Monday, November 28, 2011

Catherine The Great

In 2007, a then seventeen year old Catherine McNeil flew to Paris to meet with famed photographer Mario Testino. McNeil made quite an impression. Testino immediately booked the Brisbane beauty to appear in the Fall/Winter 2007 Hugo Boss and D&G campaigns, and signed her to a six month exclusive editorial contract. Marked by the New York Times as a "model to watch", McNeil went on to eclipse the runways of Milan and Paris logging a blinding 35 show tally in her debut season with appearances at Versace, Roberto Cavalli, Fendi, Yves Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen and Chanel.

Early Days
Photographer - Unknown
Source - thefashionspot.com

McNeil's runway blitz translated into editorial gold with appearances on the covers of V Magazine, Paris Vogue, French Numero, Russh Magazine and Australian Vogue. Most importantly though, McNeil received the ultimate endorsement from US Vogue's editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph McNeil's former agent Stephen Lee at Next, reveals that after having come from a meeting with the most powerful woman in fashion, "Anna said that she wants Catherine to be an absolute, total Vogue girl. No Harper's or anything - just Vogue. Anna says Catherine epitomises everything that Vogue wants to stand for now."

US Vogue - August 2008
Photographer - Steven Klein
Source - bellazon.com

US Vogue - September 2008
Photographer - Patrick Demarchelier
Source - bellazon.com

US Vogue - December 2008
Photographer - Mario Testino
Source - bellazon.com

US Vogue - February 2008
Photographer - Raymond Meier
Source - bellazon.com

US Vogue - March 2009
Photographer - Mario Testino
Source - thefashionspot.com

US Vogue - September 2008
Photographer - Steven Klein
Source - models.com

US Vogue - December 2008
Photographer - Mario Testino
Source - models.com

The buzz surrounding McNeil was palpable with designers, photographers and casting directors lauding praise over the newcomer. Angus Munro of AM Casting was gushing in his assessment of McNeil in an interview with V Magazine, "There aren't enough superlatives to describe the arrival of this young Australian on the scene. Models with true star quality are extremely rare but Catherine has is all - the grace, the stature, the perfect blend of strength and beauty, and, perhaps most importantly, the brains and the sense of humour. These qualities combined are going to make her a household name." Influential casting agent James Scully echoed these sentiments speaking with New York Look, "Her cat eyes, her hair - they don't make many girls like this!"

Numéro - September 2008
Photographer - Horst Diekgerdes
Source - bellazon.com

i-D Magazine - October 2008
Photographer - Amy Troost
Source - bellazon.com

German Vogue - June 2008
Photographer - Horst Diekgerdes
Source - bellazon.com

Numéro - February 2008
Photographer - Greg Kadel
Source - bellazon.com

Paris Vogue - June/July 2007
Photographer - Mario Testino
Source - bellazon.com

V Magazine - Issue 47
Photographer - Mario Testino
Source - models.com

Australian Vogue - January 2010
Photographer - Richard Bailey
Source - bellazon.com

McNeil delivered on such high expectations with back to back campaigns for Hugo Boss as well as campaigns for Versace, Jean Paul Gaultier, Donna Karan, the GAP, Uniqlo, Givenchy, Dolce & Gabbana, Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior. Editorial appearances in i-D, V Magazine, Harper's Bazaar, Numero, W Magazine, Russh, and virtually every international edition of Vogue, confirmed McNeil as a bonafide star amongst the current generation of models.

Hugo Boss - F/W 2007
Photographer - Mario Testino
Source - bellazon.com

Louis Vuitton - Resort 2009
Photographer - Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott
Source - nymag.com

Dolce & Gabbana - Resort 2009
Photographer - Steven Klein
Source - nymag.com

Donna Karan - F/W 2007
Photographer - Mario Testino
Source - nymag.com

Givenchy - F/W 2010
Photographer - Inez Van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin
Source - models.com

For the past year McNeil has been on a somewhat self-imposed hiatus from modelling. Rumours abound with personal issues, burn out and health concerns, all cited for McNeil's absence from the modelling circuit. McNeil, who had recently jumped ship from Next Model Management to Ford Models, reemerged at the Spring/Summer 2012 collections in September with a renewed vigour and a new look. McNeil's return to the catwalk signals perhaps a shift in the the marketing of McNeil thanks to her management team at Ford. Instead of her sultry trademark cascading auburn locks, McNeil turned more than a few heads with a more subdued, sophisticated navel grazing bob.

Polaroid shot
Courtesy of Next Model Management

In an interview with Frockwriter, Ford Models agent Doll Wright sheds some light on McNeil's journey, "Life is a rollercoaster and these girls go through so much, they're worked to the bone. Some burn out or fade out and are never heard of again. Or they do have some fire in their belly and they come back bigger and better than ever before. And in the case of Catherine McNeil, that's what it's going to be." McNeil's runway appearances at Hermés, Jean Paul Gaulthier, Viktor & Rolf, Haider Ackermann, Rick Owens, Gareth Pugh, Pringle of Scotland and Matthew Williamson during the Spring/Summer 2012 collections, suggest that the fashion industry is ready to embrace McNeil back into its fold.

Comeback Trail
Matthew Williamson - S/S 2012
Photographer - Yannis Vlamos

Gareth Pugh - S/S 2012
Photographer - Marcus Tondo

Hermés - S/S 2012
Photographer - Alessandro Viero

Jean Paul Gaultier - S/S 2012
Photographer - Yannis Vlamos
All runway images courtesy of style.com

Catherine's Creed
Photographer - Andrew Weir
Source - andrewsdiary.com

Saturday, November 26, 2011

When you're schmizing...

Discovered a little over a year ago, Cologne native Nur Hellmann possesses one of the most photogenic faces that I have seen for some time. The 180 cm tall newcomer made an auspicious debut at the Spring/Summer 2012 collections, illuminating the runways for Lake & Stars, Sass & Bide, Jasper Conran, Top Shop Unique, Erdem, Temperley London, Roksanda Ilincic, Martin Grant and Issey Miyake. Represented by DNA Models in New York, Hellmann's high forehead, perfectly symmetrical cheekbones and gorgeous caramel skin tone are reminiscent of a baby Tyra Banks. Hellmann is already proving her editorial mettle with appearances in US Glamour, Dazed & Confused, Qvest Magazine, Australian Marie Claire, and has graced the covers of Arise and Wallpaper Magazine. Hellmann status as one of the most coveted newcomers is set to implode with the sublime images lensed by Karim Sadli for the Akris Resort 2012 campaign.

Australian Marie Claire - August 2011
Photographer - David Gubert
Source - thefashionspot.com

Photographer - Sonja Gutschera & Leif Henrik Osthoff
Source - thefashionspot.co

Akris Campaign - Resort 2012
Photographer - Karim Sadli
Source - models.com

Photographer - Sonja Gutschera & Leif Henrik Osthoff
Source - thefashionspot.co

Australian Marie Claire - September 2011
Photographer - David Gubert
Source - thefashionspot.com
US Glamour - April 2011
Photographer - KT Auleta
Source - thefashionspot.com

Akris Campaign - Resort 2012
Photographer - Karim Sadli
Source - models.com

Akris Campaign - Resort 2012
Photographer - Karim Sadli
Source - models.com

Akris Campaign - Resort 2012
Photographer - Karim Sadli
Source - models.com

Photographer - Sonja Gutschera & Leif Henrik Osthoff
Source - thefashionspot.com

Friday, November 25, 2011

Tunisian Dream

With the constant influx of new models inundating the fashion industry each season, it's easy to become a little blasé about beauty. Every now and then though, a new face pops up who sends a shock wave through fashion circles. That very girl is twenty-one year old Tunisian, Hanaa Ben Abdesslem. 

One of A Kind Beauty
Photographer - Elena Kechicheva
Source - IMG Models

Hailing from Nabeul, this exotic, androgynous beauty is a true stand out. Measuring at 179 cm, the statuesque Ben Abdesslem made her runway debut in the Vivienne Westwood Spring/Summer 2011 show. Three months later, Ben Abdesslem's modelling options kicked into overdrive with a career defining Jean Sebergesque haircut which garnered her the attention of Givenchy's Riccardo Tisci. Ben Abdesslem landed a Givenchy couture exclusive and has since been photographed by Inez Van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin, Knoepfel & Indlekofer and Karim Sadli for Paris Vogue, Terry Richardson for V, Mario Sorrenti for Vogue Italia, and Terry Tsiolis for W.

Whilst some would be quick to pidgeon-hole Ben Abdesslem as a quirky androgynous type, there is no denying however that she possesses a delicate beauty, femininity and elegance which will translate to commercial viability. Lancome cosmetics appears to agree, having signed Ben Abdesslem to join its stable of beauties including Arlenis Sosa and Daria Werbowry, as one of the faces of its Fall/Winter 2011 Visionnaire campaign.

What I find most alluring about Ben Abdesslem is that hers is a beauty that has been untapped and unrepresented in the fashion industry. Aside from Moroccan model Hind Sahli, I am unable to recall any other models of North African descent working in fashion today. In an interview with US Vogue, Ben Abdesslem alludes to the divide between the world of fashion and her cultural background, "...seeking a modelling career has been a dream of mine for a long time. To me, modelling is an expression of freedom, a career choice that goes beyond the barriers of culture and tradition in my country." I for one, am delighted that Ben Abdesslem is fulfilling her dream and hope to see a lot more of this enigmatic beauty in the years to come.

Paris Vogue - March 2011
Photographer - Karim Sadli
Source - models.com

Intermission - December 2011
Photographer - John Scarisbrick
Source - models.com

Photographer - Gilles Zimmermann
Source - thefashionspot.com

Sui He & Hanaa Ben Abdesslem
V Magazine - Issue 74
Photographer - Terry Richardson
Source - models.com

Glamour Girl
Paris Vogue - November 2011
Photographer - Inez Van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin
Source - thefashionspot.com

T Magazine - September 2011
Photographer - Danko Steiner
Source - models.com

Vogue Italia - October 2011
Photographer - Mario Sorrenti
Source - thefashionspot.com

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Lucky 13

Ok so I'll admit that I am just a tad bit excited about the 2011 Victoria's Secret Fashion show. This year, Victoria's Secret are bringing a mega dose of high fashion moxie to the runway amidst all of the over the top pouting, blowing of kisses and runway theatrics. Amongst the thirteen new faces who have been confirmed for the show are several of my favourite catwalkers, Joan Smalls, Karlie Kloss, Anais Mali, Toni Garrn, Sui He, Jessica Clarke, Caroline Brasch Nielsen and Karmen Pedaru. Rounding up the lucky thirteen are Bregje Heinen, Ieva Laguna, Shanina Shaik, Elsa Hosk and Cameron Russell. I'm doubly excited to see Anja Rubik, Constance Jablonski, Liu Wen, Lily Donaldson, Lais Ribeiro, Magdalena Frackowiak and Lily Donaldson, amongst the former Victoria's Secret girls returning this year. With the show due to commence any minute, the following backstage and rehearsal shots should whet your appetite for the spectacle ahead.

Candice Swanepoel & Tom Pecheux

Newcomer Sui He

Newcomer Toni Garrn

Emanuela de Paula

Newcomer Bregje Heinen & Orlando Pita

Newcomer Karlie Kloss

Adriana Lima

Doutzen Kroes

Newcomer Jessica Clarke

Lindsay Ellington, Alessandra Ambrosio, Lily Aldridge
& Miranda Kerr

Rehearsal Time - Anne Vyalitsyna

Newcomer Joan Smalls

Lais Ribeiro

Miranda Kerr

Shanina Shaik

Sui He

Anja Rubik

Candice Swanepoel

Caroline Brasch Nielsen

Izabel Goulart

Karmen Pedaru

Lily Donaldson
All images - thefashionspot.com