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.