Born in Denmark on April 14th 1993, Josephine Skriver was discovered in 2008 and at the age of 15 began to model. In October 2008, Skriver was featured by www.models.com as a newcomer, signing with Marilyn agency in 2010.
Skriver made her ready-to-wear debut in February 2011, making an early impact as she was picked to close the Prada show. Also walking for Chanel, Chloe, DKNY, Gucci, Haider Ackerman, Lanvin, Nina Ricci, Valentino and YSL, even without the Prada closer, this would be safely classed as a debut of significance.
Locating the source of Skriver’s appeal isn't difficult: even in fashion, faces like Josephine’s don't come along that often. Like Sasha Pivovarova, Anais Pouliot and Anja Rubik, Skriver finds herself part of a small group of models who would be readily termed as ‘real-life pretty’ but still ‘high-fashion friendly’. It is, in terms of selling clothes, a tough combination to resist.
Skriver channelled that beauty in May 2011 with an editorial for German Vogue. Photographed by Greg Kadel, ‘Uber Sinnlich’ was a series of black and white beauty portraits. It was a challenge Skriver was tailor-made for.
In July, Josephine made her first appearance in Italian Vogue, photographed by Steven Meisel. ‘Pret a Porter’, featuring Emily Baker, Fei Fei Sun, Anais Pouliot and Juliane Gruner, covered some of the upcoming Autumn / Winter trends in a series of quirky, characterful portraits. Meisel, always a champion of new talent, makes light work of these portraits: getting the best out of each model, it is hard to believe that some of these models are only months into their career.
Also in July, Skriver appeared for the first time on the couture runways of Paris. Walking for Azzedine Alaia, Dior, Giambattista Valli, Valentino and Zuhair Murad, these were classic and newer labels specialising in glamour. Valli and Murad are fast catching up to the more established names (Dior, Valentino) in providing high-profile clients with memorable one-of-a-kind looks: Murad already counts Jennifer Lopez as a red-carpet regular.
The face of couture is changing: out-and-out creativity still rules, but the big statements of a decade ago are being steadily replaced by an interest in great craftsmanship and boundary pushing detail. There have been concerns that couture’s love-in with Hollywood’s A list could mean an end to bold, creative thinking, but this simply hasn’t happened. The series of space-age gowns from Armani Prive (Spring 2010), deemed only suitable for the catwalk, proved immensely wearable for Hollywood’s elite on Oscar night. Indeed, as Hollywood is becoming bolder in its sartorial choices, couture is proving uniquely able to meet the challenges in making one-of-a-kind, career-defining gowns.
The expectation that couture would die a quick death during the economic depression has been proved wrong. Haute couture is in better shape than it was ten years ago; the designs haven’t got softer – the designers have got tougher in pushing couture detail not as blue-sky dressing, but real alternatives to the classic shapes we all know and love. Designers are more aware than ever of whom they are designing for, and it is this tightening of focus that has saved couture. Applying the lessons learnt from selling RTW in a tough economy has meant couture is still creative, but it is creativity smartly applied.
Josephine’s popularity for catwalk hiring grew in September 2011 with a massive 68-show season. Opening shows for Jaegar and House of Holland, she also appeared for Balenciaga, Christopher Kane, Fendi, Jason Wu, Peter Som, Prabal Gurung, Rodarte and Versace.
Ending the year with editorials with German Vogue and Dazed & Confused, Josephine made her inaugural appearance in American Vogue in January 2012 in the seminal feature ‘A Man for All Seasons’.
Also in January, Josephine again proved a hit with couturiers, appearing for Armani Prive, Basil Soda, Elie Saab and Atelier Versace. Josephine’s universal type of beauty correlates particularly strongly with couture. Its experiments in creativity give the clothes a timeless quality beyond immediate trends. Couture has that space to think big and its resulting ideas can be predictors of trends to come, or just beautiful clothes that exist like satellites. Josephine’s face may be a rarity, but it is textbook for couture: not an extreme, not a distraction, but a perfect complement.
Skriver’s stronghold on runway bookings continued in February with another blockbuster RTW season, featuring Gucci, Erdem, Tom Ford, Peter Pilotto, Marc Jacobs, Prabal Gurung and Michael Kors. A noticeable favourite with American super-brands (Kors, Jacobs, Ford), Josephine also impressed newer designers including Peter Pilotto and Prabal Gurung. Prabal in particular is a savvy booking for Josephine at this point in her career, as Gurung moves into the big-time. His gold cut-away gown worn by Jennifer Lawrence at the premiere for ‘Hunger Games’ has sealed his reputation on red-carpet wear that’s absolutely on the fashion pulse. Gurung’s profile is soaring as he is set to join the ranks of Jacobs and Ford as a must-book designer.
Also hitting the cover of the S/S H&M magazine in February, March proved to be an epic editorial month with Josephine appearing in Dansk, Chinese Vogue and Mixte. Skriver’s campaign roster continued to build with campaign videos for Gucci Cruise and MaxMara Weekend plus an appearance in the multi-model campaign for Bulgari’s Omnia Coral fragrance.
Featuring alongside Taryn Davidson and Carola Remer, this is the perfect summer fragrance campaign, with Bulgari gems and exotic flowers providing the accents. With some of the best fragrance campaigns, the personality of the perfume is so clearly delineated that you can almost smell the scent: this advert tells you very clearly what to expect.
This month, Josephine hits the headlines featuring in an editorial for American Vogue. ‘Checking Out’, photographed by Tim Walker, is a multi-page showcase for veteran model Kate Moss. Posing in a Ritz Paris hotel suite, Moss proves she has lost none of her magic. Josephine joins Mirte Maas, Sigrid Agren and Patricia van der Vliet in Valentino Couture, posing as ‘ladies-in-waiting’.
The question of who will take over from Moss as modelling’s next big star is still very much up for grabs. Some (Lara Stone, Gisele) have come close to replicating that star power, but Moss remains at the top of her profession two decades after her discovery. No-one wants to be the following act that always pales in comparison, but it is looking more and more likely that Kate is an isolated case of all the right factors coming together. From her early work with Corrine Day; the career-changing contract with Calvin Klein to her unrivalled domination of covers, campaigns and editorials, Kate has had an almost unblemished career.
Her success is routinely traced back to her greatest asset: that face. At age 38, she photographs as well as she did for Corinne back in the early Nineties. Ever since Kate’s discovery, the search has been on for the next great face: versatile, universal and immensely photogenic.
This, in tangent with her style, is Moss’ greatest gift to the modelling industry. Instead of turning up one face of note, the search has resulted in a renewed appreciation of great faces. Body types come and go, but there is a quality about beauty that enables it to both transcend and embody a trend. The type of beauty that everyone understands is still an unusual find even in the modelling industry, and for some time, its power has been greatly underestimated.
The allure of a classic face is not simple, it is primal: we are programmed to respond to it, and in turn, it ticks every box. This is well illustrated in Josephine’s career to date, which spans credits from Bulgari to H&M. Her extraordinary popularity on the catwalk bears testament to just how adaptable this beauty can be.
For all fashion likes to talk up bold, edgy talent, it’s hard to ignore the robust quality of Josephine’s career. Fashion’s love for universal beauty is laid bare in cases like Josephine where credits stack up one after another. As this season fashion celebrates the feminine in all its forms, Skriver looks set to enjoy an even rosier phase of her career. Pretty may be back – but did it really ever go away?HELEN TOPE