Monday, February 4, 2013

Exclusive Interview - Mélodie Monrose

Of the 150 or so models that Inoubliable Model Army met and photographed during the Spring/Summer 2013 season, Martinican Mélodie Monrose stands out for her divine sensibiliity and generosity of spirit. Monrose's meteoric ascent through modelling's ranks began when she was scouted a few short months shy of her international runway debut at the Spring/Summer 2011 collections. Monrose has since been courted by the industry's elite posing for Mario Testino, Emma Summerton, Daniele Duella & Iango Henzi, Terry Tsiolis, Sebastia Faena, and Sølve Sundsbø. Monrose's captivating and uniquely spectacular looks can be attributed to her blend of African, French and Indian ancestry. In an industry where beauty is exalted above all other human attributes, it is perhaps understandable that some models develop a sense of entitlement when it comes to the perks associated with being genetically blessed. Not so with Monrose, whose  grace under pressure, enthusiasm and genuine interest in all whom she encounters sets her apart. Monrose rose to the occasion when she caught up exclusively with Inoubliable Model Army to discuss how far diversity has progressed in modelling, exploring her sensual side, and developing a "bulletproof" veneer whilst on the runway.

Mélodie Monrose
Photographer - D P Benson
Source - thefashionspot.com

Inoubliable Model Army: Hi Mélodie, thank you for setting time aside to chat with Inoubliable Model Army. It was great meeting you during the Oscar de la Renta fittings last season!
MM: Hi Neill! The pleasure was all mine, thank you for showing your support. It's always appreciated.

Inoubliable Model Army: Let's back track a few seasons, is it true that you were discovered only a few weeks before making your runway debut at the Spring/Summer 2011 shows? What was going through your  mind as you were walking down the runway for the likes of Marc by Marc Jacobs, Jason Wu, Prada, Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent?
MM: Yes it is true! I got scouted a few months before the Spring/Summer shows, and after signing my contract I flew to New York to spend 1 month learning how to get used to modelling life and learning the basics. Everything moved so fast after that, my agency put me in the show package and I was already running around the city with almost 20 castings a day! All of this was so new to me, and of course sometimes I had a hard time realising what was happening to me! Getting to Europe and having the chance to walk for all of these big names in my first season was a dream. I am not going to lie but I was both ecstatic and thankful at the same time! It is quite something for a girl from a little island like me to get all of this fuss and attention all of a sudden, but I have to say that the most important thing that I was more concerned about at the time was doing everything right and just giving my best on every occasion.

Inoubliable Model Army: What were you doing prior to being discovered, how did this come about and were you initially skeptical when you were first approached to model? 
MM: I was discovered back home by a man who is now my mother agent, he sent my polaroids to several agencies and I got the chance to be picked by amazing agents who believed in me right away. I was signed before they had even seen me. I made a point though of finishing school first, so I took up the opportunity to model right after graduating. I was really surprised that I got approached simply because I never thought I could be a model! And it's sometimes still hard to for some of my entourage to believe what has happened to me since, when they remember the shy girl that I used to be!

Inoubliable Model Army: Whereabouts in Martinique are you from and describe you childhood growing up on this idyllic island?
MM: I am from Lamentin which is located on the left side of the island near the capital Fort-de-France. Growing up in Martenique was amazing, I am not very objective of course, but it's a really beautiful place. It was just very simple. I was attending school and every weekend I would hang out with friends at the beach in the south where my father is from or sometimes visiting my grandparents in the north which is more in the countryside. Basically just a normal teenage life. I am now realising just how lucky I was to grow up there, the people are warm and very laid back. It has this eternal sumer vibe that only forever sunny places possess.

Summer Vibes
Photographer - Unknown
Source - styleminutes.com

Zac Posen - Spring/Summer 2013
Photographer - Yannis Vlamos
Source - style.com

Derek Lam - Spring/Summer 2013
Photographer - Alessandro Viero
Source - style.com

Jason Wu - Spring/Summer 2013
Photographer - Filippo Fior
Source - style.com

Inoubliable Model Army: What are you ethnic origins and now that you are based in New York, what do you miss most about your homeland? Was it difficult adjusting to the frenetic pace of New York?
MM: Well, the population in Martinique is very mixed. My ancestors were mostly Africans, French and Indian. You can easily find all of these origins in every Martinican's complexion. Of course in a small island like Martinique the mentality is different from that of a big city like New York. Being French and living in America requires some big life adjustments, but I love New York, I love the energy, the fact that almost everyone comes from somewhere else. There is no place where I feel more at home... with time, I'm sure I will almost feel like a real New Yorker and I wouldn't trade it for the world!

Inoubliable Model Army: How has modelling changed you on a personal level and what are the most valuable life lessons that you have gained from your modelling experiences?
MM: Of course! Before I started modelling I was an 18 year old high school girl! Now I am a full-time model and I have a career that requires a lot of discipline and professionalism. Everybody will tell you that this industry forces you to grow up fast! It takes time to become a real business woman and I have to deal with a lot of responsibilities. It also opens up your mind because you are travelling and meeting so many different people all the time. I've had some amazing experiences thanks to modelling. I also had to postpone my college ambitions. Something that was really important to me and to my family. But I don't regret it! It's one dream at a time.

Inoubliable Model Army: There appears to be a trend of interchangeability between black models that are in demand every few seasons amongst casting directors. A few seasons ago yourself, Anais Mali, Nyasha Matonhodze and Marihenny Paisble were the names on every casting director's must see list. Last season, Cora Emmanuel, Grace Mahary and Jasmine Tookes were in. Why do you think this is so and what are your views on the lack of diversity in modelling? Do you feel that things are improving in general especially for black models?
MM: I would say yes, things are really changing little by little. I haven't been in the industry for very long, but when the topic comes up with people that have been in it for years, I can see the difference between now and then. Just the number of black models walking the shows in New York and in Europe is so much more significant. There are so many of us who are very successful and having amazing careers, and who have made it to the top and are examples of this progression. But of course for black models like Caucasians, the trends are always changing. It's just the rules of fashion. You have to accept it and play along.

Melodie Monrose
Image courtesy of Women Model Management
Source - thefashionspot.com

Vogue Italia - January 2013
Photographer - Tom Munro
Source - fashioncopioustypepad.com

V Magazine - January 2011
Photographer - Daniele Duella & Iango Henzi
Source - thefashionspot.com

Mélodie Monrose
Photographer - Mariano Vivanco
Source - models.com

Inoubliable Model Army: You've recently been showing a more sensual side of yourself appearing in tasteful semi-nude portraits for Vogue Italia shot by Tom Munro and for Mariano Vivanco's newly released photographic book. Has this been a conscious decision on the part of your team at Women Model Management to diversify your body of work, and were you happy with the resulting visuals form both projects?
MM: Well, I had always admired Mariano's work so when my agent called to propose working with him on this personal project, I jumped at the opportunity. I really love photographers that know how to sublimate a woman's body like Mariano and Tom Munro. The shoot with Mariano was my first fully nude one and it was a really great experience. It was such pleasure to be able to connect with a  photographer. It just felt very natural and I was so excited and happy about the result of both shoots. It sure does show a side of me that people are not used to but I don't mind it because I think that a model has to be versatile. So it was very interesting to play on this more sensual side of myself.

Inoubliable Model Army: When we ran into each other at Oscar de la Renta in New York, you were having an amazing fashion week having just walked for Carolina Herrera, Zac Posen, Derek Lam, and Jason Wu. Are you looking forward to the Fall/Winter 2013 season and do you have any survival tips for getting throughout the month long fashion marathon?
MM: For sure, I was really happy with how my last show season in New York went! I live for the sun! So it's much easier for me in Spring/Summer to run around town in between castings and to dress nice. But when it comes to Fall/Winter, I find it so much harder! It's difficult to find a compromise between being stylish and keeping warm. So I am usually dressed in black, leather and fur! Also Winter requires so much more skincare, a lot of hydration and sometimes a bit of make up to restore a bit of the summer glow!

Inoubliable Model Army: One of the most enjoyable aspects to the show season is the opportunity to reunite with old friends and to form new bonds. Who are your closest model buddies and did you take any newcomers under your wing this past season?
MM: Oh it's so nice to be able to see all of your friends after months apart in different countries! Fashion week sometimes feels like a big high school reunion! There is always a lot of chatting involved to catch up! You know, usually you tend to get closer to girls who originate for the same country as you. That's what I an very close to Cora Emmanuel, it's so nice to have her as a friend when you are so far way from home. I am also friends with Lais Ribeiro, Anais Pouliot and Samantha Gradoville. We often hangout outside work, but I am pretty much friends with everyone and there are so many newcomers every season so I am always friendly!

Inoubliable Model Army: What do you feel are the biggest challenges that you face as a model?
MM: As I mentioned before, modelling asks for a lot of discipline. You need to have this if you want to reach your goals. Changing your diet and working out a lot was hard for me as I can be such a foodie and lazy when it comes to physical activity! Being able to perform on a set or walking a show with everybody watching every movement and judging you is not easy. You have to build a kind of special confidence that is almost "bulletproof"!

Dazed & Confused - May 2012
Photographer - Jim Goldberg
Source - thefashionspot.com

Vogue Italia - February 2011
Photographer - Emma Summerton
Source - thefashionspot.com

Mélodie Monrose & Simon Nessman
V Magazine -  Issue 21
Photographer - Terry Tsiolis
Source - thefashionspot.com

Mélodie Monrose & Anais Mali
Interview - December 2010
Photographer - Sølve Sundsbø
Source - models.com

Inoubliable Model Army: You have appeared in editorials for Vogue Italia, Dazed & Confused, V, Interview, Grey and American Harper's Bazaar. Are there any editorials that you are particularly proud of or which hold a special meaning to you? Do you also have a favourite published image of yourself and a photographer whose aesthetic you particularly admire?
MM: I was lucky to be able to work with some of the most fun and talented teams in this business. There is no secret; if the alchemy is good, the result is always going to be amazing. I had so much fun shooting Vogue Italia with Emma Summerton, Edward Enninful, Giovanna Battaglia, Tom Munro and all of the girls on the set made those days hard to forget. I am also proud of having some only girl editorials in some of the big American magazines like Harper's Bazaar. But I have to say that my favourite editorial so far is the Interview story shot by Sølve Sundsbø. There are so many photographers that I would love to work with like Mario Testino, David Sims, Ben Hasset... it would be great to collaborate with Mario Sorrenti, Mert & Marcus, to name just a few in the near future.

Inoubliable Model Army: You have been a favourite of Inoubliable Model Army's since you landed on our Top 10 Newcomers list during your debut season. You and Arlenis Sosa possess the most radiant smiles in the modelling industry (literally beaning from the inside out)! How do you keep a clear sense of self in an industry where you are constantly being scrutinised and judged based primarily on your physicality?
MM: Firstly thanks for the compliment! Well in my opinion, your entourage is the most important. I have been raised in an amazing family and I am surrounded by great friends. They show me a lot of love and support, They are always there for me when I have some doubt or just simply to give me a reality check. To me, they are the guarantee for a stable and healthy lifestyle.

Inoubliable Model Army: What makes you "Inoubliable" (Unforgettable)?
MM: Well, I think in an industry where so many girls can look alike and are all trying to make it, the most important thing is to be able to show some personality and to maybe create a brand around yourself. That's the difference between a top model and a regular model. It's also about being kind and professional. You have to make people want to work with you again, otherwise they are more than ready to replace you!

Photographer - Steven Chu
Source - models.com

Vogue Japan - October 2012
Photographer - Nathaniel Goldberg
Source - models.com

D&G Campaign - Fall/Winter 2011
Photographer - Mario Testino
Source - models.com

French Revue de Modes -Issue 18
Photographer - Thierry Le Goues
Source - models.com

Mélodie Monrose & Neill Seeto
Image property of Inoubliable Model Army

Special thanks to Alex Shah at Premier Model Management. For more information on Premier Models, please log on to www.premiermodelmanagement.com

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