Model Vanessa Moody
Styling Coquito Cassibba
Makeup Cyndle Komarovski (Honey Artists)
Hair Cecilia Romero (The Wall Group) using Oribe
Manicure: Kelly B (De Facto)
Set Design Max Zinser
Director of Photography Ben Katz, Steven Sichel
Film Color Gloss
Interview and text by Steven Yatsko
Above: Jacket Hugo Boss, Sweater Organic by John Patrick, Knickers Eres
How did your modeling career begin?
For me, it started when everyone told me growing up to get into modeling. In the South it’s not really you should get into modeling because you’re pretty, it’s because you should get into it because you’re tall. My dad finally convinced me to go into an agency–he found the Campbell Agency in Texas and I signed with them that day. I went in there in jeans and a T-shirt and everyone else was wearing heels and makeup, so it was a big deal for me. A couple of months later I met with Dana from Women and did videos. They wanted to meet me in New York and to meet with different people. I realized that Women was my family here so I signed with them.
So you were the tall one in high school?
Yes, actually there was a girl one inch taller than me. But she didn’t come until like sophomore year…so, yes, I was the weird tall one.
What’s the most Texas thing about you?
I say “Ya’ll”. I always get steak or hamburgers. Well, not always, but generally. I would say my diet is very Texan.
Were you easily persuaded to go to this first open call?
It took my dad a couple of months to convince me to go. I just didn’t think I was going to get into modeling, because you don’t really know how it is. You just hear stuff, but you don’t actually know how the industry is. But when I did meet them they were just the sweetest people ever. Nancy is kind of like my mom now. It was terrifying, but it was a great experience, so I’m glad I went. [laughs] I was the only one who brought my dad. It was toward the end of high school and you don’t know what you’re going to do, then this career opportunity comes up and you get to travel, but it’s still the unknown.
Do you still feel like there is still some unknown left for you?
I think there is tons of unknown out there. I don’t think anyone ever figures it all out. Still any shoot or anything I go to, you’re always meeting new people, even if it’s a group you know there are always new people coming in. I love being able to travel to different places and work with different people, too.
Do you ever get anxiety before going to shoot?
Yes. I still do. Especially if it’s a shoot you’ve been waiting to do for so long or people you’ve wanted to work with or even if it’s just a new shoot with new people. There are different types of anxiety, but it’s always exciting anxiety. Even before a show and you’re about to walk out–it’s: “Do I remember how to walk?”
How have your notions of what being a model is changed from when you first started?
Back then, I hadn’t seen all the aspects of the industry. I didn’t realize that print, video and shows were all connected and didn’t understand the agency side of it. I just didn’t realize all of the aspects behind it, I only saw pictures. There are one hundred million people behind that one photo that comes out. I just kind of went in and thought it would be cool to just to take pictures. Now everything is completely different from what I thought it was. It’s nice.
Just over the past two years so much has happened – have you changed at all?
I feel like I’ve gotten more comfortable with myself, gotten more comfortable making friends and traveling to places where you don’t know anybody. You just have to throw yourself into it. So I feel like I’ve changed in a positive way like that. I never really had problems growing up making friends. If I went to a book fair with my family I would just go up to other kids who looked my age and hang out with them the rest of the day. So I was that weird kid. But on the job side it’s a lot more…you have more pressure behind it and more stress. I feel like I don’t get that stress anymore. It’s more like excitement.
A less serious question, an unforgettable shoot that you’ve been on? Worst or best…
I haven’t had any shoots that have been remarkably bad. My most memorable shoot, I’m going to say is my Alexander Wang campaign that I did. We went out to Brooklyn in the early hours and went to a convent. I had met everyone previously at the shoot, but it was my first season so I didn’t really know them yet. Everyone knew everyone except me. It was a great shoot and it was my first shoot with the whole group and seeing how everything was done. I’m going to say that was the my most memorable.
What about your favorite cover you have done so far? You can give me two…
I’m going to say Vogue Germany. I’ve shot with them for two covers. One each year in a row and roughly the same time. I loved shooting with them, it was beautiful. The first one I shot was on my birthday and I flew to LA that morning, shot and flew back the day after. It was the best birthday present you can ever ask for. It’s good luck to work on your birthday, or so they say. I like how I shot that one and the next year I felt like I changed so much in that year that, I don’t know if anyone else can tell, but from the second one I could really see how much I had grown as a model. I’m trying to learn, because I feel it’s important to start understanding your face and angles and emotions and expressions and all of that.
What happened this birthday? Did you shoot another cover?
That would be a great tradition. I did shoot, but it wasn’t a cover. This birthday I had just finished the Fendi campaign and was doing the lookbook on my birthday. It was really sweet, we were in Rome so they got me a chocolate covered cake that had this kind of the ice-cream they have there inside. They brought it out and I wasn’t expecting that at all. I ended up getting it all over my white shirt that I was wearing. It’s completely forever stained. I ate a lot of it, not going to lie.
What has been the most interesting part of the process to you?
The most interesting part of the process is seeing how everything clicks and is connected. For me I was really lucky to be able to do an Alexander Wang exclusive my first season. By doing that I became friends with the different people that are making each little aspect–from coming out with the idea for the clothes, seeing them sketch it, seeing them actually make it and all of the different details that go into how the final shows are made. Also, to see how the casting directors fill the clothes and each girl they use. I feel it’s important to understand all of the different parts and to realize it’s not just showing up to a show and putting clothes on and walking. It looks like that, but it’s not. There’s a million different details underneath it. I love that I have been able to learn about that.
I think defining your role and what you can do to add to all of that is important.
Even when you are doing a shoot: there is the photographer and their idea, the stylist who has the clothes and has to find the right pieces, the hair and makeup and finding the location. Everyone in their mind has a million different things they are thinking about and it all comes together.
If you weren’t the model on set, which other role would you take?
I mean, I know it sounds silly, but I think catering is very important and I would probably work with production and pick catering. I would be the weird one that has hamburgers and pizza for lunch. But not like heavy Dominos pizza, but actually good, flatbread pizza.
What else would be on your menu?
I think it’s important for catering to have easy, moveable food. Having boxes there so if you are busy and rushing around you can move it with you. Because there are shoots where sometimes you don’t have time to stop, so if you are changing the makeup, you eat during the makeup. So finger foods. You always have to have the balance of healthy for the people that are very healthy and the balance of indulgence and lots of flavor. I would say have sliders and little things like that, but also have the vegan and vegetarian options.
Any food from anywhere in the world?
Well, I love Tex Mex like enchiladas and nachos or rice and beans. I love rice and beans.
A staple, rice and beans. Talking about developing your own craft as a model, as you learn more about the way everything works, are you becoming more immersed with your role as a model and figuring out how you can improve?
The hardest part for me is style, trying to figure out what I’m going to be wearing to everything. In Texas you just kind of wear jeans and a T-shirt and tennis shoes you’ve had for 5 years. Also just finding out who are and what sets you apart. The more seasons you do it’s your personality, the way you are, the way you talk…that’s what makes you memorable.
Has anyone in particular encouraged, or inspired you..maybe a photographer, a stylist, or maybe another model?
I’m going to say the most encouraging person I’ve had has been my dad. He convinced me to get into the industry because he thought it would be something that I would enjoy and be good at. When I first came to New York, even though he was taking care of my siblings and other stuff, he was the one who tried his best to make sure I never had problems. During the roughest seasons during fashion week he flew to Paris last second to be there.
Has he started learning about the fashion industry through you?
He does a little bit. It’s hard to understand if you’re outside of it. But he does understand some now. He is learning.
What about someone within the industry?
Working with Meisel was amazing. He shot my very first cover. It was with a group. He was the first person who really showed me how to learn yourself, learn the way you model and learn angles and shapes. With his team, that’s how I got started getting interested in lighting and all those aspects. The first shoot I did with him he had me watch what the other girls were doing and would tell me what to do and what not do. That was one of the best experiences you can have to start with. I’m still learning.
How do you deal with always being on call?
I’m fine with it. I always had nightmares in high school about what I was going to do after school. I found this even before I was done when I started doing it. I love being able to work weird hours and travel everywhere. I mean even during the most stressful times during fashion week when I’m not sleeping it’s still something I want to do and something I enjoy.
So you’re very passionate about modeling you could say?
Yes, oh I love modeling. I can’t imagine doing anything else, from my first shoot. Everything about the industry, even on the hardest days, I never want to get out. Obviously no one last forever and at some point…I’m not saying it’s going be my whole life, but I will do it as long as I can. That’s one thing with shows, a lot of people bash on fashion week–it is hard and stressful and you get tired of doing it–but the thing about doing it it gives you the opportunity to work with the designers. There are so man things that go on during that time that you can work with to build those relationship or see how they work and get to be a part of the collections being made. Seeing challenges as opportunities.
Do you find modeling is a luxury?
Yes. Because I always had nightmares about being a little cubicle in a basement from 9-5 or working at like a restaurant. I was a waitress and you do get tired of the food after a while.
Nothing wrong with being a waitress, but the perks are a little better here with the traveling and what not.
Not all the free food though…I do miss that part.
Food seems to be a theme of yours…
I do have my own hashtag #MoodyEats for whenever I post food. I love food. That’s another thing, the stereotype that models don’t eat–It’s not true. Some girls eat healthier or some more vegan or eat a certain way to hold their body shape. While other girls eat a lot of food, maybe because we’re babies.
Do you think that’s the biggest misconception people have?
I’d say that is a very large one, but also the fact that people think it is just glamour and you show up to a show and you just walk or they think on a shoot you just go and take the picture. Really you could be there 18 hours trying to get precisely the right photo.