Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Exclusive Interview - Manuela Frey

Certain models possess the innate ability to light up an entire room upon entering with their very presence and spirit. Swiss beauty Manuela Frey had IMA at hello when we met during the Spring/Summer 2013 season at Oscar de la Renta's show castings. Admittedly it would be pretty difficult not to be distracted by Frey's gazelle-like 181 cm frame, high-sculpted cheekbones, and cascading tumble of honey golden locks. For IMA though it's Frey's mega-watt smile and twinkling eyes, matched by an equally incandescent personality which garners her the most accolades. Discovered 18 months ago via the Elite Model Look 2012 contest, Frey was catapulted into modelling's elite sphere via ultra-exclusive runway bookings for Jil Sander, Yves Saint Laurent, and Calvin Klein during the very embryonic stages of her career. Fast-forward to the recent Fall/Winter 2014 collections and Frey has confirmed her status as one of modelling's most coveted newcomers via a staggering 63 show bookings throughout the month long fashion frenzy.

Hailing from Brugg, Switzerland, the soon-to-be 18 year old dreamt of a career as a globe-trotting high fashion model while growing up. That yearning ambition, passion, and appreciation for her craft is evident both on-and-off the runway as Frey carves up the international show circuit with her sophisticated cerebral beauty and via a slew of pristine editorial appearances for Interview, V Magazine, Vogue Italia, W, Document, The Last Magazine, and German Vogue. Frey's flawless complexion, hypnotic green eyes, and disarming beauty have made her an instant muse to designers and photographers alike. In between castings and appearances at Oscar de la Renta and Christian Dior's Resort 2015 shows, Frey caught up with IMA exclusively to discuss her epic Fall/Winter 2014 season, the transformative process of modelling, the thrill she gets from seeing herself in print, and the importance of being earnest.

Manuela Frey
Photographer - William Lords
Source - vogue.it


Inoubliable Model Army (IMA): Hi Manuela, thank you for taking time to chat with IMA. Congratulations on a phenomenal Fall/Winter 2014 season, 63 show bookings over four weeks! Did you have any idea that you had appeared in the most number of shows along with fellow Elite Paris model Nasyta Sten, and what were your top three personal Fall/Winter 2014 highlights?
Manuela Frey (MF): When my agency told me that Nastya and I had walked the most shows for Fall/Winter 2014, I was more than happy and did a little dance around my apartment! I never thought that I was the girl who had walked the most shows! I almost couldn't believe it as I didn't keep count of my show appearances so it was really a surprise for me ;-). One of my highlights was walking for Prada. I waited on a chair backstage until I was confirmed. After that I was so excited and so happy, it really felt as though I flew over the runway. For me, it's always a highlight to walk for D&G! The show is so romantic and the music nostalgic. It's a dream to walk in this show! But the biggest highlight was when I found out that I walked the most shows this season. That was an amazing feeling and I was very proud of myself.

IMA: Since being discovered in the Elite Model Look 2012 competition, you've experienced a meteoric rise to your current status as the most in-demand catwalker of the F/W 2014 season. How would you describe the past 18 months since your modelling career was launched via the EML search, and do you feel that the competition prepared you for the realities of the modelling world?
MF: My life completely changed from that of a school girl to a model! I started to travel around the whole world and to meet many new nice people. I was alone without my family, I learnt so so much in these past 18 months, and love my life overall! It was always a dream for me to be a model and I can honestly say that I am now living my dream! I'm really so happy that I took part in the Elite Model Look contest 2012! It gave a little insight into the whole model business. After I won this contest in Switzerland, I went to Milan where I walked exclusively for Jil Sander and then in Paris I was an exclusive for Yves Saint Laurent. After that I participated in the Elite Model Look World Final in Shanghai. We had catwalk training and photo shoots every day and I learnt a lot during that time! When I placed third, I was sent directly to New York where I walked exclusively for Calvin Klein and where I now live...

IMA: Would you mind sharing your backstory with IMA?
MF: Next autumn, I turn 18 years old and I can't wait for that day ;-). I was born in Brugg, in Switzerland. Since I was a little girl I've always wanted to be a model. I followed all the model series on television, and I also stole my grandmother's high-heels to put on my own fashion shows hehe...

IMA: You were launched onto the international modelling stage debuting exclusively for Jil Sander and Saint Laurent at the Spring/Summer 2013 collections, before landing a Calvin Klein exclusive the following season. How did you cope with the pressure of those high profile bookings and the ensuing media interest that followed such an auspicious debut?
MF: Everything was so new for me, so I just enjoyed every new moment! I gave my first interviews and I was really so excited about the life of a model. From the beginning, I felt so comfortable on the catwalk and I love the moment when everybody looks at you! I felt like a Queen... I didn't feel the pressure at all! I love my job so much! It's not hard work for me, it's more my hobby.

Jil Sander Exclusive - S/S 2013
Photographer - Filippo Fior
Source - style.com

Calvin Klein Exclusive - F/W 2013
Photographer - Filippo Fior
Source - style.com

Prada - F/W 2014
Photographer - Monica Feudi
Source - style.com


IMA: Beauty is only part of a model's overall package. What other personal attributes do you feel are vital for success at modelling's elite level?
MF: I always say, "Be happy with what you are doing because when you're happy clients can see that you love what you do and you radiate positivity to everybody". You need to be a strong girl and to have a lot of passion.

IMA: IMA had the pleasure of meeting you at the castings and fittings for Oscar de la Renta's Spring/Summer 2014 show and was bowled over by your dazzling smile, kindness, and personable nature. What have been the most valuable insights into yourself and life that you have gained as a result of your modelling experiences?
MF: I've had so many new experiences in my life. I travel all over the world, I'm getting to know people better, and I can tell how somebody is inside their heart. I have become much more mature and I'm so independent. My mum is always so proud of me when she sees me again after a long absence. She tells me that I am always changing in a positive way. Nobody can ever take these experiences away from me, these past 18 months have transformed me into a girl who knows exactly what she wants in life.

IMA: Models can run the risk of becoming a little one dimensional due to the all-consuming 24/7 nature of modelling. How do you unwind in your down-time and what are your passions and interests beyond modelling and fashion?
MF: When I have free time I always enjoy it to the fullest... I go for coffee or for dinner with friends, or I love rollerblading along the East River in NY, reading romance novels, painting, cooking, shopping or chatting via Skype to my lovely family in Switzerland.

IMA: You have a burgeoning resumé of editorial bookings including Vogue Italia, V, Document, the Last Magazine, Exit, Interview, and German Vogue. What do you enjoy most about the print component of modelling?
MF: It makes me very proud when I see a magazine with my image inside or on the cover. In this moment, I love to show it to everybody and to tell them that this girl is in fact me, hehe! I feel very honoured when I shoot with Karl Lagerfeld, Emma Summerton, Craig McDean, and all of these amazing photographers. It's such a pleasure to work with them! Sometimes it can be hard to recognise yourself in a picture because of the special and at times crazy hair and make-up but that's what I love about editorials - the process of transformation!

German Vogue - October 2013
Photographer - Stefan Heinrichs
Source - models.com

Manuela Frey, Elisabeth Erm & Dauphine McKee
Document - Issue 3
Photographer - Benjamin Lennox
Source - thefashionspot.com

Exit Magazine - S/S 2013
Photographer - Emma Tempest
Source - thefashionspot.com


IMA: The age of social media has given rise to a new breed of top model whose success is contingent on the use of social platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and so forth to raise their public profile. What are your views on social media as a means to elevate one's public profile and do you feel that this could lead to increasingly blurred line between an individual's personal and public life?
MF: I really love all the social media because you can just contact people on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and then you can write them directly a message without needing their personal cell-number or email address. I really love to share my pictures with all my followers on Facebook and Instagram. It's so much fun! But I just post pictures that I feel comfortable with, for instance I would never post something really private. I think social media can help you a lot to be known but you also need to be careful.

IMA: Fashion and style play an integral part in the image of a model. How would you describe your personal style and what are your current wardrobe essentials?
MF: I like to look cool and simple. Boots, skinny jeans, a big sweater, and my leather jacket. I think that's the perfect style for me. I also like to be very chic and I love wearing dresses with high heels for a nice dinner or a party.

IMA: The modelling industry is going through a particularly exciting period with models returning to the covers of fashion magazines, and with designers and casting directors showcasing diversity and personality on fashion's runways. Did you notice any discernible modelling trends this past season and who are your personal picks for the most beautiful faces amongst the next generation of top models?
MF: It's really cool that there was a lot of diversity this season and what I noticed was that they loved platinum blonde girls this Fall/Winter 2014. There were really a lot of light blonde beautiful girls with bright skin and crystal blue eyes, a dream! I admire Karlie Kloss. She has a great look, the perfect body, plus she's always so nice to all the girls around her, she's just amazing and a ray of sunshine! I love her work and I really look up to her.

IMA: Elite Model Management Paris and its New York counterpart The Society Management NY have the monopoly on the most promising and in demand newcomers of the Fall/Winter 2014 season. What do you value most about the management philosophy and your relationships with your agents at Elite Paris and the Society NY?
MF: Both agencies are like a second family for me. I often go and visit them, we drink a coffee and we talk. It's so nice to be part of their team. I can see that they support and push me. They are always there for me and that's a wonderful feeling. I love my bookers! I am really more than happy with my agencies!

IMA: What makes you "Inoubliable" (Unforgettable)?
MF: My smile and my happy nature :-)

Manuela Frey
Image courtesy of Elite Model Management Paris

Special thanks to Julie Murat and Jeremy Marmiesse Jourdan at Elite Model Management Paris. For more information on Elite Paris and the Society NY, please log onto www.elitemodel.fr and www.thesocietymanagement.com

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