In February 2010, Julia debuted at Fashion Week, walking in the Calvin Klein show as an exclusive. The American label was, in hiring Nobis, continuing its tradition of championing new faces. From Kate Moss, to Lara Stone and now Daphne Groeneveld, Calvin Klein has been responsible for introducing new definitions of beauty to the world stage. Julia’s long-limbed look made her an obvious choice for the label’s no-frills aesthetic.
The influence of the Calvin Klein exclusive was immediate, with Julia’s runway CV including bookings from Topshop, Richard Nicoll, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Louis Vuitton and Miu Miu. She was subsequently featured by www.models.com as one of their Top 10 Newcomers.
In May, Julia appeared in editorials for both Italian and British Vogue. Nobis proved a natural at editorial, and her spread in Italian Vogue ramped up the pressure with photographer Steven Meisel behind the lens. ‘Bathing Beauties’ was Italian Vogue’s spin on a retro swimwear shoot. Classic shapes met with of-the-moment styling – it was a typical feature from the magazine, but Julia showed no sign of beginner’s nerves.
Julia got to make her couture debut in July when she appeared for Valentino. At 5’ 11”, Nobis is couture-perfect, and it put her in a select group of models who are runway all-rounders: equally at home in ready-to-wear as they are handling the demands of haute couture. Having made the move up to couture, Julia was now getting attention from labels already looking to hire for their Autumn / Winter campaigns.
Julia’s affinity with high fashion was spotted by design duo Proenza Schouler who chose her to take part in their new campaign. It was a signing that was totally in keeping with Nobis’ career to date. Working a little sportswear influence with geek chic, Proenza Schouler has been one of the most original labels to emerge in recent years. Julia’s calm, assured performance in a pared-down, nowhere-to-hide campaign went a long way in selling Proenza Schouler to the next fashion-buying generation.
With a 41-show season in September, including an opening and closing slot with Proenza Schouler, Julia was becoming the favourite of many of fashion’s best avant-garde talents, including Peter Pilotto, Jonathan Saunders and Alexander Wang. Julia’s booking sheet was depicting a model that was making a serious impact with fashion’s A-list.
Julia’s editorial experience grew in September and October with back-to-back appearances for Dazed & Confused. In September’s issue, she appeared as a street punk with a scraped-back ponytail and winged eyeliner. The following month, she had a solo beauty shoot, creating a modern take on the Pre-Raphaelite look. Both appealed to Julia’s creativity: editorials at this level require a model that isn’t afraid of presenting beauty that’s outside the box, and Julia came ready to work.
2011 began with Julia reaching new heights in couture, walking for both Elie Saab and Chanel. Her high-fashion kudos took her home again, as Julia modelled for Australian Vogue. ‘The Rules of Attraction’, photographed by Max Doyle, showed Julia working old-school glamour, from goddess gowns to YSL’s Le Tuxedo. Nobis proved disarmingly good at transforming into the glamour girl. Considering Australia’s background in producing good eveningwear designers it is perhaps not so surprising. Think of Australian fashion and one tends to think in terms of swimwear. But it also has talent to boast of in the glamour department, with Alex Perry providing classic elegance and red-carpet heavy-hitter, Colette Dinnigan. It may not be as prolific as Milan or Paris, but Australian fashion holds its own, staying relevant by remaining individual.
Racking up an impressive 54 ready-to-wear shows in February, Julia returned to her left-field roots in March with an Italian Vogue beauty shoot. Photographed by Emma Summerton, Nobis features in a spread inspired by 70’s glam rock icon Joan Jett.
She appeared again in Australian Vogue in April, this time in an editorial showcasing Giorgio Armani’s eveningwear collection. But the magazine, in recognition of Julia’s achievements, then featured her on their May cover plus a leading editorial. Here we see Julia in more familiar territory, working a teal feathered dress with red and yellow hair. It was exuberant, joyful and thoroughly individual, and perfect working material for Julia who aced both cover and editorial. The spread, ‘I Want Candy’, was a pitch-perfect review of every major Spring / Summer collection from Valentino to Prada.
Julia’s great run of editorial and runway work brought her more big-money campaigns, including a notable appearance for heritage label, Balenciaga. Working alongside models Liya Kebede and Milou Van Groesen, the campaign works on the element of surprise, presenting us with two standard fashion images, but distorting the fashion metaphor by placing them side by side.
The first sees the models against the dramatic arches of Spanish architecture from Gaudi. Grand, epic and beautiful, it is a familiar image for high-fashion, marrying the work of a great artist with the craftsmanship of the clothes. The second image is another well-known fashion image, this time back in the studio, featuring the collection against a graphic, pop-art background. Playing on our expectations and inverting them, the two images are complete opposites and shouldn’t work when side by side but the uniting factor, the thing that binds them together, is the clothes. The campaign, like many of Balenciaga’s strongest adverts, succeeds for the very reasons it should fail.
Julia headed back to the runway in September and had a mammoth season, with over 72 shows. Opening shows for Peter Som, Rebecca Taylor, Dries Van Noten and Alexander McQueen, Nobis’ strengths as a blue-chip catwalk model are finally being recognised. It is rare, even in today’s industry, to find a model that is so adept at working the most avant-garde designs as well as the more traditional work of money-making labels such as Gucci and Chanel. But the breadth of runway work Julia has undertaken focuses in on why Julia has become so in demand: with this model, there are no limits.
In October, Julia made her editorial debut for American fashion bible, W. Photographed by Craig McDean, Julia featured with Ming Xi and Jess Gold in fashion ’groups’, ranging from high-octane glamour to hippie luxe. Julia expanded her editorial CV again in November with a double appearance in V magazine. Appearing in ‘Faces of Now’ and ‘New Models, New York’, Julia was photographed in a series of beautiful black and white portraits. The stillness and concentration required for this type of work is evident in Julia’s unwavering focus. The resulting photographs are undeniably high-fashion, but gorgeous in their simplicity.
Julia is set to finish 2011 with even more runway work. This time she has made appearances for pre-fall shows from Michael Kors and Calvin Klein. An appetiser to the main Autumn / Winter shows arriving in February 2012, these mini pre-collections form a bridge between the main ready-to-wear seasons. A relatively new innovation, the pre-collections are getting as much attention as the main shows, giving us a preview to what we’ll be wearing next. Graphic, Sixties lines are already in the frame for Autumn 2012, with Michael Kors showing bold, funnel-neck coats. With fashion consumption moving at an ever-faster pace, the return of familiar shapes acts as an anchor for the consumer – a token of the expected in a fashion landscape where the rules are continually shifting.
In her work with fashion’s edgiest designers, photographers and magazines, Nobis has also been busy defying the stereotype of bronzed, Aussie beauty, along with her peers Catherine McNeil, Alice Burdeu and Abbey Lee Kershaw. Just as Elle McPherson pioneered a wave of athletically-shaped models in the late 1980’s, Nobis, Kershaw, McNeil and Burdeu are persuading the fashion industry that if they thought to know what to expect from Australian models, they were wrong.
From Alice Burdeu’s alabaster skin, to Abbey with her career that defies the idea that money-makers can’t be high-fashion, the wave of talent emerging from Australia is proving to be one of the most exciting in decades. Julia is the latest model to join this group, but her look, just as unexpectedly Australian, makes her unique even among these girls. Where McNeil and Kershaw wow in big-money campaigns, Nobis becomes Australia’s latest editorial hit: a truly brilliant model, across the board. As fashion continues to operate in a rapidly expanding universe, and the role of models continues to grow within it, Julia’s skill in every aspect of fashion will make her highly coveted. In 2012, Nobis is set to become not only a respected name on the runway, but that versatile face, the anchor that makes you look twice. As bets on fashion’s next superstar go, this will be the safest one you’ll make all year.HELEN TOPE