Discovered at the age of 14, Pouliot signed with Trump Models in 2007. Later that year, Anais scored her first campaign, working for See by Chloe.
Pouliot didn’t make her runway debut until February 2010, walking for John Rocha, Betty Jackson, Lacoste, Miu Miu, Peter Jensen, Twenty8Twelve and William Tempest. Working with some of the most talked-about young designers in the business, Anais made a great first impression, walking in Paris for Miu Miu as an exclusive.
In June 2010, Anais modelled for the resort presentations for both Miu Miu and Prada in New York. Resort shows are fast becoming more than appetisers to the main Spring / Summer and Autumn / Winter events. The fashion industry is beginning to realise that the four seasons are not as clearly defined as they once were. Trans-seasonal clothes that bridge summer to autumn, winter to spring, are selling incredibly well. The provenance of the layering trend can be traced back to the need for fashion that can accommodate rapidly-changing temperatures. It’s paved the way for a looser feel when it comes to trends, explaining why airy, translucent white is being featured in the A/W 2011 collection for YSL, and how lightweight tweed jackets inspired by Isabel Marant are selling all year round. As our weather gets more extreme, fashion’s adapting by being freer with its once hard-and-fast rules.
Anais’ breakthrough season occurred in September 2010. Working in 36 shows, she walked for established names such as Chanel, D&G, Marni, Prada and YSL, plus newer labels such as Christopher Kane, Holly Fulton, Mark Fast, Mary Katrantzou, Peter Som and Versace’s newly-revamped diffusion line, Versus.
Pouliot’s striking appearances on the runway circuit got her noticed by magazines, and in November Pouliot had her first major editorial, appearing in W. Photographed by Paolo Roversi, the editorial named ‘Family Circus’, was an epic winter fantasy starring Lindsey Wixson, Arizona Muse and Britt Maren. Ethereal and downright gorgeous, it was a perfect starting point for Anais.
In February 2011, Pouliot’s editorial career went international, with a spread in Japanese Vogue. Appearing almost bare-faced, Pouliot’s confidence is unflinching. Anais’ gift for taking a great beauty shot pegged her as a potential face for big-money campaigns. Also featuring on the S/S 11 cover of French Revue de Modes, Pouliot pulled another trick out of the hat, appearing in avant-garde florals. Anais was compelling the industry to think of her not only as a potential beauty headliner, but someone who can handle new design.
In April, Pouliot appeared in Russian Vogue, photographed by Ellen Von Unwerth. Featured in electrifying Armani Prive, the shoot called for a high-glamour affinity with couture, but with an element of fun. Pouliot captured the essence of ‘girl on the town’ brilliantly: flirty, sexy but definitely chic.
The following month, Anais appeared in German Vogue. The editorial, ‘Uber-Sinnlich’ (which roughly translates as ‘supernatural’), featured Anais in an exquisite beauty shot. With her beauty literally shining through a heavily-jewelled veil, the photo is a masterstroke, revealing Pouliot’s ability to command your attention.
This month, Anais appears in Russian Vogue and turns her hand to working the smoulder. Working sex-appeal in editorials requires razor-sharp instincts. You need to convey seduction, but the wrong angle or the overplaying of a facial expression can turn seduction into parody all too easily. The line between silly and sexy is wafer-thin, and remarkably quick to cross.
Anais’ confident handling of the shoot, in Gucci’s S/S 11 collection whose heady Seventies glamour has become one of the summer’s most popular looks, points to a model who is not easily phased. A model with a poker player’s nerve is a model tipped for greatness.
Sure enough, Anais’ work on the runway and for some of the world’s most respected magazines has culminated in a booking with serious star-making potential. Earlier this month, pictures of the A/W 11 campaign for Louis Vuitton were previewed by WWD. Photographed by Steven Meisel, Anais works with Daphne Groenveld, Zuzanna Bijoch and new British modelling hopeful, Nyasha Matanhodze. The theme is military glamour, playing allure against discipline.
The signing with Vuitton marks a massive rise in status for Pouliot. The French label, now steered by Marc Jacobs, has a well-won reputation for producing some of the most striking images each season. Just these few teaser images are enough to give you an indication of what to expect this autumn. Neutrals working side by side with block-brights, bring the best of last winter and this summer to make what has the potential to be an incredible season.
The rise of Anais through the modelling industry charts how glamour and beauty are making a comeback. The latest beauty ads to emerge: Arizona Muse for YSL, Lara Stone for Tom Ford and Jac Jagaciak for Chanel all have one thing in common. The images may waiver between wholesome and wanton, but they all chronicle beauty that’s recognisable and readable, not just to the fashion industry, but to us as well.
Beauty ads are all about the face – seems an obvious point to make, but with little else to showcase, every ounce of meaning has to count. Although Pouliot is a fashion girl, it’s clear that her strength is being able to take a great close-up. It is this ability to grab our attention that makes Anais a fairly safe bet when it comes to figuring out which faces will become fashion’s next big-hitters. Pouliot’s traditional type of beauty is a surprisingly good fit with high-fashion. Going from haute-couture glamour to edgy florals, Anais never looks out of place – no mean accomplishment for a model endowed with a face that looks like it came from another century. Pouliot’s old-world, painterly type of look makes her curiously modern. In an industry filled with models that run from tomboy to sexpot, there’s not many names that can step and fill that niche for prettiness.
The idea of a model that’s objectively ‘pretty’ does seem at odds with everything we’ve learned about the fashion industry. But this swing from quirky and cool to gently feminine is symptomatic of a wider move. Whether you chalk it up to the Middleton effect, or bigger economic influences, the rising mood of the moment is ‘real-girl’ fashion. Knee-high boots, petite florals and white cigarette jeans are all flying out of the shops, but they are noticeably missing from this season’s runway.
We’ve been happily delving into trends for the past decade – harem pants, asymmetry, platform heels – we’ve worn the lot, experimenting with shapes and colour to our hearts’ content. But there’s been a tide change, with tastes visibly moving towards the conservative. Simpler silhouettes and lower hemlines have returned – they are a reaction to fashion’s desire to shock, but not from the direction you might expect.
The literal opposite of neon and tribal print jumpsuits would be full-on minimalism. But instead beauty is making a power-play for control of our wardrobes because it offers a viable alternative to fashion’s wilder, experimental side. For the past few years, fashion has been devoted to challenging us to wear new shapes, textures and colours. While this is fashion at its purest, encouraging us to be braver and bolder, it has left a gap in the market for the days when you just want to look good and feel good with minimal effort required. Even the urban uniform that has evolved from designers such as Rick Owens, The Row or Zadig & Voltaire, requires an awareness of how to layer different fabrics and what boots work best with leather leggings. It certainly looks good when done right, but it can’t beat jeans and a t-shirt for ease of use.
What’s developing is a movement aimed at catering to people who want a look in three moves or less. But this emerging trend isn’t about indulgence, but something that’s grounded in a real fashion literacy that’s all about the detail. Those white cigarette jeans may not be ultra high-fashion, but look closer and they will be from a brand such as MiH or Citizens of Humanity. No-one likes to be left of the loop and this new trend for prettiness is fashion by stealth. The ingredients are all there – they’ve just been mixed a little differently.
Anais’ growing career is part and parcel of this very movement – her height allows her to do runway, but her face is her unique selling point. Fitting fashion’s interpretation of ‘pretty’ is a rare gift. Too much ‘girl next door’ and you’re better off finding work in the lingerie / Sports Illustrated mould. Too left-field and you risk your looks not translating in big-brand cosmetic campaigns.
The beauty that Pouliot represents is an able translator because it works with high-fashion, not against it. Now that fashion’s relaxed the rules, it’s a whole different game. Playing with a portfolio that’s anything but simple, Anais demands you take a closer look.HELEN TOPE