She debuted at Fashion Week that September, walking in shows for Burberry, Jason Wu, Mark Fast, Rodarte and YSL. She also became a hit with legendary designer Vivienne Westwood. Picked to close both Westwood shows in London and Paris, Tatiana was also selected to appear in the brand’s latest campaign.
Forever rebellious, the label stems from punkish roots to form a fashion house underpinned by a couture sensibility. Like Alexander McQueen, Vivienne has taken her extensive knowledge of fashion history and translated it into a silhouette that’s become the Westwood signature.
With a career spanning 3 decades, Vivienne joins the likes of Karl Lagerfeld and Giorgio Armani in marrying old-school skill with new-world philosophy. All three designers are over 70 years old, but are as relevant today as they’ve ever been.
Tatiana’s ability to wow fashion’s elite became apparent when her runway breakthrough came in February 2010. She was picked to open the Autumn / Winter Marc Jacobs show. The staging provoked as much response as the clothes themselves and Tatiana got to open a show where models emerged from a large Perspex box to take to the runway. Unveiled by Marc himself, this was Jacobs tearing up the rulebook, presenting a collection filled with wear-now, love-forever pieces. It was a startling about-turn for Jacobs, but the show, as a concept and as a collection, was a hit.
With closing spots for Ungaro and Miu Miu, Cotliar also signed up to appear in over 50 shows. Tatiana was a feature in runways as diverse as Chanel, Missoni, Prada, Versace and Valentino. Her unique blend of edginess with real-girl likeability made her a shoo-in for this season where classic and contemporary came together to produce a spectacular season. Sure enough, the press took note. In March 2010, Tatiana was featured as a Top 10 Newcomer by www.models.com. A day later, she was ‘This Week’s Model’ for www.wmagazine.com.
Filling the summer months with editorial work for German and Chinese Vogue, Tatiana made a bold try at campaign domination, with appearances for Proenza Schouler and Valentino. It would be hard to find two labels more different, but Cotliar’s presence belies her experience, then barely totalling a year. Tatiana epitomised Proenza Schouler’s effortless, art house cool and mastered Valentino’s heritage elegance.
With another successful RTW season in September, Tatiana hit a genuine career high in early 2011 when it was revealed that she would become one of the faces of Prada’s S/S 11 campaign.
A now-landmark campaign of dizzying stripes and swirls, Tatiana joined models Arizona Muse, Zuzanna Bijoch and Kinga Rajzak; at the time all were new faces breaking into the industry. This campaign helped launch all of them onto the fashion circuit as serious industry contenders. A Prada campaign is a powerful calling card, and unsurprisingly, Tatiana’s link with the Italian powerhouse sent her career into overdrive.
The Prada effect was in full flow just a month later, when Tatiana opened shows for Giles Deacon, Isaac Mizrahi and Sonia Rykiel. Her charm offensive on the fashion industry was certainly working: in February she appeared in Russian Vogue for the first time, in March it was Japanese Vogue. In April, she appeared on the cover of i-D, in a series of multi-covers including models Shu Pei and Meghan Collison.
In August, Tatiana got to feature in a spread of self-named portraits, photographed by Rafael Stahelin for Wonderland magazine. Her ability to work avant-garde grew in earnest as she landed an editorial in Love magazine the following month.
Proving the reported demise of print media as somewhat premature, both magainzes have bucked the trend by adopting a multi-platform approach to exploring fashion. With the explosion of blogs and fansites peppering the internet came one very clear message: those outside the realm of glossy, aspirational fashion wanted their fair share of representation. Those with alternative views; those who didn’t find what they were looking for on the catwalks of Paris, wanted to be heard. But more than that, they wanted to be seen.
The answer was a type of new magazine that brought together the best of new media, art and fashion to make a hybrid fashion experience with an intelligent, inquiring spirit at its core. The natural heirs to magazines like Dazed & Confused, this latest generation are delivering high fashion to an audience who have often felt sidelined. This same audience is now at the forefront of driving forward how high fashion is presented online. Quite a reversal of fortune.
The spirit of individuality made its way to Fashion Week with designers taking the deliberate decision to move away from their usual point of view and explore new things. Christopher Kane veered off the neon path to present a collection blossoming with femininity; Rodarte explored Western chic, taking the theme to a whole new level. It’s evident that tough economic times have not made our designers timid, they have made them bold. This last season was a game-changer for many designers, taking them from left-field to centre-stage.
Against this backdrop, Tatiana’s individual beauty couldn’t help but score big, and this Autumn she did just that with a huge, multi-page campaign from Mulberry. Joined by Julia Saner, they modelled Mulberry’s satchels against a background of birds’ eggs and sleeping foxes.
One of fashion’s best at self-marketing, Mulberry’s semaphore is firmly embedded in the mythology of English country houses, evoking images of Hunter boots caked in mud, and jars of home-made preserves. It seems so instinctively old-school, it’s hard to get your head around the fact that Mulberry is barely 40 years old. Created in 1971, Mulberry is a classic example of writing the history you want.
In October, Tatiana came full circle with a cover and major editorial in the Argentinean edition of Harper’s Bazaar. Her editorial, ‘Diario de una Princesa’ represents a new direction for Tatiana as she works ladylike, regal fashion. It is somewhat surprising for someone who has built her career on appearances in fashion’s edgiest tomes, but as we have seen, a change of direction can often work in your favour. Tatiana’s ability to cross over into softer fashion is particularly well-timed with many designers showing work that would not look out of place in a princess’ wardrobe. The hit show of London Fashion Week, Jonathan Saunders, made Deco pastels and 50’s skirts thoroughly desirable. After years of urban chic reigning supreme, these new clothes are elegant, graceful but workhorse-like in their potential cost-per-wear. Feminine, but not fussy, will be the watchword for Spring 2012.
Where fashion moves, modelling must follow. One of Tatiana’s last editorial assignments of 2011 has been to appear in V, celebrating the achievements of NEXT agency. The catalogue of established and newer faces on their books shows that NEXT is not only great at compiling feminine faces, but promoting diversity within that brief. Compare the quirky, editorial stance of models such as Hailey Clauson or Suvi Koponen to the glossy, campaign regulars like Abbey Lee and Shu Pei, and it’s evident that Tatiana is neither one nor the other. She falls somewhere between, and that ambiguity has made her very successful.
The difficulty with putting any model in any category with an absolutely degree of confidence shows how fashion’s ideas of femininity have become all mixed up. A campaign favourite can equally convince in haute couture, and someone with tough, edgy credentials can plug into soft and graceful without missing a beat.
Tatiana’s evolving career is perhaps one of the best illustrations of how the fashion industry has relaxed the rules. It’s not just about maximising earning potential, but taking a closer (and better) look at models. No-one wants to be thought of as one-dimensional, and in today’s climate, if you want to be successful, you have to reveal a little more.
The idea of models as ‘types’ is slowly edging out into a space where models are seen as the sum of themselves: looks, personality, warts and all. At a time when models have Facebook pages and followers on Twitter, the idea of model as mannequin just feels wrong.
It’s no accident that some of today’s most successful models are also the most prolific: Coco Rocha and Sessilee Lopez may be seasoned at runway, but they are positively expert when it comes to working social media to their advantage. Being an active presence on Twitter bridges the gap left when the term ‘supermodel’ was downgraded to ‘model’. Few working now have the media clout of a Cindy or Christy, but today’s smartest models create their own reputation online – and on their own terms.
Cotliar’s ace is her likeability: placed somewhere between quirky and edgy, but with the potential for glamour, Tatiana ticks all the boxes but refuses to be fenced in. Her almost-girl next door look (but not quite) is what makes her such a find for designers. Tatiana may be hard to define but that’s entirely the point. Already armed with a career that’s determined to keep us guessing, Cotliar joins a generation set on selling beauty that’s anything but skin-deep.HELEN TOPE