Walk, Point, Shoot: A Model’s Behind-the-Scenes View of New York and Paris Fashion Weeks – By Louise Parker as told to Isabel Wilkinson October 19, 2014 9:05 p.m.

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For models, Fashion Week starts the week before the shows, with castings all over the city. You show up, walk for designers and agents, and hope to get picked. Sometimes you don’t find out if you’ve been booked for a show until the day before. Two years ago, I started taking a camera with me to castings and shows to document what I was seeing.

This season, castings began on a lonely Labor Day weekend. While most of my friends were out of town, I shuttled around to different offices and shot a look book for a Korean designer. I went to SoulCycle classes and, at night, put on face masks. These things just get me in the game—there’s really nothing you can do to prepare for the runway other than just feel good about yourself.

Lately, casting directors seem to be looking for either brand-new faces or for big-name veterans, like Naomi Campbell or Gisele, who both made surprise appearances on the runway this season. It’s tough to carve out a career in between all that, when you’ve been around a few seasons but you’re not a household name. Still, this season I walked for Opening Ceremony and J. Mendel in New York, and then I went straight to Paris, where I was booked by Hedi Slimane for Saint Laurent. Every designer asks that you walk down the runway a different way: Sometimes it’s graceful and feminine; other times it’s tough, like at Saint Laurent, where you just feel cool about yourself. I walked in the Chanel show, too, where Karl Lagerfeld staged a “feminist” rally and asked us to come out holding picket signs and shouting slogans. I chose DIVORCE POUR TOUS because it felt less awkward to scream something in French than it would in English.

Being a model today is about so much more than what you do on the runway. You have to promote yourself on Instagram and in street style and build your personal brand. Part of the reason I document my life is to turn the camera around—to photograph the world that photographs me.

 *This article appears in the October 20, 2014 issue of New York Magazine.


Naomi Campbell and Franca Sozzani Discuss ‘Vogue Africa’ – BY HATTIE CRISSEL April 7 2014


In the international family of Vogue magazines, Vogue Italia has often seemed like the politically incorrect uncle who makes a racist joke at your wedding reception. As recently as the March issue this year, the magazine featured a white model in blackface, posing alongside taxidermied safari animals. Then there was the infamous “Haute Mess” editorial of March 2012, which seemed, to many, to be poking fun at the culture of African American women — and the incident in 2011, when an online gallery of hoop jewelry was titled “Slave Earrings.”

For all of these reasons, you may not associate editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani with the empowerment of Africa — but that is what she’s been working toward since June 2012, when she became the global goodwill ambassador forFashion 4 Development. The campaign is a United Nations initiative that aims to help build the fashion economy in the developing countries of Africa, and has matched up talented fashion workers with scholarships to develop their skills. At the Vogue Festival in London last week, Sozzani sat alongside Naomi Campbell and British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman, and spoke about her experiences of the continent.

In slightly broken English, she explained why she’d created the May 2012“Rebranding Africa” issue of L’Uomo Vogue. “For me, L’Uomo Vogue is not a fashion magazine — I mean, it is, of course, but it’s more how to use fashion as a media to awareness for something else. So when we did [the] African issue, for example, I stayed two weeks in Africa, I interviewed the president of Nigeria, and we put, on the cover, Ban Ki-moon [secretary general of the United Nations].” The goal of the issue, she said, was to show some of the many positive things happening within the continent — because “if we go home and say Africa is poor, Africa is civil wars, Africa is AIDS, Africa is malaria — how can people go there?”

Her work for Fashion 4 Development seems to have had two main tactics: nurturing African talent and encouraging the development of a fashion economy; and drawing international attention to the best creative work. She spoke about the talented designers and beautiful fabrics she’s seen in Nigeria and Ghana, but lamented that many fabrics sold as “African” are currently manufactured in Holland. More manufacturing needs to happen on African soil to build a sustainable industry, she suggested.

In the midst of this discussion, Naomi Campbell turned to the front row and directed a public request toward Jonathan Newhouse, chairman of Condé Nast International. “I’m hoping, Jonathan, that we can have African Vogue,” she said, laughing in the deadly serious way that only she can. “I would be the editor,” said Sozzani, and Campbell replied, “I’ll be an assistant.” (Now there’s a reality show we’d like to see.)

But when pressed by Shulman, Sozzani said she thought the possibility of aVogue Africa was still very far off. “We really have to work much more, and to have more people believe in [Africa]. There is not confidence in these countries [from the international fashion industry] because they’ve seen too many things, and of course in the newspapers they only put [negative] things. The good side is huge … So now, everybody’s talking about Africa, and probably something will happen. I hope so.”

Though some parts of the discussion seemed to sweep the continent of Africa into one homogenous whole, it left little doubt that Sozzani is enthusiastically engaged with African fashion and culture. It’s just a shame that the biggest magazine she oversees, Vogue Italia, still has a long way to catch up.

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The Naomi Campbell Look Book – 6/20/13 at 1:16 PM

Naomi Campbell (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage) 

Landing the cover of BritishElle at the age of 15, Naomi Campbell set a high bar for her career from the start. The British model would go on to achieve supermodel status, walking in shows from Azzedine Alaïa to Oscar de la Renta, then becoming a personal favorite of Gianni Versace‘s. Making up one third of “the Trinity” with fellow supes Linda Evangelistaand Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell was in high demand in the early nineties for her dramatic look, even despite her dramatic temperament. Never one for subtlety, the model often opts for sheer dresses, thigh-skimming skirts, and low necklines on the red carpet. Even now.




Prada Casts Second Woman of Color; 12.30.13

Photo by Prada


Prada Casts Second Woman of Color: In June, Prada made a splash, casting its first African American model in a campaign in 19 years. Then-newcomer 19-year-old Malaika Firth fronted the brand’s Fall/Winter 2013 campaign alongside major industry names including Christy Turlington and Freja Beha, making her the first African American face of Prada since Naomi Campbell in 1994. Now, for its Spring/Summer 2014 campaign, the brand has continued its path towards greater diversity, tapping young Wilhelmina model Cindy Bruna — who most recently walked in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. The ad, photographed by Steven Meisel, features the collection’s art-inspired fur coats and Teva-style sandals. [Fashionista]

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