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 www.models.com 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.