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.