Of The Minute
March 30th, 2015 by Steven Yatsko
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Mari Agory, Mari Malek, Grace Bol, Rina Kara, Elizabeth Arjok, Nyamouch Girwath, and Nykhor Paul

All photos by Cliff Watts, courtesy of Stand 4 Education

“Whoever is meant to receive it, will receive it,” says Mari Malek speaking of the message her nonprofit Stand 4 Education aims to transmit. The thirty-year-old model, DJ/producer and South Sudanese refugee is using her network within fashion and music as a megaphonic platform to aid the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan. Her most recent collaborative effort involved a series of portraits featuring women refugees Mari Agory, Elizabeth Arjok, Grace Bol, Nyamouch Girwath, Rina Kara, Nykhor Paul and herself photographed by Cliff Watts. Between them they are mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, models and activists with hefty resumes that stretch from working with Vogue and Louis Vuitton to UNICEF and the United Nation’s 2015 World Economic Forum. The striking images double as tribute to the indigenous beauty of South Sudan (which Malek wishes to preserve) and serve as a call to action. Much of the world is unfamiliar with the African country’s ongoing civil conflict and its devastating social consequences. Over a million people have been displaced since internal fighting broke out in 2013 after South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011. That makes it the newest country in the world, but one fragile and begotten by woes.

She explained the statistics and the severity of the situation sitting amidst the exhaustive hustle of New York City, painting an almost unimaginably stark contrast. The most staggering figure: a population that is nearly 80% illiterate. That distance can create a certain science fiction, one that reads as out-of-reach dystopia. But it’s a definite reality and a huge problem Mari that says demands global attention. Stand 4 Education’s manifesto is focused on providing education to the women and children of South Sudan and to drum up global awareness for her culture.  Education needs to be ubiquitous. “Because education is not only academic, it’s for all aspects of life,” she says.



Mari Malek

S: Stand for Education. What’s it about and what’s the message there?

M: Stand 4 Education is a nonprofit that is dedicated to providing access to education for children and women–globally. Because every child who is in need deserves to have education. We are now focused on South Sudan because I’m from South Sudan and the girls in the images are all from South Sudan. We are all refugees who have risen above many adversities. So it makes sense for us to start with our country. Our country is facing one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world with many issues such as a lack of education, gender inequality, early child marriage, discrimination and war. 80% of our country is unable to read or write. It is the youngest country in the world. We are now 3 years old. We got our independence on July 9th, 2011.  51% of the country are children under the age of 18 so it’s very important we focus on the children because they are the future generation. 64% of our country are women. Ultimately, we want to build quality schools throughout South Sudan. But it doesn’t make sense for us to start building schools when there are schools that need help. When the time is right we also want to build boarding schools for girls where we bring these girls to live, protect them, help mentor them, and teach them about basic health, basic education, and also finding out what they are good at so that we can help them develop that. It’s also important to focus on girls because most of the girls get married off at a very early age and tend to lose their self-identity. Girls drop out as early as eight years old to prepare to become a woman. How do you know where you go at the age of eight years old? How do you even know your self-identity at that age? Education is the only way you can find who you are. As simple as reading a book, reading a sentence that can help you discover something. That’s basically what Stand 4 Education is: It’s about discovering, it’s about enlightening, it’s about knowing. And we choose to do it through different platforms like fashion, music and art–because we are creative beings.

S: How did you get involved? Can you tell me about the beginning process of Stand 4 Education?

M: I have always been a humanitarian. When I escaped from South Sudan with my family, my mom was always helping other refugees. So in our home we would have people come in and my mom would take care of them. She was a nurse. Until we left and came into the USA she continued to do those services for people–helping people. From there I discovered how much helping others is a part of my soul’s mission. I advocated with a few organizations including Unicef, which is all about helping and empowering children all over the world. They have been a tremendous help in South Sudan. All of the experience I received working with others as well as me being a refugee helped me to want to start Stand 4 Education. I started thinking what could possibly help my country the most right now? I did some research and found education is what is significantly needed in our home. Children do not have access to schools, and quality education is missing in South Sudan. Because of war many people were displaced and scattered or in refugee camps and their focus is to just survive. It would make someone’s day to just come to a refugee camp and bring these children coloring books to color or just bring them a notepad. To teach them the alphabet, you know? Those simple gestures are missing because of war.

S: These are things that a lot of the rest of the world can’t even imagine because it’s so simple–it’s like water.

M: Yes! Basic human rights. These are needs that we have in this world that are so unreachable in a third world. Coming from a third to first world country, I can see a significant amount of difference. At this point it’s not just about getting aid or bringing food: It’s about the individual helping themselves to become self-sufficient. We can never help anybody if they aren’t able to help themselves.


Grace Bol

S: How are you going about building this school system that you spoke about?

M: The goal with Stand 4 Education is that we build an entire school system that is sustainable, that is of quality, that is adequate, that provides teachers, that provides school supplies and that provides lasting solutions and not just a temporary solution. Education can bring us peace! We will partner up with different schools and help them figure out what they need to get them going and keep them going. So far we’ve partnered up with two different schools in South Sudan. For example, the first school we partnered up with is called the Malek Primary School. Funny it’s my last name, too.

S: So…it’s not named after you, it just happened to be that?

M: It just happened, so funny. It’s not my school. It’s a school that we found that happened to be called the Malek Primary School. So I called them up and a woman who helped build the school is a woman from California and she has a nonprofit called Impact a Village. She had met some Sudanese refugees and learned about where they came from and what they needed. They were able to raise some funds to build the school. After the recent conflict that happened in South Sudan, which happened December 2013, the school got destroyed. All the children are gone. They’re living in refugee camps. Their families are either dead, displaced, or just unable to help themselves. Right now the school is empty. What we’re going to do with such schools is raise funds for them, advocate to bring teachers and school supplies as well as mentor some of the children. Fix it up and see how we can bring safety so the children can return back to school. The school has five classrooms and it started off with three hundred students, boys and girls. Since it was the only school in that village, more children and families started to send their kids there. The school ended up having up to six hundred or so children.

S: It’s a good thing they’re all showing up for school.

M: [laughs] Yes they were. The kids just want to learn. But there aren’t any teachers. Teachers are unreliable because there is not enough pay or there is no way to get around as far as transportation goes. Or they’re just not teachers, you know?

S: Can you briefly explain the situation that is going on in South Sudan?

M: Before South Sudan it was Sudan, the biggest country in Africa. For over two decades we have been going through a civil war. I was born in the 80’s during the second civil war. What happened is a conflict that has to do with religion, culture and differences of skin color. The Northerners started to enforce their religion upon everyone. And that’s what really caused the rift between the entire country. Slavery was happening and unfortunately it still happens. Villages were getting burned down. South Sudanese were getting targeted, being killed, being treated as less of beings. And that’s when the South Sudanese started to escape. There was a time where young boys and men were just being killed by the Northerners. Actually there’s a movie that just came out called the Good Lie, everyone should watch it. It basically explains all of that. Many young boys and children started to escape and walk for hundreds and thousands of miles from the villages in South Sudan to the refugee camps in Kenya. Many died along the way. Died of starvation,  dehydration and disease. The few who made it got to the refugee camps in Kenya. The other South Sudanese that were in the north escaped to Egypt. When you stay in the refugee camp, whether you were in Egypt or Kenya, a system was developed like some sort of a lottery system where the refugees were being sponsored and brought into the USA. Some of us got lucky. A lot were left behind, a lot died and a lot are still in the camp right now.


Nykhor Paul

S: So your life could have been dramatically different had you not gotten lucky?

M: I could have been dead. I could have been married off with a ton of children. I could have became mentally ill, because some South Sudanese have post-traumatic disorders due to war. But I’m lucky. Even sitting with you right now here is almost emotional because…sorry…I’m getting emotional, but what are the odds that I’m one of the lucky ones to be able to sit here. I still have relatives who are in the camps or who have just died even after our independence. All I can do is really just do my best to tell their story because they don’t have a voice nor the platform I now have. The world needs to know this story because we are a planet of beings and there should never be any separation.

S: Would you like to tell a little bit about your story and experiences? At what age did you come over to the USA?

M: I came to the USA with my mother and two sisters when I was fourteen years old. In Sudan, our home was attacked and things got insanely intense and crazy. My mom decided to take us out of the country. She said, “Kids, I’m taking you three girls with me. It’s time for us to go.” Because my mom knew if we stayed, especially being girls, we’ll end up getting married off and losing ourselves. She went through that, too. My mom was married at thirteen. I had over twenty sisters and brothers from my father and we were all living in one home and my mom who was taking care of all of us.

S: How is that even possible?

M: Exactly. But it was possible. It was crazy, but fun. When holidays came around my father would get a bus for all of us to go somewhere to enjoy the holidays because there were so many children. When things started to get crazy with the war and the attacks she decided to leave. My father never left South Sudan. He stayed behind. We escaped and we ended up in a ship and took it to Egypt. We ended up staying there for four to five years until we got our sponsorship.

S: You were at a refugee camp that whole time just waiting?

M: Basically. All the refugees were living there. Egypt was a little bit different because we didn’t necessarily live in a camp or a tent and it was all Sudanese refugees in that area. We all just waited. Waiting until you get the sponsorship. It may never happen. Wait and wait. Within five years we got our sponsorship and my mom brought us here. You go through a situation where they interview you, they find out your story. You can even get your name changed so it’s easier to pronounce.


Nyamouch Girwath

S: Is your name the same?

M: Yes. Well,  most of us have tribal names and American or Christian names.  My tribal name is Adut and my other Christian name is Mari (which is also Mary). So we had to somewhat adjust our names and things like that. The place we got sponsored to was in Newark, New Jersey. We were living in the projects. Well, we didn’t know it was the projects, but we were living in the projects and there were crazy things going on around us, too, again.

S: So you went from one bad place to another different not-so-great scenario?

M: Yeah, we were very grateful no matter where we went because there was opportunity. Literally,  America is the land of opportunity. Now we can go to school without having to be afraid that someone is going to kidnap us or marry me or kill us or rape us. It was a different scenario, but at the end of it all it’s another scenario where problems do exist in every part of the world. They just exist differently.

S: I imagine a lot of it stems from education…

M: Yeah! Again it goes back to education. Because if we know better, than we do better.

S: How did you get scouted and start modeling?

M: I was always teased about my skin color and how tall and skinny I was. It almost brought me to be self-hateful. Why am I this color? Why am I so skinny? Why am I not like the other kids? But that was a blessing in disguise because that’s what brought me into modeling. My unique strange “ugly” look [laughs]. I was working in the airport and people would see me and say things like, “Wow you should be a model!” I had no idea what that was for a long time. What is modeling? I looked into it, my cousin and I. My mom found relatives in San Diego so we moved to San Diego. That’s where I met my cousin and my cousin now is a supermodel. Her name is Atong Arjok. We went to a scouting in San Diego and we both got picked by so many different agencies that day.  Atong was more bold than I was and she made the choice to start modeling right away. For me, I was a bit scared, my mom was adamant about school first. I waited until I was eighteen. I briefly started in Los Angeles and came to New York when I was twenty-one.

S: And now it’s going on nine years. So you also DJ and produce music–South Sudan’s first. How’d you get into that?

M: So in the modeling industry…I’m a unique personality for sure. I always change my hair and my look. Sometimes it’s extreme to the industry. They’ll be like, “Mari! You can’t be changing yourself so much–the clients!” But, honestly I’m very self-expressive so I think it works for me. I had to follow my heart. I got invited to so many cool parties and when I would go and I barely found any women DJs. That triggered the thought maybe I should be a DJ. After all, music got me through the toughest times. I looked into what I needed to do. I bought some equipment and I just started messing around with it and connecting with other DJs to help me figure it out. I wasn’t doing it so I could become a professional DJ. It was more like a hobby. From there it started to become its own thing, people would tell me, “Hey you’re DJ’ing now, you should do this party!” It just started to build into something and now I am getting more into it because I produce my own music. It’s evolving into something that I never expected. It’s also making me realize how I can help artists from my country by producing music for them. Which again ties back into why we want Stand 4 Education to use fashion, music and art in order to bring education. Because education is not only academic, it’s all aspects of life.


Mari Agory

S: Have you gone back to Sudan? Is it an easy thing to say, “I want to fly to Sudan.” And then to arrange it?

M: I am going back for the first time since we left. It’s not that easy to just travel and especially to South Sudan.You need to have papers and safety. That’s why I haven’t been able to go back. I am a citizen of the USA now. I’m Sudanese-American. So now it’s easy for me to travel. I would like to document and film me going back for the first time with my colleague Mari Agory.

S: Which is confusing at first…

M: I know! Two Mari’s right? Mari Malek and Mari Agory. We want to go back this year together and document it. First of all, really visit the schools that we are helping and connect with our own people. The children back home need to see that their own people care. That will be empowering. They’re used to seeing many foreign activists coming to aid them. I think it will be a very important message to let our people know that we are here too, that the African Diaspora is involved . We want to empower our people to know that we are in it together. We were able to rise above all the difficulties. If we can make it you can make it too.

S: Let’s talk about the project that you did with Cliff Watts for Stand 4 Education. What was the thought process behind that?

M: I was thinking how can I make an impact and raise a high level media attention to bring awareness to what is happening in South Sudan now. The media barely talks about it. We are facing a famine! The thought came to my head–duh! You’re a model, you have a platform, use it! The Sudanese models here are the face of South Sudan. We are the voice for the voiceless. As a sisterhood, let us stand together and bring awareness. Agory and I started contacting the girls and decided we should do a powerful photo series to demand attention. We were like, “Yeah!” We want the world to know. Although our country is war torn, there still lies beauty. This photo project is really about us educating the world about where we come from. And educating in all different aspects of life whether you are an artist, a politician, a mom, or an activist. We wanted to open a dialogue with the world on South Sudan. Women, men, walk around the village naked decorated in beautiful beaded jewelry that they make. It’s so beautiful. And we are dark-skinned people of color who have been conditioned and told that our skin is ugly. Let’s embrace that. We wanted a photographer who was aligned with the vision. The perfect person that came to mind was Cliff. I told him about where we come from and how we wanted to capture that as well as demanding that media attention. He said, “This is fucking beautiful. Let’s do it.”


Rina Kara

S: One of my questions was going to be: how do you intend to keep the interests piqued of those you are trying to reach? How do you keep the interest of people who now are so fragmented? But then again I don’t think its about trying to reach everyone, as you said.

M: You can’t force people to listen or do anything. All you can do is your best to spread the message and whoever is meant to receive it–will receive it. It’s for those who really want to listen. It’s for those who really want to make a change in the world.

S: If someone wants to help and reach out what do they do?

M: If someone wants to help they can reach us our website is: www.stand4education.org. Our main thing is to get people involved by purely just wanting to be involved. It’s not about giving us money, it’s about how can we work together. How we can stand together and stand up for our basic human rights. We highly believe in collaborations! Of course we take donations and we are looking for sponsors for our coming events and projects. We are using fashion, music and art as a platform to spread the message.

S: Whatever you have to offer.

M: Yes. What can we as individuals do to make a change? I donate my time and music towards our cause. I truly believe in it. And I want to be the example of what I’m saying.


Elizabeth Arjok

Photographer – Cliff Watts
Creative Direction: Mari Malek
Producer – Grandpastyle
Casting – Julia Samersova
MUA – Lanea Singleton
Styling – Dapper Afrika
Jewelry – Silly Simone, Martine’s Dream
Ta Meu Bem Jewelry

March 27th, 2015 by models.com
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If the beauty looks of Fall 2015 can be summed up in one word it would have to be extreme. After seasons of bare skin and casual hair make up artists and hair stylists have brought back avant garde and edgy to the runways. Whether it was the maharajah inspired facial jewelry at Givenchy or the glossy black lips seen at Ungaro the best beauty this season pushed the boundaries.



Image Credit: Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho / Contributor

At Givenchy Pat McGrath (Streeters London) and Luigi Murenu (Streeters New York) expanded horizons with a look that merged the intricacy of traditional South Asian jewelry with the pomp of the Victorian era.



Image Credit: Antonello Trio – Getty Images Entertainment

Katsuya Kamo kept all eyes on his hair creations backstage at Haider Ackerman, blending sewing and sculpture into one with hair that reached loft heights and even featured bits of thread woven into each updo. When it comes to sheer imagination Kamo is hard to beat!

Yohji Yamamoto


Image Credit: Antonello Trio – Getty Images Entertainment

Pat McGrath (Streeters London) has never been afraid of pushing makeup to its limits and at Yohji Yamamoto she gave the world extreme black liner on eyes, brows and even cheeks. Combined with Eugene Souleiman (Streeters London)’s geometric hair styles the look was anime meets otherworldly.



Image Credit – Victor VIRGILE – Gamma-Rapho – Getty Images

A smoky eye in a dark color is always chic, but so is going the opposite direction. Backstage at Kenzo Aaron de Mey (Art Partner) swiped opaque white shadow across model’s lids for a dramatic look that was meant to echo the feel of Amazonian warriors and felt just right with Kenzo’s tribe of cool beauties.



Image Credit: Antonello Trio – Getty Images Entertainment

At Ungaro Lucia Pieroni (New York: Streeters New York, London: Streeters London, Los Angeles: Streeters Los Angeles) experimented with the rawness of Punk rock sending models down the runway in slinky gowns and daring black lips. The contrast between the sexy clothes and the “don’t mess with me attitude of the makeup created a glam yet rebellious dichotomy.



Image Credit: Antonello Trio – Getty Images Entertainment

Gold leaf is frequently utilized by makeup artists for that final touch of luxury, but at Rick Owens beauty maestro Lucia Pieroni (New York: Streeters New York, London: Streeters London, Los Angeles: Streeters Los Angeles) took the idea one step further coating model’s faces in layers of silver and gold to channel the allure of Mayan goddesses.


Image Credit / Antonello Trio – Getty Images Entertainment

Badass isn’t a word we usually associate with Chanel, but backstage at the fall show Tom Pecheux (Home Agency) gave models the kind of dramatic smoky eyes that wouldn’t look out of place at a punk concert. Combined with the sleek and at times dainty updos and ponytails created by Sam McKnight (Bryan Bantry) the look was pure ladies who lunch.

March 26th, 2015 by Jonathan Shia
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Lucky Blue Smith, photo by Betty Sze for models.com

If you’ve been on Instagram’s Explore page recently, you may have noticed a cheeky sixteen­ year old with piercing blue eyes shining from beneath a shock of platinum hair. A tap on his profile would reveal—as of this writing—697k followers, although by the time you read this, there’s a good chance he’ll be above 800K. Lucky Blue Smith has managed to amass, seemingly out of nowhere, a massive fan base in just the past few months, a male counterpart to the Cara Delevingne phenomenon, but without the cameo appearances by Rihanna, Taylor Swift, and Karl Lagerfeld. As the only male model signed to Next (you’ll find his card tucked into the women’s board, as there was nowhere else to put him), Smith is in many ways a sign of the future, a perfect example of the way social media can turn new faces into overnight stars with a built­ in market to harness. Still, Smith, who speaks carefully and humbly about his newfound fame, has been careful not to let it get to his head, thanks in part to a supportive family, including three older sisters who are all models as well. With just one show season under his belt, he’s already one of the biggest names in the industry, even if not everyone knows it yet. But Smith is just trying to be a regular teenager, one whose default attitude is that every new experience he encounters is “fun” and “cool.” Even the mobs of girls who chase him down the street. Our latest Hot List inductee talked to us after his first New York Fashion Week about Insta­fame, his family band, and how got his signature look.

A Models.com interview by Jonathan Shia

Jonathan Shia: How did you get discovered?

Lucky Blue Smith: My family and I used to live in Utah, and when I was about ten years old, my sister Daisy got scouted and I was with her. Alexis, the director at Next LA, said, “I want to see you in a couple years,” and I was like, “Uh, ok?” I was ten, I didn’t really care. Then when I was twelve, my family took a road trip to meet with Next. It was summer vacation, so we went in and Mimi, who’s my main agent now, saw potential, I guess. I thought she was crazy—I had braces—but she signed me and my whole family as models and as musicians too because my sisters and I are all in a band. I kept wanting to go to the beach in Orange County and the agency would say, “Wait, come to LA, we have a shoot for you.” My very first shoot was with Hedi Slimane for Vogue Hommes Japan. I didn’t really care about modeling until I was about fourteen. That’s when I booked my first job and then my family moved to LA for music and modeling. I really want to do acting too, so it was like, “Why not try everything while we’re out there and go for it?”

JS: How do you balance modeling with school and the rest of your life as a teenager?

LBS: When I moved from Utah to LA, I wanted to go to a normal high school because I wanted
a normal high school experience and I wanted to have the friends and go to the football games and everything. We ended up doing independent study, and then I didn’t want to go to school because I just kept getting busier and busier. So I go in once a week to a teacher and turn in work and get new work. When I’m traveling to Europe I just take my book and finish it. I’m graduating in two months, a year early, so doing independent study has let me graduate faster and just do what I want to do.

JS: How was your first show season?

LBS: It was really fun. When I first went to Paris for castings, I was intimidated by being in a
room with sixty guys, just waiting. I didn’t know that at some castings you have to walk in front of all the models and I was like, “Uhhhhh ok,” but you can’t say no and not walk, that’s what you’re there for. But after the first few castings, it became fun. I started making friends and I would see them at the same castings and we would all just follow each around to different cities and then I’d be on the same jobs as a lot of them, so it was really cool and fun.

JS: How are you enjoying New York? Is it your first time here?

LBS: Yeah. Last year, I did a cK one ad near here. I landed and the car picked us up and we
started driving past and getting farther and farther away and I was like, “Isn’t it that way?
There’s all the buildings.” And he was like, “Oh no, we’re going upstate.” So this is my first
time in the city. I like it a lot. It’s probably one of my favorite cities. I like not having to have a car and taking the subway. I like the energy, there’s a lot going on. In LA, it’s kind of laid back, but here it’s cool. I like it a lot actually.

JS: How did you decide to bleach your hair?

LBS: I got an editorial for Interview and Karl Templer said, “Let’s bleach his hair.” I was not
about it at all, but my agent told me they could dye it back. They bleached my hair and my eyebrows and it looked really cool in the pictures. Then a few months ago, my agent Mimi
was like, “Hey, let’s lighten your hair.” My hair is naturally lighter, dirty blond. She was
like, “Let’s bleach it white,” and I was fine with it. It seems to be working out.

JS: How did you get started on Instagram?

LBS: I had Instagram in Utah and I had like a thousand followers and just posted pictures of my
friends and what I was doing. Then I moved to LA and my sister got this music video job with a bunch of people who had millions of followers. She became friends with them and then she introduced me and then I just hung out with these kids with like 700,000 followers, 1,000,000, 1.2 million followers, 2 million followers, and then it would just naturally happen. I would be in a picture with them, they would tag me, and then I’d get a lot of followers. It kind of just built up. I got to 20k and then 35 and then 50 and then 75 and then 100, and then when I got to 100k, it just went. I got to 200k when I was in Milan and now I’m at 577k right now [end of February], so I more than doubled my following in like two weeks. An average day, I get two thousand new followers. When I was in Europe, one time I got like sixty thousand overnight. It’s really crazy, it just kind of built on its own after a while. I don’t know, I don’t see why people are so obsessed with me on Instagram. I don’t understand it at all.

JS: You have a lot of very enthusiastic fans. How do you deal with them? Does it ever get to be too much?

LBS: No. I did a little meet up in Paris and like 250 girls showed up and I couldn’t leave. Girls were holding on, they wouldn’t let me go. I felt really bad, because whenever I get noticed on the street and there’s a group of people, I always try to take the time and take pictures with them. I never want to be that guy who is like, “Whatever, don’t follow me around.”
Some are really nice and sweet and just want a hug, and then one girl tried to stick her hands down my pants. They can get very aggressive. Most of them touch my hair and grab my shirt, but they’re usually fine. There’s a lot of enthusiastic fans out there. You get a lot of different types.

JS: How did you decide that you want to be so interactive with them?

LBS: I just started getting to that point where I have enough followers to say, “Come meet me
here,” and then two hundred girls will show up. I noticed that a lot of people in the YouTube world are really rude and aren’t nice to their fans, even though the fans got them to where they are right now, so I was like, “I’m not doing that.” Taylor Swift is really nice to her fans and I wanted to do that. I feel the need to hang out with them a little bit and not be so snobby. I don’t want to be that kid that gets a bad reputation about being rude to his fans. I want to be nicer and be different from the whole crowd.

JS: Now that Instagram is such an important tool for fashion brands, do you think your following has helped you get jobs?

LBS: Yes. They’re all realizing how important it is. I’d say a quarter of the castings I go on, on the sign­ in list, they ask for name, agency, age, and then Instagram name and how many followers you have. I did the cK one ad a year ago and I didn’t have the following then, and then six months ago, I did a #mycalvins post and if I didn’t have the following, I wouldn’t have done that. It matters now, the clients want to know how many followers you have. I just did a job and they were like, “Can you post?” That’s in the arrangements now, so it does matter and it does play a role.

JS: Tell me a little bit about your band. What do you play?

LBS: It’s called the Atomics. I play the drums. My whole family got instruments one year for Christmas. I got them when I was six or seven. I didn’t touch my drums for like three years and they got really dusty in the corner, a waste. Then we started wanting to play music together. When we started, it was just for fun, and then we started playing covers of instrumental surf music, like the Ventures and Dick Dale. When I was thirteen or fourteen, we started playing little shows, like a car show at the library or the diner, really small things like that. Then when we moved, we were like, “Maybe we can do something with music,” because when I got signed, they were like, “Wait, you’re in a band, can you play?” They got us a studio and we played a cover, and they were amazed and shocked that we could play. We all play together, it just happened naturally.

Right now we’re doing an EP of originals, we want to write our own stuff. We’re holding off on gigs until we have our songs out, then we’re going to go on tour and everything. I love to play gigs because they’re some of the most fun things I’ve ever done. It’s kind of a waiting game right now. I get asked about the band in a lot of interviews, so there’s a lot of hype, everyone’s waiting to hear music, so I’m excited to finally give them stuff to listen to.

JS: And now you have a built ­in audience as soon as you have something ready to share.

LBS: It’s such a shortcut. Right now, if we had three songs out that I liked, I could say, “Here’s the link to our YouTube channel, go look at our music video.” They would go, I’m sure. It’s automatic fans, it’s a huge shortcut. It’d be really easy to get people to go listen and buy our music. I can tell them to buy a pen right now, and they probably would. If it was a
Lucky Blue pen, they’d be all about it. It’s really cool that we already have a bunch of people that we can get it out to.

JS: How would you describe your musical style? Who do you like to listen to?

LBS: I like a lot of music. I like the Black Keys, and that’s how I would describe our sound right now. I like Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, there’s some rap that’s good, then there’s some
dance, fun music. It’s kind of all over the place for me. I always grew up having the last
chance to put my iPod in, so I’ve just listened to whatever’s on. I’m not picky about music.
I’m picky about what kind of music I play and what we release, but other than that, it’s whatever. We like the surf sound, but that won’t sell right now, so we want to have that flavor but totally modern, new, cool stuff.

JS: What does you family think about your newfound fame?

LBS: They think it’s crazy. My friends in Utah, whenever I go visit, it’s so weird, they treat me like a celebrity. I don’t think that, but my friends think it’s really cool. [Laughs] Some of
them are jealous and ask like, “Oh, post me, tag me.” My family thinks it’s really awesome I have something behind me other than just being a model. I have a following and I’m doing something else, so they all are happy for me and think it’s really awesome.

JS: You’re only sixteen now. Where do you see yourself going in the next five or ten years?

LBS: I see myself getting into music heavily, going on tour, and that being one of the main things I’m always doing. I’m not going to stop modeling, I think something could happen there. I think I’ll be doing the same thing, music and modeling, but it’ll be a lot crazier, a lot busier, a lot more jobs and gigs and shows and going on tour all the time. In five or ten
years, I know for sure I’ll have a couple businesses, I just know for sure. We’ll see.

Special thanks to Alexis Borges and Mimi at Next LA

March 24th, 2015 by Irene Ojo-Felix
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Model Jade de Lavareille and her longboard skated into Karl’s latest showing for Chanel‘s FW 2015 show and gave us a backstage peek of the set up before the Brasserie Chanel opened up shop. The results were glamorous, lively, and unapologetically French.

See the budding videographer’s compilation below.

Breakfast at Chanel from Jade de Lavareille on Vimeo.

March 20th, 2015 by Irene Ojo-Felix
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Giamba backstage with Annika Krijt, Amilna Estevao, Roos Abels, Paula Galecka and opener Noa Vermeer, photo by Kevin Tachman

Designer: Giambattista Valli
Casting Director: Maria Giulia Azario

Femininity can take a number of forms and for Giambattista Valli’s vision for his eponymous line and sister line, Giamba, his women for both are years, and sentiments, apart. Giamba has taken on a more youthful, modern feeling with a rebellious disposition and this season’s “Instagram Lolitas” were casted as such with casting director Maria Giulia Azario looking for characters that embodied that sprightly personality. Many relative new faces like Roos Abels, Amilna Estevao, Paula Galecka & Annika Krijt took on Giamba before graduating with ease to big-sister line, Giambattista Valli. This was Giamba’s first season for exclusives with four new faces Anisia Khurmatulina, Freja Sorensen, Sofie Schulz and Lieke de Jong walking for the brand.

The Valli woman on the other hand had more of an established attitude. She is a woman of confidence, naturally in tune to herself. Without the doubt that youthfulness might bring, she’s secure in her poise and models like Maartje Verhoef, Aya Jones, Annely Bouma took that feeling in stride.

Exclusive backstage images Kevin Tachman courtesy of Giambattista Valli

Model board at Giamba F/W 15

Annika Krijt photo Kevin Tachman

Julia van Os photo Kevin Tachman

Left: Giamba opener Noa Vermeer right: Elizabeth Davison photos Kevin Tachman

Model Board Gbv
Model board at Giambattista Valli F/W 15

GBV opener Paula Galecka photo Kevin Tachman

Valery Kaufman, Maartje Verhoef photo Kevin Tachman

Amilna Estevao photo Kevin Tachman

Vanessa Moody photo Kevin Tachman

Annika Krijt, Alexandra Elizabeth Ljadov photo Kevin Tachman

F/W 15 top walker Alexandra Elizabeth Ljadov photo Kevin Tachman

March 19th, 2015 by Jonathan Shia
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Ian Jones

Street casting is a trend that’s tried and true, but few have done it with the edge and sense of purpose of Ian Jones and Tali Lennox, who embarked last summer on a project photographing homeless youths they found around their East Village apartment. The polished street kids landed in a full fashion editorial last fall in high­ end Grey Magazine and a citywide poster campaign sponsored by Diesel. Meant to highlight the rising homeless population in New York today, especially youths under twenty­-four, the Street Kids Project —which unites Jones’ photography with Lennox’s paintings—serves the dual purpose of both shedding light on an often­ overlooked group while also offering a sense of self ­worth to the subjects themselves. With MTV signing on Jones to produce a documentary on 2 of the subjects, expect much more this August. In an interview with Models.com, Jones and Lennox discuss their artistic process and the project that’s changed their lives. (All photos courtesy of Ian Jones)

Ian and Tali

How did you first become interested in this project?

Ian: I had been photographing youth as a hobby, and Valentina, the editor-­in-­chief of Grey Magazine, reached out to me while Tali was painting her portrait one day. She heard about the work I was doing and a week later she called me into her office and was like, “Do you think you could begin a project about street kids that we could do like a journalistic story and make it really great and put it in a women’s high ­fashion magazine?”

I was blown away and I told her, “Of course I can do that!” The entire concept of the story was, from the street to the studio. After we shot the editorial, Diesel heard about what we were doing. I pitched this story to them along with the team at Grey Magazine, and Diesel came back a week later with a full budget and a plan to reshoot it in their clothes, sponsored by them, with events and wild postings throughout the city. It really raised the awareness to a whole other level that we couldn’t ever have imagined. But Tali and I did the casting process entirely together. We basically just hit the street for the entire summer, from C­Squat to soup kitchens to shelters. We really dug deep, we got dirty.

Tali: There is such a high level of homelessness here in the East Village at young ages— you can’t ignore it. When we got to know all of them, they feel like neighbors and it’s nice to feel a sense of community. And I think it’s reciprocal, because I’m sure in their eyes, it’s them against the world and the world against them, and so it’s really great to blend those lines.


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Ian: When you read the story in Grey Magazine, you notice that we’re not telling you the story. It’s done through a personal narrative of these youths telling you what it’s really like. We realized the importance that this has on ordinary people, the fact that they’re telling their stories and people can relate to this. We were given the opportunity to put it in print, in black and white, and empower the lives of certain individuals that we felt needed to be heard, because there’s something there. With our backgrounds and experience, I think about giving back to the community. You can make all the money in the world, but if you’re not giving back, sometimes at the end of the day, you feel empty.

Tali: The way it was done was to really bring out their individual beauty, not to bring out their grit or hardship. It’s actually just highlighting them, it’s not about making it a sob story. It’s just about showing that you can find beauty anywhere. You can find beauty in unconventional places. You can find beauty in places of pain. They’re all at a pivotal time in their life because they’re all so young—they haven’t gone too far down the road. A lot of them have the potential to change things around, so it’s optimistic in a way.



Can you tell me about the casting process? What did you look for in your subjects?

Tali: We wanted people who were younger and people who had an individual aura and style around them. We didn’t want people who you couldn’t talk to and who were hazed out. We wanted people who were good to communicate with, and as you can read in the story, most of them really have a message of something to say. We got to know all of them beforehand and they were all people that we felt inspired by as human beings.

Ian: We met twenty kids a day, sometimes thirty, forty. Some of them were a little defensive. You have to be very psychological when you’re approaching someone to take their picture, because for a lot of people—especially abused characters like we’ve been dealing with—they’re used to being taken advantage of. Sometimes when you want to take a person’s picture, they’re like, “Well, what do you want to take my picture for?” I had to explain the process. I brought the magazine around. I explained what we were trying to do and everything. There was a point when we just knew the ones when we found them.

We were like, “We have to have this one,” so we really just tried to let them trust us enough. It’s rough out there. It was a long process, and the fact that we put it all together the way we did is a miracle to me still to this day. It’s been a really emotional ride getting to know a lot of these kids and wishing I could do more, but I don’t know what to do.

That’s why we’re excited to see where it can go, because we really enjoy it. I’m beginning to notice more and more that that’s seriously the purpose of life sometimes. You got to pay the rent, do that sort of thing, but you have to ask yourself, “How am I fulfilling a purpose? What’s next?” So we use this as an outlet.


Ian, how did you get started in photography? How did your previous work help you prepare for this project?

Ian: My stepfather is a photographer and I was always hanging around his studio growing up. When I came to New York after university, I started taking a lot of pictures on disposable cameras and I noticed that I liked the way they looked. They were interesting —some were kind of dark and had depth. I’ve had cameras over the years and I was always taking pictures, purely as a hobby, of probably a lot of whacked­out characters around the city, because the city is vibrant that way. Then the past four years I’ve been doing it on a consistent basis just to start something I enjoyed doing.

Tali: It takes a certain person to be capable of intense street photography. Ian’s got a very strong spirit and he does not allow negative energy to get him down in any way, so he can be in a really emotionally draining situation and feel fine. You have to be quite fearless. I think it’s just the ability to get your subject, even if it’s someone you haven’t even had a conversation with, to connect with you. You need to be that kind of person, you need to be approachable, which modeling definitely teaches you. You’re constantly working with new people—you have to be easy, you have to be outgoing, you have to connect with people, you have to connect to the camera.


Tali, how did you get started in painting? Have you always been drawn to portraiture?

Tali: I’ve always done art since I was a child, but it’s really been in the last couple of years since moving to New York that I just needed to get more of that passion out. I needed balance—it’s a headspace thing. I’ve just been painting in oils for the past two years and it’s been building and I’ve become more comfortable in my style of painting. I’m self taught, and I’ve had a certain eye for people I like to paint. The more you do it, the more freedom you have within it. Then booking my exhibition at the Catherine Ahnell Gallery (more info here) has been great because I can take it up a notch and take it to a real professional level. It’s a nice feeling to say, “Once I have my show, I can call myself an artist now.” Yes, I have always been drawn to portraiture. It’s ironic in a way, because in modeling, you’re just used to people looking at your face, and in portraiture it’s all about completely taking in another person and completely focusing on them. I like my paintings not only to be a portrait, but to be the essence of that person, and I like the intense human connection of viewer and subject when you look at a portrait. It’s intimate, it’s uncomfortable sometimes, and with my paintings I like it to be a mix. I want it to be aesthetically quite beautiful, but at the some time I want it to be rough and I want it to be vivid and intense and dark and light at the same time, because that’s human.


What effect do you hope this project has on the subjects?

Tali: I think it’s giving people a sense of self value and a sense of feeling like they’re good enough. If you’re doing things that are self destructive, that’s because you don’t value yourself, so it’s about giving them a little bit of attention and having people telling them, “Actually, you are inspiring, you do have something that other people like about you, you can be on a poster all around the city.” It’s definitely about giving them a sense of self worth and empowerment.

What effect do you hope this project has on viewers?

Ian: I really want to shock people. I think that that’s where photography is headed in a sense that it should raise the level of awareness and have some wit to it. If you’re just looking at the images, you’re thinking to yourself, “These are beautiful, gorgeous models, they are very edgy models.” So here I put a spin on it, and we give you a fashion story, with fashion models, but look in between the lines, because it’s a journalistic story. Once you start reading about these kids, you’re like, “Holy shit, this kid sleeps on a bench, this kid struggles with heroin addiction, this girl is an orphan, this girl has been traveling the globe riding on top of trains,” and you’re like, “Wow, these aren’t models, these are real, gritty, street kids that we live amongst, that we all had the possibility of becoming had we not had that fork in the road.”

Tali: I think it’s just changing people’s perception of what’s beautiful, blurring social lines, blurring social barriers, making people feel a bit more humanity. Just changing stigmas. I’m always fascinated by New York and history and I love looking at old photographs or going to the Tenement Museum and learning about different social walks of life back in the day. We wouldn’t have that if someone wasn’t there to capture it. We wouldn’t have that if someone wasn’t there documenting it, so in a way it’s about doing that in a modern way, because no one else is capturing that right now and we’re constantly inspired by it. I walk home to my apartment and I see five men sleeping on my block, but no one’s capturing it, and I’m so fascinated by how it was back then, so you can only hope that in the future people will have the same fascination with what we’re doing. It’s an education, it’s giving social awareness. I’ve heard there’s more homelessness in New York now than there was in the Eighties. No one’s really talking about it that much. Everyone seems to ignore to it.

Ian, you’ve been a tireless promoter of this project to try to get the message out there and raising awareness of the topic. How does it feel to be working with MTV now?

Ian: I have selected two subjects and have been documenting them for the past 3 months, I am proud to say that we have solidified employment for the subjects and our only goal is to give them opportunity to get themselves out of homelessness. I’m very excited that The Fat Radish, MTV & #StreetKidsProject are coming to a TV near you this August!

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#StreetKidsProject star William starts his first day at The Fat Radish, MTV collaboration on our upcoming documentary about street kids in NYC

Check out Ian’s Instagram for more news

March 17th, 2015 by betty
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Photo credit: Nick Harvey/Contributor-Getty Images

The fashion and modeling industries suffered dual losses this past week with Manuela Pavesi and Wal Torres, both succumbing to long illnesses. The Italian creative Pavesi was widely known and celebrated as a photographer, stylist and longtime collaborator of Miuccia Prada. Pavesi’s role as fashion coordinator helped the house with establishing the brand with its uniquely feminine, unconventional and intellectual DNA; one revered worldwide for the influence it has today. Pavesi’s early styling work with some of fashion’s legends -Helmut Newton, Guy Bourdin and Irving Penn- was followed up by her own formidable career as a photographer. Her work with Miuccia Prada and supporting creative talent such as Jonathan Anderson at the beginning of his career are reflections of a unique visionary; one who will be resoundingly missed by many of the most powerful players today in fashion.

Brazilian born, Milan raised Wal Torres founded the men’s division at Elite Milano a decade ago and was a powerhouse agent whose passion and enthusiasm for the business was renowned. Torres worked tirelessly behind the scenes in creating buzz around new faces launching the careers of in demand models such as Janis Ancens, Ton Heukels and Alexandre Cunha by working with top clients such as Jil Sander and Prada. His friends, many of the top modeling agents from around the world, expressed their extreme sadness at his loss; his kindness and mentorship of his young agents will be never be forgotten. His team at Elite Milan (Maria/Annie/Ruggero/Maria Teresa/Nils/Marta and Paola) writes “Wal will be extraordinarily missed and we will remember him not only for his talent at finding faces but for his huge generosity, creativity and free soul.”

We at models.com extend our deepest condolences for the families and loved ones of Pavesi and Torres.

Wal Torres image by Boris Rado courtesy of Elite Milan

March 13th, 2015 by Irene Ojo-Felix
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Portraits by Melodie Jeng for models.com

Every once in a while a wonderful and unexpected new face comes from nowhere. Such is newcomer’s Lineisy Montero sudden rise into the runway spotlight. The Dominican rookie’s debut season left us all in awe with her statuesque frame, mesmerizing eyes and mini-fro. With an exclusive for Prada and a handful of Parisian design heavyweights from Givenchy to Céline including her into their lineups, this natural beauty gives us an interview on how she captured the attention of the power players by just being her charming self.

Where and when were you discovered?
I was discovered in an amusement park in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic when I was 13 years old. A scout and stylist of my mother agency, Ossygeno Models, asked me if I would like to be a model.

Were you always interested in fashion?
I always loved fashion but my true dream was to be a great fashion designer. I never thought of being a model – but absolutely love it!

What have been your favorite experiences modeling so far?
Getting to Europe – Paris, Milan! I have never been in an airplane. When I got to Paris, my bags were lost; it was cold. I thought of just going back home. The next day I just realized that I had gotten there by the grace of God and the destiny he had for me.

Are there any designers that you really like to wear? How would you describe your style?
I was born watching the designs of Oscar de la Renta. I love the elegance and classic styles his designs always had.

What was it like walking the Prada show?
It was an unbelievable experience. It still feels like a dream. It was my first runway show, I can’t even describe it. After the show, so many people were congratulating me and saying I looked beautiful, it was really something I will never forget.


How have you been enjoying the experience of fashion week overall?
I have discovered that this is what I love and what I want to do in my life. Every day I am more excited of this experience that I have had the opportunity of living.

What is your dream modeling job?
To be on the cover of a very important magazine.

What do you like to do during your personal time?
I like to enjoy with my family. I am very close with my mother and grandmother. When I am not working I really love spending time with them.

What inspires you?
My country and the beaches there. I believe it is the best hidden paradise.

Are there any career goals or aspirations you have right now?
I want to have a clothing line after I have my modeling career. Right now, I just want to work hard, have financial security and be able to help my family.

Who do you admire the most fashion or otherwise?
I admire my mother the most. She raised us without my father’s help, and worked so hard to be able to give us an education. She is almost graduating from accounting. She is my true inspiration.

Tell us a little bit about your beautiful hairstyle.
I love my natural hair, I cut it right before the shows, and when I look in the mirror I love it!

Special thanks to Next London (London) and Next Paris (Paris)


March 12th, 2015 by Mitch Ryan
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March 11th, 2015 by Mitch Ryan
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