Sunday, 15 April 2012


Born in Cape Town in 1995, South-African model Katryn Kruger may be a newcomer to the fashion industry, but she is already setting a new standard.

Katryn’s first introduction into modelling came courtesy of Prada in early 2011 modelling for their resort look-book. Kruger made her runway debut in October with an appearance for Givenchy. Walking for the French label as an exclusive, Kruger went on to work for Jalouse magazine with two consecutive editorials.

The first, ‘Top 8’ profiled new model talent including Caitlin Lomax, Isabella Melo and Anouk de Heer. The second, ‘Block Beauty’, saw Katryn take centre stage with a high-end beauty shoot. The theme was faces and themes of cinema: Katryn modelled looks that took inspiration from sources as diverse as Greta Garbo, Blade Runner and Bambi. The Garbo photo is a particular success with Kruger channelling the German star’s reluctant celebrity.

Taking on haute couture in January 2012, Kruger modelled for Elie Saab, Valentino, Giambattista Valli and Zuhair Muraud. With the obvious exception of Valentino, all the other couture houses are recent additions to the select group of couturiers working in Paris. Now with the appointment of Raf Simons to the post of artistic director at Dior, couture looks set to enter a new age of strong and fearless design. Simons, who up till recently worked as the creative director at Jil Sander, transformed a minimalist label into a byword for postmodern elegance. Taking on fashion’s toughest challenges, he gave minimal fashion the push it needed to move on from its Nineties roots. Neon cashmere and moulded hems, under Simons’ tutelage, became must-have items. Using new fabrics and techniques, Simons made the Jil Sander brand an esoteric delight: fashion packed with intelligent choices. His ability to take fashion to the forefront of innovation makes him a very exciting prospect when it comes to taking on Dior Couture. With its extensive history, the temptation to stay in the retro comfort zone is understandable. But with the hiring of Simons, the only logical progression for Dior is forward. With Simons’ first couture collection due in July, the small world of haute couture is about to get a whole lot bigger.

Katryn hit the ready-to-wear catwalks in February, with numerous appearances for some of the world’s biggest names. Walking for Louis Vuitton, Chloe, Roland Mouret, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Ralph Lauren and Donna Karan, Kruger’s first major season was a virtually perfect template of a top model’s booking sheet: all the must-book labels are accounted for, with edgier new talent also included.

In March, Katryn made her first appearance for V magazine, working with photographer Benny Horne. The spread, ‘Trophy Club’, sees Kruger model sportswear. A side-trend perfect for those not swayed by the girlish glamour served up by Louis Vuitton, this luxurious take on sportswear makes it an attainable look for those who like their fashion a little more casual.

Kruger’s next booking was anything but casual – following her earlier work with the Italian label, Kruger (still a relative newcomer to the industry) was hired to take part in both the campaign and video for Prada’s Spring / Summer collection.

Already a hit on the runway, the crowd-pleasing collection was represented by both established names and some less familiar. Working with photographer Steven Miesel were Natasha Poly and Guinevere van Seenus, along with newcomers Elise Crombez, Meghan Collison and Ymre Stiekema. The eclectic mix of beauty, from Natasha’s all-out glamour to Meghan’s quirky cool, was an unusual choice but a choice that turned out to be inspired casting.

With everyone wearing the 50’s inspired pieces, the cohesive quality of the campaign draws you in. There is not a wasted moment in this campaign: every look and every gesture adds flavour and piquancy to an already well-received collection.

The campaign video also works on the same principles, with the models coolly eyeing each others’ garb at a gas station. Packed with references to classic Americana, the video is a love-letter to everything great about retro-fashion. The duster coats, the have-to-look-twice printed dresses – all perfectly handled, but at the same time, nothing here feels dated. With the use of contemporary music including Sleigh Bells and Ariel Pink, Prada have hit a home run, with a campaign video that is proving to be extraordinarily popular. So far it has clocked up over 300,000 hits on YouTube. To put this in perspective, Prada’s campaign video for Spring / Summer 2011 has been viewed 32,000 times.

In the video, Kruger gets the lion’s share of the camera’s attention, her classic features sitting perfectly in the retro feel of the campaign. Kruger is the main focus at the end of the video – as coveted as an opening or closing spot in a runway show, Kruger makes a lasting first impression, with a performance that is assured and confident. It would be an accomplished debut for any model, and a star-making move at that, but it is remarkable when watching Katryn to think that you are watching a 16-year-old with minimal modelling experience.

Kruger’s appearance for the Prada S/S 12 campaign has made her a name, not only among the hundreds of thousands of fans viewing on YouTube, but within the fashion industry itself. Her latest work, an editorial for Interview, again shows that Kruger may be young but has the potential to become an international star.

Wearing Stella McCartney’s latest collection, Kruger’s ease at modelling what is a challenging body of work invites us to draw direct comparisons with other models. Kruger’s phenomenal rise is down to more than just her perfectly-set classic features: no face, no matter how beautiful, would be enough to secure you a booking with Prada. The Italian powerhouse label regularly take chances on new models, but every one of those models ends up becoming a name because Prada know how to draw out talent. Looks are no longer enough in an industry where perfection is the norm: you have to have something else to offer. Recent success stories such as Karlie Kloss, Lindsey Wixson and Arizona Muse show exactly how modelling is not a game of luck, but a game of skill, and how some come to the table with a more defined skills-set than others. Muse’s endlessly adaptable face; Lindsey’s unforced quirkiness and Karlie’s agility all make them one-of-a-kind. The things that should make them not ‘work’ are of course the reasons why Wixson, Kloss and Muse are so enormously successful. Karlie’s dance background, Muse’s statement eyebrows and Wixson’s dollhouse pout should, in theory, rule them out of modelling at the highest levels – but each of them has excelled without compromising what makes them unique.

Already on the ascent, Kruger’s unique selling point is easy to figure: a fearless approach to runway and campaigns with a commercially-friendly face. Equipped with these advantages, Katryn’s next career move could be in any direction. Just like Arizona Muse who made a huge impact on an unsuspecting fashion industry back in 2010, Kruger has the type of face that can apply itself to any type of design philosophy, and adaptability sells. With the potential to go anywhere from Italian Vogue to Victoria’s Secret (and everywhere in-between), Kruger is redefining the standards of what it takes to break away from the pack and become that rising star. With a stellar career in progress, the only direction for Katryn Kruger is up.


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