Sunday, September 22, 2013

Exclusive Interview - Sojourner Morrell

In the world of high fashion modelling where pretty faces come and go with ever alarming frequency, it is a model's capacity to inspire in the role of a muse that enhances his/her long-term career prospects. Sojourner Morell's beauty at first glance is no doubt undeniable with long attenuated limbs, haunting grey-blue eyes, and porcelain perfect skin. However it is her calm presence, insightful articulation, and life interests which elevate her into a whole other category where modelling is concerned. When IMA met Morrell at the Altuzarra pre-castings for the Spring/Summer 2013 season, the twenty-two year old Saratoga native left an indelible impression with her physical presence and more importantly her presence of mind. Morrell holds a particular fascination in the world and in the individuals that she encounters. Softly spoken and gentle in nature, Morrell gives the impression that she is peering into your soul as she engages in conversation. Morrell's roster of runway clients; Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Louis Vuitton, Loewe, Trussardi, Giles, Paul Smith, Tom Ford, Zac Posen, Derek Lam, and Marc Jacobs speaks volumes, while her editorial presence in publications including Interview, Dazed & Confused, 10 Magazine, British Harper's Bazaar, Another Magazine, Russh, i-D, and the British and Italian editions of Vogue attest to her compelling versatility. On the eve of the current Spring/Summer 2014 collections, Morrell brought IMA up to speed on her love of horse riding, beauty's ephemeral nature, and the rigours of show season.

Sojourner Morrell
British Vogue - August 2011
Photographer -  Daniel Jackson
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Inoubliable Model Army (IMA): Hi Sojourner, thank you for taking a moment to  chat with IMA. We met almost a year ago at the pre-castings for Altuzarra during the Spring/Summer 2013 season. What have you been up to over the past 12 months and are you looking forward to the Spring/Summer 2014 season?
SM: I spent some time working in Japan which was fascinating. I find the Japanese culture so mysterious and beautiful. I have been trying to ride as much as possible, as well as pursuing courses in oenology. I am interested to see what happens this coming fashion week though "looking forward to" would not be quite honest.

IMA: Of the close to 150 models that IMA spoke to and photographed during the Spring/Summer 2013 season, you were amongst IMA's favourites due to your equally insightful beauty and enquiring mind. You mentioned that your favourite muse is Tilda Swinton and that you do not necessarily follow models. How did you come to be involved in the modelling field, and did you hold any preconceived notions about models and modelling which have since been dispelled?
SM: I was attracted to modelling for its potential to travel and to meet a host of interesting people. Before I started I knew nothing about the industry so I did not really have any notions to dispel. If anything I have been impressed with the degree of care and interest that I have been exposed to.

IMA: Would you mind sharing a bit of your backstory with IMA's audience?
SM: I am now 22. I was raised mostly in Saratoga Springs NY, but also spent a fair amount of time in Switzerland and Austria. I feel lucky in that beauty was highly emphasised during my childhood. That is, drawing, music, language, nature...

The Telegraph - April 2012
Photographer - Ben Toms
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Aaron Vernon, Chrystal Copland, Ethan James Green,
Sojourner Morrell, Lyle Lodwick & Thairine Garcia
Vogue Italia - April 2012
Photographer - Steven Meisel
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Another Magazine - Fall 2012
Photographer - Ben Toms
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British Harper's Bazaar - June 2013
Photographer - Pamela Hanson
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Sojourner Morrell
Photographer - Neill Seeto
Image property of Inoubliable Model Army

IMA: Your name Sojourner is not atypical. Where does the name Sojourner originate from and does it hold  a significant meaning?
SM: Sojourner comes from the French word 'sejour' meaning short trip/stay. Sojourner would translate as a kind of traveller. I am named after Sojourner Truth who was a prominent female abolitionist.

IMA: Beyond modelling and fashion, what are your passions in life and what would your dream vocation be?
SM: I have many interests including music, art, academics. My main passion however remains horses. I hope to combine a life of fashion and classical dressage riding.

IMA: As the first woman to be accepted into the Spanish Horse Riding Academy in Austria, what did you learn from the experience, and do you feel that modelling/fashion can in its own way serve as a vehicle of expression for women's rights?
SM: I feel very honoured to have been part of the Riding School in Vienna. To begin, I improved my riding tremendously during my time there. It also taught me great discipline (waking up before 5 am every day) as well as a realisation that dreams can indeed come true -  though not necessarily in the way imagined...
I believe that fashion can be a vehicle for both women and men to express themselves. It seems to me there is such a vast spectrum in what both men and women can now wear - men in skirts and women in loafers - I think the traditional gender roles in fashion have been largely broken down, allowing for a new sense of creativity and individual expression.

IMA: Your runway resumé includes Chanel, Saint Laurent, Giles, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, and Zac Posen. Are there any other key designers/fashion houses that would like to add to the list and why?
SM: I feel very fortunate for being able to work for all of the above designers. I would love to add Hermés to my resumé. The clothes are beautifully made and I particularly love their equestrian history.

Yves Saint Laurent - F/W 2012
Photographer - Monica Feudi
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Trussardi - S/S 2012
Photographer - Marcus Tondo
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Chanel - F/W 2012
Photographer - Monica Feudi
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Marc Jacobs - S/S 2014
Photographer - Fablo Iona
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IMA: Your reputation as  a model as muse has seen you working with the likes of Steven Meisel, Karl Lagerfeld, Daniel Jackson, and most recently Pamela Hanson. Do you enjoy the process of collaboration on shoots and is there a favourite editorial or campaign that you have worked on to date?
SM: Yes, I do enjoy shoots - I find the very process of creating something together, something that could not be achieved alone, very uplifting. I would have to say one of my favourite shoots was for Italian Marie Claire. I shot for about a week in Sri Lanka with the photographer Serge Le Blanc. Not only was it an exciting adventure, but the atmosphere of the shoot was such that the pictures felt spontaneous and yet completely real, capturing a moment that was truly genuine and unforced.

IMA: Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder. What is your definition of Beauty?
SM: I would not define beauty -  only to say that beauty is known or felt rather than seen.

IMA: The casting process during Fashion Week can be particularly gruelling with great expectations and often times disappointment. How do you deal with being judged on face value, and what are your secrets to wowing casting directors?
SM: I do not have any tactics to wow casting directors. An yes, I agree that castings are indeed gruelling and often emotionally difficult. It is for me, the least fun part of fashion week.

IMA: What are the most valuable life lessons that you have gained as a result of your modelling experiences?
SM: An ability to go with the flow - not to be attached.

IMA: What makes you "Inoubliable" (Unforgettable)?
SM: Who can I say whether I will be remembered or forgotten? I can vouch for how I remember me, and even that is highly unreliable...

Sojourner Morrell
Image courtesy of PRODn at Art + Commerce
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Manifesto Magazine - July 2012
Photographer - Brent Chua
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Italian Marie Claire - March 2013
Photographer - Arnaud Pyvka

Prada Resort 2012 Look Book
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Bite Magazine - Issue 5
Photographer - Joe Lai
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Special thanks to Roman Young at Wilhelmina Models. For more additional information on Wilhelmina Models please log onto or

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