Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Exclusive Interview - Harleth Kuusik

Estonian newcomer Harleth Kuusik was a pure vision of gold when she debuted at Proenza Schouler during the Spring/Summer 2014 collections. At age 16, Kuusik projects an aura and maturity way beyond her teen years which has casting directors and designers enchanted. Modelling for less than a year, Kuusik has managed to fast-track her way to the upper echelons of high fashion's hierarchy via a spectacular Spring/Summer 2014 debut punctuated by appearances at Prada, Miu Miu, Céline, Valentino, and Louis Vuitton. With her newly bleached blonde locks courtesy of hair colourist Josh Woods at Prada and an irresistible smattering of 'feel good' freckles across the bridge of her nose, Kuusik exudes a high fashion sensibility balanced by a girl-next-door relatability. Kuusik's versatile and transformative beauty was evident as she morphed from golden girl at Proenza Schouler to mythological sorceress at Valentino and gothic showgirl at Louis Vuitton with the relative ease of a seasoned veteran.

In the fall out from the Spring/Summer 2014 collections, Kuusik appears to be continuing to build considerable momentum and interest with an editorial appearance in fashion tome CR Fashion Book, in addition to an upcoming slated Top Ten Newcomers British Vogue feature. Armed with a provocative stern runway stare, a lithe 177 cm frame, and a distinctive puckered heart-shaped pout, it's unsurprising that Kuusik has emerged as one of the standout newcomers of the Spring/Summer 2014 season. Kuusik's solid work ethic, balanced approached to life and work, and adventurous spirit will no doubt serve her well as she evolves from a promising ingenue to fully-fledged modelling dynamo. In between modelling and school assignments, Kuusik took a breather to chat with IMA about her stunning modelling trajectory, the Proenza Schouler dress that literally took her breath away, and the trademark freckles that were once the bane of her existence.

Harleth Kuusik
Photographer - Maiken Staak
Source - thefashionspot.com


Inoubliable Model Army (IMA): Hi Harleth, thank you for chatting with IMA and congratulations on a phenomenal debut at the Spring/Summer 2014 collections. How are you feeling now that you have had the opportunity to unwind from the month long fashion marathon, and are you pleased with how the season progresses?
HK: Hi, thank you! Ooh I'm feeling amazing and I still cannot believe what has happened with me and is still happening (in a good way).

IMA: As a brand spanking newcomer, would you mind revealing your backstory to IMA's audience?
HK: I'm 16 years old and I come from a small town called Viljandi with a population of 18,000 people. I sent my pictures to my mother agency MJ Models at the end of Spring this year. In June, I had my first modelling trip to London. After this trip I was confirmed for Proenza Schouler and Prada, and this really started my modelling career.

IMA: Your Spring/Summer 2014 show list includes appearances at Proenza Schouler, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu, and Céline to name but a few. Is there a particular show appearance that stands out in your mind or which has a particularly special meaning for you?
HK: Proenza Schouler has a very special meaning to me because it was my first show ever and it was breathtaking. My outfit was amazing, I love that dress. Of course, I loved all my other outfits too though and I would love to have them all.

IMA: This season Estonians were back in force with yourself, Elisabeth Erm, and fellow newcomer Maarjan Ridalaan representing. Did you get the the opportunity to meet/bond with Maarjan backstage at Prada? Also what qualities do you feel are unique about Estonians which may be contributing to the current wave of interest amongst casting directors and designers?
HK: Yes I met Maarjan at the Prada fittings, and it was so funny because we talked for like half an hour in English and then she asked me where I'm from, and I said "I'm from Estonia" and the look than on both our faces was just priceless.
Estonia has been occupied by so many different nations and that has influenced and enriched our look. Every girl looks so different thus unique. Because of our tough history, we are hard-working and always give 100% effort in everything we do because we do not want to leave a bad impression.

Prada - S/S 2014
Photographer - Monica Feudi
Source - style.com

Céline - S/S 2014
Photographer - Monica Feudi
Source - style.com

Proenza Schouler - S/S 2014
Photographer - Monica Feudi
Source - style.com


IMA: IMA absolutely adored the yellow/orange dress you wore at Proenza Schouler. Were there any key looks which took your breath away and which you would have loved to walk off the runway with?
HK: I loved it too! I would have loved to be able to walk off the runway with all of them, but if I have to choose then Proenza Schouler, Valentino, Prada, Miu Miu, Sacai, and Carven!

IMA: The stakes for the Spring/Summer 2014 season were incredibly high with more newcomers than ever vying for limited runway slots. Was it daunting going into castings and what was your general approach for making a favourable impression on the powers that be?
HK: I was just myself, happy and rested (even if I wasn't rested).

IMA: You have a very distinctive and endearing smattering of freckles across the bridge of your nose. Did you like this aspect of your appearance growing up and did you imagine that one day it would become your modelling trademark?
HK: No, I used to hate my freckles so much. I never imagined that one day someone would like them but now I even love them too ;-)

IMA: Being 16 years of age yourself, what are your views on the New York State's recent passing of the new Child Labor Laws which provides protection for models 16 years and under from unsafe, unhealthy, and unlawful working terms and conditions?
HK: There are good sides and bad - the bad side is that it's harder for underage girls to get working permits and to start working in New York, but the positive side is that it definitely helps to prevent exploitation of young models - they can finish their schooling and then concentrate on modelling full-time.

Harleth Kuusik
Image courtesy of MJ Model Management

Harleth Kuusik
Image courtesy of MJ Models Management

Harleth Kuusik
Photographer - Levvis Benuchi
Source - thefashionspot.com


IMA: Social media now plays a huge role in helping to build a model's public profile. Are you active on twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and have you gotten used to the idea of having fans and a public profile?
HK: Yes, I have all of them, twitter and Facebook are for stalking my own family and friends, and my Instagram is for others to stalk me (@harlethkuusik).

IMA: A model's sense of style is vital when presenting at castings and even more so off-duty with the emergence of street style photographers and bloggers. How would you describe your own individual street style?
HK: I just wear items that I like which are comfortable and clean. Right now though I really wish I had some Prada high heel boots. I love Prada boots and also all of their other designs!

IMA: The role of sound and professional management is critical to a model's opportunities for success. How did your mother agency MJ Model Management prepare you for your first Fashion Week, and what key advice were you offered by your agents?
HK: As I started with Proenza Schouler and a Prada exclusive, it gave me time to adapt to the shows, and my mother agency (MJ Models) was there with me and it was the best support for me. I guess the best advice is that you always have to concentrate your energies on one show at a time, especially when you start.

IMA: One of the most challenging aspects of modelling is the time spent away from family and friends. Where are you currently based, and what do you miss most about your hometown?
HK: Right now I'm based in Paris. I miss Estonian food the most, especially the Estonian treat 'Kohuke' which is basically curd cheese coated in chocolate glaze ;-)

Harleth Kuusik & Lera Tribel
CR Fashion Book - Issue 3
Photographer - Benjamin Vnuk
Source - wearesodroee.wordpress.com

Harleth Kuusik
CR Fashion Book - Issue 3
Photographer - Benjamin Vnuk
Source - wearesodroee.wordpress.com

Photographer - Riina Varol
Image courtesy of MJ Model Management


IMA: Every model's dream is to appear on the cover of Vogue. Imagine you are being featured on the cover of British Vogue alongside four other girls in a 2014 version of the original Famous Five cover starring Naomi, Cindy, Christy et al. If you could play casting director for a day, which four other models out of the current generation of rising stars would you most like to appear alongside?
HK: Anna Ewers, Malaika Firth, Maja Salamon, and Irene Hiemstra. I chose them because they also did Prada and Miu Miu, and I think they all look gorgeous!

IMA: What are your keen interests and passions beyond modelling and fashion?
HK: I love cooking with my friends, trying out new and different things and exploring tastes I like and which I don't. Also I'm very interested I music, I guess it's because I'm really not all that musically gifted myself ;-).

IMA: Beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder. What is your interpretation of Beauty?
HK: I like it when people are original with their looks and they are not scared to try different things.

IMA: What makes you "Inoubliable" (Unforgettable)?
HK: My new Prada bleached blonde hair and my freckles!

Harleth Kuusik
Photographer - Renee Altrov
Image courtesy of MJ Model Management

Special thanks to Margit Jogger and Marianna Aasma at MJ Models Management. For more information on MJ Models, please log onto www.mj-models.tumblr.com and www.facebook.com/MJmodels

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