Alana Zimmer/Supreme Ph. Paul Rowland
Less than two years modeling and Alana Zimmer already wears the scars of a runway veteran, including one very visible reminder of the last show season when a pin from a hastily altered outfit ran up her leg while she glided down the catwalk. “I was bleeding everywhere, having to do fast changes at the show,” she laughs now, still with a tone of disbelief. “That was probably the worst thing that ever happened at a show.”
FW ’07 was a busy one for the Kitchener, Ontario native, adding 50 more catwalk appearances to a stellar resume that also lists being named to Models.com‘s Top 10 new faces the previous season.
One year before that, Zimmer says, she knew nothing about fashion, and despite her naturally thin, 5’11” frame, had never considered modeling. It was a chance meeting at the East Side Mario’s where she worked that led to the blue-eyed brunette getting in touch with a Canadian scout, working in Milan. Zimmer emailed prom photos and for the next few months the pair stayed in touch until they finally met, and Zimmer made the rounds of the Toronto agencies. Within weeks of signing and getting her first test shoot under her tiny belt she was booked for three editorials with top Canadian fashion magazines, and slotted in the best runway slots at Toronto’s fashion week.
From there it was New York, where Supreme snapped her up and immediately launched her into spots in Numero, V, Italian Vogue and French. Her career has been nothing but impressive ever since.
Despite being one of the most popular editorial and runway models on the planet (the recent couture shows saw her donning Armani PrivÃ©, Jean Paul Gaultier, Chanel, Christian Diorâ€¦) Zimmer still prefers time at home, relying on the one-hour flight to get her to New York when she’s needed.
But with SS ’08 around the corner expect to be seeing a lot of Zimmer in Manhattan, as the 20-year-old returns from a Northern Ireland vacation to re-enter the modeling trenches – hoping misplaced pins and other wardrobe mishaps don’t further blemish the long, graceful legs that have made her a Bryant Park fave.
DAN GRANT: How would you describe yourself?
ALANA ZIMMER: I’m kind of quiet. I’m not that outgoing, but I do like to do a lot of things. I like to go to the museums in New Yorkâ€¦ I like to sightsee.
Do you do the same in other markets?
I do, because I know this business doesn’t last forever and I won’t always be traveling to these cities, so I try to experience as much as I can.
How was it going from Toronto, which is such a commercial market, to New York where some of the shots in your Supreme portfolio look almost alien?
(laughing) So different! In Toronto you can really see yourself in the picture. It’s more beauty â€“ more normal. In New York there’s more “alien” if that’s what you want to say, or just very different. It’s a lot to get used to, being from a small town, but you learn to appreciate it.
Do you like New York?
It’s really great to be in New York. I work so much there and it’s always going. There’s always something to do.
What would you tell a new model heading to New York?
You have to stand up for yourself, and stay true to what you believe in. You always have to do what you want to be happy. I’ve always been myself and tried to be polite and appreciative of everything, and I get booked again by a lot of people. It works.
How do you stay sane during the fashion week?
I keep in touch with lots of people at home and try to stay relaxed. I read a lot of books when I’m gone. I listen to music. I have my friends. It can be really crazy, but you have to keep to your normal life as much as you can.
Does it drive you a little crazy sometimes, having so much makeup applied?
Sometimes. I think the hardest thing is when you have a show, and call time is five or six hours before. You start getting your makeup on, and they keep adding more and more and more as they go. It doesn’t bother me, because they’re doing their job, and if it was me I wouldn’t feel content unless I knew I was doing my job properly, so I completely trust them.
Do you get a little squirrelly sometimes, sitting there that long?
(laughs) Just a bitâ€¦
It must have been overwhelming in the beginning.
Yeah, it’s really amazing to see the different styles and the different designersâ€¦ everything. Fashion has so many things out there and I never would have realized it until I got into this, just how many different styles of fashion there really are.
Was it difficult to learn about the personalities and expectations?
I had really good teachers. Supreme, you ask them a lot of questions, they don’t throw you into it blindly. They’ll tell you who the people are and what they mean in the business. It’s good to know that kind of thing before you get into it.
Supreme is a very exclusive agency. Do you find it frustrating sometimes when they turn down opportunities for you?
My agency is very good, and I trust them a lot. Not only do I work with them, but they’re my friends, so I trust them very much. When they turn something down for me I know there’s something else bigger coming.
Your best beauty trick?
Getting a lot of sleep is important, and cleansing your face â€“ that kind of thingâ€¦
Are you pretty strict with removing your makeup each night?
Always, always! On my gosh, the makeup, what it would do to your skin if you didn’tâ€¦ I don’t even want to think about it.
How has your wardrobe injury from February healed?
I still have the scar, so now every show I have to get makeup put on it.
Any special talents?
I can knit. I used to work in a retirement home, so all the old ladies used to teach me.
What is the most useful thing modeling has taught you?
Just having to live by yourself, and travel by yourself, managing your career, I think it matures you a lot, but in a good way. It helps you become more of an adult.