Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Exclusive Interview - Josephine Van Delden

German newcomer Josephine Van Delden was the name on every influential casting director and designer's must see list during the recent Spring/Summer 2014 collections. And with good reason, given Van Delden's alluring runway presence, dynamic personality, and sophisticated modern take on beauty. The seventeen year old 179 cm green-eyed ingenue exuded a nonchalant elegance and refinement throughout her 42 show bookings for the Spring/Summer 2014 season. Van Delden's appearances at Calvin Klein, Altuzarra, Nina Ricci, Bottega Veneta, Christopher Kane, Jil Sander, and Chloé to name but a few, had fashion folk in a spin with her aspirational beauty and grace. Van Delden's runway perfect proportions, pristine beauty, and enigmatic runway quality made her one of the most identifiable standout faces amongst the endless stream of newcomers.

Represented by Place Models in Hamburg, Van Delden's star has been steadily on the ascent since her international runway debut at Céline during the Fall/Winter 2012 season. With education being a high priority, Place Models carefully and strategically chartered Van Delden's course to accommodate the academically inclined newcomer. Speaking with Van Delden, IMA was enamoured not only by her undeniable classic yet truly original beauty, but even more so by her thirst for knowledge and the many layers to her personality. Van Delden's natural charm, depth of character, and authenticity make her one of IMA's favourite newcomers and personalities of the Spring/Summer 2014 collections. In between modelling assignments, Van Delden chatted extensively with IMA about her hopes for the future within the realm of modelling and beyond, her appreciation of the diversity of beauty on fashion's runways, and the importance of developing one's inner self in the face of an industry fixated on the exterior.

Josephine Van Delden
Image courtesy of Place Models

Inoubliable Model Army (IMA): Hi Josephine, thank you for chatting with IMA. Congratulations on a stellar Spring/Summer 2014 season! What were your expectations ahead of your first full show season and could you have imagined that you would end the season with 42 show bookings!
JVD: Hi IMA and thank you! Well, to be honest I started Fashion Week without any special expectations. Not because I thought I could not make it but because I told myself 'you never know'. In my opinion it's better to keep one's expectations low and be surprised if it ends up very good rather than taking excelling for the norm.

IMA: You made your international runway debut at Céline during the Fall/Winter 2012 season. Would you mind filling in IMA on some of the gaps?
JVD: I'm 17 years old and come from the very west of Germany. Going to Holland takes me only five minutes! My family is originally from Holland but that's already more than a hundred years ago! I made my first step in the modelling business when I was fifteen. However, the focus was on school so I started very slowly, doing some shoots on the weekends and using the holidays for small trips when I was 16. It took a while to get me into this business. I was scouted twice when I was younger but I wasn't really interested in modelling so I didn't pursue the opportunity at the time. Later, there was a friend of mine who was passionate about fashion and the industry, who established the contact between my mother agency and myself.

IMA: During the recent Spring/Summer 2014 collections, you opened for Nina Ricci and Richard Nicoll, and closed for Wunderkind. What were your other personal highlights of the season both on and off the runway?
JVD: That's hard to say. During Fashion Week there is so much going on in such a short period of time. When my family asked me about my adventures, I wasn't even able to tell them about the last two days! You see I'm getting old haha! But opening Nina Ricci was definitely a highlight! When I entered the runway it just felt amazing even though it was a crazy rush just some seconds before. I arrived ten minutes before the show was supposed to start and there were a thousand people doing my hair, make-up, and nails, and explaining to me about the curtain on the runway. However, the moment I stepped out on the runway I fortunately was able to relax and just enjoy the moment!
Off the runway, life was packed with so many highlights. One very special moment took place on one of New York's most beautiful rooftops. I had a fitting in the evening but when I arrived there, they asked me to come back at 1 am. So I met some other Germans that I had gotten to know some days before. Their apartment had a wonderful rooftop with the most amazing view you can imagine! All night we sat there just talking about everything from evolution to religion. I hadn't even realised that my agency was calling to tell me the late night appointment was cancelled. I have no idea what made this moment so special but I seriously get goose bumps from the memory, I guess it was just the atmosphere ;-)

Chloé - S/S 2014
Photographer - Marcus Tondo
Source - style.com

Bottega Veneta - S/S 2014
Photographer - Yannis Vlamos
Source - style.com

Nina Ricci - S/S 2014
Photographer - Yannis Vlamos
Source - style.com

IMA: IMA's favourite look on you this season was the iridescent blue dress that you wore at Chloé. Was there a particular collection that you absolutely adored and if you could have walked off the runway with any of the looks that you showcased, which collection would it have come from?
JVD: I got the chance to wear more than 42 designer outfits so of course there were many outfits I liked ;-)! Just think about Alberta Ferretti, Dolce & Gabbana, Nina Ricci, Barbara Bui... Oh wow, I really cannot decide which outfit I liked the most!

IMA: IMA spotted you at the Natalie Joos Casting in New York but missed out on photographing you amidst the casting chaos. You clearly made a great impression as Natalie Joos later singled you out as one of her favourite new faces for the season. What are your secrets for wowing casting directors during Fashion Week?
JVD: I'm glad to hear that! Actually I have no idea but I could imagine it is some kind of 'glow' which somehow appeared during those weeks. It was so crazy! The harder it got the more energy I had. I can't really describe it. It was like I found some supernatural source of energy haha! Maybe it was a mixture of this and just being true to myself which wowed them.

IMA: Following your international runway debut at the Spring/Summer 2012 collections, you took time out to focus on completing your high school education. What were your favourite subjects at school and are you placing university studies on hold for now? What career path would you consider if modelling hadn't intervened?
JVD: I liked math and biology a lot but also the arts. Yes, that's true. At the moment, I'm still not a 100% sure what to study so I decided to use this great chance for a while. There were a lot of people from my school making gap years so this is sort of my version of that. For university, I'm considering something related to economics. I'm quite interested in consulting so maybe I will study international management or business. My mother's family is full of doctors which still holds up my interest in science. But I think the chance of following this career path is definitely smaller. You see, I'm still searching for my own way. Modelling gives me the chance to do both, thinking about the future and also making amazing experiences for today.

Josephine & NYC Nights
Image courtesy of Josephine Van Delden

British Vogue - November 2013
Photographer - Horst Diekgerdes
Source - models.com

Gala Germany - Issue 47
Photographer - Elizaveta Porodina
Image courtesy of Place Models

IMA: This season casting directors were drawn towards models with a mature sophisticated elegance. Did you notice any discernible casting/modelling trends this season at castings and backstage during the shows?
JVD: Yes, that's true there were a lot of classical beauties. But I also noticed some shows which had different line-ups with a modern take on beauty. I have seen many crazy, extraordinary and super interesting faces. I also realised that black beauties are on the rise with good cause! Such fascinating and adorable bodies and faces.

IMA: Your editorial resumé includes appearances in German Vogue, Achtung, and a British Vogue advertorial. Do you have a preference for runway or print modelling and are there any key industry figures that you would love to collaborate with in the future?
JVD: When I was still in school, I did more shoots that runway jobs. At the moment, I prefer runway because I love the busy atmosphere backstage and the feeling you get on the runway. Now, after finishing my first full show season I'm really excited for print modelling again. It's just another feeling. It's very nice to get to know the new teams and to work with them all day long.
The fashion business is full of icons, it would be amazing to work with any one of them one day.

IMA: Nowadays beauty is only part of a model's overall package with agent's encouraging models to develop and showcase other talents to add to their allure. What are your passions and interests beyond modelling and fashion?
JVD: At home I have my perfect countryside life. My family live on a farm with horses and a dog. I love wearing boots and my big green jacket and walking through the forest. But my biggest passions are definitely cooking and baking. I'm even dreaming of recipes! You can't imagine how happy I am after creating the perfect cheesecake recipe or when I open the oven and smell a wonderful carrot walnut bread! The good thing is that I do something I like and make my friends and family happy at the same time. Fortunately, my boyfriend also likes cooking so we can prepare wonderful dinners on our own. But seriously, it's crazy, I'm thinking about new ideas and recipes from morning to evening. I even have a little book which is full of my favourite recipes and when I'm at home I add new ideas every day. But we should move onto the next question now because once I start talking about baking you won't be able to put an end to it haha!

Barbara Bui - S/S 2014
Photographer - Umberto Fratini
Source - style.com

Christopher Kane - S/S 2014
Photographer - Marcus Tondo
Source - style.com

Calvin Klein - S/S 2014
Photographer - Fablo Iona
Source - style.com

IMA: German models are killing it on fashion's runways with yourself, Franzi Mueller, Antonia Wesseloh, Kati Nescher, Esther Heesch, and Anna Ewers all representing. Did you have the chance to catch up with many German girls in between the mad rush of castings, fittings, and shows?
JVD: Indeed, this season was full of Germans! Even though we were all busy I managed to meet some of them a lot. During Fashion Week there is not much time for meeting somewhere socially for a coffee but of course we met a lot at castings and shows.

IMA: Your mother agency Place Models has strategically guided your course with remarkable blue chip precision. What do you appreciate most about Place Models and your team of agents, and what is the most sage advice you have received from your agents?
JVD: Now I seriously need to be careful that this doesn't end up in a chorus of praise haha ;-). I'm so unbelievably happy I'm with Place Models. I appreciate their empathy in all respects. As you already pointed out, they never urged me to skip school for test shootings or castings. For the last two years they always asked me if I have any important exams or school assignments before confirming jobs and would try to schedule good jobs around the weekend or during my holidays. It is not only this empathy in business. Also when it comes to personal topics they always understand me and try to find solutions. When I'm in doubt about modelling or anything else with the business I can always call them and receive help. What is very special it the fact they understand how 17 year olds, just entering the fashion world, think and feel. I'm really thankful I found them. The best advice I received was never to take anything personal and to remain true to myself. If people have any crazy or absurd demands, keep saying you'll try your best and in the end just laugh about it and do your own thing. It's certainly more that a business connection!

IMA: This past season was your first time in New York. What were your general impressions of the city?
JVD: New York is just great! The city has an amazing spirit which you can feel all the time. From the touristic point of view, I was well... let's say semi-satisfied haha! When I was walking through Manhattan and suddenly realised I was at Broadway, I was like 'so this is the famous Broadway? Okay, interesting...' But  other places like Times Square were just exactly as we know it from all the movies. Those huge lights, you simply feel so small next to them! However beyond the obvious tourist attractions, New York has so much going for it!

Franzi Mueller & Josephine Van Delden
German Vogue - November 2012
Photographer - Max Vadukal
Source - thefashionspot.com

Bon Magazine - S/S 2013
Photographer - Mel Bles
Source - thefashionspot.com

Josephine Van Delden
Image courtesy of Place Models

IMA: How do you manage to keep a check on your internal well-being and development, when the modelling industry places so much emphasis on your exterior qualities?
JVD: The more people focus on my exterior attributes, the more I want to develop my internal qualities. In busy times it is important for me to use the little moments you have in between the rush. Sometimes that just means stopping on your way and smelling the fresh air or taking time for a warm relaxing bath. For me it is also important to stay in contact with my family and friends back home and to keep on learning. I already mentioned about the evening spent on the rooftop in New York discussing topics from religion to evolution for hours. In my opinion, it just feels so good to use the brain! In times when everybody focuses on my exterior, I'm even more thirsty for the pursuit of knowledge.

IMA: What has surprised you most about the modelling industry based on your experiences so far?
JVD: I was surprised by how polite and friendly everybody is. When you're fresh in the business you think of stereotypical notions of competitive behaviour between models. That would seem to make sense given that there is a lot of competition and it is a business. However the majority of girls I met have been very nice and respectful to each other. I can't recall meeting anybody who proved those prejudices and I'm really happy about that. I'm definitely not the right person for cat fights haha!

IMA: What makes you "Inoubliable" (Unforgettable)?
JVD: Well... I have no idea at all and that is how it should be. I think you can lose special features and character traits when you are too aware of them. Thinking to much about which are special ruins your character. So I just stay try to myself and hope that this is simply what makes me "Inoubliable"!

Achtung Magazine - September 2012
Photographer - Markus Pritzi
Image courtesy of Place Models

Special thanks to Yannis Nikolaou at Place Models. For more information on Place Models Management, please log onto www.placemodels.com and www.placemodels.blogspot.com

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