Sunday, 23 May 2010


Polish-born Magdalena Frackowiak has built a career on making the fine art of editorial look easy.

A multi-tasker extraordinaire, Magdalena’s body of work spans the complete breadth of modelling experience from campaigns for French Connection to high-edge editorials in Viktor and Rolf.

Born 6th October 1984, Magdalena began her career by winning the ‘Waterproof Model Search’ in 1999. Her career took off in 2006, when she landed the covers of Polish Elle and Italian Glamour.

In October 2006, she got her big break when she was picked to open the YSL show in Paris. Also appearing for designers like Alexander McQueen, Marchesa and Valentino, Magdalena was featured as the Top Model of the S/S 2007 season by

2007 started with a bang for Frackowiak when it was announced that she would become one of the new faces for legendary label Ralph Lauren.

Sandwiching in editorial work for Chinese and German Vogue, Magdalena also landed a campaign for Dior Lingerie. Shot by Craig McDean, this was Magdalena’s toughest challenge to date. On a lingerie shoot there is (quite literally) nowhere to hide. Being photographed in underwear is the least of your problems: keeping the feel of the shoot high-fashion is the real issue. Factor in a photographer like McDean who specialises in sultry shoots and the stakes couldn’t be higher. Lingerie modelling may seem like the soft option, but at this level, nothing could be further from the truth.

Magdalena’s hard work paid off in August 2007 when she got the cover of Italian Vogue. Modelling alongside Maryna Linchuk, and photographed by Steven Meisel, this was a watershed moment.

2008 saw Magdalena become the face of Alessandro Dell’Acqua, in addition to renewing her contract with Ralph Lauren. Magdalena walked in the January couture season, making appearances for Armani Prive, Chanel, Dior, Givenchy and Valentino. Her excellent show record continued with a RTW season that included opening spots for Thakoon, Viktor & Rolf plus Alessandro Dell’Acqua.

For the rest of the year, Magdalena clocked up several noteworthy appearances; an Italian Vogue editorial photographed by Patrick Demarchelier; an i-D editorial in March; an Allure editorial in May and the summer cover of 10 magazine.

This rapidly-growing CV also included a feature in French Vogue, where the magazine that can make (or break) a career named Frackowiak a ‘top model’. Magdalena’s flair for editorial continued, with a spread for Interview magazine that primarily focused on Gucci. Pairing the Polish bombshell with the iconic Italian brand was inspired casting. Frackowiak had already proved she could do high-fashion, but she could also bring sex appeal, perfect for an editorial that required equal measure of both.

Magdalena’s standing in the fashion community soared when it was time to announce who had scooped the prestigious A/W campaigns. Magdalena had not only landed a spot with one designer: she had three. Shooting for Oscar de la Renta, Alessandro Dell’Acqua and Ralph Lauren, Magdalena’s pulling power in front of the lens was becoming an undeniable force for fashion good.

In September, Magdalena had the show season befitting a top model, walking in 55 shows. Closing shows for Jil Sander and Proenza Schouler, she also made appearances for Chloe, Chanel, Gareth Pugh, Hermes, Isabel Marant, Lanvin, Marc Jacobs, Missoni, Preen, Stella McCartney and Valentino. It was a blockbuster season, putting Magdalena’s name well and truly on the map.

2009 brought more accolades, with Magdalena adding a campaign for Kenzo to her list of credits. Her A/W season in February 2009 gave Magdalena a bona fide fashion moment. She was selected to open shows for Lanvin, Louis Vuitton, Matthew Williamson, closing shows for Julien MacDonald and Alexander McQueen.

Being the bookend in major headline shows like Lanvin and McQueen, Frackowiak was now playing with the top names in the business. Her editorial and campaign work had propelled her right to the heart of the modelling elite.

Magdalena filled the summer months of 2009 with yet more editorial work, including French, Russian and Japanese Vogue. Magdalena also hit the headlines when she participated in a shoot for the A/W issue of Purple. Posing topless with Eniko Mihalik, Abbey Lee Kershaw and Freja Beha, the photo shoot garnered plenty of attention. Its near-the-knuckle editorial slant begged the question: was this fashion photography at its most daring or just plain pornography?

Terry is famed for blurring the lines, and his preference on sexuality is borrowed straight from the Seventies. Think bold glamour, gloss and very big hair, and you’ve got yourself a Terry Richardson shoot.

In some ways, a photo shoot like this is the perfect foil to Magdalena’s abilities. She can be gentle and soft-focus in designs by Alberta Ferretti and Blumarine, or full-on raunch for designers like Gucci and Roberto Cavalli.

Terry’s work proves that provocative images don’t have to be just for the boys. His genius is making sexuality part of the high-fashion experience. Where couture can sometimes be accused of being a touch cerebral and other-worldly, Richardson, working with models like Magdalena, brings a note of earthy vitality to a shoot or campaign. It’s not sleazy; it’s just another point of view.

2010 has already begun well for Frackowiak, with an Italian Vogue editorial under her belt and covers for Russian Vogue and Dazed and Confused.

She is very much the 21st century follow-on from Fifties and Sixties models like Dovima, Dorian Leigh and Suzy Parker. They wore cutting-edge couture like was a second skin, and that is what Magdalena does so well. The fashion spread for Dazed and Confused was dedicated to Viktor and Rolf’s latest collection. More avant-garde than ready-to-wear, the ultra-edgy designs in both the cover and editorial have one thing in common: you see the model first, and then you see the dress. It only registers in a second glance that the dress is pushing boundaries and then some. On Magdalena, what is a challenge to wear becomes soft, romantic and even covetous.

When modelling the tougher, more avant-garde designs, it pays to be fearless. This is what Magdalena has picked up from the tough-as-boots models of the 50’s and 60’s. They may have looked the epitome of elegance and grace, but there was no chance of any dress overwhelming them. It’s a tough balancing act because fashion’s built around the see-saw of hard and soft, masculine and feminine. Trying to blend the two and make it believable is the really tricky part. Magdalena’s work with photographer Terry Richardson is a brilliant example of the importance of balance. It’s all about visual semantics: lighting, styling, even the tilt of the model’s chin - in fashion, the tiniest detail often makes the biggest difference.

Look at Magdalena’s runway track record. Note how many designers have kept her on as a runway fixture every season. Alexander McQueen was booking Magdalena in 2006 and still doing so in his last (completed) show in September 2009. Loyalty is hard-won in the fashion world: an incredibly versatile clothes-horse, Magdalena has mastered campaigns and editorials that would make more experienced models quake. It is that quality of fearlessness that makes her such a compelling presence.

With depth and intelligence, Magdalena is merging the point where ‘sexy’ and ‘editorial’ meet. In a post-recession age where many hard and fast rules are having to be re-written, Magdalena provides a very modern take on fashion’s newest (and boldest) identity.

It’s a lesson taken straight from fashion history. After the Second World War, the fashion world had two options: to give up, or reinvent. Christian Dior went with the second, and gave us the New Look. It reignited the industry, and ever since, it’s been the inspiration when times are tough; revitalise and renew.

Models like Magdalena aren’t just along for the ride: they’re changing what we see as beautiful and fashionable. Editorial fashion isn’t about wilful provocation; it’s about moving forwards in order to survive. The models that do editorial best make it look easy: because they’ve worked so hard, you can no longer see the join where work ends and inspiration begins.

Fashion’s latest reinvention is not for the faint of heart, but it’s about more than hemlines. The new look for the 21st century is taking fashion into its next phase. It will be daring, difficult and thought-provoking – but it’s pushing all the right buttons.


Sunday, 16 May 2010


Continuing the tradition of fashion’s love affair with all things French, Constance Jablonski is the latest model to make a global impact.

Born in Lille on the 29th of October 1990, Constance Jablonski began her modelling career in 2006 when she entered the French Elite Model Look contest. She signed with Elite Models the same year, and had her big break in September 2008.

She had her first run of fashion shows, opening shows for La Perla and Blugirl by Blumarine, plus appearances for Christopher Kane, Diane von Furstenberg, Dries Van Noten, Elie Saab, Gucci, Hermes, Lanvin, Marchesa, Rachel Roy and Versace.
In October, Jablonski shot her first editorial (for Italian Marie Claire), and her first cover in November. In December, the buzz surrounding the new girl was sufficient to land her an editorial in Italian Vogue, photographed by Steven Meisel. Often recognised for his star-spotting ability, for any model getting to work with Meisel is an incredible coup.

In January 2009, Constance did a beauty editorial for Italian Vogue and her first couture season, walking for Givenchy. She also landed her first major campaign, signing up to represent D&G along with Imogen Morris-Clarke and Ariel Meredith.

The campaigns kept coming, with additional work for Topshop and Donna Karan: you couldn’t get two assignments more different, but Constance landed both. Still considered a newcomer, Jablonski was showing huge potential in terms of range. Multi-tasking is an essential in fashion where no trend rules a season, and you have to convince the client that each one is a perfect fit.

Constance proved that she was able to command the attention of the world’s best designers in February when she signed up to take part in 54 shows including Derek Lam, Jason Wu, Louise Goldin, Matthew Williamson, Preen, Richard Nicoll, Twenty8Twelve and Wunderkind. Her booking sheet was a snap-shot of the latest breakthrough talent all vying to work with fashion’s newest kid on the block.

In March, she did two editorials for Teen Vogue, following that with editorials for Chinese, Italian, German, French and Japanese Vogue, making her an international hit. The work paid off in September when Jablonski became the most requested model of the season, chalking up an amazing 72 shows. She walked for Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Chloe, Dior, Isabel Marant, Louise Goldin, Marios Schwab, Mary Katrantzou, Proenza Schouler, Stella McCartney, Thakoon and Valentino. It was an eclectic mix of blockbuster brands and cutting-edge talent like Goldin and Katrantzou. Constance was now steadily making her way through the fashion ranks.

At last, the press took note. Constance was named a Top Ten Newcomer by, scoring further editorial work with Allure, French and Russian Vogue, and in November, featured Jablonski as their ‘This Week’s Model’. If anyone was in any doubt, Constance Jablonski had now made the transition from rising star to established model.

2010 is already proving to be the biggest year of Jablonski’s career to date, with two campaigns already out there: a ck by Calvin Klein campaign (photographed by Craig McDean) and the Alberta Ferretti S/S campaign by Steven Meisel, also featuring Kasia Struss, Hanne Gaby Odiele and Dorothea Barth Jorgensen.

Constance had an epic A/W 2010 show season in February, including appearances for Alberta Ferretti, Fendi, Giles Deacon, Louis Vuitton, Nina Ricci, Oscar de la Renta, Ralph Lauren, Roberto Cavalli and Sportmax. She was not only commanding runway time with the newer designers, but also doing catwalk for the brands that are recognisable in three syllables or less: Hermes, Fendi, Chloe, Vuitton and Ralph Lauren. Making appearances for these labels isn’t a guarantee of future success, but it helps.

But the most exciting development came in April this year when it was announced that Constance would be joining Estee Lauder as a campaign model, becoming the first French model to do so. She will be joining forces with Liu Wen, who also made headlines as the first Chinese model to be signed to the brand.

It’s a marked departure for the cosmetics giant, whose previous signings include Hilary Rhoda, Carolyn Murphy and Gwyneth Paltrow. It’s a seismic shift in Estee Lauder’s marketing strategy and judging by the positive press so far, it’s being widely anticipated for all the right reasons. Between them, Constance and Liu will be representing a more international image of the beauty brand. Despite what the name suggests, the brand is resolutely all-American, and Constance will be fronting that campaign with that aim in mind, but if the brand wanted to be seen as more inclusive, mission accomplished. Globalisation isn’t just for big business anymore: Dior means the same in any language, and that’s what brands are moving towards – an international language of commerce. Sounds dull, but the repercussions (how good models can really clean up in this market) are anything but.

Even a cursory glance at recent fashion magazines tells you one thing: models are in, and celebrity endorsements are on the decline. As a trend, labels are choosing to move towards actively selecting models over celebrities to represent their brand. Just five years ago, things were very different: actresses routinely scored high-profile campaigns for major designers. Their image plus the product equalled big bucks. So what has changed?

With celebrity comes speculation. Gossip may be good for business in Hollywood, but in fashion, designers don’t want their latest handbag or must-have dress tainted by association. All celebrities (even the well-behaved ones) come with baggage (for example, being in ‘that’ film) and designers who are struggling to make their presence known in an already overcrowded marketplace don’t need that extra hill to climb.

The solution? Hire a model. Thanks to the death of the term ‘supermodel’, the latest batch of names rocking the fashion world aren’t necessarily names that the public will be familiar with. As a result, a model in a campaign can absorb the brand and become it completely. It’s what separates them from celebrities – and in this era of fight or flight commerce, those distinctions are important.

The move away from asking ‘names’ to represent labels is part of a wider movement in making brands trans-global. It means no translation necessary: Liu Wen and Constance Jablonski are the new faces of Estee Lauder because they will appeal to the widest demographic possible. With models, there’s no risk of consumers rejecting the brand’s latest product because they didn’t like the spokesmodel’s last single or newest haircut. There’s no front: the model is the image plus the brand, minus the drama. It’s a perfect combination of message and method.

The sheer volume of campaigns this year that have models fronting them is quite extraordinary. It’s the biggest turn-around since the late Nineties, and those models are getting those lucrative signings because they can embody a trend or a mood more completely than a celebrity, however comfortable he or she may be in front of the camera.

It’s all part and parcel of the fashion world reaching out to its consumers. The age of un-innocence; the knowing wink that accompanied many celebrity-endorsed campaigns is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

The newest trend in advertising is story-telling: whether that’s a matador fantasy in Chanel or told simpler, with zesty hits of colour in Balenciaga, adverts are becoming more literal and that’s no bad thing. It doesn’t matter what’s being sold – if it’s a Prada bag or a bag of frozen peas – the message remains the same: keep it simple. It’s advertising that translates across language and culture and it will direct how fashion campaigns will take shape over the next five years.

When Constance makes her debut for Estee Lauder later this year, prepare yourself for a campaign that speaks a truly international language.


Sunday, 9 May 2010


Born January 27th 1988, Lily Donaldson is a very British success on the international modelling circuit. Initially tipped as the epitome of doll-like beauty on her discovery in 2003, seven years later Lily’s success is proving to be made of stronger stuff.

Aged 15, Donaldson was scouted by Select whilst shopping in Camden Town. Just one year later, she became the face of Miss Sixty and scored big with a campaign for Burberry alongside Stella Tennant and Karen Elson. Working with Elson and Tennant on one of Britain’s best-known brands was enough to crown Lily as fashion's newest modelling star.

In February 2004, Lily debuted at Fashion Week, walking for Jil Sander and Rochas, plus names like Chanel, Blumarine, Marni, Stella McCartney and YSL. In April, she landed her first cover of British Vogue, but it wasn’t until September that she officially became fashion’s newest IT girl. Signing up for 68 shows in total, Lily was picked up by major brands like Marc Jacobs and Calvin Klein, plus a raft of British talent including Alexander McQueen, Emma Cook, Luella Bartley, Paul Smith and Stella McCartney.

The blockbuster season worked to Lily’s advantage, scoring her contracts with Jil Sander and Lanvin. 2005 was the year Lily became enough of a name to front magazines: in February, it was Japanese Vogue; March was Italian Vogue, June, the cover of Numero, a second Italian Vogue cover in September and another cover of Numero in December.

Lily also landed a profitable campaign with Roberto Cavalli, appearing alongside fellow rising stars Hye Park and Natasha Poly. Donaldson’s campaign count soared in early 2006 when it was announced she would appear in campaigns for Dolce & Gabbana and Mulberry, both photographed by Steven Meisel.

In February, Lily opened and closed the A/W Lanvin show, plus doing runway for 55 other designers including Balenciaga, Chanel, Chloe, Dior, Gucci, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta, Proenza Schouler, Ralph Lauren, Valentino and Zac Posen. Lily’s bookings represented a cross-section of the best of European and American design talent. But if 2006 sounded good, 2007 would prove to be the year that Donaldson’s achievements would be well and truly put on the map.

Becoming the face of Dior in early 2007, in May she landed a spot on the famous Meisel / US Vogue cover, called ‘The World’s Next Top Models’. Featured absolute centre, Lily shared cover space with models like Chanel Iman, Hilary Rhoda, Jessica Stam and Sasha Pivovarova. Some were fashion superstars-in-waiting; others had careers that were merely a promise fulfilled. Lily was definitely in the latter category.

Lily’s newly-magnified profile upped her game, with contracts from MaxMara (replacing Raquel Zimmermann) and Burberry (replacing Kate Moss). In September, she opened S/S shows for Gianfranco Ferre and Nicole Miller, and closed shows for Temperley and La Perla. With covers and editorials rounding out the year, Lily’s career took a surprising turn in 2008 when it was announced that she would be taking part in the Pirelli calendar, photographed by Patrick Demarchelier. Taking part in the revitalisation of the Pirelli brand, Lily turned to more traditional fashion fare when she renewed her contract with Italian label MaxMara, and undertook a new contract with Dolce & Gabbana, appearing in a campaign with Jessica Stam and fellow Brit, Gemma Ward.

Lily joined Gemma again for the cover of i-D in February, and enjoyed a bustling show season with opening duty for Preen, Temperley, Dolce & Gabbana and Missoni, and closed shows for Derek Lam, Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger, Bottega Veneta and Gucci. It is worth noting that even though Lily was by this stage a familiar name, she was still wanted by up-and-coming designers like Preen and Derek Lam, plus high-status brands like Gucci and Michael Kors.
In autumn, news came that Lily had replaced Natasha Poly as the face of Gucci. Traditionally a brand known for its high-octane sex appeal, it was an unusual casting choice but one that was pivotal to Lily’s career.

During show season, her bookings revealed a definite shift in focus. The bookings for classic American labels and European names were there, but in among them were appearances for Gareth Pugh, Lanvin, Alexander Wang, and of course Gucci. The uber-feminine look that was ‘of the moment’ in 2005-06 had proved sufficient to carry Donaldson through into fashion’s next phase.

The sharper lines and challenging ideas posed by designers like Gareth Pugh and Alexander Wang seem at odds with Lily’s English Rose beauty, but the calling card of a great model is the ability to move with the times. Not only could Lily carry off the new, tougher aesthetic – she was going toe-to-toe with the newer modelling talent and still winning those prestige campaigns and runway spots.

In October, Lily featured in a US Vogue editorial with Coco Rocha and Anna Jagodzinska, and in the same month, landed the cover of Japanese Vogue. As if to prove a point about Lily’s wide-ranging appeal, she landed an Italian Vogue editorial in November with photographer Corrine Day, and modelled for the Gap Xmas campaign, with her younger brother Jesse. You couldn’t find two assignments more different, but Lily handled both with aplomb.

In January 2009, Donaldson opened the S/S couture shows for Armani Prive and Elie Saab, and renewed her contracts with Burberry and Gucci. Lily’s show season in February featured appearances for designers like Alberta Ferretti, Versace, Isabel Marant, Nina Ricci, Valentino and Dior. With the year ending in a flurry of work, including editorials for French, British and American Vogue, and a cover for Chinese Vogue, the next decade looks set to continue in the same vein as Lily has just completed a couture editorial for May’s issue of French Vogue, paying tribute to Alexander McQueen.

Six years on from her discovery at Camden Town, Lily is still proving to be a must-hire draw for top designers and editors. Sourcing new talent is something the British modelling industry seems to be particularly good at: aside from the obvious examples of Kate Moss and Twiggy, the UK has produced glamazons capable of transforming the industry (Naomi Campbell, Jourdan Dunn) and edgier talent that has driven fashion forward, especially in the 1990’s when fashion needed to distance itself from the excess of the Eighties. The aesthetic of new models like Stella Tennant and Karen Elson was pitch-perfect: absolutely no frills and quintessentially modern.

This decade, Britain lead the way again. Referencing Victorian art, we produced models that represented a fashion take on virginal modesty (Lily Donaldson and Gemma Ward), and a blend of Pre-Raphaelite innocence and sensuality (Lily Cole). It was borrowed straight from art history, but the world’s designers couldn’t get enough of Lily Donaldson’s look that was neither glamazon nor aesthete. Britain’s manufacturing industry may have seen better days, but when it comes to design and style – we’re world leaders.

What is intriguing about Donaldson is her longevity over a particularly volatile stretch of fashion history. From 2005 to now, the fashion landscape is barely recognisable. Five years ago, the IT bag reigned supreme, fashion was very much in touch with its feminine side, and no-one had even heard of the term ‘credit crunch’.

As a rule, ‘IT’ models tend to have a fairly short shelf-life: a model who defines an entire movement tends to get lost in that association when fashion gets bored and moves on. But Lily is unique in that her look has been able to move into the harder side of fashion which has come to the fore during recent years. The urban warrior look (stud detailing, exposed zips and acres of black) wasn’t just a trend; it was a reading of how we were all feeling. Tough times require tough fashion, and we all dressed accordingly.

Lily’s genius was to recognise this sea-change and market herself not only as someone who could take the more directional looks, but someone who could embrace them. Modelling, at the very highest level, requires more than knowledge about angles and lighting.

Selling a brand isn’t just about product placement (how a dress looks); it’s about selling an entire ethos (how that dress makes you feel). Fashion’s often accused of being skin-deep, but the truth of the matter is if the model’s not feeling it neither are we.

Modelling and acting are not so very far apart, and if you can’t connect the feeling of dress-induced euphoria to something real, it’s hopeless. That’s why the top models like Lily endure: it’s about more than genetic good fortune; it’s about what you bring to the table. Experiences and memories can help an actor be a better artist, and knowing how to harness yours can make you a better model.

Lily’s ability to adapt is why she has endured as long as she has. Luck plays its part: Lily’s look definitely slotted her into the fashion industry at the right time, but staying at the top requires skill, fortitude and determination – and plenty of it.

It is why Christy Turlington and Claudia Schiffer continue to find work, and it’s why Lily’s career has the potential to extend indefinitely. If there was ever a safe bet on who will still be making waves in 20 years’ time, it’s Lily Donaldson.