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.