Sunday, 23 October 2011


Born on July 16th 1991, Dutch model Mirte Maas has in two short years turned a niche look into a career that’s anything but narrow.

Signing with Women Management in 2009, Mirte’s career started quickly with an editorial for Russian Vogue in August. She made her international catwalk debut in September, opening shows for Alexander Wang, Donna Karan and YSL.

It was the type of season that most models work years developing. Mirte walked for every major designer including a blockbuster moment at the Prada show in Milan. Also booked by Prada were Lisanne di Jong and Patricia van der Vliet, both from the Netherlands.

Bringing a cool new aesthetic to the catwalk, the three models created a stir. Everything in the Spring / Summer 2010 collection was either cropped or heavily embellished – silk Hawaiian-print jackets were paired with sandals loaded with crystals. It was a very new type of summertime glamour, and Mirte, Lisanne and Patricia seemed the perfect girls to sell it. After a few shaky seasons, Prada was back on form, producing highly-covetable pieces, destined to be reproduced across the high-street. The prints were the most popular, showering the high-street with retro panoramic views of Italy and France. Offering a serious alternative to florals, Miuccia’s hunch that there was an appetite for print proved to be right on the money. It was Prada’s most influential collection in years.

Mirte’s career was launched on the back of this appearance at the Prada show. She along, with Lisanne and Patricia, became fashion’s latest obsession. In October 2009, featured Mirte as a Top 10 Newcomer.

Her status was confirmed in early 2010 when she was announced as one of the new faces in Balenciaga’s S/S campaign. Also featuring running mates Lisanne and Patricia with established model Iselin Steiro, the ad was shot by Steven Meisel.

The now-famous ‘Photoshop’ ad, packed with colour and energy, made a huge impression. While other campaigns were peddling pastels and neutrals, Balenciaga’s left-field palette of green, orange and yellow packed a punch. Playing with proportions, the startling visuals made the advert bold and contemporary. Whether you loved it or loathed it, there was no ignoring it. Like Prada, Balenciaga is a label that takes the road less travelled, and being associated with such a label did Mirte’s career no harm as her campaign debut set the tone for the rest of the year.

Following a campaign for Calvin Klein, Mirte’s career took another step up when she featured in her first Italian Vogue editorial. She appeared in ‘Runway’, a multi-page editorial and tons of behind-the-scenes footage intercut with runway shots. It was all a construct, with Meisel pulling the strings to create an editorial with an authentic, documentary feel.

Meisel’s choice to explore this subject proved him to be ahead of the curve. Those candid shots you see in magazines of models waiting to take to the catwalk have gained massively in value. The energy, sometimes frenetic, but always exciting, is perfect drama for a photographer’s lens. Meisel saw the potential of this kind of photograph, and now these photos are as commonplace as the runway stills.

Following her first couture season in Paris, Mirte had her first magazine cover in February, landing the front page of Chinese Vogue with model Shu Pei. It was a significant move, with the importance of breaking into new fashion territories becoming ever more crucial. China has a genuine appreciation for luxury goods and high-fashion is right at the top of that list. Playing to this fashion-hungry crowd could signal real mobility for Mirte’s career within the next few years.

Mirte’s runway season in February was another success, opening shows for Sonia Rykiel and Balenciaga. She also walked for designers who represented the best of mainstream and avant-garde: Chanel, Derek Lam, Elie Saab, Marc Jacobs, Marni, Nina Ricci, Preen, Rag & Bone, The Row, Valentino and YSL.

With a smattering of editorial work for W, Japanese Vogue and Numero over the next few months, Mirte booked another slot with American Vogue in May. Photographed by David Sims, ‘American Experience’ was the great American novel in fashion form. It was a truly epic editorial, featuring Edith Wharton-style debutantes in Oscar de la Renta gowns to celebrating the classic white shirt from Calvin Klein. It explored the minutiae of American experience through its fashion, showcasing not only the big names but demonstrating how diverse American fashion has now become.

Compared to the glittering excesses of Paris and the sleek chic of Milan, America has at times struggled to find its voice. But its willingness to embrace new cultures through years of immigration has led to a range of exciting new designers that are offering a view of American fashion that’s anything but apple pie. Thakoon, publicly supported by US Vogue editor, Anna Wintour, has a design sensibility that merges street style with razor-sharp directional tailoring. Jason Wu and Derek Lam are the heirs to old-school designers such as Oscar de la Renta, reinventing glamour for a new generation. Some editorials go further than just showcasing new trends – this one demonstrated how far America has come in letting its voice be heard.

Renewing her campaign contract with Balenciaga in the autumn, Mirte once again wowed on the A/W runway with a 44-show season. Modelling for many of the same designers who had booked her as a new face just one year ago, she was proving that the ‘Dutch fad’ was anything but a passing phase.

Ending the year with back-to-back editorials for Chinese and Spanish Vogue, 2011 began with Mirte making a splash in American Vogue. Appearing in ‘New Order’, an introduction of the year’s big-hitters, Maas also appeared in the Spring / Summer preview featured in the magazine’s February edition. ‘Gangs of New York’, shot by Mario Testino, hired every top model available to appear in fashion tribes in a mega editorial. Mirte appeared in the section featuring designs from Donna Karan.

Mirte experienced her best ready-to-wear season in February with 52 shows. Maas appeared in every show of note including Burberry, Chanel, Hakaan, Jil Sander, Marc Jacobs, Prabal Gurung and Versace.

She also built up her couture CV in July, with shows for Armani Prive, Valentino, Chanel, Elie Saab and Giambattista Valli. 2011is turning out to be a golden age for haute couture, with the couture houses proving surprisingly resilient at keeping up with the changes in the fashion market. Creativity has been fashion’s chief response to the recession and it seems to be working, with the best designers continuing to flourish. The desire for fashion hasn’t gone away – we just want more bang for our buck, and that’s exactly what they’re giving us.

With a Valentino campaign lined up for Autumn / Winter 2011, Mirte had a knockout season in September with 41 shows, including appearances in some of the best shows of a particularly strong season. Walking for Christopher Kane, Valentino and Rodarte, Mirte has settled her reputation as a runway and editorial stalwart.

Outliving the initial buzz surrounding her first season, Mirte has emerged two years later with a career that shows real promise of enduring at the very top levels of the industry.

Her impeccable runway credentials point to just how important catwalk remains. Now streamed live on the internet, shows are viewed by millions, rather than a select industry few. In the trifecta of runway-editorial-campaign, runway remains the quickest route to industry approval.

It is often the first glimpse of a new collection, making the hiring of models absolutely crucial. The right dress on the wrong model can spell disaster. Whether the collection is well-received on the catwalk will then have a deciding factor on whether the pieces are used for editorials. A prolific presence in the world’s fashion magazines then gives the campaign serious selling power. Success at this level determines sales on the shop floor, ranging from actual collection items to add-ons such as bags, shoes and fragrance. The push at the start of the season can determine a label’s financial momentum for the rest of the year. Mirte’s ability to command attention on the runway is a skill that puts her at a premium.

The trajectory of Mirte’s career shows that what is beginning to emerge in this decade is not one new interpretation of the term ‘supermodel’, but several. You have campaign regulars – such as Anja Rubik, Karlie Kloss and Jacquelyn Jablonski – and then you have the models who command attention on the world’s runways and in the pages of top magazines.

But one isn’t taking precedence over the other – their level of success and standing within the industry is impossible to separate. It’s a move away from the polarisation that occurred in the Eighties, setting editorial / runway girls against the models who scooped the campaigns and magazine covers. Those who did covers were rarely seen as editorial stock, and vice versa.

With the following decade came a need for compromise. As finances became squeezed, choices had to be made, and suddenly the idea of a small band of supermodels having a monopoly on all the good jobs seemed not only unfair but not particularly good for business. The high prices requested by the Eighties supermodels could not continue, and widening the market meant new models offering more for less. It was a pivotal move, and has resulted in the modelling industry we see today. By rejecting the old rules, the diversity that allows an editorial model to get campaign bookings with mainstream clients such as Calvin Klein, makes modelling a more even playing field - it also makes it more interesting

Mirte’s fortunes have taken her from being a niche model on Prada’s runway to scoring the kind of editorials and campaigns that are spelling out a highly successful future. The age of the Supers may have gone, but Mirte’s achievements make her no less impressive. Her ability to do it all, from mainstream to the cutting edge of fashion, makes Mirte a very modern interpretation of supermodel. While the term is getting redefined for a new age, the strengths required remain the same.


No comments:

Post a Comment