Sunday, 28 February 2010


Born in Brazil on 6th July 1987, Caroline Trentini’s story did not begin happily. Raised in Panambi, Caroline’s father died when she was only one year old. Living with just her mother and two sisters, Caroline’s life changed dramatically in 2000.

Aged 13, she was scouted whilst walking with her family. The agent, whose previous successes included supermodel Gisele Bundchen, immediately recognised the potential in Caroline. Two years after doing local modelling assignments, Trentini now aged 15, and unable to speak English, moved to New York.

That enormous gamble, especially for such a young model, paid off. In 2003, she was hand-picked by Marc Jacobs to be the face of his diffusion line, Marc by Marc Jacobs. The label, aimed at a younger market than his main, high-prestige label, was pitched perfectly for 16-yr-old Trentini.

Photographed by Juergen Teller, Caroline aced the assignment. Her unusual blend of blonde hair, green eyes and smattering of freckles made her fashion’s newest find. Her quirky charm was perfect for the label, and Caroline’s career was on the up.

In January 2004, she opened the Ungaro show, also walking for Marc Jacobs, Rick Owens, Vera Wang, Roland Mouret and Nina Ricci. Caroline also experienced a stellar season in the autumn, but her greatest challenge came later that year.

Caroline was asked to participate in an editorial for American Vogue. The tone of the shoot was to be edgier than usual for the magazine. Shot by Steven Klein, Caroline would pose in an industrial meat-freezer. The shoot, which also required Trentini to be semi-nude, was nothing less than a feat of endurance.

Not only did Caroline have the usual issues that any model would have to think about on set, but she also had to deal with freezing temperatures and being surrounded by animal carcasses. For any model, this would be a tough ask. For a new model, it had the potential to be completely overwhelming.

Caroline persevered with the shoot, but the experience proved so traumatic she later reported it convinced her to become vegetarian. But Klein was so impressed with Trentini that he sent her flowers and a card thanking her for her professionalism on set.

February 2005 gave Caroline reassurance that her difficult shoot had been worth it. The A/W show season was Trentini’s moment – in demand, she walked in 90 shows, ranging from Alberta Ferretti, Burberry, Celine, Marc Jacobs, Missoni, Rochas, Valentino and Versace.

In November, Trentini became a Victoria’s Secret girl, walking in the televised fashion show. Her approachable demeanour paired with a body built for runway made her a popular choice for the lingerie brand. Appealing to men but not alienating women at the same time is a difficult balance to strike, but Trentini’s friendly face easily bridged the divide.

But Trentini’s heart belonged to high-fashion, and in 2006 she became the face of Gucci’s 85th anniversary ad campaign, photographed by Craig McDean. She also landed a campaign with Balenciaga, working with Hilary Rhoda and Hana Soukupova.

2007 was to be a crucial marker in Trentini’s career. She became the face of heritage label Oscar de la Renta and opened the A/W Oscar de la Renta show in February, plus appearances for Bottega Veneta, Chanel, Givenchy, Etro and Zac Posen.

Trentini’s stature within the industry was sealed when she took her place on the seminal May ’07 cover of US Vogue. Posing alongside models such as Jessica Stam and Doutzen Kroes, Caroline Trentini was tipped as one of the world’s next top supermodels.

This directive was straight from the coal-face of fashion: US Vogue often pre-empts a style, a mood or a trend and singling out these girls as future superstars was a brave move. Naming them ‘supermodels’ was braver: many in the industry assumed that the big-name, big-bucks era had ended with the likes of Linda Evangelista and Naomi Campbell. Trentini may not have been a name like Crawford or Turlington, but plenty of people in the industry knew who she was, and that was more than enough to succeed.

2007 brought plenty of editorial work: Caroline appeared in an American Vogue spread called ‘Cloud Atlas’. Brilliantly inventive, the shoot styled by Grace Coddington hinted at Caroline’s ability to fill a frame with personality, not just beauty. Like acting, the key to being convincing on an editorial shoot is to embody a character. No-one’s going to believe your heart is breaking if you’re actually thinking about what to have for lunch.

Caroline’s gift for interpretation and movement was particularly well suited for a shoot in Vogue’s 2008 September issue. Photographed by Arthur Elgort, ‘Flights of Fancy’ showed Caroline suspended in mid-air, dressed in ballet-inspired couture dresses. Another physically demanding shoot, you would never know it from looking at the photos. Sumptuous, daring and dreamy, this was Trentini at her best.

Caroline’s commitment to every assignment explained her schedule for the next three years. After the famous Vogue cover shoot, Trentini’s career exploded. In 2007 she did campaigns for Mulberry and DSquared2; in September 07 she scored two editorials for Italian Vogue and in November, landed the cover of Spanish Vogue.

In 2008, she became the face of DKNY, walked in the A/W Dior couture show and appeared in no less than eight different editorials for American Vogue, being photographed by Irving Penn, Patrick Demarchelier, Steven Meisel and Annie Leibovitz.

In September 2009, Trentini walked S/S shows for YSL, Hermes, Oscar de la Renta and Dior and 2010 is already shaping up to be another good year, with covers for Brazilian Elle and Japanese Numero, plus a Sonia Rykiel for H&M campaign under her belt. From high-flying high fashion editorials to campaigns for Gap and Topshop, Trentini’s ascent to the top of her profession looks almost effortless, but in reality, it has been anything but.

With her elfish looks and trademark freckles, Caroline could have cornered the cute-but-quirky market and stayed in that box for the rest of her working life. With 20 Vogue covers to date, Trentini chose to specialise: in creating those magic moments for editorials, her seamless ascent through the ranks is the result of study and perseverance. Caroline possesses the ability to morph into any character or mood that is required, and whether that’s a magazine shoot, campaign or runway, the ability to get out of your own way in modelling is a truly vital asset. That ability and self-awareness is what makes Trentini such a valuable commodity.

Working with top photographers and stylists has enabled Trentini to be more than a Brazilian bombshell. Given her looks it would have been very easy to go down that route and always play second fiddle to Gisele. But, even more so than Raquel Zimmermann (Brazil’s other modelling star), Caroline has built a reputation on a body of work that truly proves that fashion is about more than just the clothes. Great fashion, paired with a great photographer, stylist and model creates great art.

American Vogue’s epoch-making editorials such as ‘Flights of Fancy’ and ‘Cloud Atlas’ are nothing short of art meets advert. The dress is the thing, but the efforts of the creative team (and a good model will always be a team player), can turn an everyday editorial into something spectacular.

Caroline’s intelligence and resilience is what makes her a great model. The legendary ‘meat freezer’ shoot would be enough to spook any model, but the fact that Caroline had only been working for two years, and was willing to push through her discomfort, showed that she was serious about having a career with depth and vitality. No-one wants to be a one-season wonder and being versatile isn’t just about personal growth: it can do your career a power of good too.
Caroline’s willingness to go the extra mile to get that one good photograph is what keeps her at the forefront of the industry. Character may not seem like one of the most important attributes a model can have, but working in difficult situations is all part and parcel of the modelling experience.

Some models get to the top by opportunity, others make it because their look makes them a talking-point, but models like Caroline make it by sheer hard graft. It’s an old-fashioned concept in a culture of instant gratification, but when required to excel under pressure not all models are created equal. When it comes to role models, the person who can work through any circumstance and deliver consistently high-calibre work is someone worth emulating. In adopting a philosophy to work by, you couldn’t choose better than Caroline Trentini.


Sunday, 21 February 2010


Born on the 23rd November 1987, Polish Kasia Struss is a very contemporary vision of modern-day beauty.

Discovered by an agent in 2005, Kasia began working in 2006, debuting at Paris Fashion Week. She walked for Louis Vuitton and Prada’s sister label, Miu Miu.

Struss’ new look, conspicuous at a time where doll-like glamour was at its height, caught the interest of the press. In May 2007, listed her as one of their Top 10 newcomers of the season, and she also appeared on influential website as one of the new faces to watch.

In August 2007 she did her first editorial for Italian Vogue, photographed by Steven Meisel. Kasia was also booked for couture season, walking for Chanel, Givenchy, Roland Mouret and Valentino. She modelled for Aquascutum’s look-book and featured in the A/W campaign for Dolce & Gabbana.

A lot about a model’s direction within the industry can be determined by the runway work they are offered. In September 2007, and barely a year into her career, Kasia not only booked the following designers, but was asked to open their shows: PHI, TSE, Jil Sander, Balenciaga, Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti and Giambattista Valli. This was in addition to walking in shows for Chloe, Christopher Kane, Jonathan Saunders, Erdem and Giles. These names all represent very different states of opinion when it comes to fashion, but what they all have in common is that they are fashion’s taste-makers. The industry looks to them for the next big trend. The fact that all these designers chose Kasia to participate in their runway collections, indicates that she was already being considered a muse for fashion’s next generation.

In February 2008, Kasia experienced her biggest runway season to date, and was booked for 72 shows. This blockbuster season combined the best of avant-garde (like Jonathan Saunders and Preen) with more established labels (such as Alberta Ferretti, Gucci and Prada). It was self-evident that Kasia had now become a major presence on the international runway circuit.

During the recession, the one constant in fashion has been the allure of the runway. With so much at stake, fashion houses are investing a great deal of financial and creative energy into making great, memorable shows; the late Alexander McQueen trail-blazed this approach with events that verged on the theatrical. Designers are using technology to up their game, streaming their shows live on the internet, because runway remains the most potent way of advertising what their brand is all about, and hiring the right model can make all the difference.

Kasia’s unusual East-European features automatically make her a stand-out, but that’s the draw for designers. With Kasia on side, a brand immediately announces itself as brave, bold and forward-thinking. No matter how esteemed the history of a fashion house, no-one wants to think of their brand as being behind the times.

2009 brought more couture and editorial work, with Kasia walking in the Dior couture show in January and appearing in her 2nd Italian Vogue editorial in March. In July, she walked the couture shows for Givenchy, Chanel, Dior and Armani Prive. Struss also did a campaign shoot for Mulberry, photographed by Steven Meisel.

The shoot, which she worked with Irina Kulikova, was an ode to autumn. Posing in a leaf-covered forest, Kasia and Irina’s gloriously frizzy hair, combined with lashings of high-fashion attitude, elevated Mulberry’s transition from home-grown bag brand to major fashion player. It was the perfect campaign, as memorable as it was evocative.

The campaigns kept coming as Kasia was named one of the new Chloe girls. Working alongside models like Raquel Zimmermann, Kasia’s unique brand of beauty now stood shoulder to shoulder with the industry’s glamour puss-in-residence.

In December 2009, Kasia finally made the cover of Italian Vogue. Shot by Steven Meisel, Struss now completed the ultimate modelling milestone. In acting, an Oscar lets you know you’ve arrived, in fashion, it’s Vogue Italia. This seal of approval finished off an incredible year for Struss, who saw her standing in the industry go from super-edgy runway girl to mainstream big-budget campaigns for Mulberry and Chloe. It was an extraordinary year.

2010 promises to be equally unforgettable, with January bringing a busy couture season for Kasia, walking shows for Armani Prive, Elie Saab, Dior, Chanel, Givenchy and Valentino.
This month, Kasia can be seen in the March editions of Vogue and Elle, appearing in the S/S ad campaign for Alberta Ferretti. Amid a confetti of ribbons and pleated tulle, Kasia models alongside newcomers Constance Jablonski and Hanne Gaby Odiele.

There has been considerable attention lavished on this season’s big-name campaigns. Usually a litmus test of which models are at the top of everybody’s must-hire list, this season, the ads themselves are getting the spotlight. Balenciaga has fun with Photoshop, Chloe borrows a page from Ralph Lauren and Lanvin goes even further with Jamie Bochert’s face obscured from the camera altogether.

It is no surprise that fashion has had to get more creative to keep our attention. The emphasis on products is essential to keep many labels afloat, and the choice to hire established faces, but not necessarily ones that are household names, is a deliberate one. Costs are lowered, and the product and label take centre stage.

Girls like Kasia really do well in this kind of climate. Her fashion pedigree is firmly established, but she does not distract attention away from the product she is meant to be selling. This trend for faceless fashion is something new and sparking much debate. In the latest Prada advert, it is somewhat impossible to miss the bag: it takes up virtually the entire page.

Far from being bad news for models, it proves just how essential that personal contact is for the consumer. After all, if aspiration wasn’t a contributory factor in buying the latest must-have bag, no label would bother using models at all - a mannequin would do. But they don’t and that is because we still need that relatable aspect. If we don’t aspire to look like the girl on the ad, cover or runway, then fashion simply hasn’t done its job.

Kasia Struss has excelled during a tough time for the industry because her look is all about a clean, modern aesthetic. Taking her lead from Nineties models like Stella Tennant and Audrey Marnay, girls like Struss are dominating the catwalk by virtue of their non-conventional beauty.

There will always be a place in fashion for the girl who can pull off the glamourpuss look, but the good news for prospective models is that high-fashion’s tastes when it comes to beauty can vary wildly. Not being a typical beauty doesn’t mean your career’s a non-starter. Modelling is as much about inspiring the designer as the consumer, and editorial looks can help redefine the direction of where fashion is headed, and that in turn, can make you very popular indeed. Just ask Kate Moss.

Models like Kasia Struss will inform the future of fashion by being that bold mixture of feminine and masculine, hard and soft. Sex appeal and glamour will always be required but at the very frontier of fashion, those calling the shots want to work with Kasia.

Struss is centrally placed to enjoy the most exciting decade for fashion in nearly twenty years. Innovation, technical and creative, is what will drive fashion over the next 10 years, with our relationship with technology running through every collection, whether that takes the form of literal translation or a more subtle influence. A face that can deliver any aesthetic, and do so with credibility and authenticity, will not only influence the progress of high-fashion, but also what the next generation of models will look like.

Kasia is the best means we have of determining the face of fashion’s future. She is truly a 21st century girl.


Sunday, 14 February 2010


Raised in Las Vegas, Jessica Miller is high fashion’s showgirl. In continual demand since signing with agency Next in 2000, Jessica proves that it is possible to have a substantial, wide-ranging career by being able to specialise.

Born on 21st February 1984, Jessica took the unusual route to modelling by enrolling in a local modelling school. In 1999, she was discovered by Corrie Singer and was a new face at Next by 2000.

Jessica debuted at Paris Fashion Week in March 2001, walking for YSL, Thierry Mugler and Lanvin. Her career started off impressively enough, but its initial progress was slow. She was a bona fide fashion girl – good enough for the runways of Paris – but the rest of the fashion world had yet to catch on.

It wasn’t until 2002 that Jessica received her big break. Many top models have defining moments: a point where their career goes from 0-60. Jessica’s career acceleration wasn’t just stellar, it went supernova.

Her athletic figure and long hair caught the eye of designer Calvin Klein. Klein, who had spent his life engineering a brand that speaks of easy American style, was already a dab hand at picking out new model talent. His decision to hire a (then) unknown Kate Moss to model exclusively for him in the early Nineties was pivotal, not only for her, but also crucial in terms of shaping a vision of modern youth for an entire generation, spearheaded by the Calvin Klein name.

A fixture of fashion since the Seventies, Klein’s name became permanently fixed in popular culture with the hiring of Kate Moss. The iconic B&W adverts, with Kate’s editorially-perfect face, transformed the brand into something that was universal in appeal. Klein’s decision to hire an unknown face changed the trajectory of modern fashion, and lightning struck twice when he decided to hire another unknown in 2002, Jessica Miller.

Jessica’s laid-back cool lent itself perfectly to the ethos of Calvin Klein. Not only that, she too had a face that could adapt at will. Any runway, any editorial, any brand – it was now Miller’s for the taking.

Her life as a fairly successful but anonymous runway model changed overnight when Klein named Miller the new Calvin Klein girl. She became the name, the face that everybody in fashion had to know. Success for Jessica had just become radically re-defined.

Signing a two-year contract with Calvin Klein, Jessica walked exclusively for the designer in February and September. In March 2002, she scored her first cover of Italian Vogue, and in October did an editorial for Harper’s Bazaar with photographer Patrick Demarchelier. In December, to crown off an incredible year, Jessica got the cover of Numero magazine. Photographed by French duo Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, Jessica was covered in glitter. An apt metaphor for fashion’s newest – and brightest – star.

2003 presented yet more opportunities. In February she became a Pirelli calendar girl and was also photographed by van Lamsweerde and Matadin for the cover of French Vogue.

In the spring, Miller became the face of Fendi’s new ad campaign, and scored a double hit in May when she landed the cover of i-D and a coveted editorial for Italian Vogue.

In the autumn, she took part in the couture season in Paris, walking for Chanel, Givenchy, Jean Paul Gaultier and milliner Philip Treacy. She was also named the face of Tommy Hilfiger’s and Givenchy’s Autumn / Winter campaigns.

This body of work culminated in Jessica receiving the Model of the Year award in December 2003 at the International Photographer Awards. The award highlighted Jessica’s ability to develop a rapport with every photographer she worked with. It was not just a professional courtesy on Miller’s part, but a great way of creating a network of people ready and willing to work with her again. Her ability to be a team player also helped in creating some truly great photographs. Jessica’s early success may have been down to her genetic gifts, but what kept her working, was her ability to communicate.

Jessica’s work continued in 2004 with a second Pirelli calendar, and an incredible show season where she walked for over 45 designers. The names that hired her ranged from Marc Jacobs and Alexander McQueen to Viktor & Rolf and Costume National. Jessica’s new standing as the Calvin Klein girl meant that she was fashion’s latest runway star. Her affiliation with photographic work made Miller a popular choice because she immediately knew how to interpret a brief.

In 2004, Miller became the face of Chloe and Blumarine’s ad campaigns, and that was in addition to adverts for Gap and H&M. But in September 2005, Jessica made the startling decision to quit the catwalk. Bearing in mind her knock-out season just one year ago, her decision to leave came as a shock to many.

In 2006, putting runway on hold, Jessica concentrated on landing those lucrative high-end campaigns, and became the face of Chanel cosmetics, plus scoring the campaign for Jimmy Choo.
In September 2007, she appeared in the now-famous Numero ‘Spiderwoman’ editorial, shot by photographer Solve Sundsbo. Suspended in mid-air on wires, Jessica did a series of shots as a bionic ‘Spiderwoman’ character. Clad in skin-tight leather, the shoot was a feat of endurance, referencing Jessica’s comic-book namesake and Angelina Jolie’s super-sexy role in ‘Mr and Mrs Smith’. The photo-shoot drew attention to Miller’s couture-perfect frame and her willingness to literally hang upside down to get that killer picture.

From May 2008 to November 2009, Jessica continued her editorial work with French and German Vogue, i-D and Flair. After wetting her feet at the Chanel Resort show in May 2007, Miller made a triumphant return to runway in 2009, appearing at the Fendi show in Milan, plus walking for Zac Posen and Givenchy in Paris and New York.

A lot can be learned from Jessica Miller. Fearless in her approach to modelling, she has built a diverse career of runway, print and campaign work on learning how to specialise and turn it to her advantage.

Her runway-ready body and waist-length hair have made her a covetable name for both beauty and fashion brands. Miller has worked with firms such as Adidas, Helena Rubenstein, J Brand, Warehouse and De Beers. From diamonds to sportswear, Jessica has excelled in every assignment. Jessica’s decision to concentrate on photographic work has made her highly skilled at determining what’s required. Having a great face and body is certainly no downer, but knowing how to interact with a photographer is nothing short of fundamental: it’s Modelling 101.
Jessica’s ability to respond quickly in photo-shoots has meant that walking away from a highly successful runway career was not an error in judgement. Being flexible enough to switch gears mid-career takes guts, and it’s what has ensured Miller’s longevity in an industry where a model is doing well on a career spanning 5 years at most.

Having a signature undoubtedly helped to launch Jessica’s career. Her long-limbed, aesthetic beauty worked brilliantly for Calvin Klein, and helped her score dozens of editorials, campaigns and covers. But when you have a signature, there is always the possibility you can get cornered and boxed into that one look. Jessica’s decision to switch from runway to print was more than financial: it saved her career from potential atrophy.

Now working as a runway and photographic model, Jessica’s new-millennium take on American beauty continues to sell, ten years after her discovery in Las Vegas.

Miller has recently expressed interest in pursuing acting in the future. Such a leap is certainly possible: Amber Valletta made the move to Hollywood, and film stars Uma Thurman and Diane Kruger once had good careers as models before starring on the silver screen.

Jessica’s ability to work with others may well put her in good stead of achieving those ambitions. She has the potential, like Moss, to have a career that spans across many different media platforms. Resourceful and resilient, Jessica’s not about to be written out of the picture any time soon.