Thursday, February 27, 2014

Exclusive Interview - Lauren English

Canadian newcomer Lauren English made an auspicious debut just over a year ago as an Alexander Wang exclusive at the Fall/Winter 2013 collections. Based on that singular 'golden ticket' booking, English found herself in high rotation walking the runway for Balenciaga, Loewe, Céline, Paco Rabane, Maison Martin Margiela, Acne, and Elie Saab amongst others. During the recent Spring/Summer 2014 season, consolidation was clearly on English's mind with the twenty-one year old IMG-repped beauty logging a solid twenty show bookings. English's modelling achievements are remarkable given that she was discovered only three years ago at an open call held by her mother agency Elmer Oslen Model Management. English's chiselled bone structure, razor sharp cheekbones, and powerful 180 cm frame clearly struck a chord with agency owner Elmer Olsen who signed her on first sight.

Since the Spring/Summer 2014 show season, English has steadily racked up a diverse selection of editorial clients including the British and Russian editions of Vogue, the Gentlewoman, D La Reppublica, and Indie publications Grit, Husk, and Clash Magazine. English's versatility and her ability to convey a myriad of emotions via the camera's lens are complimented by her desire to continually push the limits of her modelling ability. Aside from her obvious physical allure, it is perhaps English's authenticity and the warm appreciation that she displays towards her agents, colleagues, industry supporters, and fans which defines her. English caught up exclusively with IMA during the Paris Fall/Winter 2014 collections to chat about the power of exclusives, her love of all things from vegan cookies to oversized sweaters to sightseeing during Fashion Week, and the value of being forced out of one's comfort zone.

Lauren English
Photographer - William Lords
Image courtesy of IMG Models

Inoubliable Model Army (IMA): Hi Lauren, thank you for chatting to IMA and congrats on an impressive Spring/Summer 2014 season. Were you pleased with how your second show season unfolded?
Lauren English (LE): I am very pleased with my show season this go around! I feel that the more time that passes, the better understanding I have and greater appreciation I gain for the industry and the people within it. I am very lucky to have walked in the shows that I did.

IMA: As a relatively new face to modelling, would you mind filling in IMA on your personal backstory?
LE: I was born in Brampton, Ontario which is where I currently still live. Although I'm usually only there for a week or two at times between travelling, I would definitely still call it home. Right now I am 21. I started modelling when I was about 18 when I first signed with Elmer Olsen Models in Toronto. I met with Elmer Olsen during an open call and he signed me on the spot because he said that he saw big potential in me. My background is Scottish and Romanian, although the endless jokes of being English from my last name are never-ending!

IMA: You were launched on the international modelling circuit during the Fall/Winter 2013 season as an exclusive for Alexander Wang. What are your thoughts on the power of exclusives to make or break a new model's career?
LE: I was extremely fortunate to have landed an exclusive in Alex's show. He has been known to jump start many a girl's careers, which I strongly feel he had a big part in mine. Being an exclusive in any show as a new face I think is one of the best things that can happen to a model on the international runway circuit. It forces you out into the spotlight for casting directors and bloggers everywhere to see.

Alexander Wang Exclusive - F/W 2013
Photographer - Monica Feudi
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Alexander Wang - S/S 2014
Photographer - Marcus Tondo
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Christopher Kane - S/S 2014
Image courtesy of Christopher Kane
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IMA: At the past Spring/Summer 2014 season you logged runway mileage at Alexander Wang in addition to Richard Chai Love, Peter Som, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Christopher Kane, Erdem, Kaufman Franco, Les Copains, and Missoni to name but a few! What were your personal favourite recollections of the Spring/Summer 2014 season?
LE: It truly is hard to pick a favourite because every collection is so unique in their own way. Alexander Wang is always one to look forward to because he himself is such a humble, down-to-earth person to work with. His shows are very elaborate with music and the atmosphere he creates, not to mention I would wear everything. Being my first season in London, I was lucky to have the opportunity to walk for another amazing designer Christopher Kane. His collection featured many beautiful pieces that are versatile and easy to wear. Strutting down a multi-levelled, mirrored runway while walking to Pink Floyd in a gorgeous outfit, it was hard not to feel like a million bucks.

IMA: Fashion Week is an extreme test of endurance both physically and mentally! What are your survival tips for getting through Fashion Week, and how do you decompress in the first few days following show season?
LE: I think one of the biggest tips for staying sane during Fashion Week is keeping in touch on a regular basis with my family and friends back home. It's great knowing that I have such a big support system. Their constant reminder of how proud and happy they are of me always puts a smile on my face during those crazy weeks. Another biggie is spending as much of the little down time I get in the gym. Working out is a huge stress reliever for me. Post-Fashion Week getting a massage and having a big meal full of the things that are not part of my meal plan is the best!

IMA: This season you ran the full gamut of the show circuit in all four fashion capitals. Did you find any time to do sightseeing in between castings and shows? Of the four cities, was there one that you felt a closer affinity towards?
LE: I was very busy towards the beginning of the month, luckily I managed to squeeze in a few hours of site-seeing during my first weekend in New York when my mom came to visit. We went to a few popular posts but being able to show her Times Square for her first time was really great. I had quite a bit of down time in Paris which was a nice change from my previous season of seeing everything from a car window. It's rare that you get free time to see and appreciate the beauty of these cities so I was very happy I could be a tourist for once! Since working in London for my first time during the Summer, I definitely fell in love and would have to say it's my favourite of the four. I plan to move there in the future!

IMA: The modelling and fashion industries  are a high pressured adult world in which young individuals are forced to navigate. What are your views on the New York State's recent passing of the new Child Labour Laws which provide protection for models 16 years and under from unsafe, unhealthy, and unlawful working terms and conditions?
LE: As a young adult working and travelling around the world on my own I still undergo feelings of major pressure and stress from the industry, so I can only imagine how models 16 and under would feel. At that age you don't really have a voice for yourself and you don't think to speak up when you feel something isn't right. The law is long over-due and could be one of the most beneficial things for young models. I believe this is such a relief for models and especially for their parents.

Grit Magazine - S/S 2014
Photographer Niclas Heikkinen
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British Vogue - December 2013
Photographer - Rory Payne
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Lauren English
Photographer - Adrian Nina
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IMA: During your relatively short tenure as a model, what have you found most surprising about the industry in which you inhabit?
LE: People are very friendly! Well, the majority for that matter. Coming into the modelling industry I had no idea what to expect really once I started travelling on a regular basis. So I was surprised to see how nice and welcoming everyone was.

IMA: A big misconception about models is that they don't eat! IMA hears that you are an accomplished cook, tell us more about this passion of your's and what are some of your most popular recipes?
LE: I can definitely vouch that we eat... and we eat a lot! I would say my three favourite recipes to concoct would firstly be my vegan cookies... I have a huge sweet tooth so I created my own four ingredient recipe. I also love to make omelettes and different types of stir-fry dishes.

IMA: Recently you've appeared in editorials for the Gentlewoman, Clash Magazine, Grit, Husk, and the British and Russian editions of Vogue. Have you gotten used to seeing images of yourself in print and what do you appreciate most about the print component of modelling?
LE: I don't think I'll ever get used to opening a magazine and seeing myself! It's a very cool and accomplished feeling every time. I like to collect all my published work because I think it's great to hold onto for the future and compare my work from start to finish. Having done my fair share of look books and other online stuff is great but unfortunately it doesn't stay up forever. So having something tangible that I can hold onto and show my family and friends is something I appreciate the most about print.

IMA: The relationship between a photographer and his/her subject is unique, and requires an exchange of confidence and ideas. What have been some of your favourite modelling experiences and are there any key photographers whose vision you particularly admire?
LE: I've worked with many talented photographers over the years but I will always remember my first test shoot in New York with William Lords. Walking into his studio, not knowing what to expect just like any other shoot. Will pushed me out of my comfort zone, but in a good way of course. To be honest I was pretty intimidated by him at first haha. There was some yelling, some laughing, and bonding. But by the end of the shoot he had got expressions and movements out of me that I felt I wasn't able to give photographers in the past because they didn't push me. I appreciate that he took me away from what I was comfortable with because that's what makes you grow as a model. Will is a great photographer and friend with a strong passion for his career.

Lauren English
Photographer - William Lords
Image courtesy of Elmer Olsen Models

D Repubblica Magazine - February 2014
Photographer - Julian Broad
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Grace Mahary, Lauren English & Senait Gidey
Backstage at Loewe - F/W 2013
Image courtesy of Style Bistro
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IMA: Toronto is a city known for its multi-ethnic population, and also has an impeccable track record of producing remarkable modelling exports. What is your take on the Spring/Summer 2014 season's sudden embrace of ethnic diversity and did you notice any other discernible casting trends throughout the season?
LE: I never quite understood why in the past diversity was obviously not there. I think it's amazing to see that casting directors and designers are finally changing their ways. When a close friend told me last year that it was difficult for her to book big shows because of her skin colour I thought it was ridiculous. So I am more then thrilled to say the least, that ethnic diversity exploded this past season.

IMA: Your mother agency Elmer Olsen has a formidable reputation of discovering and nurturing new modelling talent. How did Elmer Olsen prepare you for the international modelling stage, and now that you are represented globally by IMG Models, have you developed and appreciation for the scale of the behind the scenes work that goes into managing a model's career?
LE: Elmer is amazing at what he does and truly knows what it takes to prepare a girl to meet international agents and launch their career. If you're willing to give back just as much hard work and dedication as he invests in you, then there is hope that your career could/will go somewhere. It was hard to get to where I am right now but I am so grateful for everything he has done for me up to this point. If I had been told at the start of my career that I would eventually be travelling the world on a regular basis and signed internationally to one of the biggest agencies, I would never have believed it haha...

IMA: A model's presentation is vital both on and off the runway. How has your fashion aesthetic evolved as a result of your industry exposure? How would you describe your street style, and which three designers are you currently obsessing over?
LE: I've definitely come a long way from my all black uniform of skinny's and a tank top, which is the typical casting attire. Over the years of my career, I would say my closet has evolved a lot and I've donated several bags of my old clothes that I couldn't part with for years. I don't know how to describe my style because I tend to dress according to my moods. I have my fair share of comfy days that consist of wearing mostly leggings and oversized sweaters. But otherwise I like to look a little dressy, whether it be some leather pants and a cute top or a pair of oversized jeans and a blazer. I love 3.1 Phillip Lim, Alexander Wang, and an independent designer Sui Yuan who I found in a small store on Brick Lane in London.

IMA: What makes you "Inoubliable" (Unforgettable)?
LE: That's a hard one to answer because I think it's more about who's watching and what they believe is memorable about me. With so much competition in the industry, I think having a great personality and sense of humour is important, but also staying humble and true to yourself will make you stand out and be truly "Unforgettable" in the eyes of the fashion world.

Lauren English
Photographer - William Lords
Image courtesy of Elmer Olsen Models

Special thanks to Jamie Ellis at IMG Models London. For more information on IMG Model Management, please log onto