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.