Tuesday, December 8, 2009
A Matter of Perspective
For me, one of the more notable things to emerge from this past fashion season was the blossoming friendship between Freja and Karmen Pedaru. I've been a fan of Karmen's for quite some time now, and have even tried sneaking her onto this blog multiple times. ;) Needless to say, I was thrilled when I started seeing two of my favs hanging out backstage this season. Before this September, and to the best of my knowledge, Karmen and Freja had not been photographed together before, even though they initially met all the way back in September of 2006. Yes, that's right--September of 2006, nearly three years ago when they both walked the Marni SS07 show where they had looks 45 and 46 right next to each other.
When I realized this, I was quite surprised as I've always thought of Karmen as a newer girl. Her breakout season was only just during FW0809 when she was named a Top 10 Newcomer by models.com, so I just assumed that she's only been around since then. But it turns out Karmen started hitting the high fashion runways only three season after Freja did. So this got got me thinking about the perspectives we have that go into defining a new model, an established model and the role that success plays.
Freja made her runway debut in February of 2005 when she walked for Prada in Milan. Karmen made her debut in September of 2006 when she walked for Christopher Kane in London. Karmen only started a year and half after Freja but I believe most people think (like I did) that she's one of the newer, younger models on the scene because her career seems to be taking off only now. She's definitely not as well known and she doesn't have any major covers or blue-chip campaigns on her modeling resume yet. When you compare her to Freja, the differences are so stark that it's hard to believe they started only three seasons apart.
Yet, things are finally beginning to happen for Karmen after all this time. More people are recognizing her as I've never seen so many new people posting in her tFS thread. She recently starred in the Gucci Eye Wear campaign for FW0910 and she was a semi-exclusive at the show in September. I don't want to jinx things, but being an exclusive is great and usually indicative of future campaign prospects.
I guess if you can take anything away from this, it's that time is only one factor in determining a model's success. Unlike more conventional jobs where you nearly always climb your way to the top by putting in years of work, I would argue that modeling is more dependent on other factors like agents, trends, the whims of photographers and designers, the look of the moment, and good old fashioned luck. I think the career trajectories of Freja and Karmen speak to this. Freja became successful nearly overnight with a Prada exclusive in Milan and bookings at all the top shows in Paris during her first season. Karmen was more of a late bloomer and worked her way through her first three seasons by walking mostly in London before she finally broke through.
Freja and Karmen traversed on two different paths to success, and I think it's interesting how these paths can affect the perspectives we have on each one's experience level and status within the industry. Even though both have been modeling for a few years now, I still think of them in entirely different ways. To me Karmen represents a young, fresh model full of untapped potential. Much like the brands she's modeled for (Y-3, Jill Stuart, Derek Lam, M by Missoni), she's well-respected but definitely flying under the radar. On the other hand, Freja is the established veteran who I feel has been around for so long that I can't even remember a time without her, much like the brands that she's modeled for (Balmain, Balenciaga, Chanel, Gucci, Chloe).
They are both successful in their own rights, and both seem to have career longevity in that they've been around longer than 2 or 3 seasons. When they started hanging out this season I thought it was so cute that Freja was hanging with a newbie instead of just the other vets like Lily and Heidi. Well, my perspective was a little off and after some adjustment, I now see both Freja and Karmen as veterans and true colleagues in every sense of the word. Now I only wonder what took them so long to become friends....
Image Credits: models.com, imgmodels.com, style.com