Saturday, January 5, 2013

Exclusive Interview - Wylie Hays

Hailing from Agoura Hills just outside of Los Angeles, newcomer Wylie Hays forms part of the recent wave of American models who are redefining concepts of American beauty. I first encountered Hays during the Spring/Summer 2013 pre-castings for Altuzarra in September and was immediately struck by her beguiling, hypnotic-like beauty. Modelling for only a year, seventeen year old Hays made an indelible impression during her debut show season, appearing as an exclusive at Alexander Wang, opening for Proenza Schouler and storming the runways at Missoni, Theysken's Theory and Blumarine amongst others. Hays possesses what I like to describe as a deliciously demonic beauty; her take no prisoners runway strut, coupled with an intensity on film and her incandescent personality make for a lethal combination that will ensure she remains omnipresent in the minds of casting directors, designers and photographers in the seasons ahead. What impresses me most about Hays is the sum of all her parts; an astute mind, unconventionally striking looks and an amazonian 180 cm frame to rival that of 90's supermodel Nadja Auermann. Hays took a breather from her modelling schedule to discuss with Inoubliable Model Army, her take on modern American beauty, the importance of comfy heels, and who she would invite to dinner.

Wylie Hays
Photographer - Twin Shotone
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Inoubliable Model Army: How were you discovered and was it always part of your master plan to pursue modelling?
WH: I've always been active and love the beach - I guess you could say I was a tomboy. I'd been told I should model in the past and I was interested but never knew how to get started. A girl at my high school put me in touch with Larry Clauson who scouts models for Next. Then, I spent a couple of months getting ready to go into the agency; working out, eating right etc. I signed with Next in Los Angeles last December and things took off from there.

Inoubliable Model Army: You were featured on Inoubliable Model Army way back in September as a new face to watch. How was it for you coming into the castings for the Spring/Summer 2013 season as a new face and how did you cope with the pressures of your first show season?
WH: Fashion Week was really intimidating at first, but I was so excited to see what would happen during my first season! Coming into castings as a new face was fun and scary a the same time. I'd been to castings before for editorial and magazines but show castings are really different. First impressions are so important especially when you are new to the industry. There was definitely a lot pressure at the time. When I started to feel the stress getting to me, I tried to remind myself of what made me stand out from the other models. I also said to myself that it's only my first season and that no matter what happened there would most likely be a next one. Positive thinking helped a lot!

Inoubliable Model Army: You clearly made an impression at castings, landing some big name shows. What were the season highlights for you?
WH: There were so many highlights and great experiences this season! Alexander Wang was an amazing first show and it was such an honour to be chosen as an exclusive. I love his enthusiasm and his creativity. Theysken's Theory was awesome too. The designers were so nice and there was a really good energy to the show. And Proenza Schouler!! I was so happy to open for them and it was a lot of fun. I love their clothes! Fashion Week in Milan was crazy but I was happy to be a part of it.

Alexander Wang Exclusive - S/S 2013
Photographer - Monica Feudi
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Proenza Schouler - S/S 2013
Photographer - Monica Feudi
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Blumarine - S/S 2013
Photographer - Filippo Fior
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Inoubliable Model Army: Amidst the month long fashion frenzy, did you have the opportunity to get to know any other models or newcomers?
WH: I met a lot to people during Fashion Week and even lived with some of the same girls in London. Some of the girls are young like me and away from family and friends. It's really cool to meet people who are sharing this unique experience. Also bonding with some of the other newcomers has been nice because we are all seeing each other start out and develop at the same time. We've all got to stick together in this crazy business right!?

Inoubliable Model Army: There were so many new faces this season! What do you think are the key factors to making an impression at castings?
WH: I think one of the key factors to making an impression is to be yourself. It sounds so cliché, but every client is looking for something different and you can never please everyone. When I walk into a casting, I try to bring a sense of fun and enthusiasm to it; show that I want to wear their clothes. Fashion is supposed to be fun and it should be an exciting time for everyone. Also, it is a good idea to have a nice pair of comfy heels to walk in. You don't want to be stumbling around in front of top designers - yikes!

Inoubliable Model Army: Speaking of stumbling around, has anyone mentioned that you bear a striking resemblance to Lindsay Lohan but with more of a refined European twist?
WH: Haha! It's funny you ask because just the other day the make-up artist at a shoot said that I looked a little bit like her!

Inoubliable Model Army: There are a lot of American newcomers making headway in modelling at the moment. Newcomers including yourself, Athena Wilson, Louise Parker, Grace Hartzel, and Juliana Schurig are redefining concepts of American beauty. What is your definition of today's take on modern American beauty?
WH: I think that modern American beauty can include a lot of different looks, and everyone has their own opinion about what they think is beautiful. I've noticed that more of a healthy look is coming back. You still see girls on the runway who are very thin, but it is nothing compared to how it used to be. A classic beauty is always in style but modern American beauty can also include an edgy look. Also, a model needs to have the whole package including attitude and confidence; not just a pretty face.

Channeling Lindsay
Photographer - Hanna Hiller
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Legs for Miles
Photographer - Hanna Hiller
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Inoubliable Model Army: During the show season, an "exclusive" can make or break a new model's career. Do you feel that "exclusives" have a positive or detrimental effect on the modelling industry in general?
WH: This is a tough question. Exclusives can either be positive or negative for the modelling industry. It can give an unknown model a good chance for recognition. On the other hand, a model who doesn't do well in an exclusive but still has the chance to develop may not get the same opportunities again. In general, an exclusive puts a lot of pressure on models but at the same time, a model needs to be able to handle the pressure especially during the fashion season.

Inoubliable Model Army: What are the biggest misconceptions about models and the industry?
WH: Some misconceptions about models are that they are unhealthy and that they don't work hard. Modelling requires a lot of energy and stamina. I have worked really long days before. Once I worked a 20 hour day, got three hours sleep and then worked a 12 hour day the next day and I'm only 17! I love what I do, but it can be really demanding. Also most of the models I've come across are pretty healthy and pay attention to what they eat. It would be hard to do all that is required of a model, living off diet coke and cigarettes and still managing to look good.

As for the modelling industry, one of the biggest misconceptions is that people who are working in it are mean and treat models poorly. While that can be true, I've had more positive encounters with people in the industry than negative. Working with designers and photographers as well as creative teams has been a really awesome experience. Most of the time people have treated me with the utmost respect and kindness. My agency Next, has been really supportive and has helped guide me along the way. I feel blessed to be part of an industry working with so many cool, interesting and creative individuals.

Inoubliable Model Army: Do you feel that the industry will ever be able to rekindle the supermodel phenomenon of the early 90s?
WH: I'm really not sure. You see celebrities, actresses, artists etc who appear in fashion spreads, magazine covers and as product spokespersons. I think perhaps that the whole concept of a supermodel will never come back in the same way again. Top models used to be recognised by the average person in a way that they aren't anymore unless they are involved in other things too like film and the entertainment field.

Dazed & Confused - January 2013
Photographer - Billy Ballard
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Grit Magazine - Winter 2012
Photographer - Niclas Heikkinen
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Inoubliable Model Army: What do you hope to achieve in modelling and what would be your ultimate dream assignment?
WH: I hope to get some good campaigns, shows, and editorials. Most of all, I would like to have a nice, long career. Right now, I'm just having fun and soaking up all of this travel and life experience. My ultimate dream assignment is to do a shoot with Steven Meisel for Vogue Italia. Steven Meisel is such an amazing photographer and I really admire his work. I would love to do a shoot with him!

Inoubliable Model Army: If you could invite any five key industry figures to dinner, who would they be?
WH:I would invite Anna Wintour, Steven Meisel, Arizona Muse, Kate Moss, and Karl Lagerfeld!

Inoubliable Model Army: What do you feel are some of the greatest challenges that you face as a model?
WH: One of the biggest challenges I face as a model is being confident in myself. There can be the illusion that models are perfect, so sometimes I think that is how I need to come off even if I have a day when I might feel otherwise. Another challenge is fitting into the clothes and shoes. Even for a model, I'm on the taller end of the spectrum - 180 cm in height, so clothes are sometimes short on me. Also, I have a size 11 foot, so it's always awkward when people ask me to shove my foot into a size 9-10. I know a lot of models with the same problem though and we hope that people start making bigger shoes!

Inoubliable Model Army: What makes you "Inoubliable" (Unforgettable)?
WH: My enthusiasm and the fact that I love what I do. I love modelling and everything that goes into it. When I'm on a shoot or walking in a show, I feel like I'm part of a creative process. At the same time, I can bring an intensity and emotion to photographs and I think this makes me memorable. Oh, and I'm also really tall!

Volt Magazine
Photographer - Ross Shields
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Photographer - Unknown
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Ashleigh Good, Wylie Hays & Tamara Weijenberg
Alexander Wang - S/S 2013
Photographer - Unknown
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