Sunday, 4 April 2010


Born in Belgium on the 8th of October 1988, Hanne Gaby Odiele was spotted at a rock festival when she was 17 years old. Hanne’s modelling career took off when she signed to Supreme Management agency in 2005: in September that same year, she made her runway debut, walking for designers such as Thakoon, Rodarte and Marc Jacobs.

2006 also started well with editorials in Italian and British Vogue, plus campaigns for Topshop and Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti, but Hanne’s blossoming career flatlined in December 2006, when she involved in a serious car accident in New York. Odiele was knocked down by a car running through a red light, and the impact of the crash was so severe, that Hanne ended up with two broken legs, plus other fractures. Hanne’s doctors advised her that due to the severity of her injuries, recovery would take at least a year.

Hanne was left bedridden for several months and had to endure several surgeries and months of intense physical therapy. But just 10 months after the accident, Hanne made a triumphant return to the runway, turning in appearances for Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu, Paul & Joe, Prada, Rick Owens and Vera Wang.

It was a personal victory for Odiele, and her return to modelling was lauded by designers and editors: magazine Marie Claire named her one of their Top Ten New Faces, and Hanne became the face of Vera Wang, even modelling some of the designer’s clothes on a special edition of ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’. 2007 ended triumphantly with an editorial in Italian Vogue, proving that the promise of Odiele’s early career was no fluke: Hanne was in it for the long haul.

Hanne’s star continued to rise in 2008, with the announcement that she would join forces with Maryna Linchuk in a campaign for Mulberry, photographed by Steven Meisel.

February saw Odiele put in appearances for the Autumn / Winter show season including Balenciaga, Chloe, Marios Schwab, Jonathan Saunders, Richard Nicoll and Proenza Schouler. Hanne’s affiliation with fashion’s bright young things was a signal to everyone watching that her potential was something authentic, and not to be underestimated.

Odiele also began landing major campaigns and cover-space, signing a contract with DKNY Jeans and making the Spring / Summer edition of French fashion bible ‘Revue de Modes’.

In August, she scored a third editorial with Italian Vogue (this time shot by Richard Burbridge) and another outstanding runway season in September. Walking for the likes of Calvin Klein, Burberry, Dries Van Noten, Prada, Rebecca Taylor and Temperley, Hanne was starting to rise through the ranks, getting the attention of big brands too.

Hanne finished the year with editorials for 10 and Numero, and in 2009 she was announced as one of the faces of Balenciaga’s new campaign.

February’s show season saw Hanne scoop more honours, including opening shows for Christian Lacroix and Rue du Mail. She also walked for Alexander McQueen, Chloe, DKNY, Lanvin, Marc Jacobs, Matthew Williamson, Prada, Thakoon and Valentino. To cement Hanne’s growing status, she landed the March cover of Italian Vogue, photographed by Steven Meisel.

In September, Hanne’s clutch of runway credits proved particularly telling. Walking for designers such as Alberta Ferretti, Carolina Herrera, Donna Karan, Herve Leger, Louis Vuitton and Nina Ricci, Odiele had now graduated to old-school European labels and power-house US brands, such as Marc Jacobs and Michael Kors. No more a budding talent, Hanne was winning her fashion stripes.

October saw Hanne appearing in editorials for Dazed & Confused and Italian Vogue, and in December ’09 Hanne claimed a spot alongside names like Lara Stone, Natasha Poly and Gisele Bundchen, in the famous Twitter-inspired editorial in Italian Vogue.

The new decade promises to be a good one for Hanne, with an Alberta Ferretti campaign upping her profile even further. Posing alongside Kasia Struss, the advert is a frothy confection of ribbons and pleats, bringing the label front and centre for the next generation of high-fashion consumers. Every designer needs to find that next customer, and Ferretti’s youthful new direction is indicative of where fashion’s head is at.

Hanne’s youthful look plays right into fashion’s latest obsession with blondes, but Odiele’s niche (high-fashion-meets-cool) paired with her ability to be approachable on camera is translating into major kudos for Hanne, who has sealed her reputation modelling for high-street giants, Benetton, MAC and Topshop.

For brands like Topshop, striking a delicate balance between desirable and achievable fashion is crucial for its success. A 15-yr-old girl isn’t going to spend £40 on a dress if she isn’t convinced the dress is going to look as good on her as it does the model – or as near as damn it with the help of some clever styling.

This age group has its own spending power, and hiring the right model for a campaign can mean the difference between a good year and a great one. It’s one of the toughest age groups to please as teenagers are no longer intimidated by high-cachet labels and a campaign for H&M has to have the same production values as Prada, if it’s to convince teenagers to part with their cash.

With the success of magazines like Teen Vogue, this generation of teenagers are probably the most fashion literate to date, and their influence is starting to rub off on the entire industry. With the recent press attention on Christopher Kane’s revival of Versace’s diffusion label, Versus, the line between ‘young fashion’ and ‘women’s fashion’ is becoming increasingly blurred. Scan the stock of any e-boutique and try to guess which age bracket a Lanvin jacket is suitable for, or a Marc Jacobs sundress. It’s not as easy as it used to be.

No-one, regardless of what it says on their birth certificate, wants to be accused of dressing ‘old’, and the move towards trans-generational fashion: fashion for all, at any age, is something that Hanne is a part of. She’s just as comfortable modelling for Oscar de la Renta as she is for DKNY and that’s why she has continued to be so successful.

What makes Odiele special is her evergreen quality. To be relevant after several years on the circuit is no small achievement. Hanne has spent years working for diffusion labels like DKNY and Marc by Marc Jacobs, and only recently graduated to prestige labels like Valentino and Chanel. It’s all part of fashion’s game plan: make it young, make it cute; make it desirable.

But every model, no matter how successful, needs a back-up plan for when her career eventually comes to a close: Hanne has said that she wants to work as a stylist. Her sense of style has been well-documented on sites like and and she was even spotted by Scott Schuman, owner of the famous Sartorialist website. A brilliantly simple concept, the Sartorialist website ( scouts cities across the world for stylish people. Schuman takes their picture, and uploads it onto the site. It’s a new technology version of the fashion scrapbook, documenting all the different facets of modern style. Schuman spotted Odiele, and asked to use her photo on the website, having no idea who she was. If you get the seal of approval from The Sartorialist, you must be doing something right.

This February, Hanne enjoyed her biggest show season yet: getting hired for 63 shows is a pretty powerful indication that fashion can’t get enough of this gutsy blonde. Walking for prestigious names like Chanel, Chloe, Marc Jacobs, Sonia Rykiel and Thakoon, Odiele’s full-to-bursting itinerary proves that second acts in fashion are possible.

Hanne has won over the fashion industry by being one of the most enthusiastic and hardest-working models in the business, and with her career in the ascent, Hanne’s name is about to get a whole lot more familiar.


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