Sunday, 6 November 2016

Model Spotlight: Leomie Anderson

I have to admit, I have a bit of a girl-crush on model Leomie Anderson. The stunning 5’10.5 British beauty is not only making waves in the fashion industry; she’s using her influence to speak about important issues, from the lack of diversity in the fashion industry to the dangers of sexting. And actually, as beautiful as she is, it’s the latter that has made me into a fan – I’m a huge advocate of people using their audience and influence for positive change.

I follow Leomie on Twitter and absolutely love how honest and outspoken she is. Her passion and drive is abundantly clear and to be honest, very infectious. She is so honest about working hard, wanting to work harder and build something for herself, by herself. In a world of nepotism and reality starlets, it’s like a breath of fresh air.  She is all about uplifting and inspiring others as well as giving a realistic insight into the life of a model.

Towards the end of last year, Leomie hit the headlines for speaking out on Twitter about the racial discrimination she has faced in her environment. She has been typically candid about situations she has encountered such as comments during castings, unprepared makeup artists and not getting jobs because “we’re not using any Africans in our shows this season”. She called out the difference between black MUAs backstage, who are equipped to make up all skintones, and said that often white MUAs don’t have the correct foundation shades for darker skinned models. Hairstylists are equally ill-equipped and the likes of Jourdan Dunn and Naomi Campbell have spoken out about this in the past.

Leomie also acknowledges that the situation has improved but still has a long way to go, particularly with darker skinned models, as lighter skinned models still get more work than their darker skinned contemporaries. Shadeism is still prevalent, you just need to look at the types of models of colour getting cast, whether it’s Indian, black, etc – it’s always the lighter skinned girls who conform more to Eurocentric beauty standards who end up getting the job. I totally agree that things have come a long way, and I love seeing Neelam Gill slaying, but representation of people of colour is still abysmal and these conversations are still important and need to be had.

Recently, Leomie penned an open letter urging young women to think before sending sexual images to men. Sexting is now so prolific that it has been added to the Oxford English dictionary, yet there has been very little discussion about safe parameters and potential for exploitation. She talks about the pressure young girls are under to send explicit messages and is reinforcing that it’s perfectly acceptable to say no. Again, this is an incredibly important issue to be open about and I applaud Leomie for empowering girls to say no.

Leomie followed this up by launching her own brand, LAPP, which aims to explore the issues young women face today. The first collection sought to reclaim the word ‘no’, making young girls feel like they can say no in the face of pressure. The collection uses phrases girls use to say no and aims to make girls feel confident and proud to say no, removing the stigma of saying no. As an aunt and godmother, this is such an important message and I’m so pleased that Leomie is doing all she can to help young girls.

Gosh, all this and I’ve barely mentioned Leomie’s incredible career. Discovered while on her way home from school, she kickstarted her career in 2010 walking for Loewe and Emanuel Ungaro and editorials with Dazed & Confused, anOtherand Vogue Italia the following year. Fast-forward just five years and Leomie has agency representation in the four fashion capitals plus Barcelona, Hamburg, Los Angeles, Miami and Seattle and has worked with everyone from Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford, Giles, Topshop and Victoria’s Secret. An enviable career by any accounts, especially for a darker skinned model, but what I love most about Leomie is her passion for life and candid approach to social media. What a star.


Monday, 14 March 2016

Model Spotlight: Tarun Nijjer

The life of a runway model is incredibly difficult. While having a great walk is essential, designers are ultimately looking for an army of blank canvases for their collections so it's hard for a model to stand out. This is why I was surprised that one face really stood out to be during London Collections: Men. The Christopher Raeburn show was very well cast with a sea of impossibly handsome, chiselled young men wearing one of Raeburn's best collections. The one fave that took out was that of British Asian model Tarun Nijjer. A favourite of Christopher Bailey, Tarun is the first model of Indian descent to open a Burberry show and featured in the AW14 campaign alongside Cara Delevigne. Tarun has also worked with Tom Ford and Fendi as well as the likes of AnOther Man. 
Like Neelam Gill, one of the things I really like about Tarun is that he is of Indian descent. Personally, it's great to see PoC on the runway and in campaigns - let's hope the industry continues to embrace diversity.


Friday, 27 November 2015

Model Spotlight: Neelam Gill

Racial diversity within the fashion industry has been hotly debated for a number of years now, with the number of non-white models making up a tiny percentage of faces seen on the runway. The Fashion Spot looks into diversity each season and noted that of the 3,727 spots on the runway during New York Fashion Week’s SS16 season, 71.6% of models were white and a mere 28.4% were non-white – 10.7% black, 8.7% Asian and 4.2% Latina. This is up from 24.4% from AW15 and just 20.9% in SS15.

While change is achingly slow, the industry IS increasingly casting more models of colour than before. Naomi Campbell has been one of the most vocal advocates for diversity, regularly speaking out on the issue and mentoring models such as Jourdan Dunn, Joan Smalls and Malaika Firth. She has also spoken out about wanting this to be a long-lasting change in the industry rather than a trend, in one season and out the next. This is something that Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci fully supports. His second couture show at the house opened with 9 black girls, he was taken aback by the media coverage of his casting stating “It shouldn’t be a big deal – it should be normal”.

I appreciate and support the increasing diversity, as supported by model scounts, casting agents, creative directors and editors. As a woman of colour, it’s important for me to feel represented within fashion; fashion needs to feel attainable, not alienating. As someone with Indian heritage, I’ve never really seen many women who look like me outside of Bollywood. This is why I’ve been obsessed by 20 year old Indian model Neelam Gill, the first British Indian woman to break into the international fashion week circuit. Get it girl.

First scouted at The Clothes Show aged 13, Neelam saw Models1 aged 14 but focused on her studies…until repeated called from Burberry led to her catwalk debut at their AW14 show. I still remember when I saw her hit the runway, thinking ‘WHO is this girl?!’. Neelam was then shot by Mario Testino for her first Burberry campaign, earning the accolade of the first Indian model to be featured by the brand. Fast forward just two years and Neelam has agency representation in New York, Paris, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Hamburg and Milan as well as London and has worked with the lines of Vogue, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, Hunger and Wonderland. As well as being handpicked by Kanye West’s AW15 Yeezy show.

What I like most about Neelam is that she has a maturity way beyond her 20 years. A self-described feminist, she makes no apologies for earning more than her male counterparts – she’s well aware that the gender pay gap often swings in the other direction for the majority of women. A strong woman and great role model, she sees herself as ‘breaking boundaries’ of gender, race and class. She also has great taste in music, citing Tupac, Nas, Future, Krept & Konan and Kanye as favourites.

It’s strange to say this about someone that you’ve never met but I’m so happy and oddly proud of her continued success. I’m not the only one, she regularly retweets fans thanking her for representing brown girls on the international fashion stage. Finally, a girl in magazines who looks like me. 


Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Model Spotlight: Binx

It’s hard to believe that Leona ‘Binx’ Walton only walked her first season of shows last February, as she’s already a favourite of one Karl Lagerfeld – she’s currently in the Chanel campaign after walking for the brand’s main and couture shows. Hawaiian-born and Tennessee-raised, Binx got her nickname from her brothers who thought she looked like Jar Jar Binks from Star Wars! Signed by Next Model Management just two years ago aged 17, Binx debuted at the Marc Jacobs AW13 show and has quickly risen up the fashion ranks. Like Sasha Luss, Binx had tried her hand at modelling but it was a radical hair change which propelled her career, going from long locks to a short back and sides with longer hair on top. Modelling is a far cry from her true passion, football. As fashion weeks fall in the middle of football season, Binx was forced to choose between the two and went for fashion in the end.

The industry has changed over the years, gone are the intimidating, Amazonian supermodels and in their place we have beautiful, fun girls who just seem really cool. Like Cara, Binx has personality by the bucket load. She seems so normal and unpretentious, I bet she'd be way more fun to hang out with than any of the Victoria's Secret Angels (who I love, by the way). I was struck by this quote which was in her interview with i-D; “If you’re confident in who you are… It might take time to find yourself but once you do…you’re you. It makes you a beautiful person to know who you are. You can be the most beautiful girl in the world but, excuse my language, if you’re a bitch, then you’ll always be ugly.”. I love the positive and peaceful attitude, looking forward to seeing big things from Miss Walton over the coming seasons.


Friday, 30 May 2014

Model Spotlight: Sasha Luss

I am quite literally obsessed with Russian model Sasha Luss. The same way I used to be obsessed with Daria Werbowy and Sasha Pivavorova, Sasha possesses the same other worldly beauty that just makes me want to stare at her face for days on end. From her bold bleached locks to her razor sharp cheek bones and piercing blue eyes, the 22-year-old model has a striking look to say the least so it’s no wonder she’s already a firm runway favourite and starting to rack up magazine covers too.
Sasha made her runway debut at Chanel Haute Couture 2012 back when she was just 20 and had long, mousey tresses. A year later and with a dramatic platinum blonde dye job to boot, Sasha returned to the Couture roster walking for everyone from Dior and Valentino to Alexis Mabille and Elie Saab. Her pretty ingénue look with big blue eyes and cascading locks worked but the edgy platinum look is just breath-taking. Little over a month later, she dominated the AW13 shows from New York to Milan and Paris, cementing her status as one to watch.
Despite owning the runways, Sasha is a relative newcomer so I’m really looking forward to seeing her evolve over the next few seasons. If like me, you’re captivated by Miss Luss, make sure you’re following her on Instagram for tons of candid shots. 


Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Model Spotlight: Malaika Firth

If you haven’t heard the name Malaika Firth, where on Earth have you been? The 19 year old, Kenyan-born London-based model is by all accounts absolutely killing it. Need convincing? Malaika is the first black model to be cast in a Prada campaign in nearly 20 years, the last was Naomi Campbell in 1994! Not bad for two years in the industry. Trust me, this little lady is going to go stellar.

Malaika began her modelling career aged 17 after signing with Premier Model Management and made her runway debut at New York Fashion Week for Odilon’s SS12 show. Soon after, Malaika scored her first campaign – Prada’s AW13 campaign alongside Christy Turlington, Catherine McNeil, Cameron Russell, Freja Beh, Fei Fei Sun and Rachel Willians. She also walked over 40 womenswear SS14 shows including Bottega Veneta, Marc Jacobs, Kenzo and Dolce & Gabbana.  She then scored a highly coveted spot in the Victoria’s Secret fashion show in November 2013 as well as SS14 campaigns for Valentino, Burberry and Prada for the second-consecutive time.Don’t let the beautiful doe eyes and delicate features fool you, she’s worked incredibly hard and achieved more in two years than many models achieve in 10.

As a relative newcomer to the industry, interviews are few and far between but Malaika seems super sweet and down to Earth. Recently returning to her hometown of Mombasa, she volunteered and also helped out at her family restaurant. I think the Prada campaign is where the similarities between Naomi Campbell begin and end, it’s so lovely to hear about a hard-working yet charming model.


Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Model Spotlight: Frida Gustavvson

I hold my hands up, I have a girl crush on Frida Gustavsson and after this post you will too. She's only been signed to IMG for little over two years but had racked up a more than impressive - not to mention extensive - list of campaigns, covers, editorials and shows. Within weeks of signing, she walked for Valentino couture as well as her first Vogue Italia editorial. Major labels including Carolina Herrera, Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren, Oscar de la Renta, Luella, Gianfranco Ferre and Gareth Pugh featured Frida on their catwalks, in her first round of shows. Impressive. She went on to walk almost all the major couture shows from Armani Prive and Valentino to Christian Dior and Chanel as well as several editorials and covers including W, AnOther and French/Italian/British Vogue. Now a seasoned regular on the catwalk, she opens and closes for the likes of Marc Jacobs and Lanvin. In just two years, she almost makes the other supers look like slackers. She also has incredible personal style, she's no stranger to the likes of Facehunter and Jak & Jil. If that's not enough to convince you, feast your eyes on her beautiful face and killer legs. 


Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Model Spotlight: Eniko Mihalik

Hungarian model Eniko Mihalik was discovered after taking part in Elite Model Look in 2002. After coming fourth, she had a quiet couple of years. She debuted at the Chanel couture show in 2006 and walked for a handful of designers before her big break last year. During the Spring/Summer 2009 shows, she walked for a staggering 50 designers including Givenchy, Diane von Furtenberg and Marchesa. This year, she has opened or closed for the likes of Stella McCartney, Viktor & Rolf, Jeremy Scott and Carolina Herrera.

Shortly after her super season, Ines van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin put her on an exclusive 6 month contract. She now has the honour of being their muse.

She’s a regular on the campaign trail, and is the face of Gucci, Kenzo and MaxMara under her belt. She’s also a magazine regular and has had a couple of stunning cover shots, my favourite is her i-D cover. She has been featured in editorials for the likes of Italian Vogue, French Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar  and W magazine.

Hair: Blonde 
Eyes: Green 
Height: 178cm/5'10" 
Bust: 81cm/32" 
Waist: 60cm/23.5" 
Hips: 87cm/34.5" 
Shoe: 39 EU/8 US/6 UK 
Dress: 34 EU/4 US/6 UK

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