Born in 1994, Northampton native Lara Mullen was discovered in August 2011. Scouted by agency Premier Management, Mullen was spotted just two weeks before the start of New York Fashion Week.
Premier submitted Lara for castings, and in September the student-turned-model found herself on the catwalk, walking for Alexander Wang, Jonathan Saunders, Celine, Chloe, Richard Nicoll, Givenchy and Dries Van Noten.
If this wasn’t exciting enough, Lara got booked for the Prada show as an exclusive. Mullen had the good fortune to be in one of Prada’s best shows in years. A show is only as good as its collection, and the S/S 12 collection was very, very good. With Mullen as one of their star turns (newbies selected by Prada tend to get the lion’s share of attention), this was a career-making moment for Lara. The achievement is made all the more extraordinary when you consider that just weeks prior to her Prada booking, Lara was a complete unknown.
Labelled by www.vogue.com as ‘one to watch’, Lara began to book editorials in earnest, landing the cover of i-D magazine in February 2012. Also appearing in a multi-page spread, Lara modelled with Matt Ardell, working looks from the key S/S collections.
In February and March, Lara experienced the effect of being a Prada exclusive. When it came to booking shows for the Autumn / Winter collections, Mullen was a red-hot favourite, appearing in over 45 shows.
The season was a real triumph for Mullen, a bold mix of design talent including Valentino, Balmain, Gareth Pugh, Versace, Marc Jacobs, Marchesa, Calvin Klein, Rodarte, Oscar de la Renta and Prada once more. A bona fide success at every Fashion Week, Lara modelled for the best in the business. To muster bookings from the biggest; Versace, Prada, Marc Jacobs, Valentino, is incredible. But more crucially for Mullen, her booking sheet tells a story of a model who has connected with cutting-edge talent such as Gareth Pugh, Prabal Gurung, Alexander Wang and Christopher Kane. It is this relationship with fashion’s most directional labels that has both shaped and defined Lara’s career over 2012.
March saw Lara take to the cover of British hard-hitter, Dazed & Confused. Named ‘2012: If it’s not exciting, you’re not doing it properly’, the cover heralds the start of a summer that’s all about Britain. From the recent Diamond Jubilee celebrations to the Olympics starting in July, Britain, and all things British, are garnering a lot of attention. On the cover, Lara models a coat and one-piece from Prada’s show-stopping S/S 12 collection, echoing her inaugural runway moment with the Italian label.
Mullen also appeared in an editorial for the magazine, a major logistical operation requiring an army of photographers and stylists. Wearing Burberry, Balenciaga and YSL, Lara joins models Julia Nobis, Emily Baker, Erjona Ala and the latest Marc Jacobs campaign girl, Marte Mei van Haaster.
Lara’s success has not just been confined to editorials and runway. Preparing to take on bigger challenges, Lara was booked for the new Spring / Summer Topshop campaign. Photographed by Josh Olins and styled by the store’s creative director, Kate Phelan, the campaign also features new up-and-coming faces including Magda Laguinge, Nadine Ponce and Marihenny Pasible. As Lara models Topshop’s on-the-money pieces, including floral silk bomber jackets and printed band T’s, the campaign is almost indistinguishable from those of high-end brands. Topshop certainly doesn’t believe in skimping on the editorial detail: its genius lies in treating high-street design with respect. Its lightning-quick turnover, supplying must-have pieces at a furious pace, means that Topshop can legitimately claim to having its finger on the fashion pulse. Now a key destination for everyone, regardless of budget, scoring the campaign means being a visible presence in hundreds of stores dotted across the globe.
Following an editorial for POP magazine, Mullen also featured in a self-titled feature for AnOther. Photographed by Martina Hoogland Ivanow, Lara appears in a series of editorials, reminiscent of Egon Schiele’s nervy, sensuous sketches. Having an editorial named after you is normally a mark of respect given to a model with more runway hours under her belt. The fact that Lara is already being perceived as worthy is testament to how quickly she has taken to modelling. Some new talents are carefully dipped into the fashion world, a small season to start with and then a few low-key editorials to test the waters. With Mullen, Premier Management made the right call in making a big splash. The clamour for her time at Fashion Week proves that when you’re ready, you’re ready.
Lara made her debut appearance for British Vogue in April, with an editorial called ‘The White Album’. Photographed again by Josh Olins, Lara models an array of white pieces from Marc Jacobs, Jil Sander, Yohji Yamamoto and Chanel. From laser-cutting by Marc Jacobs to the starched, architectural cottons of Raf Simons’ last collection for Jil Sander, the deceptively simple theme displays how complex one colour can be when in the hands of masters.
Mullen returned to the pages of British Vogue this June, with a high-fashion take on the Olympic theme. ‘Paper Plates’, photographed by Tim Gutt, sees Lara attempting weight-lifting, archery and diving. Blending the beauty and strength of professional sport, this type of high-concept editorial is what British Vogue excels at.
With the world now watching the UK for the next few months, Lara joins a new generation of British models lighting up the world stage. Along with Jourdan Dunn and Nyasha Matonhodze, Lara is flying the flag for not only British design, but British beauty as well. In recent years, most of fashion’s most popular faces have come from other corners of the globe: Lara and her peers are helping to buck that trend.
Lara and Nyasha are especially in demand, with both models this season appearing in major campaigns. Nyasha, a favourite with Louis Vuitton and Balenciaga, is a sure-fire editorial pick and Lara is carving out a career that leans on her individuality, and that’s a very British concept.
We have recently excelled at providing fashion with its newest, edgiest faces. We can also do real, show stopping beauty too: just think of the monumental rise of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Cara Delevingne. Ever since the discovery of Kate Moss, the UK has had a point to prove: the problem with striking gold is that expectations circulate and gather pace – can you repeat your own success?
While the face of modelling has altered over the past 20 years – the definition of what constitutes a top model now looks totally different – the desire to scout those new, boundary-pushing faces is as intense as ever.
Premier Management’s lucky find is also Britain’s good fortune. Lara, just months into her career, is already creating waves of interest around the world. She is the rare combination of editorial and commercial: it is just as easy to imagine her fronting a perfume campaign as it is to see her in Italian Vogue. Mullen’s run of success hints at a future that’s there for the taking. Whether she wants to explore those high-fashion roots further, or look at how her unique features can work set against those big-money campaigns, Lara has the potential to trail-blaze a new kind of beauty, already seen in the individual successes of Milou van Groesen, Saskia de Brauw and Marie Piovesan. Against a backdrop of uncertainty, a beauty that can be edgy one moment and then traditional the next, is exactly what the fashion industry appears to be responding to right now. Even newer faces than Lara – Erjona Ala, Elza Luijendijk, Marte Mei van Haaster – are in that very vein: not exclusively editorial, not completely commercial. A true fashion hybrid, it is a formula that looks like it will define the look of the next generation of top models.
However Lara chooses to play her next hand, what’s for certain is that she remains a great ambassador, reminding everyone that whatever we do, Britain does it in style.