Monday, 21 March 2011


Born in Latvia on the 30th June 1989, Ginta Lapina started her modelling career in 2005, signing with MC2 Management in New York. She secured her first editorial with Teen Vogue in December ’05, working with legendary photographer Arthur Elgort.

Ginta made her runway debut in 2007, walking for the Spring / Summer 2008 show for designer Benjamin Cho. After only 1 runway appearance, featured Lapina as their model of the week. Usually models have to work much longer to get noticed, but Ginta proved to be exceptional right from the start.

Signing on with Women Management in 2008, Ginta’s runway credits got a major boost in 2009. Her quirky features made her an automatic stand-out, and in February she booked appearances for Dolce & Gabbana, Miu Miu, Proenza Schouler, Sportmax and YSL. In September, that number increased to include Alberta Ferretti, Balenciaga, Cacharel, Derek Lam, Donna Karan, Jason Wu, Lanvin, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Rodarte, Valentino and Versace. Lapina’s unusual looks – not quite full glamour, too delicate to be just quirky – made her an ideal choice for these labels. She suited the girlish quality of Alberta Ferretti and Cacharel, handling the Parisian high-fashion chic of Lanvin and the super-glamour of Versace. Her hard-to-define looks gave her an automatic advantage in runway, and this versatility had a snowball effect on the rest of Ginta’s career.

She scored an editorial with Italian Flair in November and a Numero spread with photographer Greg Kadel in December. The accolades kept coming, including a feature in America’s Marie Claire magazine, with Lapina being photographed alongside Donatella Versace. Fashion’s new favourite also started to reel in the big-money campaigns with Lapina becoming the new face for the label of the moment, Derek Lam.

Ginta got her first international Vogue credit in January 2010, with an editorial for Russian Vogue and in February enjoyed a stellar RTW season. In one year, she had almost doubled her bookings – designers were hooked on the Ginta effect, included Balmain, Isabel Marant, Jean Paul Gaultier, Moschino, Prada and Roberto Cavalli.

In March, Ginta was booked for a beauty editorial with Italian Vogue. Photographed by Solve Sundsbo, the brief was ultra modern punk pastels. Lapina slotted into this type of editorial remarkably easily. Some high-fashion shoots can risk looking flat and remote, but Ginta’s complex, layered performance was ideal for Italian Vogue, a magazine that prides itself on taking a uniquely cerebral approach to fashion.

Ginta was soon able to add another campaign to her CV, when it was announced that she would be appearing in the A/W advert for MaxMara diffusion label, Sportmax. In a season where simplicity ruled, this ad was defiantly complex. Ginta’s bleached hair and pale skin almost melt into the background, making the clothes the centre of attention. Styled to the nth degree, this ad stood out for taking a very different approach when measured against what was happening in the fashion world.

Sometimes choosing to go right when everyone else is heading left can leave you feeling a little exposed, but fashion lives for those out-of-step moments, the ones that end up propelling the industry forward in a way it never saw coming. In a season where classics dominated the fashion agenda, Sportmax’s campaign felt bold and fresh. The campaign’s success took Sportmax’s reputation from supporting act to a label in its own right.

Ginta’s campaign trail continued with a signing for the A/W Miu Miu ad. Becoming a Miu Miu girl alongside Lindsey Wixson and Siri Tollerod, was an excellent match for Ginta’s skillset. Ginta made a terrific Miu Miu model, absorbing the label’s 60’s-inspired look but keeping it contemporary, not costume. Miu Miu’s idiosyncratic brand identity has been ultra successful in wooing young Hollywood away from the traditional glitz and glamour, and a solid campaign goes a long way in that seduction. Labels are still willing to spend big on getting the right result from a campaign, and Ginta paired with Lindsey and Siri was an example of perfect casting.

Ginta’s runway career continued to blossom through 2010, with opening honours from Sportmax, Rue du Mail and Versace. Already a favourite with Donatella, Ginta’s role was to set the tone for the entire show and that’s no small ask. Versace is a deceptive label: playing the Versace vixen looks like simplicity itself – you strut, you pout. But keeping Versace on the right side of sexy is notoriously difficult. Get it wrong, and Versace goes from sexy to sleazy in a heart-beat. Ginta’s wealth of campaign experience gave her an automatic advantage in the importance of staying on-message, and nowhere is this more crucial than on the runway. The shots taken from the bottom of the runway last forever: strike a flat note and it’s preserved for years to come.

Applying these hard-won skills to editorial work, Ginta signed up for a multi-page layout with W, photographed by duo Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott. Called ‘Last Exit to Brooklyn’, the shoot was vintage Americana, paying homage to the work of painter Edward Hopper. This was no ordinary editorial, and its success relied on the model’s ability to convey emotion and intent. Ginta delivered and the resulting images were fashion meets art, the moment where the photographs go beyond selling dresses. Normally a feat reserved for French, American or Italian Vogue, the editorial was a triumph for W, and a resounding counter to those who say fashion has nothing of substance or depth to offer.

This year has already started off well for Lapina. Her Sportmax contract has been renewed for another season; her success in taking Sportmax’s value through the roof means she has become a must-have for diffusion labels. Also signed to represent Marc by Marc Jacobs for Spring / Summer 2011, Lapina’s profile is set to go beyond the realms of high fashion, taking her into that select group of models – Beha, Stone, Wixson, Kloss, Kershaw – who are the closest approximation to supermodels the fashion industry has.

The reason for their success is that they are one step removed from being glossy perfection, and those imperfections are what have made them famous. Lara Stone’s bombshell looks are off-set by that gap in her teeth; Lindsey Wixson’s trademark pout almost threatens to overwhelm her face and Karlie Kloss’ girl-next-door persona should rule her out from doing more grown-up shoots, but she is the current face of Oscar de la Renta.

Today’s best models – and Ginta is among them – are girls who, in theory, shouldn’t be gracing the cover of Italian Vogue, or walking in couture shows for Chanel and Valentino, but they are doing all of these things and more because what’s ‘wrong’ is what makes them so 'right' for the industry.

Ginta’s look may seem challenging – almost a throwback to the alien-esque beauties of the mid-Nineties. Her shoot for Italian Vogue was high-fashion heaven; blue-sky, no-holds-barred styling and lashings of attitude. But look closer, and the shoot isn’t just about the power of a good blusher. Ginta humanises the shoot by telling a story with her facial expressions and body language. Beauty modelling can be incredibly tricky to master, because there’s nowhere to hide. But Lapina lets herself be vulnerable, and it takes the shoot to another level – it’s not just another beauty spread.

The days of absolute perfection are long gone. There’s always room for heady glamour and sophistication, but the best work of recent years - the most memorable editorials, campaigns and runway shows - have been where perfection takes a back-seat to creativity. Where fashion has shifted in the past two years is in its willingness to look at the positives. Exclusivity and ‘it’ pieces have fallen by the wayside in favour of inclusion, inspiration and great design. It’s not about what’s missing, but exploring what works, what feels right. Ginta’s appeal lies in that game-changing face. The face that shouldn’t work has become the avant-garde look that has no limits, accounting for a CV that includes bookings from Derek Lam to Topshop.

Ginta’s curious mix of soft femininity, streetwise cool and high-fashion haughtiness works perfectly in an industry where the top players are meeting expectations by defying them. Her bleached-out, stylised beauty has inspired across the board from Italian Vogue to copycat makeovers on ‘America’s Next Top Model’, but as she joins the next generation shaping the fashion industry, Lapina succeeds where others follow because she is a true original.


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