Sunday, 27 May 2012

MODEL PROFILES: MARIE PIOVESAN



Born in France in 1985, Marie Piovesan signed with Marilyn Agency in 2011, at the age of 26. She debuted at Fashion Week in October the same year, appearing for YSL and Miu Miu, also opening the Celine show.
In December, she finished her inaugural year with an editorial for Interview magazine. ‘Reed Krakoff’ was a profile piece, exploring the new American must-have label. A recent addition to the international fashion scene, it has been typified as an alternative to Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren’s vision of high-end luxury. Reed Krakoff explores luxurious textures but in a postmodern way, defying the expectation that ‘luxury’ fashion can’t be edgy or daring. 

Marie made her couture debut in January 2012, walking in the Spring / Summer Valentino show. Within the space of a few months, Piovesan would prove that couture, either by label or by attitude, would be her true comfort zone. Having a face that lends itself readily to directional fashion, Marie comes equipped with the skills necessary to embody and translate that most difficult of sartorial genres.

In February, Marie conquered RTW, with a massive season of 40 shows. All the biggest labels booked Marie including Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton and Valentino. Piovesan was also a ready favourite with newer labels such as Haider Ackermann. Autumn 2012 looks set to be a season celebrating the dark arts, with artisan touches from Marc Jacobs and Valentino in particular, with Jacobs’ models trawling the catwalk in huge Dr.Seuss-style hats courtesy of milliner Stephen Jones. The palette for A/W 2012: black, grey with splashes of dark green and maroon may be perfect for a money-spinner season, but its heart is rooted in something bigger. The best collections combined wearability with broad strokes of creativity, again, disproving the theory that the two have to be mutually exclusive. 

Marie’s association with high fashion’s quirky side continued with an editorial for ‘Love’ magazine.  Shot in video format, ‘Fan Club’ (directed by Ruth Hogben), pays homage to the chorus lines of 1940’s Hollywood musicals. Featuring Ajak Deng, Kati Nescher, Hye Park and Aymeline Valade, the video profiles the Louis Vuitton blockbuster collection. Love it or hate it, its range of influence this summer is everywhere. 
Deceptively coy, but full of charm, the collection is rapidly coming to define Spring / Summer 2012.

Marie’s skills in ‘real time’ modelling continued into February with an editorial for www.models.com. The short film, ‘Committed’, acts as a showcase for new talent including Codie Young, Isabelle Melo and Kelly Mittendorf. Showing that you can model in ‘real time’ is becoming as important as how you perform in still photographs. As fashion employs new media to promote itself, moving well on camera is now a key skill for any new model. 

In March, Piovesan made her Italian Vogue debut, not only getting a leading editorial but the cover of its famous couture supplement. The intersection where art and fashion meet, this is justifiably what Italian Vogue is known for. Its international reputation for translating couture and showing it at its best is well-established.
The editorial, ‘The Lady in Spring’, is Vogue Italia’s interpretation of the ladylike trend. Featuring epic, pleated gowns from Dior; Valentino’s obsession with lace and Armani Prive’s smart play on textures, this is an editorial designed to stimulate thought as much as desire. 

While some editorials let themselves wash over you, others pointedly make you stop and demand you look closer.  The complexity of the styling insists that we take a moment to ‘read’ the clothes the way we would read a book; taking in every detail and nuance. Italian Vogue not only respects haute couture, it knows that in order to appreciate it, you must understand it. Sometimes criticised for being inscrutable, haute couture is only too willing to offer up its secrets if you give it a chance. Couture may be complex, but it can also be immensely rewarding; it isn’t about indulgence, but exploration. The recent innovations reaching the red carpet at Cannes Film Festival – diaphanous skirts attached to beaded bodices; daring cutaways and beautifully evocative prints – every one of those concepts started life as a couture design. What once seemed outlandish now seems both covetable and beautiful.

Marie’s performance in the Italian Vogue editorial is extraordinary, but not obtrusive; it adds another layer of meaning to the image rather than distract us from the clothes. Sometimes couture demands drama from its model, at other times, it needs a more subtle finish. Marie provides the latter with a sophistication that only really comes from ‘getting’ what the designer is trying to say. Knowing photographers and editors is all part of a model’s job, but if you don’t engage with what you’re being asked to wear, the resulting performance might be good, but it won’t be great.

Squeezing in a conceptual beauty editorial for the March edition of Interview, Marie then got her moment in the spotlight when she was hired to represent Celine in their Spring / Summer campaign.

Photographed by Juergen Teller, the campaign plays against the label’s previous incarnation under Michael Kors, whose creative directorship steered the brand into becoming a byword for super-luxurious glamour. When Phoebe Philo took over the reins in 2008, after her highly successful stint at Chloe, the label became a very different animal. Since Phoebe’s signing, Celine has evolved into an exercise in studied luxury. It was a radical switch from the Kors-esque glamour to a more loosely-drawn, modern interpretation of what luxury means.

Marie in this campaign wears the white shirt-dress that is the kingpin of the entire collection. The simple shape, the impeccable tailoring are by definition luxurious (the shirt-dress doesn’t come cheap), but it is a very new way of wearing high-end fashion. Celine is still about luxury; as much as it ever was, but now, the genius is not on show, but behind-the-scenes. 

Piovesan’s affiliation with ground-breaking fashion continues with an incredible multi-page shoot for the April issue of Interview. Photographed by Fabien Baron, ‘Goya’, is an unapologetically epic shoot featuring the very best of this season’s RTW and couture. Styled to the nth degree with grand silhouettes and supersized jewellery, the editorial is named after the Spanish artist who made his name exploring the grotesque and disturbing. Goya’s unsettling but intimate portraits, including ‘The Mourning of the Duchess of Alba’ (1797), are clearly the inspiration for the editorial. With the Duchess wearing metres of black Spanish lace, she is poised, self-assured with plenty of attitude – an early example of what’s required when modelling couture. 

Tracing its roots back through 18th and 19th century art, couture has been the status symbol of choice for art’s wealthy patrons. With ready-to-wear clothing not available until the 1920’s, society portraits painted by Thomas Gainsborough and later John Singer Sargent, made the clothes the main event. Gainsborough made his fortune by conveying the delicate nature of lace and silk – committing these fabrics to canvas provided the ultimate challenge for the ambitious painter. John Singer Sargent, who painted portraits of New York’s emerging elite, also made light work of the new fashions being worn. The velvet sensuality of his ‘Portrait of Madame X’ (1884) compared to the cotton pinafores of ‘The Daughters of Edward Darley Bolt’ (1882), are prime examples of how fashion has always been in the spotlight. The sitters may draw you in, but the real work is in the fabric: getting brushstrokes to resemble silk can only be done by a master. Nearly 90 years after Sargent’s death, the brush has been replaced by a camera and the likes of Meisel, Testino and Demarchelier are continuing to carry the torch. 

What is evident from looking at the Goya editorial is that Marie Piovesan understands that she is the sitter, and the dress the star. She injects a sense of history into her work that gives her modelling, whether it is on the runway or in front of a camera, a greater depth and substance. Blessed with a face that is traditional as it is modern, Piovesan’s gift to the fashion industry is in reminding it of where it came from. Once a pleasure for the privileged few; dressing fashionably is now accessible for billions of people. In the space of 200 years, we’ve viewed fashion from a painter’s perspective to the global lens of YouTube: however it is interpreted, fashion continues to thrive because it continues to learn from its past. The never-ending narrative of fashion may be told differently, but the message is always the same: a good model and photographer work the stage for our applause, but ultimately it’s fashion that takes the encore.

HELEN TOPE

Sunday, 20 May 2012

MODEL PROFILES: CODIE YOUNG


Born on 1st November 1992, Australian model Codie Young looks set to become one of the best-known faces of the year.

Discovered in 2010, Codie signed with DNA Models. In the same year, she got her first significant booking courtesy of Australian Vogue. Requested specifically by Vogue editor Kirstie Clements, the magazine has a strong history of being loyal to its home-grown talent and eager to develop them into world players. Their track record has produced some serious editorial talent including Catherine McNeil, Abbey Lee Kershaw, Alice Burdeu and Julia Nobis.

That October, Codie featured on the cover of Australian Vogue (photographed by Nicole Bentley). Young wore the purple Miu Miu dress du jour, flanked by a stunning display of pink roses. Also scoring two leading editorials in the same issue, this was a spectacular debut, launching Codie into the world of international modelling.

Codie made her catwalk introduction in February 2011, securing the opening spot in the Marni show. Appearing in nearly 40 shows, she appeared for Calvin Klein, Chanel, Chloe, Erdem, Halston, Lanvin, Marc Jacobs, Rick Owens, Rodarte, Sonia Rykiel, Thakoon and Vanessa Bruno.

Returning to Australian Vogue in April, she made her inaugural appearance in Italian Vogue in August. Photographed by Phil Poynter, the Beatnik-style shoot featured Codie playing a super-cool 60’s ingĂ©nue. Capturing the era in detail, this was the point where starlets started becoming fashion icons – you didn’t have to be as big a name as Elizabeth Taylor to make an impact. If you loved fashion and knew how to wear it, your star could rise and rise. The Sixties really cemented the link between fashion and film, with new stars cultivating a style persona independent of their film roles. Names such as Brigitte Bardot and Jean Seberg set the standard which starlets aim to replicate today.

Codie experienced her second big RTW season in September with Young closing the S/S 12 Jill Stuart show. With her other appearances including Carven, House of Holland, Just Cavalli, Mulberry, Peter Pilotto and Tory Burch, Codie was making crucial links with the up and coming labels.

Codie’s editorial work led to other high-profile bookings in Autumn 2011, with a campaign signing for Orla Kiely. Born in Ireland but now based in London, Orla Kiely gives retro English style a knowing, postmodern twist. Kiely excels at prints – her famous leaf pattern has become a design icon. Producing ethical fashion that has seduced everyone from Kirsten Dunst to the Duchess of Cambridge, Codie’s intensity gives the clothing a youthful edge.

Codie finally became the main attraction when i-D magazine invited her to participate in ‘Going for the Gold’, an editorial profiling new talent. Featuring new faces such as Alice Cornish and Tian Yi, this editorial highlighted a fresh group of models who are re-introducing the concept of quirky beauty to an industry that has, in the recent economic turbulence, gone with ‘safe’, familiar faces. However, as the recession continued, the fashion industry realised that playing it safe was not the same as being safe. Hence the explosion of new, interesting faces, with both Saskia de Brauw and Milou van Groesen doing particularly well.

The race to find that next great face is a continuous process. The life-cycle of a model tends to be short, and those who were discovered around 2008-09 are already contemplating the endgame of their careers. The tussle between agencies to sign the next big thing is always present; making a star can be a long-drawn-out process with some models needing a gradual introduction into the fashion world. Others start out the gate much quicker, their look usually finding favour with an influential editor, photographer or designer. Finding that starry face – the one that makes their agency a fortune – is a quick-draw business. Hesitate, and that lucky find goes to a rival agency.

Proving her worth, Codie scored the cover of the December beauty supplement for Italian Vogue. Photographed by Greg Lotus, Codie reprises her role in the earlier Italian Vogue editorial, giving us perfectly-honed Sixties elegance.

Completing a shorter RTW season in February, including Oscar de la Renta and Marchesa, Codie made her British Vogue debut with ‘Spring Forward’. Featuring Emily Baker, Romee Strijd, Elise Crombez and Maria Bradley, Codie makes her first editorial appearance sporting flame-red hair. Going from mid-brown, this bold new look proved to be career-defining, with Codie being snapped up for two major campaigns.

The first, Rebecca Taylor, has been a lucky signing for Codie. A regular on the fashion industry circuit, Taylor has just gone from solid, dependable producer of feminine fashion, to one of the hottest names in the business. Relaunching a vintage blue tweed suit recently worn by Kate Middleton, the ‘Kate Effect’ has transformed Taylor’s fortunes. As face of the brand, Codie benefits by association.

The second signing is the stuff of dreams, with Codie becoming the face of the latest fragrance to be launched by Marc Jacobs.

Following a tough act in the enormously popular ‘Lola’, the new fragrance is named ‘Dot’. It promises to be a small dose of summer; boasting a blend of red berries, dragon fruit, coconut water and jasmine. For many, a new Marc Jacobs perfume is always cause for celebration, but for Codie, this new signing represents a tipping point. Depending on how well-starred this fragrance is in comparison to ‘Daisy’ and ‘Lola’; Young’s career could begin a whole new chapter.

The last big launch for Marc Jacobs fragrances was ‘Lola’ in 2009: a floral scent with an extravagant bottle design whose campaign was fronted by Karlie Kloss. Already on her way to becoming a major name in the fashion industry, the ‘Lola’ signing with Karlie attached had an extraordinary effect on her career. As the fragrance became a hit with young women across the globe, recognition of Karlie grew accordingly. In a matter of months, Karlie went from new kid to the must-book model of the moment. Her fanbase grew from a small band of fashion insiders to a wave of appreciative videos popping up all over YouTube. Blogs were dedicated to the American model, and her work eagerly discussed and dissected. The meteoric rise of Karlie occurred because the campaign and fragrance were both equally strong. We’ve all been seduced into trying a new scent by a glossy campaign but felt let down by the scent: on this occasion, no detail had been overlooked: the perfume could not help but be a smash.

Deciding not to break up a winning formula, the ‘Dot’ campaign works on similar principles to the highly successful ‘Lola’ and ‘Daisy’. Instead of giving us uber-glamour, Codie looks directly into the camera, holding the bottle of perfume – and that’s it. It is what it is, the campaign implies: no tricks or subliminal messaging required. The no-nonsense approach is unique to Jacobs and a strategy that clearly works. The red and black bottle (looking like a ladybird) is appealing and tactile; youthful but not juvenile.

The hiring of the campaign model is crucial to the success of any fragrance: the faces used by Chloe to sell their perfume (including Anja Rubik) were perfectly pitched because the models exuded a cool, modern femininity that played right into the brand’s core values. Think of Chloe and you think of those iconic adverts: Anja the epitome of modern beauty, sub-referencing Chloe’s golden age. That same deep-rooted connection is what every perfume-maker aims for. The right face really can change everything.

Codie’s nonchalant air makes her just right for the latest Marc Jacobs scent. Cool, but not distant; quirky but still relatable; Codie sums up what appeals to the generation who will buy the perfume. Old-school glamour, normally a go-to for many perfumes, would not be right for this campaign; pared-down, fresh-faced beauty will strike a nerve with girls who enjoy fashion, but cultivate their own personal style. The individual, the girl less understood, is who Marc Jacobs really sells to. It is no accident that one of his muses is film-maker Sofia Coppola. Her celebration of new faces including Dakota Fanning and Imogen Poots neatly dovetails with Jacobs’ vision: neither is speaking to the girl who loves her fake tan and hair extensions. This is for the outsider, the girl who is aware of trends, knows fashion, but does it her way.

As the perfume nears its launch date in August, it is entirely reasonable to expect that the campaign will have the same catalyst effect for Codie as it did for Karlie. The perfect, quirky face for a boldly individual generation, Codie Young could be this year’s breakout star.

HELEN TOPE

Sunday, 13 May 2012

MODEL PROFILES: BETTE FRANKE


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. 

HELEN TOPE