These French models learn what’s important in isolation

An unexpected side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has been more opportunities for models to personalize themselves through their work. This long-overdue change of perspective has resulted in fashion taking a more humanized approach to the faces who front the industry but rarely have much say in how they are presented or inclusion into the creative process. Suddenly hotly sought after are a model’s thoughts, feelings, and opinions. Clients now want to know if they are creative, if they have a voice, what can they add to a shoot beyond their beauty. But what has this shift in focus been like for the models themselves? Shot in their own clothes and homes at the beginning of May, these 13 France-based women allowed us to take a glimpse into their worlds and shared with us their hopes, dreams, and revelations during the time of coronavirus.

Photographed by Yuji Watanabe for Models.com
Artwork on on Esther, Ivana and Mariam by Anna Sadamori
Artwork on Josephine, Louise and Zoe by Jessica Shortreed
Artwork on Julie, Manon, and Oudey by Franziska Schütz
Artwork on Heloise, Kennah, Anania and Mae by Mar Viella

Zoé Lou

Where are you currently spending your time and who are you spending it with?
I’m at home in Paris with my family and my two cats.

What is the best thing that has happened to you lately?
It is not something in particular. It’s more in general because, despite everything that is happening at the moment, I am in a period of my life in which I feel really good, I am very happy, I believe in myself. I am in a very good state of mind.

What is your “guilty pleasure” at the moment?
I’m ashamed to say it, but during this confinement, I started watching a French reality show. I know I will not learn anything with this program but I think it’s because I’m in need of gossip.

What do you hope for in the future?
I really hope that thanks to this virus, people will realize that we have to change our way of life and our consumption as soon as possible. Because we already know that this type of virus will become frequent due to pollution, climate change, destruction of biodiversity. We are all responsible for this type of disaster.

What’s the first thing you are going to do once things go back to normal?
Nothing spectacular. I will go to bars with my friends, I will ride my horse and, if possible this summer, go on vacation in the south of France.

Mariam Eya

Where are you currently spending your time and who are you spending it with?
I’m currently in France spending my self-isolation with family.

How did your job as a model change during quarantine and how did you adapt?
It’s crazy how we can turn everything into something positive. The change as a model is that we now don’t have to travel to work–and it’s funny, because [before quarantine] we could never imagine doing castings or editorials for example via FaceTime ☺

What do you hope for in the future?
First of all, I hope this pandemic will end as soon as possible. I also hope we will learn a lesson from this period like the importance of caring for others and knowing that what matters most is spreading love around us and protecting our planet.

What’s the first thing you are going to do once things go back to normal?
Go out for a walk in the city with my friends and enjoy my freedom! And I would like to send my love to all the people that are dealing with this virus, may God protect you and keep you safe.

Anania Orgeas & Kennah Lau

Where are you currently spending your time and who are you spending it with?
Anania: I’m spending this self-isolation at my parents. Surrounded by them and their dog, my sister Gaia, my fiancée Kennah, and my dog Pedro. We initially went there for my mother’s birthday, and quarantine was arriving. So, we decided to stay there, the safest solution. What’s inconvenient is that we just have a small suitcase for 2 months now.

Kennah: Anania and I are spending our confinement together with her family in the countryside of western France. I feel really fortunate to be able to be with my lady, my best friend, and their family, especially when so many people are experiencing this time alone.

What is the best thing that has happened to you lately?
Anania: Well, I wouldn’t say that confinement brings a lot of things that are exciting into our lives because we are stuck in the same place… but besides that, what’s nice is that we all have to be content with what we have, and to be creative to feel occupied. However, we celebrated my birthday on April 27th, we did a home photoshoot, my father captured his 4 girls!

Kennah: Some things that have made me smile: Anania and I have had to move our wedding date three times due to confinement restrictions, so I think we are going to fix a date in August. I discovered riz au lait recently, and I can’t believe I have lived 28 years without it in my life. Our dog recently learned to put his feet into the river, and we are very proud.

How did your job as a model change during quarantine and how did you adapt?
Anania: To be honest, modeling is for me a secondary activity, it has helped me to work on my self-confidence, the connection I have with my body and my feminity. This confinement doesn’t really affect my life, living in the present is the key, and not expecting things as well. Modeling isn’t a safe job, you never know when you’re gonna get an option. Indeed it’s uncertain most of the time, so confinement or no confinement, you just wait till you get a job. That’s why focusing on other things in the meanwhile is important.

Kennah: I have had jobs cancelled, so I guess I would say I’ve lost money/work due to the confinement. I think I’m slowly learning to let go of tracking my finances as closely as before and to just live with the idea that money and work are fluid; this job will never be consistent, virus or no virus.

What is your “guilty pleasure” at the moment?
Anania: Ok, I don’t really mention this if I have to introduce myself, but I love video games, I love strategic games, card games, and I spend a lot of time playing Homescapes… oops. It keeps my brain active, I love thinking, analyzing. So yeah, it is my thing, where anything can reach me.

Kennah: The Unsolved Mysteries subreddit. Researching crime data and articles.

What do you hope for in the future?
Anania: I hope for collective awareness, being more aware of problems that concern the planet and us, but what I hope for the most is that each person can find his place by respecting others and the planet.

Kennah: For people to learn to chill out. I know we are all experiencing varying economic situations, but at the end of the day, I hope we can all learn to be thankful for what we have. As someone who has always lived to work, I am enjoying taking this time to put into perspective what work can do for me. Not the opposite.

What’s the first thing you are going to do once things go back to normal?
Anania: Oh my god, I think everyone is going to do the same thing! Going to a restaurant with my girlfriend is the thing that makes me the most impatient! To be seated in front of her, and having a good date, oh yeah, this is what I’m looking for.

Kennah: Well, to be honest, I’m going to enjoy being back at our apartment, our little slice of privacy. To order delivery food at 3am, to have sex without being super quiet, to walk around the apartment naked – little things I took for granted before. Oh, and to go out with Anania to a nice restaurant and get steak frites. And a crème brûlée.

Heloise Giraud

Where are you currently spending your time and who are you spending it with?
I’m very lucky because my parents have a nice little house by the sea in Brittany. So I spent two months watching the sea, swimming, walking around listening to the birds singing, living amongst nature’s silence.

How did your job as a model change during quarantine and how did you adapt?
Nothing changed, it just stopped. Everybody was lost, scared and powerless. I feel like something big is going to happen. To me, the coronavirus is just the first step of this big move that we’re going to live. And it’s kind of exciting.

How will your life be different after self-isolation?
Everything will be different. I discovered how to handle my faults and shortcomings, how to live one day at a time. I felt more free than ever despite the quarantine.

What have you discovered in quarantine that you recommend?
I didn’t watch lots of movies. I’ve been reading a lot instead. The book that has been a real discovery for me during these two months is La porte Etroite written by André Gide. His writing is so powerful and intense. I’ve also reread my favorite book written by Rilke: Lettres à un jeune poète. Reading has always been to me the most powerful tool for traveling without having to move: “To read is to travel, traveling is reading.” (Victor Hugo).

What’s the first thing you are going to do once things go back to normal?
Whatever the first thing I would do I want to be totally and fully aware of what I am doing, without thinking about what I would do next. From now on, I want to take the time, the time to live, to love, to sleep, to read, to work, to eat, etc…

Louise Lefebure

Where are you currently spending your time and who are you spending it with?
I am back home with my family in the southwest of France.

How did your job as a model change during quarantine and how did you adapt?
My job as a model has literally stopped with the quarantine which made me sad on one side because I missed it a lot but at the same time it made me realize that I really love my job… and you know it just feels good to realize it! I feel lucky to do something I love and it makes me feel confident for the future, even though we don’t know what it’s gonna look like.

What is your “guilty pleasure” at the moment?
Playing video games and watching Japanese anime with my sister just like when we were kids.

What have you discovered in quarantine that you recommend?
Musician / Wim Mertens (La stratégie de la rupture)
Filmmaker / Peter Greenaway (The belly of an Architect)
Writer / Henri Miller (Tropique du cancer)

What’s the first thing you are going to do once things go back to normal?
Meet with some friends and have a drink at a terrasse de café watching Paris going back to life.

Julie Trichot

Where are you currently spending your time and who are you spending it with?
I am spending it in the South of France, with my family.

What have you discovered in quarantine that you recommend?
I would recommend Nanni Moretti’s movies, which I’ve been watching lately and that I like very much. I am also really into documentaries, and the Franco-German TV channel Arte provides many good ones. And I must admit that I am not fond of cooking, so I am content to eat the cakes and cookies that my little sister is baking.

What do you hope for in the future?
I hope that we will become more aware of the need to respond to climate change by changing our lifestyle and consumption habits.

What’s the first thing you are going to do once things go back to normal?
I will have a beer with my friends.

Mae Lapres

Where are you currently spending your time and who are you spending it with?
I’m spending my time at home in Paris with my pets.

What is the best thing that has happened to you lately?
I’m about to open my own secondhand shop and I am very excited about it. I can’t wait to start!

What is your “guilty pleasure” at the moment?
My guilty pleasure I would say is getting new plants. I love gardening.

How will your life be different after self-isolation?
I think I will spend even more time improving my home which I consider as my cocoon. I have a really fun place, it’s like my own Disneyland.

What have you discovered in quarantine that you recommend?
I have watched Mandalorian and Westworld and all three Matrix movies. Also some movies with Cher such as The Witches of Eastwick. I also loved the Truman Show. As for cooking, I think my new easy recipes are crumbles. I take any fruits I have, top it up with some gluten-free crumbs and it’s done!

What’s the first thing you are going to do once things go back to normal?
The first thing I’ll do is a big BBQ in my garden with my friends and family.

Joséphine Jeanne

Where are you currently spending your time and who are you spending it with?
During self- isolation I am spending my time with my parents and my brother at my house.

What is the best thing that has happened to you lately?
Despite the circumstances, I think the best thing that has happened to me was taking advantage of being with my loved ones. Usually, we don’t see each other much because everyone works on their own, so this self-isolation has brought us closer.

What do you hope for in the future?
In the future, I hope people will have realized the importance of the situation and that they will respect the barrier rules so that the situation can return to normal as soon as possible even if I think that it will take time.

Oudey Egone

Where are you currently spending your time and who are you spending it with?
I am at my apartment in Versailles with my boyfriend, we live together but he is working.

What haven’t you been able to do due to the pandemic?
A Sainte Sévère pop-up store that was supposed to take place in June to present my new winter collection in Paris. With this situation I can’t organize it, the sewers and suppliers don’t work so I can’t make my prototypes/production. But before the crisis, I worked on pieces that were done, so I will be able to add some new pieces to the website in September. Hopefully, everything will get better before this summer.

What is your “guilty pleasure” at the moment?
I think it’s listening too much this song Pourquoi pas by Miel de Montagne which says “When I saw you I thought, ‘why not live naked?'”

What have you discovered in quarantine that you recommend?
I can recommend playing an instrument. I do it everyday very loudly and for hours. I sing a lot too (badly). I am wondering right now how is it possible that my neighbors haven’t knocked on my door yet… I especially like to listen to old music, like this one Lacrimae by John Dowland which is incredibly poetic. You can find it on the Other Music youtube channel which is full of beautiful old music videos.

I also recommend the blanquette de veau recipe! I found it in English for you here.

And also, I would like to share this advice: don’t be scared to learn and do new things, you have the time to do it, it’s a big opportunity.

What do you hope for in the future?
I hope that this crisis will make every country more conscious about the environment. It is delighting to go on the street and listen to the calm around because there are no more cars. To breathe better everywhere on earth. I saw that animals took advantage of this situation, what a gift to see that, it is maybe the only time it will ever happen… I wish we could slow down the rhythm. I wish we will grow trees everywhere we can.

Ivana Trivic

Where are you currently spending your time in self-isolation and who are you spending it with?
I’m currently in the south of France with my boyfriend. We came here for a little vacation after fashion month and since the quarantine started while we were here, we got stuck. Can’t complain. Couldn’t imagine a better place or person spending this time with.

What is the best thing that has happened to you lately?
I’d have to say fashion month. I still can’t believe how much had happened and all the achievements in this period. Been reflecting on this so much since I’m in isolation and it still can’t get to my brain how insane this whole experience was. So grateful!

How did your job as a model change during quarantine and how did you adapt?
“I am never going to financially recover from this.” That’s a reference from Tiger King that sums it up. Jokes aside, my job has changed a lot. Not being able to travel has made working nearly impossible. I get a few FaceTime shoots here and there but I’m honestly looking forward to being back on set and working with other creatives in person.

How will your life be different after self-isolation?
Definitely being more aware and present. Generally, I think it depends on all of us to make drastic changes because the way we were living and consuming before was unnecessary and over the top.

What’s the first thing you are going to do once things go back to normal?
Just walking outside and meeting some friends will make me MORE than happy.

Manon Leloup

Where are you currently spending your time and who are you spending it with?
I am in my apartment in the north of Paris in the 18e with my dog and two cats

How did your job as a model change during quarantine and how did you adapt?
I did a self-portrait story with a remote, tried to build an e-comm studio, I did a few videos for castings and I did this FaceTime shoot with Yuji Watanabe. Let’s be honest, I can’t wait to be back on set!!!!!

How will your life be different after self-isolation?
I will definitely remember that it’s totally possible to feel close to my friends abroad through video chat and technology. I will do more sports, I will probably do more charity work since I got in contact with a local association created to help homeless people during quarantine (most of usual food distribution systems stopped). Most of all, I will feel even more blessed and lucky to be in good health, and honestly, to have enough money to survive the economical crises coming up, it’s gonna be terrible for many people and we need to be a united mentality.

What have you discovered in quarantine that you recommend?
It might be only in France but I use a lot the platform Cinetek. It’s a large movie library organized by director’s name and director’s recommendations, from old must-see movies to more recent productions. Actually I mostly recommend trying drawing, painting, molding, sewing, gardening, cooking… all kinds of crafted works! Close the computer and use your hands! It’s so fulfilling! I personally did lots of cooking, drawings with oil pastels and I’ve been molding a big woman body with paper and glue that I turned into a giant lamp!

What do you hope for in the future?
Less hypocrisy, less consumption, better quality, simplicity… I hope there will be a ‘healthy’ and smart buying mentality spreading in every social class. Same with plane travel, we need to stop to travel that much, the upper class doesn’t even enjoy it anymore, it’s too easy, too fast. I totally love traveling for jobs but I’m feeling guilty to participate in this industry that flies people so easily. The fashion industry is too global, and it would be totally possible to make it more local.

Esther Sadock

Where are you currently spending your time and who are you spending it with?
I’m confined in Paris, in my mother’s flat with my brother who came back from the US in a hurry to avoid being alone there.

What is the best thing that has happened to you lately?
I started to meditate! It was something I’ve never thought I would be doing but this is the best!

What is your “guilty pleasure” at the moment?
Eating almost every meal in my bed!

What do you hope for in the future?
Everyone has experienced the same situation at the same moment. I hope this is going to bring up the momentum of solidarity between humans, get them closer. I hope this step will bring more tolerance and respect.

What’s the first thing you are going to do once things go back to normal?
Having a meet-up with my best friends! Going to the gym and ride my horses!

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