Sunday, 13 November 2011


Born in Los Angeles in 1991, Ruby Aldridge joins a select group of models re-defining American beauty for a new generation.

Raised in California, Ruby was born into a family with serious fashion connections. She is sister to Lily Aldridge, who regularly models for Victoria’s Secret, and a half-sibling to Miles (fashion photographer) and Saffron (model).

Ruby was discovered in 2005 at the age of 14. A year later she was modelling for the DKNY autumn / winter campaign, shot by Peter Lindbergh. With a smattering of credits peaking in 2008, Ruby ended the year with the campaign for luxury accessory brand, Coach.

Ruby’s big break came in February 2010 when she made her international catwalk debut. Selected to open both the Marc Jacobs and Marc by Marc Jacobs shows, she was also picked to open shows for House of Holland and Erdem, closing the show for Lanvin.

Her other credits included Alberta Ferretti, Dior, Pucci, Missoni, Nina Ricci, Versace and Wunderkind. It was a quality debut. Getting the seal of approval from Marc Jacobs is hard to beat in terms of creating buzz. With Prada, Jacobs joins an elite group of designers who have the power to really launch a model’s career.

Aldridge’s affiliation with Jacobs continued in 2010 with Ruby becoming the face of Marc’s diffusion label. Photographed by Juergen Teller, these campaigns have become uber-familiar to fashion watchers, becoming the girlish, quirky hallmark of the Jacobs brand. A true fashion leader, Marc’s choices are always unexpected. The midi-hem, at one time considered unwearable by many, has found itself at the centre of fashion this autumn, worked in every way from soft pleats to metallic leather. The Jacobs ethos doesn’t live in big, showcase moments, but in the steady infiltration of new ideas. He made urban chic absolutely essential in 2009, and made classic silhouettes the cornerstone of autumn 2010.

The sartorial palette cleanser inspired across the board, moving fashion to think and operate in terms of editing rather than excess. It sparked a tide change that would quietly revolutionise the way we buy, wear and think about fashion. Volume buys gave way to considered purchases based on only one rule: love now, love forever.

Ruby’s connection with the best of design talent continued in September 2010, with a massive 46-show season, opening shows for Costume National and Erdem. Aldridge added Dries Van Noten, Haider Ackerman, Jason Wu, Jeremy Scott, Miu Miu, Reed Krakoff and Roberto Cavalli to her list of credits.

Ruby’s affinity with high fashion went to the next level in January 2011 when she undertook her first couture season in Paris. Standing at just over 5’ 8”, Aldridge is well under the prescribed height for couture models, but her bookings with Elie Saab and Valentino were an inspired casting choice. Her look, which can move from edgy to feminine, was more than able to take the intricate, detailed designs. When it comes to modelling couture, height helps but the right attitude can hide a multitude of sins.

In February, Ruby had her busiest RTW season to date with a massive 52 appearances, opening shows for Celine and Valentino, and closing shows for Miu Miu and Peter Som. More top designers got on board, with Alexander Wang, Chanel, Chloe, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada and YSL all booking Ruby. It was, by any definition, a very successful season, with Aldridge representing the A+ list of international design talent.

Making her first appearance in March’s edition of Italian Vogue, Ruby’s profile soared even further with a busy couture season in July, representing Valentino, Elie Saab and Giambattista Valli. In the same month, she also made her American Vogue debut, appearing in an accessories shoot photographed by Norman Jean Roy.

These editorials have always been part of a magazine’s repertoire, but are gaining in importance as fashion’s smaller status-symbols become the breadwinners. You may not be able to stretch to the price of a Lanvin dress, but the bag (sold at a third of the price) may be more within your reach. Designing that must-have accessory for the season, is rapidly becoming a priority again. Having moved away from the IT bag phenomenon, the challenge is to now make designs that are eye-catching but enduring. When it is getting harder to tell the difference between high-street and Bond Street, quality becomes the selling point. High-fashion has the best fabrics and finishings at its disposal, and giving consumers value for money is where it squeezes the competition.

Another plus for accessories is that they can adapt far quicker than clothes – the move from mini-skirt to midi-hem took the best part of five years. A bag or scarf can change at will – their ability to absorb any new trend puts them at a premium on the shop floor. High mobility and high volume makes accessories an easy sell even in hard times.

Ruby continued her editorial work with concurrent features for Interview in August and September. The second editorial, named ‘Uptight Urban’ and photographed by Craig McDean, is packed with directional detail. If last winter was about big, game-changing ideas, this winter has homed in on the little joys of fashion. Quilting, shearling and Fairisle jostle for pole position in our wardrobes, with texture becoming the headline story of the season. Whether you go for retro or forge ahead in directional shapes, there are no sleeper trends this year – everything is a go.

Ruby got to work with McDean again, shooting her second editorial for Italian Vogue. Titled ‘Chic-Gothic-Glam’, this spread was tailor made for Ruby’s look, making her an automatic stand-out. Working alongside top model Arizona Muse, Ruby’s work at couture level prepared her well for the demands of Italian Vogue, and the resulting editorial exudes a dark, gothic glamour that’s absolutely contemporary.

Aldridge took to the runway again in September with a prolific season of over 45 shows, adding designers such as Stella McCartney, Michael Kors, Tory Burch and Sportmax to her catwalk CV. Ruby’s campaign quota was filled with a starring role in the new Valentino ad. Working with Sara Blomqvist, Kim Dall Arni and Caroline Brasch Nielsen, the delicately feminine feel of the clothes combined with their high-fashion credentials played perfectly to Ruby’s strengths. A very modern success story, the newly-revamped Valentino label is fronted by creative team Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli who made their names through designing accessories.

In October, Ruby got to make work more personal, when she signed up to appear in a spread for New York Times magazine. Photographed by her half-brother, Miles Aldridge, the working relationship blossomed further in Ruby’s third Italian Vogue editorial, with Miles stepping in as the photographer. ‘Home Chic’ saw Ruby work blonde in a Stepford-Wives, neon-clad shoot. Bright, vibrant and confident, it showed Ruby and Miles clearly comfortable at working together: this accomplished editorial representing some of their best work to date.

Ruby’s latest editorial for 2011 sees her appear in V Magazine, in an article profiling her agency, NEXT. The spread features a selection of the agency’s stars and newcomers alike, including Anja Rubik, Hailey Clauson, Karlie Kloss, Tatiana Cotliar, Aline Weber, Shu Pei and Isabel Hickmann.

NEXT is one of the top five agencies in the world, and has settled its reputation on signing faces. It is noticeable when looking at some of their most popular models that they are all known for memorable features:

Arizona Muse – eyebrows

Hailey Clauson – hair

Abbey Lee Kershaw – pout

Karlie Kloss – eyes

In modelling, body shapes tend to come and go. The athletic, broad-shouldered beauties of the 80’s made way for gamine in the 90’s. Ten years later, the bombshell returned (Gisele, Lara Stone) and classically long-limbed models are now being sought out as a perfect accompaniment to fashion’s challenging silhouettes.

But faces seem to have a more lasting appeal. NEXT’s success seems to be linked to their ability to spot a good face. Some of their best known models - Rubik, Kloss, Kershaw – have all become campaign regulars, with clients ranging from H&M to Donna Karan.

However many models hold that position of campaign go-to girl, there is always more room at the top. No one face suits all. It explains agencies’ eagerness to find that next great face. No matter how business is doing, a good campaign face is always in demand.

Ruby’s potential, when played out against this background, is clear. Her features – pale skin, dark hair and doe-like eyes - are an example of how the All-American model ‘look’ has been extrapolated over the past two decades. She joins models like Chanel Iman and Dree Hemingway in showing how the American Model looks today: bold, editorial and always surprising.

Ruby’s strength is in her cross-continent appeal: long-limbed insouciance for Calvin Klein; gothic cool for Dries van Noten and high-octane glamour for Versace. What she offers the fashion industry is a different take on what it means to be American. American beauty has moved from its clean-cut roots to become multi-dimensional, from geek chic to glamour fit for Hollywood. Ruby’s finesse with editorial and couture makes her an integral part of the new-American club.

In learning to embrace its dark side, America has succeeded in persuading the rest of the world that it has more to offer. Representing a new kind of girl, Ruby is the face of modern Americana.


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