam’ layout for Italian Vogue and it’s patently obvious that Garrn refuses to be intimidated by the world of haute couture. You look at and admire the dresses as the first port of call, but Toni’s blend of wit and pathos is what makes the shoot visually compelling. To elevate a fashion shoot to couture standard takes a sophistication that’s hard to find, so when a model arrives on the scene that is as comfortable in couture as Garrn, they tend to be in high demand.

High fashion asks more of its models because enticing the most hardened couture devotee takes more than pointing out the hours of craftsmanship. Making desire part of that equation is what has kept this most rarefied layer of the fashion industry afloat at a time when it should, by all logic, have sunk without a trace. Glamour may seem like little more than smoke and mirrors, but its enduring image and what it represents has proved to be the bedrock of the industry.

The restrained and muted tones of A/W 2010 are set to be replaced with bursts of tropical
colour and Seventies poolside glamour as 2011sees postmodern glamour fully evolve. The hair is a little less than perfect, the eyeliner smudged around the edges, but it’s battle-worn chic at its best. The industry has come through a storm of economic gloom not seen since the 1930’s, and the tone for next year is a glamour that’s both beautiful and worldly-wise.

Fashion’s angle on glamour has learnt lessons from the tough, early seasons of the recession. If it’s to grab attention, glamour must be desirable but attainable. The blockbuster success of A/W 2010 has showed that there is still an appetite for high fashion, but the finishes; sheepskin, shearling and leather, are all primed to be of practical benefit as the weather turns colder. Even party-wear has seen the light with velvet maxi-skirts and slouchy jumpers replacing mini-dresses and bare legs. The desire for fashion – and its unique ability to transport us – never went away; it just got a reality check.

Models like Toni will continue to thrive, as creativity is what’s needed to progress fashion in a direction that’s both vibrant and engaging. That last part is crucial, as the industry cannot afford to lose sight of what it learned during the lean times.

With fresh talent setting the pace, both in front and behind the camera, fashion’s way forward is centred on just one bold and beguiling idea: possibility.


Sunday, 31 October 2010


When it comes to securing a foothold in the modelling industry, the truth is that having the wrong attitude, or worse still, a bad one, can old you back even more than a dodgy runway walk.

If you’re interested in being a model, let alone a successful one like Arlenis Sosa (pictured), it’s easy to overlook this aspect of Modelling 101. We’re told with some regularity about the physical requirements the modelling industry demand of its new recruits.
Height, good proportions and photographable features all play their part in getting you signed, but paying attention to what you bring to the mix will mean the difference in getting hired and getting left behind.

Modelling is all about perseverance, but patience, discipline and self-confidence are the qualities that can turn your career into the stuff that dreams are made of. Modelling is for tough cookies, and if you’re not fully equipped to deal with the rejections that come with the territory, the climb to success will be made that much longer.


You’ve all heard that patience is a virtue, but nowhere is this more applicable than in the modelling industry.

Having ambition – and plenty of it – is certainly no crime, but it is important to realise that there’s no such thing as an overnight sensation in modelling. Fashion moves fast, but the process by which a newcomer becomes established is somewhat slower.

Think about your favourite models and research their back stories. The one thing they have in common is that virtually all of them started their careers from humble beginnings, and that’s no bad thing. Learning the ropes in a smaller, less pressurised environment can often be the making of a model’s career. Getting to be comfortable in front of a camera or walking down a runway takes time, no matter how much of a knack you might have for posing and strutting. It all takes time to learn the basics, and once you’ve mastered those, doing the trickier stuff will seem that little bit easier.

When working on the smaller jobs, it’s crucial to treat every booking with the same elation you’d normally reserve for Italian Vogue. Treat every assignment – and client- with respect because that’s how one booking leads to two, and two lead to four, and you get the picture. If you’re a delight to work with, word will spread. The world of modelling is smaller than you think, and people do talk. Do yourself a favour, and wow every client because great things can come from those humble bookings.

Ambition is a great tool to have: knowing where you want to be in five years is brilliant for keeping you focused, but if it gets in the way of how you perform in the here and now, you may have a problem. Reel it in a little, apply some smile and charm, and watch those bookings roll in.


This may seem like an obvious point, but bear with me on this one. Being self-confident is pretty much a non-negotiable when starting out. You may not be convinced your walk rivals Carmen Kass, but having a solid grounding in the basics of projecting self-confidence is a must.

Head up, shoulders back: if you walk into a casting and get a case of wobbly knees, faking good confidence really does work. Look at how a confident person walks and stands: good posture, relaxed shoulders and plenty of eye contact. Making that first impression only takes seconds, so if you have to, grit your teeth and go for the Oscar in pretending to be self-confident, because it’s worth it.

If you find the call of the wobbly knees too much to ignore, however, just switch off that inner voice that tells you you’re never going to get this booking in a million years, and pay attention to what’s going on around you. If you’re asked to show your portfolio to a client, being able to have something to say (eg: a favourite photo, why you liked working with that photographer), will fill that awkward void. Listen and participate: if a client wants you to walk and you’re not sure what type of walk they want, don’t be afraid to ask. Asking questions isn’t a sign of weakness – far from it. It will show that you’re paying attention to what’s going on around you. Also when you’re paying attention, your quaking knees soon get forgotten. See how that works?

Projecting confidence is crucial. Don’t listen to that little voice in your head: if you’ve booked a casting, let alone a job, you’re there for a reason. You’re in with a shot and it’s up to you to make the most of it. Rejection will happen, of course, it does to everyone. You may receive knock-backs for jobs you thought you were perfect for, and by the same token, you could get booked for a job you assumed you’d never get. The key to accepting rejection is to not see it as a personal slight against you. Casting directors often have very specific criteria and you may meet 10% of the brief, or 90%. If it’s not 100%, it’s unlikely you’re getting the job. It seems unfair, but it shows that rejection boils down to box-ticking rather than your hair being the ‘wrong’ colour. There is no ‘right look’ in modelling anymore: don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your failure to scoop a job is because you don’t fit in. Modelling is a game of numbers: if you have what it takes, sooner or later, you’ll find yourself at the right casting at the right time.


Not the most thrilling of topics, but discipline is probably the most important quality a model can possess. Those who succeed don’t do so through random flashes of brilliance; they win contracts and editorials because of consistency. Again, not a word that gets the pulse racing, but in a business where time is money, being reliable is music to a client’s ears. They want someone who turns up on time, ready to work. Someone who turns up late, bleary-eyed, grumpy and none too co-operative will not get a second chance with that particular client.

Modelling can often involve long hours (unsociable too: some of the best light for outdoor shoots is at the crack of dawn). To survive travelling, long demanding shoots and endless go-sees requires you to be in peak physical and psychological condition. To get to the top, some sacrifices have to be made. Foregoing a wild night out before a major casting or shoot = good idea. Getting wasted and hoping breath mints and Touche Eclat will hide the evidence? Not so good.

The first mantra a model learns is to be on time. If you know you’re someone who always arrives 10 minutes late, adjust your watch back 15 minutes and go by that. Being constantly late isn’t cute when you’re representing not only yourself but your agency. If you’re going to unfamiliar locations, get yourself a smart phone and download navigation applications. Make that first impression a good one, by respecting that the client’s time is precious.

If you’re lucky enough to become a little more established in the industry, don’t fall into the trap of becoming complacent. Top model Kate Moss nearly lost her entire career when her partying became a problem. As big a name as Kate was, winning back clients still took her a long time, because restoring a damaged reputation is a lot harder than building a good one.

Discipline, however dry it sounds, is probably the thing that separates a good model from a great one. If you’re serious about not only making it in modelling but sticking around, this is the quality it pays to master. Don’t be fooled into thinking that modelling is the soft option: it may take discipline to make it to the top, but it takes even more to stay there.


Sunday, 17 October 2010


Born September 12th 1987, Anna Jagodzinska signed with Next Model Management in 2003, moving to New York that same year to pursue a career in modelling.

The Polish model had her breakthrough season in February 2004 with appearances for Alexander McQueen, Burberry, Chanel, Derek Lam, Louis Vuitton, Marni, Miu Miu, Nina Ricci, Prada, Sonia Rykiel and Zac Posen.

Editorials with W, i-D and Italian Vogue followed, and in 2005 Anna landed her first fragrance campaign with Moschino. Signing with the Italian brand gave Anna’s budding career a boost, with a highly successful runway season in February, including appearances for Celine, Marc Jacobs and Diane Von Furstenberg and an editorial for British Vogue, shot by legend Patrick Demarchelier. Her notability rose further still in August when she got her first Vogue cover, appearing for Australian Vogue.

As the fashion industry began to get a handle on Anna’s unique blend of quirky appeal and old-school beauty, her bookings started to match her strengths. Her runway season in February 2006 was a mixture of quirky talent such as Betsey Johnson with cutting-edge designers Lanvin, Jonathan Saunders and Preen, plus ultra-girly labels Temperley and Isabel Marant.

In March, Anna got the cover of German Vogue, photographed again by Demarchelier. The year ended with an editorial for Italian Vogue, and Anna then took a 2-year break to finish her education. Just like her modelling peer Iselin Steiro, Anna returned in 2008 to find the fashion world had moved on, but it had not left her behind.

Anna’s return to the runway featured appearances for some of the most in-demand labels of the moment, including Balenciaga, Chanel, Balmain, Stella McCartney, Givenchy and Viktor & Rolf. She shot an editorial with French Vogue in June, walked the couture runways for Chanel and Givenchy in July and landed two major campaigns with one major photographer. Anna got contracts for Alberta Ferretti and Calvin Klein Jeans, both of which were photographed by Steven Meisel.

Anna’s absence had made the fashion world’s heart grow fonder. In September, she appeared in editorials for Harper’s Bazaar, British, Italian, American and Japanese Vogue. Anna’s revival neatly coincided with fashion’s love affair with models from Eastern Europe. Sasha Pivovarova was already making a name for herself, and new model Natasha Poly had just received accolades from French Vogue, with her native Russian Vogue devoting a whole issue to the Poly phenomenon. Anna’s Slavic glamour slotted in perfectly and made her one of the most requested runway models of the season, walking for 58 shows in total.

In October, Anna received the ultimate nod of approval when she appeared on the cover of Italian Vogue. In January 2009, she got her second Italian Vogue cover, this time appearing with models Viktoriya Sasonkina and Anna Selezneva.

However, in terms of modelling success, it is campaign work that moves a great fashion model onto the next level, and Anna was destined to become more than just a familiar face on the runway: in 2009 she became the most requested model for campaign work, landing contracts with Balenciaga, Calvin Klein Jeans, Calvin Klein cosmetics, Chloe, Donna Karan and Prada.
February saw Anna perform editorial duty twice in one issue for American Vogue, and open the Autumn / Winter shows for Derek Lam, Dolce & Gabbana and Zac Posen. Also appearing for Balenciaga, Chanel, Dior, Fendi, Gucci, Lanvin, Rag & Bone, Ralph Lauren, Valentino and Versace, Anna’s moment had finally arrived.

The months that followed saw Anna rack up editorial and cover credits, including editorial work for American, British and French Vogue, plus the May cover of American Vogue, shot by Steven Meisel.

In late 2009, Anna took her campaign career one stage further, with heritage brands Oscar de la Renta and Bottega Veneta vying for her attention. She signed with both, and in September, got her 3rd cover of Italian Vogue.

But her year ended on a high note with three incredible campaign signings. She was asked to take part in the new ad for the Prada fragrance, L’Eau Ambree, with models Toni Garrn and Viktoriya Sasonkina, and was signed on to be the face of Tom Ford’s newest launch, Black Orchid and Stella McCartney’s latest addition to her stable of perfumes, Stella Nude.

All three fragrances were high-stakes signings, and Anna delivered every time. Her shoot for Prada was groomed and stylishly off-beat. The Stella fragrance shoot was simplicity itself; with Anna shot in profile. For Black Orchid, Anna became the quintessential Film Noir heroine, and her siren-with-a-secret angle was pitch-perfect, making the perfume one of the early success stories of 2010.

With campaigns of this standard, clothes, body language and camera angle all play their part, but it’s the face doing the lion’s share of the selling, and fragrance is notoriously hard to sell.
With a handbag, we see it in the advert, and if we want it, we buy it. But with fragrance you have to take the campaign at its word. If the feel of the shoot is light and airy, you will only be disappointed if you are met at the fragrance counter with a brooding musky perfume. That’s why so much effort goes into casting these campaigns: like the fragrance itself, the campaign has to linger in the mind if we’re to go out and buy it. Without that lure, it doesn’t matter if you’ve created the most beautiful perfume in the world. If the campaign isn’t spot on, no-one’s buying it.

Why Anna is in such high-demand is because she understands that for one-dimensional ads for cosmetics or fragrance, you need to build an image that appeals to all the senses. Despite what’s happening elsewhere in the fashion industry, fragrance remains one of the most financially buoyant areas because certain scents can trigger long-forgotten memories. If a floral note in a perfume reminds you of a particularly memorable holiday, the chances are you’ll stay loyal to that brand for a very long time.

A model that can turn out a great beauty shot is not hard to find, but a model that can turn a beauty shot into an image that has depth and meaning remains a rarity. It’s why Anna’s CV features so much beauty work: she gets that to make an image truly beautiful, it’s got to be more than skin-deep.

With seven Vogue covers to date, Anna’s strength is undeniably the close-up. Beauty shots and campaign work are often underestimated, with people assuming that a high-fashion editorial is the tougher call. But with beauty campaigns, there’s nowhere to hide. The model’s job isn’t just to evoke the notes of a perfume’s personality, but to create a connection with the person looking at the advert. Perfume ads should provoke a response in you – whether that is ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ – but if it leaves you cold, something has gone very wrong.

Anna’s career has been the success it has because she brings a tailored approach to every assignment. Her shots for Prada, Tom Ford and Stella McCartney are indicative of a model that looks at the bigger picture, and then gives the client what they want, by paying attention to the detail. Models are fashion’s sales-girls, but what makes their job even harder is that the best campaigns only work when they apply the soft-sell; look at any successful perfume campaign and it’s all about what isn’t being said. As with acting, the best modelling happens when it’s made to look deceptively easy.

Anna’s return to the industry was about more than good timing or a lucky break: whatever fashion asks of its models, the beauty industry’s requirements remain the same. A made-for-beauty face helps, but knowing what to do with it is a whole other story. Knowing what to do with it whilst maintaining your credibility? That’s the calling card of a truly great model.


Sunday, 10 October 2010


Born in Wichita, Kansas, in 1994, Lindsey Wixson is the latest model to become fashion’s favourite teenage kick.

Lindsey began her career aged 15, signing with Vision Models in early 2009. The LA-based agency recognised the find they had in Lindsey and shot video footage of the young model, sending copies to other agencies, plus media / fashion websites. The footage eventually caught the attention of website who were so impressed that Wixson became their ‘model of the moment’ in June 2009.

Lindsey’s market-value rocketed as a result, and she signed with Marilyn Agency. But Vision Models’ sterling job of marketing paid off again, when their polaroids of her reached top photographer Steven Meisel. Wixson was immediately booked by Meisel to take part in a shoot for Italian Vogue.

Fashion has plenty of early-glory tales to tell, but some models have trouble measuring up to great expectations. Lindsey was not fazed. Making her international runway debut in September, she walked for Italian labels Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti and Miu Miu, plus opening the Prada show as an exclusive.

Designer Miuccia Prada’s ability to spot a star-turn is well-documented, with Mirte Maas, Samantha Gradoville and Barbara Palvin all names whose careers have benefited from the Prada effect. Wixson was no exception, and became the most talked-about newcomer of the season.

In October, she landed consecutive editorials for Teen Vogue and the Japanese edition of Dazed & Confused. She also appeared in the A/W issue of i-D, but her career really took off in 2010.
Right from the New Year, Wixson was creating buzz. In January, she appeared in American fashion bible W, in an editorial shot by Craig McDean. A month later, W magazine’s website featured Lindsey as their ‘This Week’s Model’, taking Wixson from industry favourite to public property.

Wixson’s star-power was cemented when it was announced that she would become the face of Miu Miu. The vintage-inspired label was a quirky choice, but perfect for Lindsey’s brand of unique beauty. Her trademark pout made her instantly recognisable, even from the very early days of her career. This is not always a good thing for a model starting out; especially one who needs to prove his or her versatility, but Lindsey’s weak spot became her greatest asset.

Sure enough, the Miu Miu booking had a galvanising effect on Lindsey’s career. Opening the Autumn / Winter show for the label in the Spring, she also appeared for Missoni, Jason Wu, Marc Jacobs, Prada, Versace and Zac Posen. Lindsey’s breakout season contained bookings from the best design talent in the world.

Wixson’s face not only became a fixture on the runways, but also in editorials. Landing another W editorial in March, she also featured in the July issue of V and a third time for W in August.
Wixson took centre stage in the W feature, ‘Sweet and Vicious’, appearing alongside Barbara Palvin and Ashley Smith. Her potential to do themed editorials was explored by W who cast her as a 50’s femme fatale. Despite her age, Wixson translated the brief of the shoot into a pouty glamour that was both innocent and knowing.

Lindsey’s ability to handle a challenging shoot paid off when she not only renewed her contract with Miu Miu, but also signed up for new campaigns with Jill Stuart, John Galliano and top American department store, Barney’s. All three signings tested what Wixson had learnt so far; the Galliano shoot was pure street fashion, the Jill Stuart beauty campaign asked for yearning and wistful, and the Barney’s ad was on-the-nose, high-fashion quirkiness. Lindsey delivered on every count.

Her aptitude for editorial and photograph work has aligned her with other teenage wonders, Ali Stephens, Hannah Holman and Jacquelyn Jablonski, who at a very young age, have also succeeded in wowing a tough industry. In less than a year, Wixson has made the transition from face-to-watch to working model, and has become one of the most requested faces in the business.

The early Polaroids that charmed Steven Meisel into booking her for Italian Vogue are testament to Lindsey’s early promise. Wearing nothing more than a plain white vest and dark-blue jeans, Wixson’s stance belies her (then) lack of experience. Being so visibly at home in front of the camera gave Lindsey a head-start. The shots, intended to show what a find Vision Agency had made, are so convincing that they could almost be an ad campaign. Some models get to the top by perseverance, others by luck and others just have it, that indefinable quality that takes a teenage girl from ingénue to star. Her fearlessness when interpreting a client’s brief head-on is what puts Lindsey in the latter category.

Lindsey forms part of the batch of newer models that are well on their way to becoming icon-making faces. These girls don’t slot into being termed a classic beauty or a full-on editorial face only really suitable for fashion features. These girls operate in a new sphere, where being a marketable face doesn’t mean middle-of-the-road. Lindsey’s unmissable pout makes her a perfect fit for Miu Miu campaigns, but it also makes her ideal for beauty shoots for Teen Vogue as well as blue-chip editorials in W.

Lindsey’s face is extra special because it has a timeless quality that allows her to participate in themed editorial shoots, and not look like a fish out of water. Being of-the-moment is all very well, but if you can’t switch it up for a retro shoot or handle lots of make-up for a futuristic editorial, then that fashion cachet is only going to be of limited value. It is a curious truth that fashion prides itself on being about the new and the next, but when it comes to models, having a face that defies the trends is always in-demand.

Wixson’s progress is ultimately down to fashion’s love affair with the unusual, but her career now diverges where fashion has taken that obsession and made it mainstream. The shapes that many deemed unwearable as little as five years ago have become a central part of our wardrobes. Modelling has also followed suit, with the real success stories of the past two decades boiling down to one key component: versatility. We have seen Kate Moss leading the way, allowing quirky choices like Coco Rocha to do budget beauty adverts, and glamorous Raquel Zimmermann to sear through the beauty in button-pushing editorials.

It’s not enough to temporarily transfer to the ‘road less travelled’; doing it all is now a standard industry requirement. Far from being tough, it’s a mark of just how far the fashion world has come since the late Corrinne Day photographed a young Kate Moss in the early Nineties. Lindsey’s generation has grown up taking this as the norm, not the comparatively recent development it actually is, and they are working in an industry that’s more open than ever to new standards and definitions of beauty. There is no one look that defines us right now; every facet of modern beauty is covered from the androgynous look of Iris Strubegger to the ultra-girlie image of Sports Illustrated cover girl, Brooklyn Decker.

While fashion’s agenda for the immediate future remains decidedly grown-up, it’s being sent down the runway on models that didn’t do minimalism the first time round. With their influences ranging from cartoons to comic-book-style musical heroines like Katy Perry and Lady Gaga, Lindsey’s generation are the most visually-connected yet. With so many diversions vying for their time, if fashion wants to keep their interest, it has to be bold and it has to be daring.

Fast forward to Spring 2011 and the next season will be a marked departure from this autumn’s quiet sophistication. Next year will be nothing short of transformative; with youthful colour embedding itself in fashion’s consciousness. If this winter was about a reset, a pause for thought, then Spring will be about finding a stance that has less to do with breaking even, and everything to do with rediscovering the joy of the creative process.

It is in this environment that we will see Lindsey flourish. She is ideally placed to take full advantage of fashion’s re-engagement with itself. Fashion is exploring shape and colour with the tenderness reserved for a first love, but with a clarity that's born from experience.

That’s why Lindsey’s career has grown so fast. Lindsey’s face isn’t just about novelty, it evokes newness – the new buds of growth that come after a long winter, and for the fashion world, this winter has been exceptionally harsh. Spring - in its physical, creative and financial sense – can’t come soon enough.

Wixson is hotly tipped to become the next big thing, joining modelling wunderkinds Jacquelyn Jablonski and Karlie Kloss to become the generation that takes fashion from bust to boom. But it’s no fleeting teenage crush; fashion’s fixation with Lindsey Wixson is set to be the real deal.


Sunday, 26 September 2010


When preparing for a career in modelling, thoughts of personal safety tend to get bumped down the list.

But when starting out, any offers from photographers or clients can be overwhelming and it’s easy to let your common sense take a back seat. However, it’s during these initial assignments and bookings that things can go wrong – unless you go prepared.

First off, the basics: whether you’re going to a casting or an actual booking, take your mobile with you and make sure it’s fully charged with plenty of credit. It’s not only in case of emergencies, but for when you find yourself running late, or worse still, get lost. If you are already signed with an agency, store their number on your phone. If you’re flying solo, a smart phone is a good investment. Not only will you be able to find phone numbers while on the go, don’t underestimate the value of being able to google maps when you’re hopelessly lost. Harness technology to work for you: in a tricky situation, it can be your best friend.

When preparing to travel to an unfamiliar location for a casting or shoot, do some groundwork first. Look up the venue and plan your route beforehand, allowing for traffic (especially during peak times) and delays if you’re using public transport.

If possible, take some cash for a taxi, and if you’re really unsure about the journey, do a dress rehearsal. Travel to the venue a couple of days before, at the exact time you will be going on the day itself. It will not only give you a chance to scope out the venue, but will ease any travel stresses on the day itself as you’ll already know where you’re going.

It should go without saying, but wherever you’re headed, tell at least one person where you’re going, and crucially, when you expect to return. Even sending a quick text when you’ve reached your destination and another when you’re about to head off home isn’t a bad idea either. It may sound OTT but it’s essential that as a working model, you take your personal safety very seriously.

If you are invited to a shoot at a venue other than a professional studio (eg: a home studio or hotel), take a friend or relative with you. A professional photographer won’t mind you turning up accompanied, although unless you’re under 18, don’t expect to have your friend sitting in on the sidelines cheering you on!

Always check venue details when dealing with a photographer / client you haven’t worked with before. Any client or photographer that is reluctant to offer up such information should ring serious alarm bells in your head. Any legitimate client / photographer will be happy to pass on and confirm details, so don’t feel self-conscious about asking for them. They will take your attention to detail as a sign that you’re taking the shoot seriously before the first picture has even been taken – not bad as first impressions go!

Of course, awareness of safety also means knowing who to trust and who to be wary of. Especially as a new model, the amount of information you’re expected to take on board can be exhausting. If you’re in the position that you are receiving offers from photographers via email, again you can use technology to help you.

Check the email address carefully. Are they using a free email service (eg: Yahoo or Hotmail)? While it is entirely possible that a legitimate photographer has a Hotmail account, it is more usual for a photographer to make contact with models and clients via a business email address. If this is the case, they often include a link to a website of their work: go on, get nosey and take a look. It will not only give you an idea of what the photographer is like, but who they’ve worked for in the past. Don’t be afraid to check credits and do a little sleuthing. Again, no legitimate photographer will be remotely offended by you taking a closer look at his or her credits. In fact, if you like what you see, you can even score brownie points by mentioning a particular set of pictures when you meet. There isn’t a photographer alive who doesn’t like hearing that their work is appreciated.

If a photographer sends you a vague email with no substantial detail in it apart from the shoot itself, be on your guard. Normally photographers will quite readily list their previous experience and credits as a matter of course. If they are a relative newcomer to the industry they will probably say so. If the email you’ve received is suspiciously vague and you can’t get any further information, it may be time to do some fact checking. In these cases, always trust your intuition. If the situation feels wrong, don’t ignore it: do some research and equip yourself. In the world of modelling, knowledge is power.

Assuming you’ve checked and the photographer is the genuine article, what’s next? It’s always a good idea to check the terms of the deal being offered to you. Sometimes you will be offered something called a TFP (Time for Print) deal. All well and good, but what does this mean?
This is where a photographer and model reach an agreement where instead of payment, the model gets a set of prints for his or her portfolio, and the photographer gets permission to use the photos for their own portfolio and publish them for commercial purposes. No money exchanges hands, but it is pretty much a win-win situation.

There are no standard terms for a TFP shoot, but these guidelines are a good place to start:
- After the TFP shoot, the photographer will ask the model to sign a release form. This is a legal document agreeing that the photographer can publish and use the photos.

- In exchange for this, the model gets a licence, granting them use of the same photos for their portfolio (told you it was a win-win).

- Finally, if you are under 18 at the time of the shoot, a parent / guardian will have to attend the shoot and sign the form on your behalf.

You should also be aware that the photographer will be responsible for handling additional costs such as location permits, plus studio and equipment rental. That’s why with TFP, a photographer is allowed to recoup their expenses by being able to use the photos for commercial benefit.

With all TFP deals, models are expected to meet their own transport costs and make these arrangements themselves, but if you get a stellar collection of shots for your portfolio that leads to paying jobs, that’s no bad thing.

Starting out in modelling can be a daunting prospect, especially when you’re not sure about what your responsibility is and what isn’t. Prepare and plan: do as much research as possible as this will help you be clear on when you’re being offered a great deal and when you’re being taken for a ride. If you’re really stuck, Models Connect has a section on how to avoid modelling scams at

Safeguarding yourself personally and financially is crucial if you’re to avoid some of the pitfalls of this industry. But if you’re ever unsure about what to do, listen to that little voice in your head. It’s trying to tell you something very important.


Sunday, 19 September 2010


Born in Norway on the 15th of September 1986, Iselin Steiro began her career when she was scouted whilst Xmas shopping in London.

Discovered in 1999, Steiro debuted at Fashion Week in September 2003, walking for Calvin Klein, Donna Karan and Prada. Her career though did not take off properly until 2005. Many models find themselves suddenly in favour when fashions change, and Iselin’s rise is a perfect example of case in point.

Steiro’s strong features meant that she would have to sit out the decade’s brief infatuation with chocolate-box, Pre-Raphaelite beauty. Models like Lily Cole and Gemma Ward excelled during this time, but girls like Steiro – still beautiful, but a little off-centre – had to wait their turn.

Iselin’s moment came in February 2005, when she became the face of the season. Picked by designers Alexander McQueen, Chanel, Chloe, Louis Vuitton, Missoni, Proenza Schouler and Rochas to appear in their runway shows, Steiro’s off-beat appeal came into its own.

Editorials for W and Harper’s Bazaar followed, plus campaigns for Benetton, Jill Stuart and Hugo Boss. But it wasn’t until autumn that Iselin’s ability to do quirky glamour really paid off. Photographed by Steven Klein, she got a major contract with D&G, working alongside Hye Park and Vlada Roslyakova. Followed by an Autumn / Winter campaign for Roberto Cavalli, Iselin’s strengths as a model were finally being realised.

In February 2006, Iselin took the opening spot at the Calvin Klein show. This honour, previously taken by Russian supermodel Natalia Vodianova for the past seven shows, was nothing short of a changing of the guard. Fashion’s aesthetic was visibly starting to shift from ultra-feminine shapes and colours, to a darker, altogether more avant-garde mood.

With more challenging silhouettes being touted as the norm, the industry needed models to match. Iselin’s brief was to make these new shapes look wearable. In 2006, tulip skirts and ankle-length cigarette pants were deemed to be at fashion’s absolute edge of wearability: only the bravest gave them a go. Four years on, we think of them as modern essentials.

Iselin’s status as the newest high-fashion favourite soared. She was chosen to be the face of Gucci in their 85th anniversary campaign and appeared in the Balenciaga Spring / Summer ad with Hilary Rhoda. In August, Iselin finally landed the cover of Italian Vogue. Shot by Steven Meisel, it was an affirmation from the very heart of the industry.

As fashion moved towards more urbanised looks with tough-girl details like exposed zips, leather and lashings of black, Iselin’s bookings increased. She shot the A/W campaign for Gucci (shot by Craig McDean); closed the September show for Gucci in Milan and picked up an editorial with Meisel for Italian Vogue.

2007 saw Iselin’s career pick up pace with a cover of Elle in March and a confirmation early in the year that Steiro had been chosen to be the new face of Valentino. Iselin’s ability to do arch-elegance, glamour with a slant, made her the first choice for designers across the globe. In addition to signing contracts with TSE and Blumarine, Steiro scored editorials with French, Italian and American Vogue. Her career was at an absolute high. It was at this point that Iselin made the decision to walk away from it all.

At the height of her career, Iselin made the decision to temporarily shelve modelling and return to education, enrolling at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design. After completing her studies, Steiro returned to the fashion industry in April 2008, and her return was heralded by none other than French Vogue.

During Steiro’s time away, the fashion perspective had shifted even more in her favour. The loose, free-flowing shapes still being shown had disappeared entirely, making way for body-conscious, editorial – even sculptural – shapes, not just in couture, but now a regular feature of ready-to-wear. These bold style statements needed a model that could pull them off and not get lost in the most avant-garde designs. Steiro’s return could not have been better-timed.

Signed up for autumn campaigns for Mulberry and Missoni, Iselin made a triumphant return to the runway in September, walking for Chanel, Balenciaga, Givenchy and Stella McCartney.

In 2009, Iselin became the face of Lanvin. The campaign shoot, featuring Iselin in a series of draped dresses, was the brainchild of Lanvin creative director Alber Elbaz. The use of intricate pleats and folds in Lanvin’s designs would usually be more of a couture feature, but Elbaz was introducing a couture sensibility to ready-to-wear garments. Detail was the way forward, and Steiro’s performance as Lanvin’s hedonistic muse, pushed the message even harder. She made the dresses look young and directional but without being daunting. It was lustworthy fashion at its best, and with Iselin’s help, Lanvin became the label of choice for Young Hollywood, joining Marc Jacobs and Chanel as red-carpet must haves.

The following year, Iselin got a highly-coveted place in the 2010 Balenciaga campaign. Like Lanvin, this label was rediscovered when its newly-hired creative director Nicolas Ghesquière utilised his futuristic vision to make Balenciaga a byword for cutting-edge chic. Turning Balenciaga into a fashion house that not only champions trends, but kick-starts them, Iselin was brought in to take part in their Spring / Summer campaign with modelling newcomers Mirte Maas, Lisanne de Jong and Patricia van der Vliet.

True to form, the campaign was a quirky play on perspective and proportion that made for an instant standout image. Defiantly different, Steven Meisel’s Photoshop-collage was a hit. The advert became a major talking point, putting Balenciaga (and its models) front and centre of that season’s crop of campaigns.

Shooting back-to-back editorials for Italian Vogue in January and February, Iselin’s bookings for show season continued to dazzle and surprise. This wasn’t a case of a former top-model being given her dues; this was a model being booked by virtue of her own merits. In addition to walking for brands like Chloe and Hermes, Steiro was asked to appear on the runway for youth-led labels like Miu Miu and The Row. The fact that Iselin is still being requested for shows that would ordinarily be populated by models nearly 10 years her junior, is in direct opposition to the theory that fashion doesn’t value longevity; Steiro’s career is ample evidence to the contrary. When a model is this great, they get to stick around.

It should be no surprise that Iselin has such an avid interest in architecture: when a model has the right angles and proportions, the result is both contemporary and timeless, and that’s where Steiro fits in. She is both of-the-moment and classic because she is the kind of model that outstrips fads or trends. Iselin continues to work in today’s fashion climate as she did back in 2003 because she arrives as a blank canvas, a super-structure onto which designers, photographer and stylists can project their ideas.

Steiro brings an intelligence that understands fashion on a level that has very little to do with collating the most magazine covers or scoring column inches. Now fashion is leaning towards a pared-back, stripped-down aesthetic, Iselin will continue to do well because she is exactly the sort of model that’s required right now: no ego, no entourage, just an ability to get on with the assignment.

Iselin’s true appeal lies in her off-centre beauty that shifts and changes to fashion’s whim. Like her friend, fellow model Anna Jagodzinska, her rough-edged beauty can dial up the glamour when required, but there’s a quirky slant to that glamour that makes you look twice, and that’s exactly what you want for a big-budget, high-stakes campaign.

The forerunner for models like Hannah Holman and Siri Tollerod, Iselin’s career is the blueprint for models entering the industry. It’s no longer enough to just love fashion. If you want to be relevant, and stay that way, ignore the call of the limelight. It’s time to look at modelling from an entirely fresh perspective.


Sunday, 12 September 2010


Born in Melbourne on June 12th 1987, Abbey Lee Kershaw is a modern take on the oldest standard of the modelling industry: the girl who can do it all.

Abbey’s career began in 2004 when she won the Girlfriend & Cover Girl model search in her native Australia.

The contest, which had discovered
Catherine McNeil just the year before, struck gold again when it launched Abbey into the fashion industry.

Moving to Sydney in 2005, Abbey began to model locally, picking up European ad campaigns for H&M and Levi’s. But a switch of agency in 2007 saw Abbey move from Sydney to New York. Her unique look got her noticed immediately, when the influential website named her fashion’s ‘next superstar’.

The proclamation sent a message loud and clear to the fashion industry, and 2008 began with a runway season that ensured Kershaw’s status as a noteworthy up-and-comer. Opening shows for Givenchy and closing the Rodarte show, Abbey walked for every important designer including Alexander McQueen, Calvin Klein, Chanel, Dior, Gucci, Lanvin, Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta and Valentino. It was an incredible start, and dubbed Abbey a Top 10 Newcomer.

Kershaw hit another modelling benchmark in April when she scored her first Vogue editorial for Chinese Vogue. She also landed not one but two campaigns for D&G, both photographed by Mario Testino. In July, Kershaw joined her fellow D&G model, Alice Burdeu, for a feature in Australian Vogue. Pairing up with Stephanie Carta, Alice and Abbey were drawn as Australian Vogue’s newest and brightest talents. Both had their careers launched by winning modelling contests, but both girls were now proving themselves genuine talents.

Abbey won two of her biggest campaigns during the summer of 2008, photographed by Steven Meisel for CK Jeans and landing the Autumn / Winter Gucci commercial alongside British model Lily Donaldson. In September, Kershaw achieved two career firsts in one month, when she got an editorial booking for Italian Vogue and the cover of Australian Vogue.

For all her achievements, Kershaw was still a relatively new face, and the show season that autumn was a reminder that the daunting pace of international modelling can even phase models that are at the top of their game.

Walking for designers Diane Von Furstenberg, Alexander Wang, Matthew Williamson and Peter Som, Abbey took an unexpected tumble during the Rodarte show, and in October, fainted whilst taking part in the Alexander McQueen show. The season packs in a lot, and being tough enough to cope with moving from New York, to London, to Paris and Milan all within the space of a month, is no small ask.

But Abbey’s runway glitch didn’t stop her career trajectory when she was asked to appear in the Victoria’s Secret runway show. The brand has a history of cherry-picking the best of runway talent and bringing them to the attention of the general public. Like model Eniko Mihalik, Kershaw was a strong choice for the brand, matching high-fashion credentials with a sultriness that was commercial dynamite. Her year finished with blue-chip editorials for Italian Vogue and W, but 2009 saw Abbey take her career to the next level.

Renewing her contract with Gucci, she replaced Taryn Davidson as the face of See by Chloe. She also signed a contract to be the representative of ‘Flora’, the new Gucci fragrance.

Surrounded by a field of flowers, Abbey’s ethereal performance perfectly evoked the fragrance and captured a mood of sun-soaked femininity. It was mission accomplished, and ‘Flora’ became a huge best-seller for Gucci. The brand got a stunning commercial, and Abbey’s name (and face) got a whole lot more familiar.

Her work for Gucci flung Abbey square into the spotlight, with her second cover of Australian Vogue, a cover for Numero plus editorials for i-D, Harper’s Bazaar, Dazed & Confused and Italian Vogue. The slew of covetable bookings summed up Abbey’s mastery of cutting-edge fashion, tempered with a sensuality that injected her pictures with a commercial edge. Suddenly editorial and commercial didn’t seem like such disparate ideas; Abbey made doing both look easy.

Kershaw wowed again in August, undertaking an editorial for Japanese Vogue, photographed by Terry Richardson, demonstrating the art of doing sultry without the sleaze. In high-fashion, it’s sometimes a fine line between the two, but once it’s crossed, it’s obvious to everyone. Kershaw’s ability to make high-fashion images that are brimming with sexuality but in a way that doesn’t isolate the magazine’s core audience is a rare find, even in today’s industry where being able to smoulder on demand is a given for most top models.

Abbey teamed up with Terry Richardson again for the A/W issue of Purple, and in November made her second appearance for Victoria’s Secret. She finished off the year with covers for Numero and Dazed & Confused, and in January 2010 started the year (and decade) off with a bang, by being chosen to close the Chanel Couture show.

In February, Kershaw had a massive show season, opening shows for Michael Kors and closing shows for John Rocha and Gareth Pugh. Her other appearances included Alberta Ferretti, Balmain, Burberry, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Jason Wu, Prada, Stella McCartney and Versace. Every aspect of fashion is represented in this list. From Prada’s take on 50’s chic, to Burberry’s urban aviator, Abbey was a face that found favour with every brand in the business.

Kershaw’s biggest break however came during the early part of the summer, when it was announced that she would be replacing Claudia Schiffer as one of the faces of Chanel. Joining Freha Beha, the campaign has become one of the key images of a season already packed with highlights.

Her calendar for the rest of the year looks to be following the same pattern, with campaigns also announced for Anna Sui, Mulberry, Jaegar, Calvin Klein and H&M, plus a campaign video for Alexander Wang.

What makes Abbey so in-demand is her ability to marry up the separate parts of her fashion personality. A self-confessed bohemian at heart, Abbey combines her own personal tastes with avant-garde, sex-kitten and cover-girl and makes each facet work. Many models thrive on specialising, whether that speciality is being ‘quirky’, ‘sexy’, or just plain editorial, but Abbey manages to juggle all the different aspects of fashion, and do them equal justice.

Kershaw is probably closest in spirit to supermodels like Helena Christensen and Cindy Crawford. They, like Abbey, were able at the height of their careers to mix editorial, high-fashion work with more populist bookings like Victoria’s Secret. Versatility is famously one of the most requested of model attributes, but true versatility, being able to conquer every corner of the industry and not lose credibility, is something that’s much harder to pin down.

Where Abbey stands out from her peers is her potential to become, like Crawford, a name that sells anything; not indiscriminately, but absolutely. It’s often been said that a return to the supermodels of the 1990’s is unlikely, but if anyone can get the ball rolling, it’s Kershaw.

Paparazzi pictures of her shooting the A/W Chanel campaign in New York were splashed across media websites across the globe. Just a fleeting glimpse of her on the streets of New York created a stir and made headlines. If we are truly in an anti-supermodel era, this kind of attention is nothing short of extraordinary.

It’s unusual to find a model who can look approachable but still wow in a Chanel Couture show, and that’s why Abbey excels on every point. Her features lend her an appeal that’s hard to find in today’s raft of top models. They are highly skilled, and hard-working, but Abbey’s career will continue to grow because she takes the best of the supermodel era and mixes it with the contemporary work ethic of modelling today. There’s no room for egos on set anymore, and the girl who works hardest is the one who gets re-booked. Names still matter of course, but getting the right result matters a whole lot more.

It’s a much fairer modelling landscape that the one Christensen and Crawford found themselves in 20 years ago. Meritocracy – the process of selection based purely on skill – has made the fashion world a much more beautiful place to be. It allows plus-size icon Crystal Renn to walk runway for Jean Paul Gaultier, and editorial favourite Coco Rocha to shoot campaigns for Rimmel. There’s no guesswork in terms of hiring faces to represent brands: quite simply, the best girl wins.

This age of equality has allowed Abbey to flourish, not just as a fashion name, but as a growing presence in popular culture too. Access to runway shows is virtually immediate thanks to live streaming, and computer wizardry and promotional videos are fleshing out the world of 2D campaigns. The high-fashion experience is becoming a very real presence in the virtual world, where the lines between commercial and high-fashion are becoming ever more blurred.

Fashion’s future is becoming dependent on whether we will be persuaded to embrace an industry where anything goes. With faces like Abbey leading the way, that persuasion feels like an increasingly easy sell.