Tuesday, 26 June 2012

MODEL PROFILES: BAMBI NORTHWOOD-BLYTH


Born in 1991, Stephanie Bambi Northwood-Blythe began modelling locally in Australia at the age of 18.
Signing with Elite in 2010, and adopting her middle name, Bambi scored her first international editorial with RUSSH that April. Photographed by Beau Grealy, ‘Stoned’ was a series of neutral-toned portraits.  Styled with distressed edging and rough textures, Bambi gave an astonishingly accomplished performance, adding a layer of sophistication entirely in keeping with the tone of the shoot.

Landing the cover of Australian Harper’s Bazaar in June, Bambi took to the runway in September. Walking for Chanel, Balenciaga, Rag & Bone, Topshop Unique and Kenzo, Bambi defied the legend that shorter models can’t do runway.

Following a ready-to-wear debut with a pre-Fall show for Chanel in December, this was a very interesting booking. Bambi’s look could easily be classified as very ‘Chanel’ – her strongly defined eyebrows make her memorable, much like Alice Dellal and Vanessa Paradis,  two of Lagerfeld’s most recent campaign girls. Chanel, despite its image beyond the fashion world, is not merely a wardrobe go-to for Park Avenue princesses. Every Chanel girl has had an edge, an intelligence that communicates a brand more intrigued by character than beauty alone. Bambi’s inclusion in the show, at such an early point in her career, was more than Lagerfeld latching onto the face of the moment; Bambi was being touted as a star of the future.

In January 2011, Bambi landed in a ‘new faces’ spread for V magazine. All hand-picked by model, stylist and photographer Natalie Joos, Bambi is joined in the editorial by now-familiar names such as Arizona Muse, Ashley Smith, Carola Remer, Caroline Brasch Nielsen, Julia Saner and Daphne Groeneveld. Joos scored highly with her predictions: all these models are not only working regularly but impressing at the very highest levels of the fashion industry.

Featuring in the February issue of RUSSH, Bambi worked with photographer Benny Horne in an editorial called ‘Babes’. Also including Lisanne di Jong, Hannah Holman and Meag West, the group shots are a lovely example of working together for the greater good. Every model here has star potential, but they put star-billing aside to create group shots that are harmonious and beautiful.

February also saw Bambi head back to the runway, this time walking in A/W shows for Chanel, Jill Stuart, Giles and Topshop Unique. Her ability to command attention paid off in early 2011 when she became one of the faces representing the ck one fragrance by Calvin Klein. Photographed by Steven Meisel, the mega campaign featured Lara Stone, Abbey Lee Kershaw, Alice Dellal plus newer names including Samantha Gradoville, fresh from her runway triumph at Prada. 

Proving her versatility, Bambi then booked her first editorial with W. ‘The Change Agent’, photographed by Steven Meisel, sees Bambi work punk chic with Eliza Cummings and Saskia de Brauw. Between the gentle sensuality of ‘Babes’ and the fierceness of ‘The Change Agent’, Bambi proved herself a perfect fit for every concept. 

Stepping it up a gear, Bambi joined a slew of rising stars for the April cover of Japanese Vogue. Bambi is joined here by Britt Maren, Fei Fei Sun and Milou van Groesen. The cover, called ‘Next Wave’ is pretty accurate, its selection including Milou who would, within a year, become the face of Giorgio Armani.

The model was on home turf again in June, with a cover try for Australian Harper’s Bazaar. In ‘Bambi Turns up the Heat’, the model is featured topless – her modesty preserved by male model Jack Vanderhart’s arm placed across her torso. Bambi’s ability to do the sultrier shoots was also beautifully realised in the August issue of Australian GQ. Modelling with Tyson Ballou, Bambi models retro 1950’s glamour in ‘Before Night Falls’. 

After a highly successful year, Bambi finished 2011 by appearing on the cover of V, photographed by Terry Richardson. ‘Let’s Go Cruising’ features Bambi and Lindsey Wixson playfully posing in Louis Vuitton. 

Heading back to V in March 2012, Bambi channelled the darker side of sexuality in ‘Playing the Field’. An edgy shoot that sees Bambi play the scheming WAG-in-training, it is clear to see that her wealth of editorial experience has made her a highly valuable player. 

Bambi’s latest booking has been to appear in the resort lookbook for Marc by Marc Jacobs. Working looks designed for launch in Spring 2013, Bambi models alongside new model Ondria Hardin. The collection, reputedly inspired by Portland, refers back to ‘old classics’: nautical stripes, muted blues, polka dots and florals – all are thrown into the mix and given the Marc Jacobs treatment. Even the famous mouse-ear flats get a makeover, returning next year as clogs. 

Still barely two years into her career, Bambi has excelled at finding a diverse range of work. Rather than finding a comfort zone, and playing that to perfection, Bambi has actively sought different experiences; her CV charts the progress of a model determined to do it all.

Her bold approach to assignments has seen her star rise quickly and steadily: in the space of a few months, Bambi booked a Chanel show, a campaign for Calvin Klein and the cover of Japanese Vogue. Individually, these credits are impressive. Together, they form a picture of someone who is absolutely fearless in taking on those high-pressure jobs. It’s a good quality to have as a model – especially if you want to go further. 

Bambi’s ascent can also be plotted against a larger success for Australia. Along with fellow Australians Krystal Glynn and Julia Nobis (not to mention newcomers Ollie Henderson and Emily Wake), Bambi forms part of a collective that channel and champion directional fashion. Australia’s role in high-fashion has gathered pace since the discovery of Abbey Lee Kershaw and Catherine McNeill, challenging the idea that Australia only has one type of beauty to offer. The long-limbed, athletic type has been superseded by a variety of fashion-friendly looks, dating from Abbey’s star-making turn for Gucci right up to Julia Nobis’ supporting role in the Louis Vuitton campaign for Autumn 2012.

At 5’7”, Bambi is considerably shorter than most of her peers. But her blossoming editorial and campaign career is a reminder that the modelling world can be flexible – as long as you have something extra to give. Bambi’s extraordinary face, capable of going from punk to pastels, is that something extra. It works for editorial and it works for campaigns – when your photographic presence is as strong as hers, being on the short side can easily be forgiven.

Bambi is a brilliant example of turning potential negatives into something supremely positive. Her face, with those Hilary Rhoda-style eyebrows, could at best draw comparisons, but Bambi has been smart in her choices, slowly building a body of work that’s very different to Hilary’s clutch of campaign regulars. Beating your own path in modelling is essential: as much as fashion likes to categorise, it likes individuals better. It explains why quirky faces often triumph over more conventionally attractive ones. Knowing your strengths, your weaknesses and crucially what you have to offer, is half the battle in becoming a model. Bambi proves that the true mark of success is not in the pursuit of perfection but in acknowledging one’s flaws. She is a better model for it, and will go on to ever greater heights. In fashion, what really counts is not fitting in – it’s standing out.

HELEN TOPE

Sunday, 17 June 2012

MODEL PROFILES: ANAIS MALI


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 clich├ęd 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.

HELEN TOPE

Sunday, 10 June 2012

MODEL PROFILES: LARA MULLEN


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.

HELEN TOPE