Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Exclusive Interview - Senait Gidey

During a season which saw scarce visibility of models of colour on fashion's white-washed runways, the emergence of Canadian/Ethiopian newcomer Senait Gidey seemed somewhat of an apparition. Seventeen year old Gidey's impeccable show list included appearances at Chanel, Burberry Prorsum, Emilio Pucci, Kenzo, Max Mara, Loewe, Christopher Kane, and Guy Laroche, landing her smack bang on Inoubliable Model Army's Top 10 Newcomers list for the Fall/Winter 2013 season. Gidey's doe-eyed angelic features, slender 178 cm frame, and deliciously luminescent chocolate skin tone stood out amongst the bland homogenous line-ups of the European runway circuit. Much like her role model contemporaries Liya Kebede, Iman Abdulmajid, and Naomi Campbell, Gidey exudes an effortless elegance, sophistication, and a proud regal quality on the runway which is a dream to witness. With mother agency Elmer Olsen in Toronto and IMG Worldwide plotting her course, Gidey is destined to nab key editorial slots in the ensuing months. Harper's Bazaar Global Fashion Director Carine Roitfeld clearly has Gidey on her watch list, having recently cast the newcomer in a Sebastian Faena lensed editorial for the publication's May 2013 issue. And as the only black model featured in Karl Lagerfeld's Chanel Fall/Winter 2013 presentation, Gidey has model pundits and key industry players hankering for more. Gidey chatted exclusively with Inoubliable Model Army about her whirlwind Fall/Winter season, the issue of diversity in modelling, and the key look which had rocking the runway.

Senait Gidey
Image courtesy of Elmer Olsen Model Management

Inoubliable Model Army: Hi Senait, congratulations on a stunning Fall/Winter 2013 show list - Chanel, Burberry Prorsum, Emilio Pucci, Max Mara, Loewe, Guy Laroche, and Christopher Kane amongst others. How are you feeling in the aftermath of the shows?
SG: Thanks so much! It was overwhelming. Now that the shows have drawn to a close, I've finally had a minute to stop and take everything in! I'm very honoured to have had this opportunity!

IMA: Would you mind sharing with us a bit of your backstory?
SG: I'm 17 years old, born and raised in Toronto, Canada but my ethnic background is Ethiopian.

IMA: How long have you been modelling for and how were you initially discovered?
SG: I've been modelling for two years now. A model from Elmer Model Management went to my high school at the time and highly recommended Elmer to me.

IMA: The Fall/Winter 2013 season was particularly tough on new black models with 90 % of all models featured throughout the show season being white. What are your views on the lack of diversity in modelling and from you personal experiences do you feel that things are improving for models of colour?
SG: I look up to the women who came before me like Liya Kebede among others who really broke down the walls for young black girls like me. It's not always easy but with such strong role models, you can't help but be inspired.

Burberry Prorsum - Fall/Winter 2013
Photographer - Yannis Vlamos
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Chanel - Fall/Winter 2013
Photographer - Yannis Vlamos
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Emilio Pucci - Fall/Winter 2013
Photographer - Monica Feudi
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Kenzo - Fall/Winter 2013
Photographer - Yannis Vlamos
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IMA: You had an impeccable show list this season. What were some of your personal highlights and if there was one look that you wore that you could have walked off the runway with, which collection would it have come from?
SG: Some of my highlights this show season were walking for Chanel and meeting Karl Lagerfeld, Burberry, Christopher Kane, Pucci and Max Mara. Also going to London and Milan for the first time ever!! If I could walk off the runway in any look, I would definitely choose my look from Kenzo. I was rocking a tailored, patterned Kenzo blazer and trousers with a cool pair of shades.

IMA: Each show season is highly competitive with so many new models vying for runway spots that will get you noticed. What is your approach going into castings and how do you deal with the intense scrutiny and often times rejection that comes with the territory?
SG: I like to go in with a positive attitude and no expectations. To be honest, you're running around from casting to casting, you don't have much time to think about it. I did my best to be myself and to show my personality.

IMA: What do you like or dislike most about modelling?
SG: I love being able to travel to new places and to meet lots of different people that I wouldn't meet otherwise.

IMA: You have the most luxuriant skin tone and an elegance that has drawn comparisons to industry icon Iman. Are you familiar with Iman as a model and who else in the industry do you look up to and find inspirational?
SG: Iman, Liya Kebede and Naomi are definitely my role models in the industry. They are such strong, powerful women. I can only dream to be as successful as any of them.

Cosmopolitan - August 2012
Photographer - Ulrich Knoblauch
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Allure - Issue Unknown
Photographer - Unidentified
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Senait Gidey
Image courtesy of Elmer Olsen Model Management

IMA: You are represented by modelling powerhouse IMG. How has IMG been instrumental in your evolution as a model and your recent breakthrough at the Fall/Winter 2013 collections?
SG: IMG has been really great to me! They're like family. I've been really lucky and honoured to work with them and Elmer Olsen in Toronto.

IMA: One of the most enjoyable aspects of the shows is witnessing the backstage camaraderie between the models. Who are your closest friends in the industry and was it daunting walking in shows like Chanel and Emilio Pucci alongside more established models?
SG: It helps when I go on castings to see so many familiar faces during Fashion Week in all the different cities. Not gonna lie, I was nervous walking such major shows but there were a few girls that I know from Toronto doing the same circuit as I was so that helped a lot.

IMA: What are the most valuable life lessons that you have gained so far as a result of your modelling experiences?
SG: I've gained a lot of life experiences from leaving home so young and travelling with so many guides from around the world. IMG and Elmer have been there for me every step of the way.

IMA: How does it feel to have made it onto Inoubliable Model Army's Top 10 Newcomers List for Fall/Winter 2013?
SG: I feel so honoured, thank you!!

IMA: What makes you "Inoubliable" (Unforgettable)?
SG: OMG, I don't know! My personality and my smile, I guess ;-)

Mega Watt
Image courtesy of Elmer Olsen Model Management

Soo Joo. Tilda Lindstam & Senait Gidey
British Harper's Bazaar - May 2013
Photographer - Sebastian Faena
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Be Magazine - February 2013
Photographer - Lucian Bor
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Special thanks to Lisa DiRuocco at IMG Model Management. For more information on IMG Worldwide, please log onto

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