Wednesday, 28 November 2012


Born in 1992, German model Franzi Mueller is part of a new wave of models that are wowing the industry with their ability to interpret the latest trends.

Whilst still at school, Franzi was advised by friends to become a model. Wanting to complete her education first, Mueller stayed on at school, finishing in summer 2011. She contacted a local modelling agency and was sent on go-sees for ready-to-wear shows. The bold approach by Franzi’s agency worked: in February 2012, Mueller was cast in several shows, including an opening spot for Calvin Klein.

Receiving this honour from one of fashion’s biggest names, Franzi immediately made a huge impact. It was all the more impressive when you consider that this was achieved with no pre-season buzz. Also walking in shows for Celine, Dries Van Noten, Givenchy, Valentino and Prada, all of Franzi’s star power was reserved for the runway.

Mueller made her editorial debut just a month later, appearing in Exit magazine. The editorial (‘Alice’), photographed by Paul Empson, showcased the new tailoring trend, especially focusing on peplum waists. Going from strictly couture to high-street staple in the space of five years, this trend is a perfect example of how quickly the fashion landscape can alter.

In May, Franzi make her first appearance for German Vogue. In ‘Klassenbeste’, photographed by Greg Kadel, Franzi modelled the Givenchy Couture jewellery featured in their January collection. Drawing on influences as diverse as Indian bridal jewellery and punk-rock, the large hanging earrings and nose-ring are not a look for the faint-hearted. Designed to create an impact that’s more editorial than ready-to-wear, Mueller models through a look that could easily dominate, making the photograph not just about spectacle. In this photograph, Franzi demands your attention, refusing to be overwhelmed by the massive jewellery pieces. For a newcomer, it was a significant achievement.

The following month, Franzi made her debut for Spanish V.  Appearing in ‘Electro’, photographed by Pierre Debusschere, the editorial lives up to its name, exploring neons and brights. The boldness of the colours is tempered by the super-strict tailoring of the jackets and peplum skirts. With the addition of post-production enhancement, Mueller beautifully balances the photograph; keeping her facial expressions soft and feminine to act as a neat counterpoint, making the bright colours even more appealing by making them look eminently wearable.

Packing in even more editorial commitments, in August Franzi made her inaugural appearance in Russian Vogue. Photographed by Emma Tempest, the self-titled editorial celebrated Franzi as a new and upcoming modelling talent. Along with Italian Vogue, the magazine remains a constant champion of modelling talent, regularly featuring new faces in key editorials and even on the cover. In a publishing world increasingly reliant on the pull of celebrities to boost sales, Russian Vogue remains proudly loyal to its high-fashion roots.

The glut of editorials over the summer paid off for Franzi as she managed to score two high-profile campaigns. Appearing for Louis Vuitton’s multi-model epic, Franzi joins other new names to populate what must be the most stylish train carriage in existence.

Mueller can also be seen in Hobbs’ Autumn / Winter campaign with models Karlina Caune, Emily Baker, Kinga Rajzak and Sojourner Morrell. Hobbs, along with many mid-priced high-street chains, has had to step up its game recently and along with stores like Zara, is providing great trend-led pieces for an increasingly fashion-literate audience. As well as the usual fare of tweeds and beautifully-cut coats in teals and oranges, 
Hobbs also dips its toes into winter florals – and comes up smelling of roses.

Squeezing in a few appearances for the Spring / Summer 2013 season (including Oscar de la Renta, Nina Ricci, Rodarte and Donna Karan), Mueller kicked off the autumn with a season preview with Dazed & Confused. Photographed by Sean and Seng, here Franzi appears in the S&M trend, reworked for this season as eveningwear.

September also saw Franzi hit the editorial jackpot with a spread for Italian Vogue. ‘Alta Moda: Dolce & Gabbana’ (photographed by Paolo Roversi), is a multi-page editorial dedicated to the Italian design duo. Featuring Ava Smith, Kate King, Suzie Bird and Bette Franke, Franzi has her own double-page story, working both black and white lace pieces. Mueller shows her versatility here, channelling the Dolce & Gabbana siren to perfection.

Mueller was back to her high-fashion beginnings in October with an editorial for Wall Street Journal. Shown exclusively online, ‘Austerity Measures’ featured Mueller working the more pronounced silhouettes of Autumn / Winter 2012. Deftly demonstrated through coats and jackets, it is testament to Franzi’s skill in front of the camera that every coat and jacket she models (though vastly different from each other), are anchored by her modelling style. Keeping it simple, she allows the designs to take centre stage. Exuding elegance and poise, Franzi shows off her knowledge of fashion history, channelling the original Dior models of the 1950’s.

Also in October, Franzi made her debut for i-D magazine. The editorial, ‘Being an icon is great but leaving a legacy is better’, Mueller is photographed modelling a leather dress by Celine. Mueller is also interviewed by the magazine, and cites model Mariacarla Boscono as one of her biggest fashion influences, and there are definite similarities in their modelling styles. As Boscono is one of fashion’s longest-serving models, this bodes well for Franzi’s longevity.

Appearing in November’s issue of Numero and a late 2012 appearance for W, Franzi’s editorial popularity has been not only enduring but wide-ranging. Mueller has already appeared in publications from Italy, China, Spain, Germany, Russia and the United States. Mueller’s status as a high-flyer is defined by her instinct for wearing modern design with intelligence and verve. Combine this with Franzi’s physical gifts – height, good proportion and bone-structure – and you arrive at a picture of a model that not only appreciates high fashion, but understands it as well.

Every great model knows that while their face graces an editorial, or fronts a campaign, it is the clothes that are the star. The best models working right now are the ones who have a genuine love of fashion. With high-fashion itself heading into the unknown, with ever-bolder shapes taking the lead, it is up to the industry’s interpreters (photographers, stylists, editors and models) to take the fear out of contemporary fashion and persuade us of its wearability.

Even at its most extreme, Franzi finds the beauty in high fashion, making it not just interesting but downright inspirational. These are big ideas, fashion at its most conceptual, but with the right interpretation, these are ideas we find ourselves wanting to explore.

Making that leap into wearing the next big idea takes courage and models like Franzi are going there first; showing us not only how these new trends can be worn, but how we can find a connection between the clothing and ourselves. Every regularly-worn piece in your wardrobe gets preference above others because you have a connection to it. Whether it’s a colour, or pattern, favourite pieces connect and that relationship can be deep-rooted. It explains why you end up buying one colour over and over, or variations of a jacket you have worn to death.

Making that connection is skilled work and this is why a model who loves fashion will always do well. Looking at Franzi’s CV, despite the fact her career is not even a year old; she is already shaping up to be one of high fashion’s most prolific advocates. Whether she’s channelling aspects of fashion’s history, or working the edgiest trends, the love is there for everyone to see.


Monday, 19 November 2012


Born in 1993, Latvian model Karlina Caune shot to fame in 2010 when she won the Ford Models Supermodel of the World competition. 

A global search for fashion’s next superstars, the standards for this competition are fiercely high. To even be selected to take part is a very strong indicator of real modelling talent. While winning is not an automatic pass into the fashion industry, it is enough to propel a model's career in the right direction. The winners are selected by a panel of fashion insiders. They select the next generation of faces they believe will have an impact and Caune’s classic features, with a hint of editorial, were deemed to be exactly what the industry was looking for.

In February 2010, Karlina debuted at Fashion Week, and proved a hit with a wide range of designers including Marchesa, Behnaz Serafpour and Tory Burch. 

Karlina broke into editorial work the following month, with a spread in Nylon. This was a key publication for Caune’s editorial debut: Nylon’s reputation for presenting high-fashion in a refreshingly non-deferential way is well-founded, and a major coup for any new model.

In June, Karlina modelled in the resort show for Stella McCartney in New York, following that with an editorial for British Marie Claire. Photographed by Yu Tsai, ‘Super Vixen’ fused classic beauty with the moody, evocative image of the silver-screen siren. Using dark-haired Karlina, it was a deft response to the Hitchcock blonde.

Leaving Ford Models and signing with New York Models in early 2011, Karlina returned to the runway in February walking in ready-to-wear shows for Erdem, Louise Gray and Meadham Kirchhoff.  Landing the cover of Russia’s L’Officiel in March, and appearing in the spring issue of Revue de Modes, Caune’s list of runway bookings began to grow. Walking in the Spring / Summer 2012 shows that September, she added Carven, Celine, Dries van Noten, Isabel Marant, Julien MacDonald, Marios Schwab and YSL to her list of credits. With the season’s emphasis on femininity, it was no surprise that Karlina did so well. On the catwalk, every interpretation of femininity was represented, from Julien MacDonald’s homage to old-school glamour to Meadham Kirchhoff’s subversive exploration of sugar and spice.

Caune made her first appearance in German Vogue in February, working with Kati Nescher, Erjona Ala and Julia Frauche. In a series of soft-focus, modern portraits; this editorial (‘WeiB wie Schwarz’) was all about striking a balance between being a strong editorial presence and allowing the simplicity of the clothes to speak for themselves. This type of modelling requires intelligence and subtlety: Karlina delivered on both.
February saw Karlina’s runway CV expand with a massive 45 shows, walking for Dolce & Gabbana, Hakaan, Jason Wu, Marni, Oscar de la Renta, Rag & Bone, Sonia Rykiel and Viktor & Rolf. This was Karlina’s most comprehensive season to date.

In March, Karlina appeared in the British edition of Harper’s Bazaar. ‘The Shape of Things to Come’, photographed by Mark Segal, saw Karlina model the bold new motifs for 2012. Her ability to work fashion’s most challenging ideas was also demonstrated when Caune was booked for Dazed & Confused’s season preview. Modelling monochromatic tailoring, Karlina modelled one of fashion's most enduring and iconic looks without being overwhelmed.

That same month, Karlina appeared in i-D. ‘Don’t Be a Drag, Just be a Queen’ (photographed by Amy Troost), saw Caune channel punk attitude with a Valentino dress layered with a McQ pleated leather skirt. This ‘in-your-face’ fashion doesn’t always mix well with classic faces, but Karlina handled i-D’s brief with relish, working her angles to create that vital, editorial edge.

Returning to the pages of German Vogue in May, Karlina got to work with photographer Greg Kadel. ‘Klassenbeste’ (meaning ‘Best in Class’) saw Karlina modelling an American Varsity jacket and an exquisitely-beaded haute couture corset. If you ever needed proof of Karlina’s versatility, this shoot was Exhibit A.

Karlina’s exhaustive round of editorial work culminated in May with an appearance in Italian Vogue. Working for their supplement, ‘Suggestions’, the shoot and accompanying video was a virtual moodboard for the perfect summer: warm, sunny and light-hearted, this impeccably-styled supplement saw Italian Vogue in relaxed mode. The retro, laid-back feel saw Karlina and fellow model Monica Sawicka recline in colourful pieces by Moschino, Giambattista Valli and Prada.

August saw a flurry of print work for Karlina, including Numero’s ‘Lunaire’ (an editorial dedicated to exploring texture) and Turkish Vogue’s ‘Isiga Dogru’. The latter, photographed by Jem Mitchell, explored dazzling, ornate bursts of colour with clashing textures and finishes. A beautifully-shot editorial that made the most of Karlina’s classic beauty, this was excess undertaken with perfect restraint.

This September, Karlina re-appeared on the RTW catwalks, walking for Giambattista Valli, DSquared, Tom Ford, Christopher Kane, Thakoon and Helmut Lang. With her authority on the runway now clearly established, Caune’s career went to the next level: campaigns.

This winter, you can see Karlina in four different campaigns: Akris (modern, sleek sensuality); Jil Sander Eyewear; Hobbs with Emily Baker and Kinga Rajzak and Sportmax (undergoing an image overhaul courtesy of photographer Craig McDean).

Looking at Karlina’s varied body of work; it is obvious why she won the Ford Models competition. Able to run the gamut of modern sophistication to rough-and-ready punk, Caune is the epitome of the fashion multi-tasker. Despite fashion’s current taste for models with a pre-defined look, there is always a place (and economic necessity) for the versatile model. There is an advantage in having a look that doesn’t lean too heavily in any direction – depending on the styling; Karlina can be ultra-feminine or downright androgynous. It also makes for a more interesting career: so far Karlina has worked for publications as diverse as Nylon, Harper’s Bazaar and Italian Vogue.

There is also longevity in being the versatile girl: the model with the strong, headline-making look may be winning the top jobs one month, but fashion never stays in one place for very long. Furthermore, any modelling agency will tell you that a healthy bottom-line is dependent on models just like Karlina.

In winning a big competition like Ford Models, there is always the risk of that victory, that weight of expectation, marring a model’s progress. Enter the fashion industry equipped with the title ‘Supermodel of the World’ and the pressure is on to perform – and to do so to the highest of standards.

Karlina has been brave in not chasing the obvious, big-money jobs. In debuting with a small-but-strong RTW season, she developed a solid foundation, growing steadily each year, winning over more and more clients in the process. Caune’s long game strategy has proved to be the smart choice and could well be copied by future winners of this highly influential competition. In not bowing to pressure to become that ‘iconic’ supermodel, Karlina has engineered a career that’s not only exciting, but buzzing with potential. The best is most definitely yet to come.


Sunday, 11 November 2012


Born on the 10th June 1992, Michigan-based model Kate Upton signed with Elite Models in 2009. Just a year later, Upton made the pivotal decision to switch agencies, moving to IMG in 2010. The decision to sign with this uber-agency, that not only manages models, but works with stars from the worlds of music and sport, was the key change Upton needed. IMG is an agency that specialises in self-branding, tailoring their management strategies to an individual client’s strengths and weaknesses. It is entirely plausible to attribute Upton’s current success – and huge popularity – down to smart branding.

Upton started in the sectors of the fashion industry where she would be well-received. Her first campaign booking was with Guess Jeans. Becoming the face of the brand at the age of 18, she stayed with Guess for two years.  Also undertaking some modelling for the 2011 Victoria’s Secret catalogue, this was a classic case of Upton playing to her strengths.

Then came her big break. After appearing in the 2011 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, she was invited back in January 2012 – to be their cover girl. An American institution, this annual cover can be a star-making deal – recent cover girls include Bar Refaeli and Brooklyn Decker. 

It is not just the preserve of swimwear / lingerie models either: Tyra Banks famously graced the cover in 1996, during the height of her high-fashion career. Like Victoria’s Secret, this magazine offers huge cross-over potential, and Kate’s appearance on this year’s issue had the desired effect: she became a star overnight.

With Upton now on everyone’s radar, a new phase of her career kicked in: in early 2012, she appeared on the Spring / Summer cover of Muse magazine. Photographed by Sebastian Faena for both the cover and accompanying editorial, ‘Blonde Bombshell’, this was Kate’s first foray into the world of high-fashion and she proved herself more than capable of stepping up. 

Upton also appeared in the Spring / Summer issue of V. This was a crucial booking for Kate, as V is an ultra-edgy, highly influential magazine. For Kate to appear in this magazine indicated that, while popular opinion was still locked into Upton’s triumphant turn for Sports Illustrated, the fashion industry was already starting to look ahead and see a different kind of potential.

In May, Kate appeared on two magazine covers: Esquire and Harper’s Bazaar. The latter was photographed by Terry Richardson, along with the prophetically-titled editorial ‘The Shape of Things to Come’. Kate worked Hermes and other old-school labels, channelling full-on glamour. Richardson proved to be an inspired choice of photographer, being someone who is very comfortable at producing highly-sexualised fashion images. Richardson’s photographs may provoke, but they are always grounded in the world of high-fashion.

Upton’s affiliation with Richardson continued into July, when they created the cover for GQ magazine. Treading the line between appealing to men and adding that all-important high fashion gloss, Richardson’s gift for translating sexuality on film is self-evident here. The cover feels fun and spontaneous, a tricky balance but Upton and Richardson get the tone just right.

July was also the month that Upton made her inaugural appearance in American Vogue. ‘Bringing Sexy Back’, an editorial photographed by Sebastian Kim, profiled Kate’s career to date and her newly-unleashed charm offensive on the fashion world. It was a significant nod to Upton: American Vogue’s success rate at spotting the next big thing is unsurpassed.

In a busy month, Upton also appeared in the UK’s Sunday Times Style magazine. A supplement that has become both influential and highly significant (editorials were once presided over by stylist Isabella Blow), Upton is here sold as America’s latest pin-up. She models traditionally ‘sexy’ clothes, but it is styled sharply and cleanly – no sleaze, just fashion.

Kate’s final booking for the summer was with Spanish Vogue. In ‘Fuego en el Cuerpo’ (Body Heat), Upton gives a master-class in how to model swimwear. It is an undervalued area of modelling, despite its profitability. To model swimwear requires not just energy but focus; an awareness of angles and negative space. These tend to be highly technical shoots, replying on just the right angle to create that perfect shot. It is testament to what Upton has learnt in a short space of time, in that she makes the job of modelling swimwear look unnervingly easy. 

Kate returned to American Vogue in September, appearing in ‘The Vogue 120’. Shot by legendary photographer Norman Jean Roy, this mega-editorial featured every current designer and model of note. Working in groups, Upton modelled with Candice Swanepoel and Chanel Iman. Placed side by side, the two ‘glamour’ models meet Iman’s high-fashion experience head-on: there is no weak link in this shot.
This month, Upton goes from cover girl to superstar. Coming of age in a Steven Meisel shoot for American Vogue, Kate, as ‘The New Girl’, models sports-luxe inspired fashion from some American greats:  Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Jason Wu and Donna Karan. The editorial, aiming to sell Upton as the new American sweetheart, directly draws a line between Kate, Jayne Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe. 

As daunting as this proclamation is, Upton’s giddy ascent to stardom does beg comparisons to Mansfield and Monroe. But Upton’s own image is far from that of the ‘doomed blonde’. Depicted as a youthful force of nature, Upton’s appeal is rooted in a girl-next-door philosophy. Upton’s success stems from the fact that she is a girl from Michigan who was smart about grabbing the opportunities that would further her career.  Her July cover for GQ keenly lays out the reason for Upton’s popularity: along with her beauty is an air of accessibility. This cover works because it never takes itself too seriously. It may also be the reason for Kate’s success.

This November has seen Kate upgrade from swimwear and catalogue work to fashion’s Holy Grail: the cover of Italian Vogue. Photographed by Steven Meisel, the cover titled ‘Seductive’ has made headlines around the world. Styled as an 80’s glamour girl, the magazine plays on old ideas of ‘sexy’ and ‘seduction’ by presenting them with a new face. The cover has not received all positive press, with lots of fashion fans being very vocal in their disapproval despite Kate’s stellar performance. Never afraid to court controversy, Italian Vogue has hit a home run with this cover.

Also appearing in the leading editorial of November’s Italian Vogue, ‘Miss Kate Upton’ is given the full Vogue Italia treatment. Kate works every angle here – her previous experience working swimwear and lingerie proves the perfect base for a shoot like this. Upton knows instinctively what works and what doesn’t: ‘Seduction’ may be a mind game, but Kate plays the game like a master. It is, without doubt, one of the most extraordinary transformations the fashion industry has seen. To go from modelling lingerie to the pages of Vogue in the space of a year is incredible progress. 

Upton’s next challenge will be to keep the momentum going. As Kate has been accepted by the flagship publications of the industry, it will be interesting to see if she makes the next step from editorial to runway. While Upton has proved herself in print, runway is notably missing from her CV. Although a catwalk-friendly 5’ 10”, Upton has no high-fashion runway experience to date.

Right now, the odds of Kate making that leap are not in her favour. Upton’s curves would have placed her in good company during the Supermodel period – it is easy to imagine Upton modelling with the likes of Cindy Crawford and Helena Christensen. But for the moment, the emphasis is on tall, lean girls who can handle fashion’s rapidly changing and increasingly-bold silhouettes. 

It all hangs on what will emerge from the collections next February. Prada’s curve-hugging collection from Autumn 2010 is a great example of fashion doing the unexpected: Miuccia Prada’s work begged for a different shape, and models such as Doutzen Kroes and Lara Stone were hired to (literally) do the leg-work. All it takes is another collection like this, or a trend that requires curves to do it justice, and Kate could find herself a runway star as well.

For now, Kate must end 2012 with a huge sense of accomplishment. She started the year as the cover girl for Sports Illustrated, and finished it as a cover star for Italian Vogue. The fashion world was under no obligation to take to her the way they did, but her versatility and ability to grow is what makes Kate that one in a million. Whatever direction her career takes in 2013, Kate really is the shape of things to come.