Thursday, 29 December 2011


Charlotte Free

Born in California, Charlotte has beaten the odds to become one of fashion’s most sought-after new faces. Standing at only 5’ 7”, Free was signed up by agency IMG and has gone on to challenge the perception that height remains a barrier to success on the runway.

Part of that myth-busting comes down to Charlotte’s hard-to-ignore look – again, defying the commonly-held belief that a model must be a blank canvas in order to succeed. With neon-pink hair and a personal style that is already creating significant buzz, Free comes to the fashion industry not as a blank slate, but as a ready-made muse.

Featured by Japanese Vogue as their ‘Model of the Month’ in February 2011, Charlotte went on to walk in the Chanel Autumn / Winter show in March and feature in the Spring / Summer campaign for Uniqlo.

Following Charlotte’s much-discussed appearance on the Chanel catwalk, Free took to the runway again in September, this time walking for designers such as Jeremy Scott, PPQ and Marchesa. Scott championed Free from the beginning of her career – her bold, traffic-stopping looks proving a perfect match for his edgy, streetwise vision. What is more of a surprise is Charlotte’s work with Marchesa. With all great models, there’s never just one angle, and Marchesa’s demand for classic glamour challenged Charlotte to up the ante. With her trademark pink hair pulled back, what becomes clear is that Free possesses great bone structure and highly marketable features. Her strong individual style is increasingly winning fans both in the industry and beyond, but couple that with genuine versatility, and the fashion world is finding itself powerless to resist.

Ending this year with editorials in American and British Vogue, and campaigns for Pamela Love and Topshop, Charlotte looks set to conquer every aspect of the fashion industry in 2012. Rewriting the rules of how a new model should look, Charlotte is a true maverick and can expect her career to act accordingly. From cool to couture, when it comes to Charlotte Free, it’s safe to expect the unexpected.

Most likely to: do anything

Kati Nescher

Born in Germany on the 12th December 1984, Kati began her modelling career at an age where most models are considering their Plan B.

Aged 27, Nescher made her debut on the catwalk this year. Appearing in Autumn / Winter couture shows for Armani Prive, Basil Soda and Zuhair Murad, she then went on to have a blockbuster RTW season in September. Her bookings included Jil Sander, Marni, Rochas, Dries Van Noten, Givenchy, Celine, YSL, Valentino, Miu Miu, Prada, Alexander McQueen and Louis Vuitton. This one mega season translated into big-money campaign wins. The impact of Kati’s presence on the runway was immediate.

This Spring, you will see her in not one, but three, leading campaigns: Louis Vuitton, Pringle of Scotland and Prada. The Vuitton ad (photographed by Steven Meisel) sees Nescher join forces with Daria Strokous. In a sugary-sweet confection of a campaign, the Louis Vuitton ad sets the style agenda for Spring / Summer 2012.

On its own, scoring the Vuitton ad would be impressive. Coupled with an appearance for Prada, it puts Kati in a different league.

The Prada look for Spring is very much 1950’s chic: pin-up meets Kerouac. This is Prada’s comfort zone – retro meets neo. It is not only a strong principal image, but a campaign filled with star names including Natasha Poly, Meghan Collison, Elise Crombez and Katryn Kruger. Nescher’s performance in this campaign is neck-and-neck with the more experienced models, and a strong indication that Prada has once again picked a newcomer who has the ability to go supernova.

Kati is still in fashion terms an unknown quantity, but with three big campaigns already in the bag for 2012, it is a positive sign that the fashion world is undergoing a radical re-think when it comes to standards of beauty. As little as ten years ago, the idea of a new model entering the industry aged over 25 would have been virtually unthinkable. Now it seems like a natural progression, with modelling veterans such as Claudia Schiffer and Kristen McMenamy routinely scooping some seriously high-prestige jobs. Kati’s debut into the fashion world couldn’t have been better timed: when it comes to age, all bets are off.

Most likely to: be the next big thing


Sunday, 18 December 2011


Born on June 27th 1992, Australian native Julia Nobis began modelling locally in 2009 at the age of 17. A year later, Julia went international when she signed with top agency Elite Models.

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 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.


Sunday, 11 December 2011


Born on Christmas Eve 1994, Dutch model Daphne Groeneveld has gone from niche phenomena to a model with massive global appeal.

Signing with Women Management in 2010, she was featured by in January as a face to watch. The following month, she debuted at Fashion Week, walking in shows for Versus, Giorgio Armani and Hogan.

Her modest runway debut started a catalyst effect with Daphne scoring one of the most coveted campaigns in the business. She signed up to appear in the Spring / Summer campaign for Miu Miu, modelling with Siri Tollerod, Lindsey Wixson and Ginta Lapina.

The campaign proved to be one of the brand’s strongest images, moving away from recent celebrity endorsement to undiluted retro cool. Looking back as much as it looks ahead, Miu Miu is the leader of the pack when it comes to producing strong diffusion ranges. Building its own identity independent of its mother brand, Prada, Miu Miu has led the way in thinking about diffusion ranges not as a lucrative add-on, but a range in its own right. The brand’s decision in 2010 to hire two relatively unknown faces (Wixson and Groeneveld) was a stunning coup. Daphne’s self-assured performance in the campaign led to a flurry of high-profile work including a spot in the Givenchy Couture show.

Her second ready-to-wear season in September saw Daphne score opening spots with Calvin Klein and Max Mara, also closing the show for Marni. Walking for Bottega Veneta, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Jil Sander, Prada and Versace, her appearance at the Prada show caused a stir. Appearing in the heady swirls and stripes collection, this was a year after a slew of Dutch models including Mirte Maas and Lisanne di Jong became a media sensation in cropped jackets low-slung ponytails. Daphne, along with Prada newbies Zuzanna Bijoch and Arizona Muse, made a similar impression modelling a collection that combined Josephine Baker waves with brothel creepers. Prada has a reputation for finding original talent to match its original designs – for two years running, it scored big.

September also saw Daphne appear in her first major editorial. Booked by French Vogue, her debut with the magazine was not altogether surprising. A publication that actively champions ‘new’ faces in every sense of the word, it has helped boost careers of models such as Isabeli Fontana and Lara Stone.

The following month saw Daphne do duty for French Vogue again, this time working with Mariacarla Boscono, Crystal Renn and Freja Beha Erichsen. ‘Bal Masque’ was S&M inspired, but high-fashion generated. Daring and original, Daphne was already performing at the very highest levels of editorial. The year ended with a resounding vote of confidence from French Vogue, as she joined designer Tom Ford on December’s cover.

Moving to Supreme Management in early 2011, Daphne returned to Paris in January, walking in couture shows for Dior and Valentino. She also returned to the pages of French Vogue, featuring in their Spring. / Summer preview. Photographed by Mario Sorrenti, Daphne wore a large string of daisies around her head. It was to be a high-fashion image that inspired copies across the high-street, culminating in flowery headbands becoming the accessory of choice for festival-goers.

She hit the ready-to-wear runway in February with a 40-show season including opening honours for Calvin Klein, Herve Leger, Jason Wu and Rick Owens. Adding Chanel, Chloe, Marc Jacobs and Tom Ford to her catwalk credits, Daphne’s avant-garde look was translating across the board.

Daphne undertook another modelling rite of passage in April, when she appeared in Italian Vogue for the first time. ‘Personal Best’ was an editorial photographed by Steven Meisel, and celebrated off-beauties in a series of simple but quirky portraits. Daphne worked with Kristina Salinovic, and then solo for a Vermeer-inspired photo, plus a stunning transformation into a red-headed 60’s party girl. It was a perfect marriage of old-school technique and new generation styling – quintessential Italian Vogue.

Undertaking her second Italian Vogue editorial in September, Daphne experienced her biggest RTW season to date with 42 shows. Her runway work lead to more campaign signings, this time Daphne appeared in the Autumn / Winter ad for Louis Vuitton. Working with Zuzanna Bijoch, Fei Fei Sun and Anais Pouliot, this advert saw Vuitton become a lone voice for the military look this winter. But the message of the campaign was all in the detail: texture, texture, texture.

Also appearing in the Versace for H&M campaign and runway show, November saw Daphne in great demand. Appearing on the cover of V with Saskia de Brauw, she also appeared in two major editorials within the same issue.

The magazine profiled Daphne’s agency, Supreme Management. Featuring Daphne’s stable mates (including Iris Egbers, Jacquelyn Jablonski and Sessilee Lopez), Supreme is an agency that thrives on the thrill of the new. Part of an agency’s remit to scout talent that not only caters to what’s happening now, but to find faces that will hit a nerve. Supreme pre-empted new glamour, bringing in Jacquelyn and Daphne joins a new generation of ambiguous, highly individual faces that could never be described as middle-of-the-road.

Daphne’s ready affiliation with labels such as Miu Miu, Givenchy and Versace indicates that her comfort zone is with designers that live for change. Miuccia Prada routinely switches things up at Miu Miu; while Riccardo Tisci has transformed Givenchy Couture into a 21st century powerhouse. Donatella’s vision for Versace has evolved from socialite glamazon to fashion for the people, with her highly successful collaboration with H&M.

No label stays the same, but these three are particularly good examples of how a design philosophy can alter and how important it is to have models who can go with the flow. Already in her career, Daphne has moved from quirky Italian retro to Parisian haute couture. Her unusual face should make her strictly an editorial girl, but Daphne’s latest campaign for Spring / Summer 2012 will prove that she is no-one's safe bet.

One of her last assignments for 2011 has been a portrait shoot for V. Featuring with other new faces, Daphne took her place alongside Ruby Aldridge, Emily Baker and Charlotte Free, refuting the old idea of the ‘one size fits all’ model. All defiantly different, these models escape definition but harness all disciplines of the fashion industry. It speaks of a wider trend moving away from groups of models (such as the wave of Eastern-European talent or the fresh batch of American girls) and into a place where individuals come forward to create a modelling landscape that’s unique as it is hard to predict. With fashion making big changes, it’s only fair to expect modelling to follow the same pattern.

The models beginning to emerge as potential stars of 2012, such as Codie Young and Frida Aasen, are faces that are suggestive of strength in editorial and the top layers of ready-to-wear, but they could just as easily surprise us and become campaign stars with the very biggest names in fashion.

As if to prove the point, Daphne’s first assignment of the New Year will be her most unexpected move yet. Featuring as the face of Calvin Klein’s new fragrance, Sheer Beauty, Daphne’s campaign photo has already been shown online. The image is startlingly romantic, ethereal and modern. Almost unrecognisable from her earlier avant-garde persona, Daphne transforms here to become the absolute Calvin Klein girl.

With this major campaign, Daphne prepares to enter the mainstream, making the transition from edgy fashion girl to an on-the-rise model, equipped with a bag of tricks honed from working on the world’s best runways and appearing in some of the world’s top fashion magazines. The campaign is a resounding counter to anyone who doubted Daphne’s ability to cross-over into more commercial projects. With the perfume’s launch in January 2012, this campaign is set to make Daphne an international name.

Celebrating her second year in modelling next February, Daphne’s career, like her look, will continue to be anything but ordinary.