Sunday, 30 January 2011


In modelling, your skin can be your greatest asset. A great skin not only makes you eminently bookable when it comes to castings, but it can transform your career prospects. A skin that can handle the most demanding close-ups will always be needed by every facet of the industry, from fitness to commercial and high-fashion. Selling a product successfully often requires that one-to-one connection with the consumer and a model with a naturally glowing, healthy skin will appeal across the board.

Even with hi-tech solutions like airbrushing and post-production enhancements, the chief responsibility of the model is to be that perfect blank canvas. If you are a newer or less established model, don’t expect the post-production team to have your back – these tricks of the trade are often highly expensive and clients can be reluctant to shell out extra money on getting a model’s skin up to code. Minor blemishes can be erased with a click of the mouse, but long-term maintenance lies ultimately with the model.

Most people only think of good skin in terms of having a blemish-free appearance, but there are really 3 components for photo-ready skin: clarity, radiance and hydration. A skin that is well-balanced and hydrated will have that sought-after, lit-from-within glow. Likewise, a beautifully hydrated skin will have very low levels of toxins lurking in its pores, so will have a very low hit-rate when it comes to blemishes.

These 3 components rely on each other to get the best possible results, but what’s reassuring is that having a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ skin is not hereditary: you’re not stuck with a skin that could be better. There are things you can do yourself that will make a visible difference. The golden rule in getting good skin is to keep it simple.

The first trick has become a bit of a modelling cliché, but it’s stuck around because it works. Drinking lots of water really does help. If you suffer from occasional breakouts or patches of dry skin, water can do a terrific job in flushing out toxins that can cause problems and help soothe and regulate your skin. The occasional blemish is forgivable even in the modelling world, but a skin that flares up and changes from day to day can become a more serious issue.

Sensitivity, whether it’s a reaction or a breakout, should be treated the same way. A sensitive skin is treated gently with specialised products, and treating spot-prone skin should ideally be tackled by the same approach. If you do get breakouts that are more regular than occasional, it’s time to bring in the experts.

Resist the temptation to blast your skin into submission with harsh, chemical-laden products. These products may help in the short-term, but their ingredients have a tendency to strip the skin of its natural oils. An oil-free skin sounds like a good thing, but what then happens is your glands work overtime to replace the oil that has been lost and you end up with even more spots. Definitely not a good thing!

You can break this circle by going to professional products. If you know you have a skin that breaks out regularly, spending a little extra on salon-tested brands that specialise in treating in skin problems is worth the expense. Dermalogica, Alpha-H and Elemis are just a few examples. A good-quality product can make all the difference, and what you will notice about the pricier brands over those from a high-street chemist, is that their ranges for blemished skin concentrate on soothing the symptoms to create a skin that’s balanced, not stripped.

If your skin is not your red-button issue, a basic regime will work well for you. A decent cleanser is essential – studio make-up tends to be heavier than normal formulations, and getting off every scrap at the end of the day is essential. Find a cleanser targeted to your skin type, but a mild rinse-off gel cleanser is a good purchase for any skin. Also keep an eye out for professional make-up brands, such as MAC and Shu Uemura, as they have their own ranges of cleanser especially designed for removing make-up.

Spending big bucks on a moisturiser isn’t necessary: a mid-priced hydrating moisturiser with an SPF is more than adequate. If you’re drinking enough water throughout the day, your skin shouldn’t need that much help in the hydration department.

Another skincare must-have is a face scrub. Good for promoting fresh, young skin cells to the surface, regular use of a scrub prevents your skin from getting that grey, lived-in look – particularly handy if you’ve been working (or playing) too hard.

Pick a scrub that’s suitable for your skin type, but whatever you do, don’t work the product in too hard. Let the scrub do the work, and gently massage it onto a wet skin. It may seem like an optional extra, but a scrub can make a surprising difference when it comes to that most coveted of model attributes: luminosity.

If you want to take your skincare up a notch, you can also look into using a face mask. Ideal to use on a newly-scrubbed face, there is a mask out there for every skincare concern. If you’re using a mask designed to draw out impurities, don’t use it just before a shoot. The mask’s job is to pull toxins to the surface and you may end up with some very badly-timed blemishes. If possible, use this type of mask two or three times a month as a ‘deep-cleanse’ treatment. If your skin’s getting exposed to harsh studio lighting and long hours – a mask that revives tired skin is perfect. If dryness is your problem, a lightly moisturising mask is always a good standby.
The key to using products intelligently is to assess your skin to see what it really needs. If its feeling (and looking) sensitised, treat accordingly, and it’s worth bearing in mind that your skin’s needs can change from week to week, season to season. Don’t get stuck into thinking that you have one specific skin type all year round: your skin reacts to its environment. Adapt your routine to what’s happening in your life and watch your complexion flourish.

The investment in products may seem like an unnecessary expense, but the lot of a working model is such that spending on grooming is an unavoidable expenditure, and definitely something to be factored into earnings. Think of it this way: if your skin’s in peak condition, your earning potential is maximised too. Suddenly shelling out for a tube of moisturiser doesn’t sound so bad.

The final note about skincare is an obvious one, but does need stating. If you smoke, expect the success of these products to be limited. Your skin cells will be starved of oxygen, and will affect the way your skin looks both in person and on camera. A smoker’s skin tends to be easily recognisable by its grey-ish tinge: no matter how dedicated you may be to a skincare routine, even drinking plenty of water and eating well, nothing will do your skin a bigger favour than cutting out (or even cutting down) on cigarettes.

If that doesn’t sell you on whipping out the nicotine patches, think about where you want your career to be in 5 years’ time. If you smoke heavily, prepare for your modelling career to be cut short. The physical action of smoking creates tension lines around your eyes and mouth, which will rapidly turn into permanent lines because your skin’s support system won’t be up to the job of battling premature ageing.

If you plan to be in modelling for a few years, not smoking may be a sacrifice worth making. Your skin is an instant tell-all. It reveals everything you’re doing right in terms of health, and exposes anything that could stand to be improved. A lack of sleep, a dip in nutrition all show up on your face, and if your face is your fortune, that’s bad news.

The good news however is that skin responds quickly to changes, and a good diet (most of the time!), plenty of sleep and a smoke-free environment can make a huge difference to the way you look – not to mention the way you feel.

Think of skincare as being holistic: an inclusive approach will make for the best results. Taking care of yourself doesn’t require that much effort if done regularly and the pay-offs in modelling can be phenomenal.

Sunday, 23 January 2011


Dutch-born Patricia van der Vliet is one of the success stories that can be attributed to the Top Model phenomenon.

Born on July 14th 1989, Patricia became a contestant in the 2008 edition of Holland’s Next Top Model. Although she did not go on to win the competition, Patricia’s modelling career went live when she signed with NY Models the following year.
In September 2009, she debuted at Fashion Week. Patricia made the headlines, walking exclusively for Prada in Milan and closing shows for Preen, Giles and Balenciaga.

In a move similar to fellow Top Model alumnus Alice Burdeu, Patricia took instantly to high-fashion and the feeling was more than mutual. Also hired to walk in Spring / Summer shows for Celine, Dries Van Noten, Louis Vuitton, Nina Ricci and Valentino, Patricia was a hit with every major designer. If there was ever a career defined by its beginning, this was it: Patricia’s start in the industry was loaded with star-making potential. The impact of her debut was sealed when named her a Top 10 Newcomer.

2010 saw Patricia explore other avenues of modelling, including editorial and campaign work. Early in the year, news broke of Patricia being signed to appear in the S/S ad for Balenciaga, along with Mirte Maas, Iselin Steiro and Lisanne de Jong. All faces of the moment, they were a perfect choice for the avant-garde label.

True to form, Balenciaga hired photographer Steven Meisel to create a series of eye-catching, ultra-daring ads. The end result was ground-breaking and immediate in its impact. Zesty bursts of colour, go-faster stripes and a play on proportion that bordered on the surreal all made for a highly unusual but memorable campaign. An absolute stand-out, and one of the high points of last year, the Balenciaga ads were a creative tour de force. For a fledgling model, being involved in such a project was nothing short of a career-making moment.

Patricia’s year continued on a high, with an Italian Vogue editorial in January and her first appearance at couture fashion week in the same month. February saw Patricia appear in simultaneous layouts for Numero, Interview and British and Chinese Vogue. She also had her biggest runway season to date, walking in over 50 shows. Opening the Giambattista Valli show and being the closer for Balenciaga, Patricia walked for every designer from Oscar de la Renta to Gareth Pugh.

What followed was an extraordinary run of editorial work, ensuring Patricia’s career was international in scope. In March, she featured in American and British Vogue; Japanese Vogue in April; editorials for W and American Vogue in May, Japanese Vogue again in June followed by a spread in Russian Vogue in September. Appearing for the taste-makers of high-fashion, Patricia’s initial buzz as a model to watch had translated into global appeal.

Her developing career blossomed further in September with a runway season that had its roots in high-fashion, but began to develop strands into other lucrative pockets of the industry. Walking for Alexander McQueen, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Givenchy, Rodarte and YSL, Patricia also landed spots with Prabal Gurung, and all-American labels Tommy Hilfiger and Reed Krakoff. Every design house has its own unique style imprint, and being able to interpret any style from the Parisian theatrical glamour of McQueen to the fresh look at American chic from Reed Krakoff, puts you at a distinct advantage.

Patricia rounded out the year with a second editorial for Italian Vogue and her first major cover, starring alongside Karlie Kloss on the November edition of Chinese Vogue.

Patricia’s link with the McQueen label continued in January 2011, with a pivotal role in an editorial for American Vogue. Featuring work from new creative director Sarah Burton, this was an in-depth look at the legacy of McQueen.

Named ‘New Order’, Patricia modelled with Sasha Pivovarova, Lily Donaldson, Caroline Trentini and Mirte Maas in a poignant spread featuring the new collection, just seen on the runways a few months before. With Patricia in the absolute centre of the shot photographed by Patricia Demarchelier, it was an editorial heavy with meaning; new designer, new year, and new start. These photographs were a tribute to, and signal from, the McQueen label: fashion may look back, but eventually it moves forward.

Patricia’s first shoot of the year couldn’t be more aptly named if it tried. The tough times of the past two years required more than a bi-seasonal change of trends, but what fashion gave was a tour-de-force performance in creating a ‘new order’. The fashion world undertook a radical image overhaul, and transformed itself into a wiser, wittier industry that’s now teeming with ideas.

Right now, fashion’s biggest idea is individuality. The models making it big are defiantly different from the glamorous Slavic models and the eclectic band of all-American girls seen operating during the past decade. The new look is recognisably supermodel, but without the formula behind it. The latest newcomers (including names such as Lindsey Wixson, Joan Smalls, Daphne Groeneveld and Caroline Brasch Nielsen) all have one thing in common: they defy category. Not easily definable, even harder to summarise, but that is exactly the point. The once iron-clad terms the modelling industry lived by - editorial, high-glamour, androgynous - are starting to lose their grip. The newest models are at once all of these things and yet none of them either and that’s what makes them a breath of fresh air.

This has been fashion’s response to the recession: regroup and rebuild. Despite the gloomy predictions in 2008; both high-fashion and haute couture are still standing proud. But the uncertainty that continues is what makes this current climate so great for fostering creativity. It’s no coincidence that these past few seasons have produced hit after hit. This winter saw a return to neutrals after years of glitz reigning supreme; and this summer, fashion’s done another 180 with an explosion of colour and print that’s exuberantly optimistic. We’re finally starting to see fashion with the blinkers off. It’s not about sartorial point-scoring, but a genuine appreciation for fine clothes and great design. This is what is so compelling about fashion – its ability to create the next big idea that everyone’s got to have. This time, fashion's big idea is fashion itself.

But fashion’s most brazen about-turn has been to revise the faces it chooses to represent its brands. Models like Patricia are booking covers and campaigns because they are reassuringly different, rather than despite of it. Modelling has always celebrated uniqueness, whether it’s through models like Devon Aoki or Alek Wek, or more recently, Jamie Bochert or Saskia de Brauw. But the shift that has happened is going from one or two models flying the flag for individuality, to a whole industry of models who defy definition. It’s a brave step, but one that finally feels right.

As models like Patricia take their place among fashion’s elite, the way we see fashion – and the way it sees itself – will continue to evolve. If there’s just one message to take forward into the next decade, it’s simply this: the best is yet to come.


Sunday, 9 January 2011


Born on the 18th of August 1988, Norwegian Siri Tollerod has translated global runway success into a career set to explode in 2011.

Siri was discovered at a shopping mall in 2007 and appeared in her first major editorial in June the same year. The client was Italian Vogue. Her high-flying start progressed into substantial campaign work, with Siri representing both DKNY and Prada Sport.

September’s runway season was Tollerod’s ultimate test: a model with hype is not a new phenomenon, the fashion industry is a tough crowd to please and reputations aren’t made until a model’s successfully negotiated Fashion Week. If a model can impress on the catwalk, she moves from being just one in a sea of new faces and becomes a bookable name. Getting signed by an agency often isn’t the toughest challenge for a model; it’s proving your worth as someone who can compete on a level with models who already have years of experience behind them.

Only a few months into her career, Siri’s first international season proved a triumph. Booking spots with Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Chloe, Marc Jacobs and Prada, she also opened and closed the D&G show and was the closing model for Lanvin. Appearing on runways in New York, Paris and Milan, Siri was a hit in any language.

Tollerod rounded out the year with editorials for British and Italian Vogue and a Chanel Couture spread for Numero. But Siri’s blockbuster season kept her fresh in the minds of the industry, and in early 2008, Tollerod appeared in Prada’s resort look-book.

Effectively a high-fashion catalogue for buyers and stylists, getting hired for a look-book is on a par with getting a campaign. Siri’s initiation in the world of high-fashion was completed in January when she walked in the couture season. Her slight frame was perfect for haute couture and she walked for Givenchy, Chanel and Valentino, at a point where her career was still being counted in months, not years.

February saw Siri open RTW shows for Jason Wu and Chanel, in addition to walking for 60 other designers. She also landed the cover of Italian Vogue Beauty – a coveted spot famously difficult to get. A good face that can handle tight beauty shots is one thing, but Italian Vogue doesn’t ask for good, it demands excellence. Siri’s ability to meet the toughest client’s demands was furthered by her appearance in March’s edition of Numero. Featuring in an editorial photographed by Karl Lagerfeld, this really was modelling at the sharp end.

In April, Tollerod was featured in for her ability to accrue booking after booking. As if to prove the point, she appeared in April’s Russian Vogue, and British, Italian and Chinese Vogue in May. Just a year into her modelling career, Siri was making her presence felt on an international level.

Autumn 2008 saw Tollerod reach even higher, with a campaign for Alberta Ferretti (shot by Steven Meisel) and three separate editorials in September’s edition of Italian Vogue. 2009 was a flurry of editorial and runway work, including a campaign for a new fragrance from Valentino, but Siri’s next career high-point came in early 2010 when she hired by Max Mara diffusion label, Sportmax, to be the face of their new campaign.

The distinctive, unusual images were super-styled, edgy and unique, standing out in a year where the natural look reigned supreme. The quirky look, featuring Siri with pale-skin and bleached-hair, was so successful that Sportmax repeated the winning formula with Ginta Lapina for Autumn. The key to its success wasn’t hard to fathom: the sophisticated approach made the clothes the focus, and it worked, bolstering the label both in terms of image and sales.
Tollerod’s year continued on a high, with a Spring / Summer couture season walking for Armani Prive, Chanel, Dior and Valentino and a feature in Japanese Vogue a month later, dubbing her a top model.

February 2010 saw Siri’s runway career soar once again, with over 50 appearances, including closing spots for Sportmax, Badgley Mischka and YSL. With editorial work for V Man, Allure, Numero and French Vogue, Siri’s career highlight was yet to come. In the autumn, it was announced that she would appear in the next Miu Miu advert alongside Lindsey Wixson.

Miu Miu has a strongly-defined look at its core, with a bold, avant-garde signature style that has made it a must-have label for a whole generation of fashion-savvy girls. Modelling labels with such a strong identity brings its own set of challenges, as there’s always the possibility of being overwhelmed by the clothes. It’s true that the clothes should be the ultimate point of focus, but the most successful campaigns happen when there is a balance struck between the model and the clothes: when both are on top-form, the result is hard to resist. Siri brought what she had learned from Sportmax, and the Miu Miu campaign was pitch-perfect: high-fashion that met aspiration with approachability.

The shot of publicity worked: Tollerod enjoyed another 50-show season in September, appearing for names such as Balmain, Fendi, Chanel, Lanvin, Jason Wu, Nina Ricci, Sportmax and Versace. Siri had finally become part of the fashion modelling elite, a presence in every major show of Spring / Summer 2011, including Marc Jacobs’ effusion of 70’s colour and Jason Wu’s multi-cultural epic.

Tollerod’s ability to carry a label, proved since her signing with Prada Sport in 2007, came full circle when in November she appeared as the only model for Lanvin’s range formulated for high-street giant, H&M. Like Miu Miu, Lanvin has a strong sartorial identity and it takes a skilful model not be outperformed by the look. Siri was visibly at home in the high-fashion designs, and Lanvin’s high-street version of their trademark crumpled dresses went on to become a bestseller.

Working at the heart of the industry since the very beginning of her career, Siri Tollerod has been steadily rising through the ranks, and is this year on the verge of becoming fashion’s next big thing. Recognised from the start, Tollerod’s strength has always been her tendency to multi-discipline. A regular feature of runway, editorial and campaign work, Siri has worked at being consistently good. Her signings with Lanvin and Miu Miu indicate her level of ability, not just to model, but to carry a brand.

What Siri does best is inhabit every look she’s given like it’s a second skin. The common theme running throughout Siri’s photographic work is that, no matter how high-fashion the concept, nothing looks forced. Tollerod wears every look as if she had chosen it herself. If there’s only one note to making it in modelling, it’s just to love everything. Having favourite looks and designers is human, but to make it your business to find the joy in a brand that is a total remove from your own personal style - that’s called being a model.

Versatility isn’t just about being able to handle looks from the romantic to the avant-garde. It’s about putting on the clothes and becoming that person, whether it is for a few minutes on a runway or a whole day whilst shooting an editorial spread. Siri’s career stands for what can be achieved when you model from the inside out. Her popularity for runway alone flags up how easily she can move from the soft, ethereal romance of Marchesa into the ultimate high-fashion experience that is Alexander McQueen.

Her campaign work ranges from an early signing with Prada Sport to her latest booking, modelling for Max Mara Elegante. It’s the modern definition of a fashion chameleon; a model that not only does it all, but convinces completely in every frame.

Where Tollerod’s career goes from here will be the most exciting part of her journey. The bar has already been raised this year with her solo appearance for Max Mara, taking on and representing a mega-brand as the main attraction, not a support act. In 2011, expect to see Tollerod become increasingly visible in an industry where it’s all too easy to blend in. A long-time stand out on the runway, Siri is about to get her moment in the spotlight, because finally it’s her time.