Sunday, 26 February 2012


Born in Canada on the 2nd February 1988, Meghan Collison won the Mode Model Search competition in 2006. Signing first with Supreme and then moving to Women Management in 2007, Meghan began making waves before she had even walked the runway. Touted by as a ‘girl to watch’ in June 2007, the next few days proved to be pivotal in launching Collison onto the global modelling circuit.

Photographed by both Thierry Le Goues and Steven Klein, on the 21st of June, she was photographed for Italian Vogue; on the 24th, she was snapped for Japanese Vogue and on the 26th she was photographed for British Vogue by Mario Testino.

In just under seven days, Collison had the fashion world wanting more of her bold, new look. The fevered pace of her discovery led to a major career first in October ’07 with Meghan appearing on the cover of Italian Vogue.

Shot by Steven Meisel, the title of the cover was ‘Independent’. It could not have been more aptly named. It would become the calling card for not only Meghan’s type of beauty and also the career she would go on to have: uncompromising and fearless.

Just a month later, Collison appeared on her second Italian Vogue cover, this time modelling with Coco Rocha. Italian Vogue’s infatuation with Collison’s look became infectious with Meghan booking editorials with British, Russian and Japanese Vogue. Her look, unique and genuinely interesting, had just become the look of the moment.

In January 2008, Meghan began the year with a cover try for Russian Vogue, followed by a fashion spread for W magazine. In May, Collison appeared in a Chinese Vogue editorial, photographed by the late Corrine Day. Like Meisel, Day was a gifted photographer who helped launch new faces. Her early 90’s shot of Kate Moss helped change the course of fashion history, taking us from commercial faces with across-the-board sex appeal, to heavily directional faces and bodies built to show fashion at its most challenging.

In February 2009, Meghan took on her busiest runway season to date with appearances for Marc Jacobs, Prada, Givenchy, Anna Sui and Valentino. Impressive as these credits are, it was already becoming clear that Collison’s strength would be in editorial and campaign work. Following an editorial for German Vogue in April, Collison landed on the cover of Italian Vogue for a third time. The Pre-Fall edition, Meghan was styled somewhere between New Romantic and Goth. It looked – and felt – a perfect match for the confident model.

Following consecutive editorials for Russian Vogue and Dazed & Confused in September, Collison got to show off her skills in another spread for Italian Vogue. Named ‘Performance’ and photographed by Steven Meisel, it was an energetically grotesque take on glam rock excess featuring Jamie Bochert, Coco Rocha and Sessilee Lopez. Subtlety is more often in demand, but being fully committed in fashion’s ‘bigger’ moments takes bravery – and skill. ‘Performance’ has a strong element of humour running through it, but the poses, the way the clothes are showcased, is firmly rooted in high fashion.

Just to throw us a curveball, Meghan booked an A/W campaign with Thierry Mugler – she is almost unrecognisable in comparison to her work in ‘Performance’. Working classic elegance, the unusual planes and angles of her face become visibly softer. It was a transformation that put Meghan’s career on another level.

Moving to NEXT Models in late 2009, in 2010 Meghan became one of the faces of Balenciaga. It was an obvious signing for Collison. Loyal to its avant-garde roots, Nicolas Ghesquiere has revived the French brand to make it one of the most talked-about (and coveted) labels in the world. Combining an intellectual aesthetic with a French flair for elegance, Balenciaga joins Givenchy, Chanel and Dior as one of France’s most enduring success stories.

Collison’s journey continued in September 2010 with a spread for Turkish Vogue. Photographed by Arthur Elgort, Meghan is classically beautiful in designs by McQueen and Dries van Noten. Lots of photographers have their area of expertise: Terry Richardson pushes our buttons; Paolo Roversi makes fashion the focus against lavish backdrops, but Elgort joins Patrick Demarchelier in having a regal elegance which quickly identifies their work as theirs.

In March 2011, Meghan added another cover to her list of credits courtesy of Italian Marie Claire. A magazine that bridges the gap between high-fashion and more commercial interests, their choice to hire Meghan defies the conventional wisdom that strongly-editorial faces can’t be cover faces. Here, Meghan is edgy and high-fashion – but still very much a cover girl.

Meghan continued to rise through the ranks with self-titled editorials with magazines such as Grey and Jalouse. She was also picked as one of the select few to appear in the Pre-Fall lookbook for Jason Wu. Darkly dramatic with hints of exoticism, the Pre-Fall looks strongly prefigured Wu’s popular collection presented this February.

In January 2012, Collison landed again in the pages of Russian Vogue. Photographed by Ben Toms, Meghan is picture-perfect in a series of 1950’s-style portraits. Meghan looks strikingly comfortable here, almost a precursor to one of the biggest bookings of her career to date.

Never a big runway star, but still a high-class draw, Meghan has been doing the Fashion Week circuit through February, with appearances for Oscar de la Renta, Jason Wu, Alexander Wang, Jonathan Saunders and Prada.

This leads us to Meghan’s most influential booking of her career so far. Hired to appear in both the print campaign and video for Prada’s S/S 12 collection, she joins Natasha Poly, Elise Crombez, Guinevere van Seenus and newcomer Katryn Kruger.

A star-making effort, photographed and filmed by Steven Meisel, it is a beautifully crafted campaign packed with retro detail that has massive commercial appeal. The video, already a huge hit on YouTube, may have Katryn Kruger as its main focus (another of Prada’s star finds), but Meghan claims her time in the spotlight with style, wearing a plum-coloured ¾ length coat. The collection is a win-win for Prada: quirky, feminine and cool. Inspiring copies across the high-street, this rave collection appeals to every corner of Prada’s fanbase.

Again, Meghan’s strong features act as a perfect counterbalance to the vintage cuts and colours. On Meghan, a 50’s duster-coat looks fresh and modern, making her the ideal muse for Prada.

As fashion moves out of its palette-cleanser phase, and into a new era filled with exuberant colours and print, directional models are once again becoming the centre of attention. With Saskia de Brauw fronting ad campaigns for mainstream labels such as Chanel and Versace, the avant-garde has never felt more right.

The last time such faces were in vogue, they were called upon to model tricky minimalist fashion. Now, their faces seem the perfect foil for this brave new age of fashion. It’s not only models who are benefitting: everyone’s getting braver in their sartorial choices. Designer Mary Katrantzou’s complex designs have become cult buys – her beautifully balanced prints proving a hit with A-listers and the public alike. Her collection specially made for Topshop was a sell-out. These designs would have been thought unwearable just ten years ago. Now we’re clamouring for a piece to call our own. The concept of what is deemed ‘wearable’ and desirable has been turned on its head in recent years. The assumption that bold new cuts and clashing colours only belong on the runway is being shunted aside; if fashion wanted a more adventurous clientele, they finally got their wish.

Normally, tough economic times make people more cautious, more likely to go with the tried-and-trusted option. But our knowledge that things are tough makes us want to be not safe but daring: the desire for detail overrides the big picture. We want those details – the small print – because that’s what adds joy to life. A fashion basic may always be on your to-get list, but a rare beauty, something by Katrantzou or Jonathan Saunders – that’s what gets the pulse racing. You may not be able to control larger forces around you, but the decision to go with a fuchsia dress, rather than a black one, is easily done. Small acts of sartorial bravery are transforming the fashion industry on a massive scale.

The source of our new-found courage isn’t hard to track down. With the influx of runway footage and campaign videos online, a lot of the fear has been taken out of high-fashion. As it moves ever closer to us (access to the biggest labels is literally only a click away), fashion becomes no longer an abstract, but a reality. Not only are the big guns out to get our attention, but freelance stylists and talented amateurs are putting together their own lookbooks; with guides on how to wear the latest must-haves flooding the internet. It’s the positive side of peer pressure, and the knock-on effect has been meteoric.

Meghan looks set to make large gains from this, as her face reads perfectly against strong shapes and punchy colours. Fashion’s new lust for life goes beyond mere detail, being smartly articulated by models such as Collison. It taps into something much deeper, a courage in the face of genuine adversity. Fashion does this the only way it knows how: by reminding us of what we love and why we love it. Fashion has rediscovered its sense of fun, but this time the thrill is real.


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