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.


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