Sunday, 29 May 2011


Born on 4th December 1987, Dree Hemingway signed with Ford Models at the age of 14. Making her editorial debut in August 2004, she appeared in Teen Vogue, photographed by Alex Hoemer. Four years later, Hemingway made the move from Ford to Elite Models, with the signing creating media interest. Seminal fashion website featured Dree as a rising star of the industry.

But Dree’s true breakthrough moment didn’t emerge until March 2009 when she was featured in both Interview and American Vogue. Her family connection (Dree is the great-granddaughter of literary icon Ernest Hemingway) may have sparked some initial interest, but it was no guarantee of quick – or easy – success. From her first agency signing in 2004, it took Dree five years to make it on an international level.

In March 2009, she debuted at the A/W Givenchy show as an exclusive. Just as it would do for Joan Smalls a year later, the Givenchy booking gave Dree’s career an instant boost. The domino effect on Hemingway’s career was striking. In April, she appeared in editorials for W and French Vogue; German Vogue in May; British Vogue in July and American Vogue in August.

Dree’s star factor rose further when her personal style was profiled in Russia’s Harper’s Bazaar and Teen Vogue. As Kate Moss has shown us, having a sense of personal style not only shows the fashion industry that you have good instincts, but also shows you’re paying attention. Being surrounded by the world’s most accomplished photographers and stylists, and not soaking up that creativity would suggest a model who’s not into fashion as much as they should be. The models that are at the top of their game almost are invariably models who love fashion. They have succeeded because that love makes the tough parts of modelling (the travel, long hours) that much easier to bear.

Hemingway’s glorious start to 2009 just kept rolling as she was signed on to appear in the Gucci Autumn / Winter campaign. Gucci does everything on a grander scale, and this campaign had everyone from Natasha Poly, Anja Rubik, Jamie Bochert, to Jacquetta Wheeler and Myf Shepherd. Dree joined fellow newbie Abbey Lee Kershaw to form an unforgettable campaign. Dark, edgy and sexy, it was the perfect summation of everything designer Tom Ford had done to refresh the brand.

Dree’s appearance in this blockbuster of a campaign ensured that her profile was unmissable. Hemingway opened the S/S 2010 show for Topshop, also walking for Karl Lagerfeld, Giles, Chanel, Twenty8Twelve and Rue du Mail.

The designers who signed Hemingway were an indication of how Dree’s own style was influencing the kind of work she was getting. Finishing off 2009 with editorial and cover work for V Man, i-D and Revue de Modes, All three are ultra high-fashion, left-field publications. This section of the fashion press is usually the hardest to impress, and Dree had already won them over.

In 2010, Dree’s career stepped up another notch when it was announced that she would be appearing in campaigns for Jean Paul Gaultier, Gianfranco Ferre and Valentino. This resulted in three very different campaigns for Dree to master. Gaultier went with military chic, Valentino required Dree to headline in black lace and pink hair and Ferre asked for classic Italian feminine. Injecting her own brand of cool into every shot, she lifts each campaign. Valentino goes from red-carpet to after-party and Gaultier has a layer of smouldering sex appeal added to its usual sense of avant-garde fun.

But Dree’s ability to work an editorial was also put to the test, with Hemingway appearing in nearly 20 during the course of the year. 2010 started off with a prestigious signing with French Vogue, appearing in a season preview. Dree transforms into a Parisian lady of leisure along with Lara Stone and Freja Beha, their headscarves and sunglasses off-set by quirky prints from Miu Miu. The key to getting a group shot is working together, but not fading into the background. Working with Stone and Beha, Hemingway fits in seamlessly.

Dree’s success in Europe was compounded by her Autumn / Winter runway season in February, walking for Isabel Marant, Karl Lagerfeld, MaxMara and Vivienne Westwood. For someone with a heritage that’s resolutely all-American, Dree has done a sterling job in appealing to designers from across the globe.

This worldwide appeal saw Dree land her first editorial for Chinese Vogue in July. Shot by Ellen von Unwerth, the beauty piece chronicled Dree’s ability to handle those demanding close-ups. Having been seen in edgy, complex shoots, even when modelling a high-end beauty look, Hemingway projected a softness that hinted at further versatility.

The next high point of 2010, with Dree racking up editorial-duty with magazines from every continent, was in November when she landed three in one month: French, British and Italian Vogue.

Her first shoot for Italian Vogue was named ‘Glitter’, a fun look at theatricality with Dree modelling the Philip Treacy lobster headpiece made famous by Lady Gaga. Wearing fashion that verged on costume, Dree’s challenge was to push through the extravagant designs and make the experience of wearing them believable. The shoot was pure Italian Vogue; couture worn like art.

Her November shoot with British Vogue, however, took Hemingway back to her roots. ‘My Own Private Idaho’, partly a pun on Dree’s place of birth, showed the model in a series of photos that explored the solitary, outdoorsy American that is part and parcel of the country’s cultural heritage. The resulting editorial draws inescapable parallels with her own background, and Dree’s performance creates a set of images that are haunting as they are moving.

This year looks set to be Dree’s busiest yet. Already appearing in S/S campaigns for Daks, Lanvin and Margaret Howell, Hemingway has proved herself to be a formidable presence on the campaign circuit. Featuring for Daks and Howell, she may not have been the most obvious choice for these British brands, but Dree performs in each ad like no-one else was ever in the running. Fashion is never purely skin-deep: if you don’t connect with what you’re wearing, it’s a fail on every level.

Dree’s latest venture has seen her appearing in a short film for a solo exhibit by artists Sofia and Mauro. Called ‘The Young Woman and the Sea’, the piece directly references Dree’s great-grandfather’s famous short story ‘The Old Man and the Sea’. Playing on the mythic themes of man versus nature, the film could well signal the future direction of Dree’s career. It may not be a case of putting pen to paper, but it’s clear that Dree’s gift to the modelling industry is story-telling. Her silent performance in the short film brilliantly showcases what she’s learnt from the world of modelling, but also an inherited sense of narrative.

As we move into an age of innovation, first the interactive advert from Burberry and the growing popularity of campaign videos, there is some debate over whether traditional print media has anything left to offer to the fashion industry. After all, can a static image really be any match for developing technology?

The crossroads that fashion finds itself in is being mirrored in many other industries. The worlds of film, fiction and home entertainment are also in a state of flux. Whether you go for 3-D or 2-D, paperback or Kindle, what’s emerging is a two-tier system of technology and tradition. While in some industries, progress is essential, in fashion the addition of technology is more a case of inclusion rather than survival of the fittest.

What fashion’s doing is bringing the best of tradition and technology together to make the most of both, rather than aggressively pushing out one in favour of the other. As an approach to embracing new technologies, it’s revolutionary.

Despite the rapid growth of technology, the classic editorial isn’t losing any of its appeal. Websites that catalogue editorials such as are proving immensely popular, making access to the work of every fashion magazine immediate and democratic.

The reason for the non-demise of the editorial boils down to fashion’s love affair with creating moments. The editorial represents the most permanent means of doing so – a runway show lasts mere minutes and a campaign’s shelf-life is only good for six months. But with an editorial, the moment is there, forever.

Where the editorial continues its hold on our imagination is when it creates moments that both thrill and inspire. To do that, the editorial needs a model who understands how to access those emotions and piece together a narrative. This skill is something that is far beyond the scope of new technologies, and luckily for models, it always will be. Dree’s success – on every platform – indicates that the future of modelling isn’t about innovation, it’s telling stories.


Sunday, 22 May 2011


Born in Utah in 1991, Hannah Holman has joined a generation of new models shaping the face of the fashion industry.

Signing with Elite Models in 2008, Holman’s big break occurred a year later when she was picked to close the resort show for Prada in June 2009.

Noted website featured Holman as a top newcomer – her impact was immediate. In addition to her Prada debut, she was signed to become one of the faces of the Miu Miu campaign. Prada has a great reputation for nurturing not only great talent, but talent that creates waves – Daphne Groeneveld and Lindsey Wixson can attribute their high-flying careers to campaign spots with the Italian label.

In September 2009, Hannah took on her first Fashion Week. Opening and closing shows for Jonathan Saunders and Missoni, she also walked for Marc Jacobs, Fendi, Alberta Ferretti, Nina Ricci, Chanel, Valentino and Louis Vuitton. Mixing the Italian luxury of Valentino and Missoni and the Parisian chic of Chanel, Holman’s start on the runway circuit impressed all the right people.

In early 2010, it was announced that Hannah would be appearing in Spring / Summer campaigns for Jill Stuart, See by Chloe, Alexander Wang and Marc by Marc Jacobs. Having features that could switch from girly to tomboy in an instant made her a win-win, and it is certainly reflected in the signings she won. Veering from Wang’s ultra-minimal aesthetic to Marc Jacobs’ geeky-girl chic, Holman looked at home in every look.

Hannah began 2010 with some top-drawer editorial work as well, appearing in two spreads for Russian Vogue. Her Autumn / Winter runway season in February saw her add Sonia Rykiel and Vivienne Westwood to her catwalk CV, as well as progressing to Marc Jacobs’ main line.

In April, she got two magazine covers – the S/S cover of French Revue de Modes and the cover of RUSSH, photographed by Benny Horne. Featured in a bold, asymmetric crop top, it was clear, even at this stage in Holman’s career, that she would be the alternative blonde.

This industry has made room for many blonde models, several of which have experienced extraordinary success. But Holman would prove to be the opposite of models such as Brooklyn Decker and Doutzen Kroes. Fashion isn’t just about the glossy, aspirational blonde, but the cool, confident girl who has the world of avant-garde fashion wrapped around her little finger. Holman’s strength as a model isn’t just her versatility, but her confidence. Joining models such as Abbey Lee Kershaw and Jacquelyn Jablonski, Hannah succeeds not just because she’s great at what she does, but because she’s thoroughly at home in her own skin. Therefore pretending to be somebody else poses no problems at all.

From May to October, Hannah featured in a series of editorials for magazines such as Dazed & Confused, French Vogue, Numero, V Man and finally Italian Vogue. Featuring alongside new models such as Gwen Loos and Hailey Clauson, the Italian Vogue editorial was a series of classic fashion portraits with a vintage, Seventies feel. Also marking October with concurrent editorials for Russian Vogue and Numero, Holman saw in the New Year with another stellar contract.

This time the deal was a fragrance, representing the new summer Daisy scent from Marc Jacobs. Shot by Juergen Teller, the ad manages to sell an ultra-feminine perfume in a way that’s defiantly unconventional. In a sea of adverts featuring romantic images, Holman’s edgy qualities bring an air of bold confidence that sets the advert (and the fragrance) apart from the competition – job done.

2011 started well for Hannah as she was signed to appear in a multi-page editorial for American Vogue. ‘Gangs of New York’, photographed by Mario Testino, was a comprehensive review of the best of Spring / Summer fashion. Placed in groups, each representing a different look, Hannah was perfectly cast in a shot featuring neo-punk design. Working with Jana Knauerova and Britt Maren, Holman epitomised the rebellious punk spirit, packing a sartorial punch.

Her most recent work also includes a S/S cover of French Revue de Modes. The magazine went with a multi-cover edition, where you could choose from a magazine fronted by Hannah, Barbara Palvin, Julie Ordon, Bambi Northwood-Blyth or Anais Pouliot. Working with these newer talents, including Anais and Bambi who are generating column inches too, Holman doesn’t look like a fish out of water, but someone who’s in the right place at the right time.

Hannah’s renaissance is thanks to a wider movement that has seen fashion learning that reinventing the wheel is not always necessary. Borrowing from fashion’s back catalogue and blending it with fresh ideas has resulted in fashion making some serious money-spinners: the humble satchel’s journey from schoolyard to Fashion Week is just one example.

It’s an ethos informing even the kind of models that are now beginning to emerge. As the recession begins to ease, we are starting to see the friendly, groomed type give way to an edgier beauty. It started with Arizona Muse’s launch into the industry courtesy of Anna Wintour. When the first lady of fashion gets on board, it’s more than just a phase.

Faces like Hannah, Anais, Bambi and even more familiar names like Lindsey Wixson and Freja Beha are becoming the vanguard of modern beauty. It’s not about looking perfect, but immersing yourself in the strengths you do have. Every quirky model that’s been successful can attribute their career to this strategy. Devon Aoki’s multi-cultural face with a smattering of freckles; Audrey Marnay’s delicate features and Stella Tennant still making headlines today with her stunning new Italian Vogue cover. What these women all have in common is their refusal to fit the mould.

Stella, Devon and Audrey came right after the glamazons of the late 80’s and early 90’s, and the change was abruptly felt. Both are accomplished in their own way, but it’s hard to think of two models that look more different than Stella Tennant and Claudia Schiffer. Twenty years on, the cycle is about to repeat itself. The comfort and familiarity of models who have guided the industry through some tough times, is moving aside for a bolder age where fashion gets a little rough around the edges.

It’s not about casting off one set of models in favour of another. There’s room – and sufficient demand – for many types of looks. Just a brief glance over this season’s key trends tells you this: florals, denim, sports luxe, decadent colour – common sense tells you that one model can’t do it all. However accomplished a model might be, there will always be areas where you excel and others where you’re working against the grain.

Fashion’s kaleidoscopic approach to trends is good news for everybody. Rather than one type of model taking the lion’s share of editorials and campaigns, there’s enough diversity to warrant a whole raft of models, covering the most challenging of avant-garde to classically-feminine. What has also developed is a generation of models who accept this diversity as the norm. Edgy and directional or groomed and glossy – everyone gets an opportunity to show what they can do.

Another key change from the 90’s is how we view those models that inhabit the edgier side of fashion. Challenging silhouettes and new designs were once looked upon with suspicion by the public and mainstream press. If you couldn’t wear it to the supermarket, what was the point?
It’s taken the best part of two decades, but our level of fashion education has finally caught up. Being edgy is now highly desirable and haute couture is no longer mocked on the front pages of the tabloids. Celebrities routinely wear daring couture designs at premieres and red-carpet events, and being directional is now considered at the forefront of creating great style.

We now understand that great design isn’t always about wearability, but it can challenge our view of what fashion can be. Subsequently, our view of beauty has become far more inclusive as a result. Girls like Hannah are getting mainstream campaigns like H&M and the world of avant-garde feels more approachable because we understand more about it.

As Hannah’s career is set for a second wind, fashion’s coming out of neutral and this season’s technicolour explosion is just the start of what’s to come. The classics have had their moment, but the next few years will be about making moments that engage us, far more actively than before. As fashion motors into a period of high creativity, the freedom that comes with creating great ideas has created a culture where there’s no right or wrong when it comes to beauty. Regardless of whether it’s quirky and ethereal, glamorous and glossy, if it works, it works.


Sunday, 15 May 2011


Born in Puerto Rico in 1988, Joan Smalls began her career by signing with Elite Model Management in 2007.

Her career started off modestly, but soon developed, scoring a campaign for Liz Claiborne and catalogue work for U.S department store Nordstrom.
Many models struggle with the gap between being approachable but still high-fashion, but Joan’s early experiences of modelling provided her with the skills that would prove to be an excellent grounding for future campaigns.

Between 2007 and 2008, Smalls racked up catwalk credits with L’Wren Scott, Diane Von Furstenberg, Sass & Bide and Benjamin Cho. But her decision to leave Elite and sign with IMG in 2009 was a pivotal moment in Joan’s career. IMG Models, forming part of the huge global company IMG, is an agency that manages names such as Daria Werbowy and Gemma Ward, whilst housing newer talent such as Emily Di Donato and Barbara Palvin. What IMG is famous for, and it’s a strategy now used by many agencies, is applying the lessons it learnt from music and sports management and applying them to the world of fashion. It’s a smart way of extending the shelf-life of a model’s career, taking them from runway to celebrity.

Joan’s breakthrough came in January 2010. She was asked to walk in the Givenchy Couture show as an exclusive. The world of haute couture has often been criticised for being one-dimensional when it came to featuring models from different ethnic backgrounds. But Givenchy’s decision to hire Smalls as an exclusive was a signal, loud and clear, that times weren’t changing – they had already changed.

The ripple effect from the Givenchy show trickled down into Joan’s ready-to-wear bookings. Signing up to walk in 45 shows, Smalls appeared for designers such as Alexander Wang, Burberry, Jason Wu, Marc Jacobs, Prada, Stella McCartney and Valentino.

Joan’s moment as fashion’s latest ‘it girl’ continued when she appeared in her first editorial for Italian Vogue. Working alongside models such as Lara Stone, Amber Valletta and Angela Lindvall, the editorial, ‘Shrink to Fit’, was a quirky take on cropped tailoring and high hemlines. Joan’s performance in the shoot was astonishing; calm, confident and assured.

In June, Joan was featured in American Vogue as a rising star. Selected by Vogue’s Andre Leon Talley, Smalls’ reputation as the next big thing was now established, with the nod from American Vogue being enough to catapult Smalls into campaign territory. In summer 2010, it was announced that Joan would be one of the new faces of Gucci.

It was a massively important signing. Gucci eclipses even Prada as the most famous label in fashion. Its reputation is the same the world over, a byword for luxury and glamour. To hire a non-Caucasian model to be one of the campaign headliners indicates just how far fashion has come in terms of embracing all kinds of beauty.

Silencing any doubters, when the campaign was unveiled, it was clear that Joan’s presence wasn’t a cynical attempt to appeal to the widest demographic possible. Gucci is the type of brand that doesn’t have to pander to anyone in order to get its goods off the shelves – the Gucci name sells itself. Working sophistication and sex appeal in equal measure, it was clear that Joan got the job because she embodied the Gucci brand from head to toe.

Following that Gucci ad, Joan could now add Dior and Jean Paul Gaultier to her couture CV, walking for both labels in July. Also appearing in back-to-back editorials for French and American Vogue, Joan took Fashion Week by storm when she opened shows for YSL and Jason Wu and closed the show for Dior. Appearing in a total of 41 shows, Joan was visibly moving up the ranks.

As much as Joan charmed the international runway crowd, she positively enamoured American Vogue. Her barn-storming performance at the world’s best runway shows, got her not just one editorial in their September issue, but four. Traditionally the best-selling issue of the year, Joan’s inclusion was not about special treatment, but equal treatment. It was a genuine coup.

Joan started off 2011 by renewing her contract with Gucci, also signing up to appear in campaigns for Roberto Cavalli and Stella McCartney. A month later, she appeared in two simultaneous Spring / Summer preview editorials for French and American Vogue.

In a surprising move, Joan also elected to appear in an all-black editorial for Italian Vogue. Dubbed ‘The Black Allure’, Smalls appeared with Chanel Iman, Sessilee Lopez, Arlenis Sosa and Aminata Niaria. The shoot referenced flapper glamour of the 1920’s, in particular, dancer and actress Josephine Baker. Of her time, Baker was extraordinary, and it is due to her efforts in getting diversity recognised that fashion more clearly represents the way we look now.

In March came the announcement that Joan was to join Liu Wen and Constance Jablonski in Estee Lauder’s new international beauty campaign. It was a brave move from Lauder because while they are widely known within the fashion industry, they are not the immediately recognisable faces normally associated with the brand, such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Elizabeth Hurley.

But hiring three relative unknowns put Estee Lauder in a strong position because without the baggage of celebrity, these models could quite literally be ‘everywoman’. There’s no bad film or questionable album release to hide – models tend to be the best hires for selling products because they come to a project as a blank canvas.

The signing of Smalls, along with Wen and Jablonski, created a great deal of excitement and rightly so – with this campaign, Estee Lauder effectively announced to the world that it is a global brand, inside and out.

Joan continues to be a prolific presence in 2011, with an A/W runway season totalling over 40 appearances, plus editorial work for American Vogue. Appearing in the April edition, Joan featured in ‘Bodies of Work’ with some pretty illustrious company. Raquel Zimmermann, Gisele Bundchen, Daria Werbowy, Lara Stone and Natalia Vodianova all signed on to take part.
The newest name among some seriously big hitters, Joan features in a simple body-con fashion shoot, channelling clean lines and athleticism mixed with a dose of glamour – just what American Vogue does best.

This type of shoot could also signal a change in Joan’s career, taking her from strictly runway to Victoria’s Secret and beyond. Having a marketable face is one thing, but a body that can transform from ultra-minimal tailoring to sexy body-con puts you in another league altogether. Being paired with Raquel Zimmermann, Lara Stone and Gisele Bundchen is no accident either. If American Vogue sees Joan as belonging to this group (and indeed she performs on a par with the more experienced names), then Smalls’ career could have a longevity far beyond the catwalk.

Of course, no model works alone – literally or metaphorically. A part of Joan’s success (and that of her peers) can be attributed to models like Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks, Yasmin Warsame and Alek Wek who made black models a legitimate choice for high fashion. From Yasmin’s delicate beauty to Alek’s all-conquering smile, the faces may not be as numerous as we would like, but that is visibly changing. Joan’s signing with Stella McCartney is the type of booking that her generation are coming to realise is theirs for the taking. Joan may look good in strong colours and exotic prints (an asset using to particularly striking effect in the Gucci campaign), but her range of bookings cover every aspect of global fashion.

The virtue of being an all-rounder is obvious, but what makes Smalls a particularly exciting prospect is that she hasn’t even realised her full potential yet. Her affiliation with labels like Gucci, Ralph Lauren and Roberto Cavalli is a sign of things to come. To go from virtual unknown to Gucci girl in less than three years is an indication of a model that can go the distance, in an industry where models’ careers are often short-lived.

But better still, what Joan has to offer (not just now but to future generations of models), is a career where nothing is off-limits. The idea of possibility is one that will ultimately transform the landscape of fashion, building an industry where beauty is made not only possible, but achievable, for every kind of woman.