Born in the Netherlands on December 3rd 1989, Bette Franke was discovered at the age of 14. Whilst out shopping with her mum in Amsterdam, Franke was spotted by Dutch modelling agent Wilma Wakker.
Franke made her international catwalk debut two years later, opening and closing the Jil Sander show in October 2005. Also appearing for Dries Van Noten, Hermes and Emanuel Ungaro, she was named ‘this year’s model’ by WWD.
Bette’s rise was meteoric, with two contracts signed in early 2006: one for the new Stella McCartney fragrance ‘Stella in Two’, and a cosmetics fragrance with YSL. Franke had signed for two of the biggest brands just a year into her career. Her distinctive face – an intense gaze coupled with the classic sexbomb pout – helped to separate her from the slew of European models flooding the industry.
Returning to the runway in February 2006, Franke added Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Chloe, Givenchy, Lanvin, Marc Jacobs and Prada to her list of credits. She was dubbed a rising star by www.style.com and scored a role in the new Dolce & Gabbana campaign. Her big-money signings kept coming with a solo campaign for Oscar de la Renta and appearances for Calvin Klein and Hugo Boss.
Franke’s look leant itself so deftly to campaign work, it wasn’t until August 2006 that her talents were applied to major magazine editorials. Appearing for the first time in French Vogue, Bette modelled with Jessica Stam and Han Jin. Bette was a shoo-in for French Vogue, at the time still under the directorship of Carine Roitfeld. Her sultry looks were perfect for French Vogue’s penchant for paying homage to icons such as Bardot and more recent faces such as Emmanuelle Beart and Isabelle Adjani. Described by designer Anna Molinari as having a ‘strong personality and harmonious curves’, Bette’s charm cast a spell that was clearly hard to resist.
Bette had her big runway moment in September 2006, with a mammoth 62-show season. Franke booked shows with Alberta Ferretti, Balmain, Chanel, Jonathan Saunders, Marni, Missoni, Roberto Cavalli, Vera Wang and Versace. A year and a half into her modelling career, Franke was becoming a favourite with the biggest designers in the world.
Shooting her second French Vogue editorial in October, in 2007 she continued to make in-roads with her campaign CV, becoming the face for Blumarine and Celine. Her career hit another high point in October with her very first appearance in Italian Vogue. Photographed by Nathaniel Goldberg, ‘Morning Beauty’ saw Bette modelling exquisitely detailed eveningwear. Beautifully nuanced, Franke gave a performance that lacked for nothing.
Bette’s career moved up another notch with a cover try for Japanese Numero in November. Appearing in the ready-to-wear season in February 2008, Bette booked shows with Anna Sui, Derek Lam, Hussein Chalayan, Michael Kors and Rue du Mail. It was one of her most aesthetically-diverse seasons to date, with Bette working the austere chic of Chalayan with Michael Kors’ Park Avenue glamour.
Bette’s next RTW season saw her opening shows for Erin Fetherston and Jenny Packham in February 2009 (long before Packham had the Royal seal of approval). Franke’s ability to get picked by up-and-coming designers continued later in the year with Bette walking in shows for Todd Lynn and Mary Katrantzou. Franke ended the year with consecutive editorials for Italian Marie Claire, by photographed by Thierry Le Goues.
Normally a regular on the catwalk, Bette did not return to the runway until September 2011, but her timing was impeccable. Making her comeback in style, Bette appeared in 54 shows including Alexander Wang, Burberry, Isabel Marant, Nina Ricci, Tom Ford and Valentino. She returned on top form in a season that was all about celebrating the feminine. Spring 2012 has already made its presence known, with pastel colours and delicate fabrics dominating the high-street. This look was just tailor made to make the most of Franke’s features. While some models offer quiet consistency, others shine when the mood of the moment coincides beautifully with what they have to offer. Franke was uniquely placed to take advantage of fashion’s softer season.
Bette ended the year with an appearance in V magazine. Profiling her agency, ‘DNA Powerhouse’ Franke joined current face of Armani, Milou van Groesen, Lindsay Ellingson, and Victoria’s Secret regulars Doutzen Kroes and Alessandra Ambrosio.
Bette’s return to fashion included her biggest couture season to date in January 2012. Walking for Chanel, Dior, Elie Saab, Giambattista Valli and Valentino, Franke’s love affair with the runway continued with another huge RTW season of over 50 shows. Franke’s standing in the industry had lost none of its power, with Bette appearing alongside new modelling talents in a piece for British Vogue. ‘Spring Forward’ featured the best of the S/S collections, including new faces Romee Strijd, Kati Nescher and Codie Young.
Her editorial credits kept coming, with a spread in February’s Harper’s Bazaar and an editorial for Spanish Vogue in March. ‘Uno, Dos, Tres...Mambo!’ saw Bette mastering classically fiery prints from Pucci, plus sultry picks from D&G and Sonia Rykiel.
Then came Franke’s biggest signing to date. Shot in Mexico by Deborah Turbeville, Bette was the latest name to become the face of Valentino. Working with Zuzanna Bijoch, Fei Fei Sun and Maud Welzen, Franke modelled the delicately-worked lace pieces against the backdrop of ancient ruins. Romanticism writ large, this was a perfect collision of model and campaign, celebrating Valentino’s new (and highly successful) exploration of soft, feminine fashion.
Spring 2012 has been Bette’s most prolific season in years, with an amazing 5 campaigns in circulation. Working with male model Harry Gilliam in the new Hermes campaign, Bette joins Anna de Rijk for Hogan and is photographed by Mikael Jansson for Dior Eyewear. Her laser-beam stare comes into its own here, with Bette’s beauty shining through the ad. In an age of laser surgery and contact lenses, eyewear is a tough sell. Bette’s performance in this campaign will have you reaching for your specs.
With two high-fashion editorials in April’s Dazed & Confused and Dutch Vogue, Bette has never been in higher demand. Modelling Twenties-inspired flapper fashion from Gucci, Ralph Lauren and Etro for Vogue and channelling psychedelic pin-up meets Marie Antoinette for Dazed & Confused, Franke is at the top of her game.
It’s no surprise that this has been Bette’s season. Her looks lend themselves so perfectly to the big trend of the moment that she couldn’t help but clean up. No-one can deny that Bette’s career has been strong, packed with editorial and runway credits, but to get to that next level, a little luck can go a long way. As fashion turned to its more feminine side, Franke grabbed onto that opportunity, and in the process became one of the most popular models of the past 12 months.
To be a career veteran at the age of 22 is only something that could happen in the modelling world, but Franke finds herself with a career that has never looked better, at a point where other models are contemplating their Plan B.
Bette’s steady stream of editorial and runway work has ensured that she is now as hotly pursued as a newcomer fresh from their first season. Nine years after her remarkable discovery, Bette’s career is still managing to defy the odds and astonish us all. A perfect marriage of skill and instinct, Bette Franke is proof that is never too late to be what you might have been.