Born in Woodside, California, on the 10th August 1995, Mackenzie was discovered at the age of 14. A year later, she had been named a newcomer to watch by www.models.com , signing up with Elite Models.
In July 2010, a month shy of her 15th birthday, Drazan debuted at the Autumn / Winter show for Valentino Couture. Mackenzie then took a brief 6-month break from modelling, returning in February 2011. Drazan made her ready-to-wear debut, including appearances for Jil Sander, Calvin Klein and Louis Vuitton.
Drazan’s early start at the very highest levels of catwalk modelling marked her out as a casting must-have. Returning to the catwalk again that September, Mackenzie added Alexander McQueen, Celine and Balenciaga to her growing list of credits. Finishing the year with appearances in the pre-fall lookbook for Narciso Rodriguez and the pre-fall collection show for Calvin Klein, Drazan was already becoming a favourite with some of the world’s biggest labels.
Her growing list of credits certainly got Mackenzie noticed, and in February 2012, she had her first blockbuster ready-to-wear season, walking in over 65 shows. The Autumn / Winter 2012 season saw bolder, more expressive designs making all the right moves, and the return of certain trends, such as outsize and head-to-toe print, seen at Jil Sander and Prada respectively, was tailor-made for a taller model like Drazan. This season was an important one for the still-teenage model, and her stock soared as a result.
Mackenzie’s next assignment saw Drazan book an editorial for Italian Vogue. Photographed by Emma Summerton for the beauty supplement cover, Drazan worked the avant-garde look with total confidence. Italian Vogue’s enthusiasm for editorial make-up has become a micro-trend, with the looks that are accompanying this season’s fashion definitely moving into braver territory. The traditional smoky eye has been transformed into a multi-coloured, peacock eye, mimicking the explosion of colour that has been seen on the catwalks. Follow that with the incredible growth in nail art: not only in terms of colour but design and texture, and Italian Vogue’s take on beauty is right on the pulse. Avant-garde looks are no longer the preserve of magazine editorials, but real-life achievable. As our fashion choices get a little riskier, make-up had no choice but to step up its game.
Drazan’s incredible run of catwalk success continued into the summer, with appearances at the resort shows including Alberta Ferretti, Bottega Veneta, Salvatore Ferragamo and Valentino. But Mackenzie’s biggest career moment was just around the corner.
In July, Mackenzie made the cover of Italian Vogue. Photographed by Steven Meisel, this was the autumn / winter preview issue. Sharing the cover itself with Vanessa Axente, the fold-out, multi-model cover also featured Lida Fox, Elena Bartels, Julia Nobis and Erjona Ala. Channelling gothic glamour in the gowns from the Gucci collection, this was a new vision of how glamour should look for the upcoming season. Dark, moody but achingly covetable, this cover made everyone sit up and take notice.
Any appearance in Italian Vogue represents a huge turning point in a model’s career, as the magazine often champions new modelling talent, with fashion’s edgiest and most exciting faces often making their editorial debut within those pages. By getting onto the actual cover, Mackenzie had not only staked her claim to be one of those new, exciting faces, but to be one of the future leading faces in the modelling industry.
Drazan returned to catwalk duty again in July, this time heading to Paris for the couture shows. Walking in shows for Chanel, Elie Saab, Giambattista Valli and Valentino, Mackenzie also appeared in Raf Simons’ inaugural show for Dior.
Mackenzie’s summer was filled with editorial commitments, starting with a spread for Dazed & Confused. Following that with an appearance in British Vogue, ‘Best in Show’ (photographed by Daniel Jackson), saw Mackenzie working the textured trouser-suit, and Mackenzie’s debut for W (‘Natural Selection’) saw her model the season’s texture theme with Laura Kampman, Ondria Hardin, Ophelie Rupp and Franzi Mueller.
Even with that heavy workload, Mackenzie continued to be in high demand, being booked for 55 shows in September. Including Marc Jacobs, Chanel, Givenchy, Versus, Dries Van Noten and Proenza Schouler, Mackenzie’s mix of blue-blood delicacy and ambiguous androgyny has made her a perfect runway model. The sheer range of design sensibilities that Drazan has modelled to date is dizzying: her portfolio takes us from the full-on sex appeal of Versus, to the cerebral chic of Dries Van Noten.
Following her success in the very best of editorial and runway, Drazan took her career to the next logical step this autumn with a campaign signing. However, as typical of the rest of her career, Mackenzie did not start small. She was booked for the Louis Vuitton Autumn / Winter campaign. An opinion divider, the Louis Vuitton campaign goes for broke with the amount of modelling talent on display. Working both in small teams and as part of a larger narrative, the models had their work cut out for them. The challenge was to perform as individuals but to impress as a collective. With something going on in every corner of the frame, each image created by campaign photographer Steven Meisel, is fascinating. Whether you liked the collection or not, the campaign demands you take a second look.
As Drazan moves in ever more impressive circles, her success is down to the fact that she is an American model with major cross-continent appeal. Her looks, old-school beauty with a touch of the modern, make her a natural ‘fit’ for most editorials, runways and covers.
Drazan’s success is also down to timing: during the 1980’s, American models were historically locked into the commercial arena of the fashion industry. Blockbuster names like Cindy Crawford were as well known by the public as fashion insiders. The wide-ranging appeal of those faces hard-wired that look into our minds: to be American was to, by extension, be commercial.
This continued long into the Nineties and it wasn’t until recently that we learned to appreciate a whole new kind of American beauty. Faces like Karlie Kloss, Charlotte Free, Chanel Iman and Lindsey Wixson have tackled, head-on, the perception that Americans can’t do hard-core editorial. Wixson, with her unusual features, has radically challenged the idea that American models are commercial by definition. Wixson, currently the face of Mulberry and Chanel, is spiky, bold and adaptable, covering cute and whimsical through to ultra high-fashion.
Where Mackenzie fits is somewhere between Wixson’s edginess and Karlie Kloss’ all-rounder appeal. Drazan’s success on the catwalk most closely aligns her with Kloss – a model that rose to the top by clocking up a serious amount of runway hours. Kloss succeeded by being visible, and this strategy appears to be working for Drazan too.
But whereas Kloss has re-defined the term ‘all-American’, Drazan differs by offering something more elusive. She may be a California girl, but looking at Mackenzie, you can imagine her being a native of almost anywhere. Her lack of definability is what has propelled Mackenzie to the top of the industry at break-neck speed, explaining why she is as comfortable in Valentino Couture as Balenciaga’s ready-to-wear. There is a phrase that to be a jack of all trades is to be master of none, but this is certainly not true of modelling: a face that can lend itself to any look is one that will undoubtedly prosper.
Already a favourite with fashion’s most influential designers, Mackenzie Drazan is set to become America’s most exciting modelling prospect in years. Once again challenging us to re-shape our ideas of what an American model looks like, Drazan is the next stage in America’s endeavour to become world-class at sourcing the best editorial talent. With Drazan already on the rise, this may be a case of mission accomplished.