Sunday, February 16, 2014

Exclusive Interview - Maggie Jablonski

Fifteen year old newcomer Maggie Jablonski possesses the kind of street smarts, level-headedness, and maturity which makes a strong case in point for allowing models under the age of eighteen on fashion's runways. Hailing from Iowa, Jablonski was discovered at the impressionable age of 13 while appearing in a local fashion show. Jablonski's rise through modelling's elite ranks was precipitated by an international runway debut at Prada's Spring/Summer 2014 Menswear show followed a stunning blitz of the Spring/Summer 2014 collections with spell-binding appearances at Marc Jacobs, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Giambattista Valli, Miu Miu, Marni, and Elie Saab. Represented by Major Model Management in New York, Jablonski has blossomed gradually under the care and nurturing hands-on management approach of her agents at Major while being chaperoned by her parents throughout the chaos of castings, fittings, and shows.

With education being a key priority, Jablonski has modelled selectively appearing recently in Prada's Spring/Summer 2014 campaign lensed by Steven Meisel and in Giambattista Valli's Pre-Fall 2014 Look Book. The fashion industry's on-going preoccupation with youth and beauty, necessitates a duty of care and responsibility on the part of modelling agencies towards the physical and emotional well-being of their young protégés. Jablonski cuts an imposing figure with her 179 cm runway perfect proportions, her felinesque features, and striking blue-eyed chestnut brown haired combo, however it is her articulation, intelligence, and her balanced approach to modelling which resonates most in her presence. IMA caught up with Jablonski on the eve of New York Fashion Week to chat about her stunning Spring/Summer 2014 show season, her thoughts on diversity and age restrictions on fashion's runways, and the invaluable support network which keeps her Balenciaga clad feet on solid ground.

Maggie Jablonski
Photographer - Anthony Goble
Image courtesy of Major Model Management

Inoubliable Model Army (IMA): Hi Maggie, thank you for chatting with IMA and a super congrats on your sensational Spring/Summer 2014 Prada campaign! How were your holidays and are you looking forward to the Fall/Winter 2014 collections?
Maggie Jablonski (MJ): Hello IMA, thank you! I'm super excited about it myself! My holidays were great - spent at my Grandma's in Nebraska getting my wisdom teeth out. I'm so looking forward to show season and seeing what comes out of it! Hopefully it's not too cold though because I know I'll be doing loads of walking.

IMA: Would you mind getting IMA's audience up to speed on your backstory?
MJ: I am 15 years old and I'm from Tennessee but for the last 7 years I've been living in the grand state of Iowa. My cultural background is very much Polish as my last name is Jablonski. I was discovered doing a charity fashion show that my grandma signed my sisters and I up for just as a fun thing to do, but obviously turned out to be the beginning of my career. Hopefully one day I'll live in NY, I love it there! But for the time being as I'm still in school I'll be living in Iowa.

IMA: You debuted on the international runway circuit at Prada's Spring/Summer 2014 Menswear show alongside many of the current breakout faces of the past season; Anna Ewers, Malaika Firth, Julia Bergshoeff, and Holly Rose Emery. What was it like making your debut in such a spectacular fashion, and have you kept in touch with the group of girls that you debuted with and who like yourself are the most talked about newcomers of the moment?
MG: Yes, the Prada Resort show was such an amazing opportunity for me and I'm so blessed that I got to be part of it! Making my debut there was very crazy as I found out only that morning that I would be flying to Milan and walking for Prada. It was so surreal that it never really hit me that I was actually doing it until I was literally on the runway. Yes I really love the girls who walked alongside me, I've become really good friends with most of them and to this day Julia Bergshoeff and I text daily about things that are going on in our now crazy lives.

Prada Menswear - S/S 2014
Photographer - Monica Feudi
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Alexander Wang - F/W 2014
Photographer - Marcus Tondo
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Proenza Schouler - F/W 2014
Photographer - Monica Feudi
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IMA: What initially drew you to modelling as a profession, and how are you handling the pressures of juggling the requirements of school, modelling, and normal teen life?
MJ: To be honest I never really had much of an interest in modelling before it happened to me. I mean it seems like it's every girl's dream to do it but I never thought it would be a realistic goal for me. I like to think I'm handling the pressures of it well. It's hard being gone for long periods of time and keeping up with my school work but my teachers and school are literally the most supportive and cooperative people I've ever met! They've been so amazing. The pressures of modelling aren't too bad as all I have to do is keep my body toned, keep a clean face, walk in heels, and take a rockin' picture. I try to lead a normal teen life as much as I can with going to the mall, spending time with my friends, and getting picked on by my older sisters as the usual activities.

IMA: Your official Fashion Week debut was at the Spring/Summer 2014 collections where you logged runway mileage at Marc Jacobs, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Marni, Miu Miu, Giambattista Valli, and Elie Saab. Is there a particular moment from the past show season that you will forever treasure?
MJ: One moment I will probably treasure always is walking Marc Jacobs. In Iowa, folks aren't very familiar with brands but everyone knows Marc Jacobs so people were excited for me. I got to walk alongside such amazing models as well and of course got to meet the man himself! It was super cool.

IMA: There has been a big push recently within the modelling industry to protect the interests of underage teen models. How have your parents and Major Models been instrumental in helping you to navigate the extreme pressures of modelling and Fashion Week?
MJ: The big push with underage models is definitely somewhat of a setback but my parents and Major Models have been wildly helpful in making sure I'll be legal and fully covered with paperwork and permits. My Mom and Dad are my biggest supporters and they've really always taught me if I want something and set my mind to it, anything is possible.

IMA: You are one of the Big 3 Jablonskis! Have you had the opportunity to meet Constance or Jacquelyn yet, and what are your own personal long-term career aspirations?
MJ: I love being considered one of the Big 3 Jablonskis! It's so cool! I haven't had the opportunity yet to meet them but hopefully sometime soon. They are both amazing. My long-term goals are to try and be as successful as I can for as long as I can. I love doing this so it'd be a dream if this could be a long-term career prospect for me.

Maggie and her Mom at Marc Jacobs - S/S 2014
Image courtesy of Maggie Jablonski

Maggie Jablonski, President of Major Models Katia M. Sherman,
& Senior Women's Manager Domonick Hannosh
Image courtesy of Maggie Jablonski

Maggie Jablonski and bestie Julia Bergshoeff
Image courtesy of Maggie Jablonski

IMA: At the Spring/Summer 2014 collections you opened for Giambattista Valli! What was it like being first out on the runway and when did you find out that you would be the show opener?
MJ: Oh how I love Giambattista Valli, the man himself and the label! That was so crazy to open his show and it really was one of my favourite collections of the season. Mr Valli told me at my fitting for the show, "Maggie, I really want you to open my show!" and I was like "Excuse me? Did I just hear that correctly?". It was so cool and I feel like that has been a big milestone in my career.

IMA: A whole new generation of American models emerged during the Spring/Summer 2014 collections reflecting the diversity of American beauty including yourself, Samantha Archibald, Devon Windsor, Lexi Boling, Binx Walton, Kate Goodling, and Kyra Green. Did you notice greater diversity this season on the runways and backstage, and do you feel that diversity in modelling should be a pressing industry concern?
MJ: I love how there is so much diversity on the runways especially this past season. I did notice many American models, but I feel like my geography brain was totally transformed as I met girls from countries I'd never heard of! It was amazing to be around such cultural diversity. I definitely feel like diversity should be a pressing industry concern. I think there should be just as many Caucasians as there are African-American and Asian girls. Having greater diversity keeps things so much more interesting. For me seeing all the different looks of the girls is one of my favourite parts of Fashion Week.

IMA: Which key industry figures are you most in awe of and would love to collaborate with in the future?
MJ: It's hard to pick just three but I'd love to work with Katie Grand, Mert & Marcus, and Steven Meisel. Katie Grand has such a cool fun personality and attitude that comes through in Love Magazine. Mert & Marcus I feel capture the coolest, classiest, and just very crazy images that I love! And though I've worked with him already, Steven Meisel takes the most amazing images out there, his Vogue Italia covers never fail to personify perfection.

IMA: Which bring us back to that EPIC Prada Spring/Summer 2014 campaign! What was involved in the casting process and describe your reaction when you found out you had been confirmed for the campaign? Was it a challenge to shoot with such a huge cast of models, and did you pick up any modelling insights from shooting with Steven Meisel?
MJ: I'm not sure how the casting process happens but I have met with Ashley Brokaw who casts the shows and campaigns multiple times and she confirmed me. About three days before, I found out I was optioned for the campaign and said about a thousand prayers, and then my booker called and I had him on speaker phone for my Mom and me, and we just screamed we were so excited! I knew it was a fantastic opportunity and I was just in awe, I couldn't believe it! I wouldn't say it was a challenge as more of a fun time to shoot with all of the girls. I got to meet and become close with so many and really see how lots of them work. I look up to Amanda Murphy and Ashleigh Good so it was really cool to work with them and get to know them. From the process of collaboration with Mr Meisel, I just picked up that you really need to have your game face on and know how your body works.

Ola Rudnicka, Ashleigh Good, Amanda Murphy & Maggie Jablonski
Prada Campaign - S/S 2014
Photographer - Steven Meisel
Image courtesy of Major Model Management

192 Magazine - Issue 5
Photographer - Fabrizio del Rincon
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How to Spend It - S/S 2014
Photographer - Terry Gates
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IMA: The fashion industry is a very grown-up world where models are forced to display/develop maturity beyond their years. What have you learned about yourself from your exposure to the industry and how do you manage to remain true to yourself through it all?
MJ: I have learned to have  really thick brick wall skin because people are going to say a lot of things you don't want to hear and all you can do is just brush it off. I like to think that I stay true to myself because I was raised with solid values and taught to make smart decisions. I am always going back and forth so whenever I'm home I get a break from it all and get time to just breathe.

IMA: Success in modelling at the elite level is the joint effort of a battalion of dedicated industry professionals behind the scenes. How has Major Model Management been instrumental in guiding your career, and what do you value most about your agents?
MJ: Major is so, so great! They have been guiding me in the right direction since the day I walked into their doors for the first time two years ago. For me I have a really close relationship with all the agents at Major and feel like I can go to any one of them for modelling purposes yes, but also just everyday life problems. I value how Major is honestly one big family, everyone gets along and seems very close and personal.

IMA: It must be so surreal to be showcasing designs that most girls your age could only ever dream of wearing. How has your fashion sensibility evolved as a result of your industry exposure, and which three designers are on your most wanted list?
MJ: It's pretty crazy to think at 15 years old I get to wear Prada and Marc Jacobs in shows and for shoots. My fashion sensibility has become much better in my opinion. Instead of wanting the latest Miss Me jeans, I have me eye on the Balenciaga Pre-Fall shoes! I tend to wear a lot of black because to me it seems like the classiest chicest colour. My most wanted list would definitely include Chanel, Miu Miu, and Prada. I feel like there's no way you can go wrong with Karl Lagerfeld and Miuccia Prada.

IMA: What makes you "Inoubliable" (Unforgettable)?
MJ: I like to think my personality makes me "Inoubliable". I always try to stay positive and be kind to everyone. You never know who you are talking to and who they know. This industry is all about connections and who knows who so making one bad impression can have major ramifications on your career.

Maggie Jablonski
Photographer - Felix Wong
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Special thanks to Domonick Hannosh at Major Model Management. For more information on Major Model Management, please log onto

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