Born on 22nd January 1991, French model Anais Mali signed with agency Wilhelmina in 2009.
Mali took to the runway that September, modelling for Betsey Johnson, Vivienne Westwood and Sophie Theallet. Adding Catherine Malandrino and Rachel Roy to her credits the following February, Anais was dubbed a face to watch by both www.style.it and www.models.com. A regular post-show feature, these announcements go a long way to upgrading a model’s status. In an industry crowded with talent, any publicity is good publicity.
Filling 2010 with a campaign for Levi’s and a stint modelling for J Crew’s catalogue, Anais took to the runway in September. This time, her booking sheet showed that Mali was proving a hit across the Atlantic, with Anais appearing in shows for Marc Jacobs, Vera Wang, Derek Lam, Cynthia Rowley and Carolina Herrera.
Anais’ early (and ongoing) success in America can be quickly attributed to her look. Possessing the same kind of appeal as Joan Smalls, Anais has elegance that appeals to the old-school designers such as Carolina Herrera, but with enough character to handle high-fashion editorial. These strengths typify what the U.S fashion market looks for: enough beauty to make the clothes covetable, but with enough edge to give the collection some bite. The very best American designers dominate the field because they have learned to create that perfect balance between marketability and creative vision.
In a pivotal move, Anais left Wilhelmina and signed with Ford Models in late 2010. In December, she featured in an editorial for Interview magazine, working with Melodie Monrose. Each model a mirror image of each other, both furiously channel the glamour and energy of Twenties’ fashion icon, Josephine Baker.
The beginning of Mali’s long-standing association with American Vogue began in February 2011, with an appearance in the February issue. Featuring as part of their season preview, ‘Gangs of New York’, Anais was photographed by Mario Testino. Teams of models were paired up to showcase the major collections of the season. Anais got Rodarte, working with Ajak Deng, Jourdan Dunn and Joan Smalls.
Her recent spate of editorial successes meant that Anais could add Rag & Bone, Thakoon, Chloe, Dior, Stella McCartney and Tom Ford to her runway CV. As success often breeds success, Anais found herself in high demand in March, appearing in three major publications: V, American Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. The US Vogue shoot, ‘Rebel Rebel’ saw Anais model Gucci’s show-stopping bronze jumpsuit, plus a high-energy shoot with Arlenis Sosa, photographed by Norman Jean Roy.
Anais then took to the campaign trail again, this time getting signed by American fashion behemoth, GAP. Photographed by Craig McDean, ‘The Modern Design’ takes us away from the preconception of GAP just being a one-stop location for casual basics. Tailored, neutral pieces are pushed to the forefront in this campaign, sold as the essentials you would end up reaching for again and again. GAP has already become a go-to destination for jeans, with designer-worthy cuts being offered at high-street prices. Not resting on its former glories, GAP continues to revise its image and what it can offer to an increasingly sophisticated consumer base. Some of its experiments have worked better than others, but the store’s commitment to endure and progress should ensure its long-term survival.
Anais returned to American Vogue for the Spring, appearing in a bridal-themed editorial in their April issue. ‘Across the Aisle’, photographed by legend Arthur Elgort, is a fun, studio-based spread. Her first solo shoot with the magazine came in August 2011, with ‘Mixed Media’. Shot by Raymond Meier, Anais models the season’s best accessories. Textures and colours clash exuberantly, and Anais wears these difficult prints and colours effortlessly.
In September, Anais built up her runway experience with bookings from Matthew Williamson, D&G, Bottega Veneta, Ralph Lauren, Peter Som, Nina Ricci, Diane Von Furstenberg and regular client, Jason Wu. Sparking the interest of British and Italian designers, Anais was already becoming an international name, beguiling the brightest design talent.
Proving her ability to switch things up, Anais got hired for an editorial for Love magazine. Photographed by Solve Sundsbo, ‘Strangelove’ is a series of darkly provocative portraits including Sui He, Jessica Hart, Lindsey Wixson, Hannah Noble and Charlotte Free.
Returning to more traditional fare in September, Anais signed on for an editorial with V. ‘You Can’t Possess Radiance, You can only Admire It’ features Anais in chic, Fifth Avenue-style fashion including Celine, Ralph Lauren and Valentino. Anais (and V) give the classics a fresh edge.
Clocking up even more editorial hours at the end of the year, Mali appeared in American fashion magazine W and French Vogue. In W’s ‘Poster Girls’, Anais was hired to model a bold, fearless mix of clashing prints and accessories. Anais’ beauty shines through the editorial. The clothes and accessories are the focus, but Mali remains a calming, steadying force, a point where the eye can rest in what is a very busy set of photographs.
Mail’s career got a major boost in November when she was selected to appear in the 2011 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Joining fellow VS newbie Karlie Kloss, the two catwalk regulars brought a touch of high-fashion glamour to the proceedings. Anais’ inclusion was squarely down to having a type of beauty that is able to appeal to the mainstream. Despite being a Vogue favourite, Mali looked comfortable on the VS runway, but working a very different kind of audience. With the lingerie brand eager to feature more diverse types of beauty, Mali embraced this opportunity with obvious enthusiasm and it would be surprising if she doesn’t reprise her appearance this November.
In January 2012, Anais made her editorial debut for the year with V magazine. In what is far more usual territory for V, ‘The Queen of Hip Hop’ is a fun, energetic editorial photographed by Sebastian Faena.
Channelling Nicki Minaj in a day-glo wig, Anais brings the necessary attitude to make this editorial work. So good at ‘faking it’, this spread becomes uncanny in its authenticity. V excels at bringing a high-fashion twist to existing cultural codes. Even if not a fan of the music, everyone can visualise the clothes, the make-up and body language adopted by superstars of that world. Anais brilliantly mimics the queens of hip-hop but never letting us forget that the clothes come first.
February saw Anais scoop another major campaign, this time with J Crew. The iconic label has had a major injection of cool since the revelation that is has become one of Michelle Obama’s fashion go-to’s. The booking must have represented a special moment for Mali, who had one of her earliest signings with the American brand.
The following month saw Mali become hot property, with appearances in W, W Korea and Madame Figaro. The spread for the American magazine, ‘Feminine Mystique’, saw Anais team up with Jourdan Dunn and new girl, Jasmine Tookes. The three models are identically groomed and model ethnic prints with a strong theme of sophistication running through. Going beyond its clichéd treatment in previous years, tribal here is worked so it becomes something new, contemporary and eminently wearable.
Anais’ biggest editorial splash was with Korean W. Featuring on the cover as well as the leading spread; Anais shares cover honours with Hyoni Kang and Julia Nobis. ‘Birthday Girls’ – their mega-model editorial – also includes Hanne Gaby Odiele, Crystal Renn and Maryna Linchuk. With all the models wearing pieces from the highly popular Louis Vuitton collection, the sugary-sweetness of the designs are off-set by an understated sensuality. This is all relatively new territory for a magazine that is not yet 10 years old. After its publisher, Conde Nast, launched men’s style magazine GQ in South Korea in 2001, its success paved the way for other magazines to follow. Now South Korea has its own version of W, it has been keen to develop its own sense of style, and the March issue featuring Anais has created significant interest across the world. It may be new, but W Korea is already making its editorial presence felt.
With her biggest campaign signing to date, Anais can currently be seen in H&M’s global ‘Fresh Start’ adverts. Anais joins other heavy-hitters such as Natasha Poly, Sasha Pivovarova and Isabeli Fontana. Featuring models from Russia, France, Brazil and Sweden, this campaign represents what brands like H&M have known for years: international beauty sells. Appealing to the most people possible makes sense as fashion is rapidly becoming a global language with new pockets of wealth being discovered.
Having diversity on campaigns, covers and editorials is essential if a particular market is not to feel marginalised. A face that can appeal to many countries is especially in demand, and Anais is one of the lucky few that can work with European, American and Asian markets and convince at every turn. The face of the money-making model is changing, and with her adaptable beauty, Anais is right at the forefront of this new fashion phenomenon.