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.