Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Exclusive Interview - Binx Walton

Every once in a while a new face emerges on the modelling scene whose looks, originality, and spirit turns the fashion industry unassailably on its head. Eighteen year old Binx Walton's wicked assault on the sensibilities of the high fashion set is the very breath of fresh air that the industry has been yearning for. Hailing from Knoxville, Tennessee, Walton's chic gnarly buzz cut, towering 180 cm frame, long gangly limbs, and devil-may-care look of teen defiance, has proven to be the perfect antidote to the industry's preoccupation with cookie-cutter perfection. Scouted at age nine, Walton cast aside modelling ambitions to just be. At age fourteen, Walton signed with her mother agency Macs Amax and began modelling in earnest two years ago after joining Next Models in New York. Walton's super-chilled vibes, hard-to-place multi-racial beauty, infectious gap-toothed grin, and versatility have proven to be ubiquitous on runways and in publications with the most clout. Debuting at the Fall/Winter 2013 collections, Walton's pristine and concise show list; Marc Jacobs, Giles, Sister by Sibling, Versace, Ermanno Scervino, and Miu Miu, hinted at the newcomer's glimmering promise.

In the 12 months since that auspicious debut, Walton has left no question as to her status as one of the most-in-demand and genuinely compelling newcomers via a staggering 43 show bookings at the recent Fall/Winter 2014 collections and lucrative Spring/Summer 2014 campaign slots for Céline and Maiyet. Walton's editorial resumé is as pristine as it gets, with i-D, T Magazine, Love, Another Magazine, and the Russian, French, and British editions of Vogue, all clamouring to secure a vantage spot on the Binx bandwagon. Perhaps what differentiates Walton though most of all from the throngs of pretty young things is her authenticity. On the runway, in print, and in person, Walton is the real deal exuding an effortless cool, natural charisma, and a self-effacing humour that makes her impossibly endearing. Walton charmed IMA (without even trying) while chatting exclusively about her stellar Fall/Winter 2014 season, dodging streakers and chainsaws at Prabal Gurung and Chanel, the cathartic haircut which has transformed her life in more ways than one, and the importance of revealing all sides of one's self while avoiding the use of labels.

Binx Walton
Russian Vogue - March 2014
Photographer - Terry Tsiolis
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Inoubliable Model Army (IMA): Hi Binx, thank you for chatting with IMA! You've just come off a stellar Fall/Winter 2014 season where you rocked the runway in 42 shows. Did you have time to decompress following Fashion Week and how did you feel about the fashion industry's stunning reception of you throughout the four fashion capitals?
Binx Walton (BW): After the shows I went to NY for two days for work then back to Knoxville to go to school. So in a way I got to decompress from the industry a little, but my season hasn't hit me. I think that going straight from shows to school didn't give me time to process it all. But once in a while I'll get that feeling that everything is where it's meant to be and it gets me excited.

IMA: As a relative newcomer, would you mind sharing your backstory with IMA's readership?
BW: I'm 18 years old, and I was raised on Kauai and Knoxville, TN (Shout out to the East) and my background is Indian, Irish, German, Dutch, Eastern Asian, and East-African. I was scouted by Amax Talent when I was nine at my mom's school reunion, where I declined till I was around fourteen because of other aspirations and goals other than fashion. Plus I was only nine... and I start modelling seriously around sixteen.

IMA: Chanel, Saint Laurent, Céline, Balmain, Stella McCartney, Fendi, Bottega Veneta, Giles, Prabal Gurung, Proenza Schouler, and Jason Wu, all fell for your charms this past season!. Were the four weeks of Fashion Week madness all a bit of a blur or are you able to recall any key moments either on or off the runway which standout in your mind as highlights?
BW: There were so many small moments that made every situation better. But I think doing Céline again after my campaign was pretty cool... so many good times just in fittings with their team. Crazy at Prabal when that streaker in the Burger King suit came out was hell EPIC! And of course playing around Chanel's supermarket. I remember Charlotte Free kept picking up the chainsaw and scaring people.

Céline - F/W 2014
Photographer - Monica Feudi
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Sportmax - F/W 2014
Photographer - Kim Weston Arnold
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Moschino - F/W 2014
Photographer - Yannis Vlamos
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Sonia Rykiel - F/W 2014
Photographer - Umberto Frattini
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IMA: Following a year of development and modelling locally in Nashville, you underwent a drastic make-over courtesy of a career-defining haircut which commanded the industry's attention. How did the image overhaul come about, did it take some convincing by your agents to proceed, and did you experience an identity crisis of sorts as a result of the dramatic transformation?
BW: When my LA agents told me to cut my hair, I went back to Knoxville and sat on it... Then I did it. It was really that simple. I made a decision after seeing the haircut on some weird video... went to Trim in Nashville and cut it. When I did, I really went through an identity crisis. I would talk in weird ass accents and try to be different but I don't think it was attributed to my hair as much as me being 16 and going through puberty. In cutting my hair as dumb or cheesy as it sounds, I found who I really was and wanted to be... I'm not all the way there in knowing but I'm that much closer.

IMA: IMA has you marked as the key newcomer to usher in the next generation of top models. Have you been surprised by the overwhelmingly positive response from casting directors, designers, fashion editors, and clients, and how do you hope to stay grounded in face of such meteoric rise through industry ranks?
BW: Even you saying that is so weird but thank you so much. I just never expected this at all. I mean I hoped I guess but I don't see myself that way... I see me as one of my brothers chillin, playing sports... I always thought that "beautiful" was girls like Kate Moss and the girl-next-door type. I didn't think that a lanky, goofy, half-bald girl would make this much of a splash so having said that I think that reason right there is indeed keeping me grounded and of course, my family always beating me down when I get too cocky is very much needed. I think it's maybe good I'm here, perhaps for some kid who only thinks that beautiful is whatever "girl-next-door" is famous at the moment... Maybe it's time to have a changed perception into society's way of thinking.

IMA: Over the past 12 months you've appeared on the supplement cover of British Vogue, Self Service, and Intermission, in addition to editorials for i-D, Love, Another Magazine, Dazed & Confused, and the French, Russian, and British editions of Vogue. What do you enjoy most about the print component of modelling and what has been the most memorable shoot that you have collaborated on to date?
BW: Print to me all depends on who you're shooting with and the team behind it. It can be horrific or amazing but my favourites have been ones where we had a bunch of girls and boys and all we did for two days was eat, listen to music, dance, and mosh. Another one I just did involved all these animals, bunnies, and stuff (some taxidermy which was gross but kind of cool)... But it's just nice to have those different experiences.

i-D Magazine - April 2014
Photographer - Cass Bird
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T Magazine - S/S 2014
Photographer - Mario Sorrenti
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British Vogue 'More Dash than Cash' - May 2014
Photographer - Rory Payne
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IMA: You appear in the Spring/Summer 2014 campaigns for Céline and Maiyet lensed respectively by Juergen Teller and Cass Bird, two of IMA's favourite photographers! Both photographers are known for capturing the personality of their subjects on film. What was it like collaborating with Juergen and Cass, and were there any key modelling insights that you picked up as a result of these interactions?
BW: Cass and Juegen are both some of the best and funniest people to shoot with and maybe that's why the images are always so good. Céline with Juergen was probably one of the best times I have had shooting because he doesn't yell or cause drama. He lets everything flow and we all just had a good time. Now Cass is just too funny. On set you're never bored and I think my favourite thing about her is her music choice which is really important on set. But even with such high energy she can get such intimate or sad photographs that make every shoot so much more personal. She is really a great person.

IMA: A big part of a model's arsenal is the ability to transform and to embody a variety of beauty aesthetics. In many of your editorial images your personality shines through and in others you display an elegance and sophistication beyond your teen years. Do you feel that this chameleon-like quality is something that you have had to work on and what thought processes do you go through when preparing for a shoot?
BW: I don't think I prepare as much as on set when the photographer says kind of the mood or inspiration they are looking to achieve. I think in all shoots it's important to be different because people get bored really quickly. I have many sides so I want to show them all. I'm really just learning that now. And trying to not get put into any preconceived boxes, like for instance the androgynous.

IMA: The Fall/Winter 2014 runways bore witness to a stunning array of ethnic diversity with yourself, Lila Ndabirabe, Malaika Firth, Riley Montana, Imaan Hammam, Grace Mahary, and Ysaunny Brito debunking the notion that there is only room for one top bald model at the elite level of modelling at any one given point in time. As a model of colour, how important is it to you to see ethnic diversity reflected in fashion and the media, and do you feel that this "trend" will continue to be embraced in seasons to come?
BW: My first season there were only a few I knew and even fewer that stayed. Grace Mahary and Cora Emmanuel are really the only ones I know still from then. Everything is building and more and more are starting to surface but it's really up to us to prolong and bring something new to the industry. To make relationships and do the best we possibly can, that's really all we can do. The other half to the story is whoever does the casting and whatever "trend" is in. All I know is that only time will tell.

IMA: Beauty is only part of a model's overall package. What other attributes do you feel are important for success in modelling at the elite level?
BW: To stay humble, don't get cocky and think you're better. Show who you really are because in the end people always find out.

Self Service - S/S 2014
Photographer - Collier Schorr
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Paris Vogue - April 2014
Photographer - David Sims
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Love Magazine - S/S 2014
Photographer - Patrick Demarchelier
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Intermission - S/S 2014
Photographer - Amy Troost
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IMA: Next Model Management and your mother agency Macs Amax have guided your career to its current zenith with pinpoint precision and care. What do you value most about the management approach and philosophy of Next Models, and what has been the most insightful piece of advice that your agents have offered you?
BW: I think it was all a joint effort between agencies and me. Amax started it all off and Next helped me a lot and has taken hold of me but everything wasn't a smooth ride. It took a lot of work and failures to get me to where I am now. It wasn't just a year of development in my opinion, it was a year of putting in hard time and work, and lots of time doing nothing but thinking "why an I missing days off school for this" but it's just now starting to pay off. Thanks to a little luck, and what pretty much what all my agents say is the right timing. It's all about timing and availability. I thank my agents all the time, without them I wouldn't be the Binx I am today. And without me they wouldn't have the Binx they have today. I love them.

IMA: At times modelling can feel like a 24/7 existence! How do you unwind outside of work, and what are your key interests and passions beyond modelling and fashion?
BW: Really hanging in Hiawassee with my homies or chill in at Austin East High where I spend my weekdays other than at jobs. And whenever I have a chance playing soccer to whatever happens to be going on.

IMA: Nowadays models are often looked at as arbiters of style. How would you describe your own fashion sensibility, and which designers best reflect your personal street style?
BW: I wouldn't. I know it sounds strange but I don't believe in putting a label on my style. I like Alexander wang, Céline, Supreme, and Chanel but I can't say I'm biker, chic, or skater. I'm just whatever comes to mind.

IMA: Imagine you are to appear on the cover of British Vogue in an homage to the Peter Lindbergh portrait of the Original Supers. If you could play casting director for a day, which four other newcomers would you select to share the cover honours with?
BW: Hmmmm. Good one, I would say all my friends but I know that's not the answer. So I would say me, Juliana Schurig, Tilda Lindstam, Ruby Jean Wilson, and I don't know... Maybe Natalie Westling.

IMA: What makes you "Inoubliable" (Unforgettable)?
BW: "Well my mommy told me I'm special once". Haha, no I really don't know, I'm just me. Everyone has an opinion but I have no idea what's my opinion on myself. I'm just chillin.

Binx Walton
Photographer - Unidentified
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Céline - S/S 2014
Photographer - Juergen Teller
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British Vogue - May 2014
Photographer - Rory Payne
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Special thanks to Peter Cedeno, Kyle Hagler, Damien Neva, and Beth Dubin at Next Model Management. For more information on Next Models, please log onto

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