Saturday, July 26, 2008

Iekeliene Stange on skinny models, babymodels - and breaking through

sonny vandevelde

Over on his blog, Belgian Australian supersnapper Sonny Vandevelde has just logged a great behind-the-scenes reportage on a recent shoot he did with Dutch supermod Iekeliene Stange. It was a cover shoot for RUSSH Japan and the styling taps Stange's eclectic personal fashion sense - I gather she posed in mostly her own gear, with a little assistance from a professional stylist.

It's not by any means the first time this duo (below) has worked together. They are in fact great mates, who flat together in Paris during the shows and hang out at other times.

I'm not quite sure how unique their working relationship is. But in spite of the fact that they're definitely not romantic partners, just friends (each has a separate partner), I think they need their own hybrid name.

Let's call them Sonneliene.

Sonneliene in action in scotland/sonny vandevelde

The shoot reminded me that in my archive of little-published and indeed also completely unpublished material, I had this great Q&A with Stange which has never made it live.

It was done in October 2006, at the end of her "breakthrough" show season - during which she walked in pretty much every major show and at the end of which Karl Lagerfeld dubbed her "the face of the season".

Whenever she decides to leave modelling, it will be interesting to see just where Stange's career takes her. Her parallel career as a photographer is blossoming, with work published in a number of titles.

And already her eclectic fashion style has been quite influential. Prior to her making geek glasses fashionable, for example, I don't recall seeing many other models in glasses.

I did not blog this immediately because it was done right at the end of the SS07 season and by the time I had returned to Sydney, the Fashion Season blog had pretty much gone on hiatus. The iv went on the backburner.

Now 23, about to turn 24, Stange is a much bigger name today. But it's interesting to see what she had to say at the time.

How long have you been modelling for?
Iekeliene Stange: I started when I was 18 but the last year I’ve been doing it properly.

Were you modelling last season?
Yes I was doing last season but this was kind of like my first season.

So you were at the RTW shows in Feb/March?
Yes, I was doing them as well. But this season is the first season that I'm doing it properly.

How many shows did you do?
I don’t know. Thirty-six in New York and another 20 in Milan, like about 20-something in Paris, about eight in London. I don’t know how much that adds up to.

How many shows did you open? I remember Marc Jacobs, Galliano...
I did a few in NY as well. I really don’t remember.

Fashion is so much about the new look or the new face… When did you realise, ‘Hang on, it’s me’ this season?
Well I guess after New York. I was just kind of going from show to show, like six shows a day. I mean I was going well but I had no idea how much the other girls were doing - like what’s normal in New York to do, you know? But my booker said at the end, ‘Yeah, you’ve done the most of the whole agency and like the most of maybe of all the girls in New York’. And then I was like, ‘Oh wow, like yeah…’.

They didn’t realise it at the time?
I realised it was going well but I didn’t know that I was doing, like, the most shows of the girls.

So what does that mean? There are lots and lots of models but it’s interesting when someone breaks through like that.
It was because it was my first season in New York. And everybody was like, ‘Oh you know, new girl, cool’. And then my agency, they didn’t really know what kind of shows I was going to do. If I was going to do the smaller ones or the bigger ones. So they represented me to all the different ones and then it turned out all of them wanted to book me so that’s why I was really busy. And then when I was doing Milan and Paris, they knew that I was doing the nice shows, so then they only represented me for the nicer shows.

So they turned shows down?
Yeah, I mean the smaller ones, they didn’t let me do those anymore.

But the thing is, you were doing shows last season, so if you were available last season, why didn’t they all book you then? This is what I mean about it being interesting vis-a-vis 'breaking through' all of a sudden…
Because I had all these editorials coming out after the summer. It was the first time I went to New York before the summer to do editorials, so I did all these magazines. I did something for W, for Italian Vogue, something for French Vogue and all these big editorials.

When you got to Milan and Paris, then it just kept going?
Then I did London as well, in between. Then I fell off the pavement and I couldn’t do three days. I twisted my ankle. After the second day of London I was supposed to do another, third, day and I go to Paris for two days for a shooting. But I had to cancel the third day. I had to cancel three shows. It was a bit too much. When I was doing New York, I was doing a shooting for ID, which was a night shooting and we were shooting until like five in the morning. And then I had to go straight to the airport. And I got to London in the evening and I would go straight to do like, four fittings, and come home at one - and six am in the morning, call time again for the first shows on Monday. By Tuesday I was kind of like, ‘Woah’. And then when I ran out of a show, I was looking for my motorbike, to go to the next show and I just fell off the pavement and twisted my ankle. My boyfriend was so shocked because I looked like I was fainting or something. But then I just hopped on the motorcycle and went on and did two more shows and two more fittings, but once I got to the fittings I couldn’t even walk anymore. I was still trying it but it was really too much for my foot. And the next day, I couldn’t even walk anymore so I had to go show all these people that I really couldn’t walk.

Just as well it happened in London and not Milan or Paris. So how long did you have off?
Three days.

That was enough?
It had to be. Milan was starting on Saturday.

So if you’ve been modelling for four years and suddenly now, all this success, what does it feel like?
The other years I didn’t really do modelling properly. I was with the wrong agency, they didn’t do anything for me. The last year, I didn’t really want to do anything with it anymore. Last year I was studying and everything. I was studying photography. I studied multimedia design before and then I was going to do photography. Then I got scouted in London by a different agency.

You started a degree?
I did about half of my multimedia design studies in Holland, in Rotterdam.

So you’re a photographer?
Yeah, I plan to kind of build up a portfolio now, because I want to do more reportage and documentary-style. But I’ve been documenting the backstage as well.

Some of those have been posted on Anina’s website?
Yes, because we’re working on the magazine 360F as well. So she’s going to use all of them. I took pictures with a Nokia phone for her as well, so she’s going to use those for her magazine and they’re going to be sponsored by Nokia.

Why not start your own blog?
I didn’t really want to. I didn’t want to have all this attention and stuff. It’s more about my photographs and not about anything else. But I made pictures with my actual cameras as well which are going to be in another magazine.

When you get to the level of being 'The face of the season’, is it competitive? How do other people in the industry react towards you – any differently? What about the other models?
Yeah I guess there are people who start acting differently to you. A lot of people are much nicer to you all of a sudden. People that you’ve seen before that have ignored you. Like suddenly, [enthusiastic] ‘Oh Iekeliene! How are you?’

Models or people in general?
Mostly casting directors and people from the industry. A lot of girls are actually really nice, they’re like ‘Oh I’m so happy you’re doing so well’. Because they know, they’ve seen me already doing it before and they know I’ve always been struggling and now it’s going so well, they’re like really happy for me.

Do you mean successful girls – or not-so-successful girls?
Yeah… I mean a lot of successful girls, they don’t know that I’ve been struggling. They just think, ‘Oh another new face in the big shows’. So when I tell them, they’re like, ‘Oh yeah, good for you’.

Do you think there’s a lot of jealousy in modelling?
I think most of the jealousy and bitching is in the lower….. The girls that are not doing so well, the girls that are more commercial. Those kind of girls that really want to be a model and they do some small commercial jobs. I think in the high fashion stuff there’s not that much. A lot of girls are just picked up from home and it just happens they came into this industry….

Just on really young girls, as young as say 14 years of age. Do you think that’s too young?
Yeah I think it’s too young. A lot of these girls haven’t developed any character yet. They come from highschool straight into this industry and it’s too much. I started when I was 18 and then I had some time when I was living on my own for one and a half years, and I was just kind of like, independent, and I developed my character. And then you feel much stronger in your own shoes. A lot of these girls get into these agencies and they’re there trying to influence them and telling them what to wear and what to do and how to act. And they feel like that’s how they have to be. But it’s really not true. There’s so much more than just fashion in this world.

It's interesting comparing what models wear backstage - ie their own clothes. There are those who look like they’re trying to really glam it up. Huge boots, miniskirts etc. Whereas you’re in your geek glasses and Tinkerbell dresses.
The agencies are telling them what to wear and they all feel like they have to be like this for jobs. I just feel like everybody should just be themselves. I’m not really into.... I couldn’t do it if I had to be like that everyday. I have to express myself and be creative and everything. Some girls, that’s what they like to wear. But a lot of them are just trying to be all designer… They’re all so influenced by what the other girls wear or what they feel like they have to wear to see clients.

And they all have the latest luxury bag. What do you carry?
I’ve got a Mulberry. It’s been given to me and it’s a practical bag. But I’m not really into that much designer. I wear it sometimes when people have given it to me and it’s cool, like I can wear it with some crazy tuutuus or something. But I’m not really, like, ’Check out my latest Prada’.

How would you describe your look? It’s fairly unique.
Well, I’m influenced by a lot of the Japanese street style - Harajuku. I used to be quite a punk rocker when I started. I was the girl with red dreadlocks in my hair and had like huge pants and a ring in my nose and rainbow braces everywhere, quite a crazy style. When I started I had to really tone it down. I felt really comfortable in the beginning because I was so not used to… I had to dress quite normal and everything. My other agency was also telling me what to do, what to wear.

Did they think it put clients off?
Yeah, It was too much. I definitely had to get rid of my dreadlocks.

So what do you wear to castings now?
Now because my agency [Marilyn] is so cool, I wear what I want to… I wouldn’t wear what I would wear in my free time, I would kind of tone it down a little bit. I have friends in London and we always run around with angel wings and crazy stuff.

What’s the story with the [glassless] glasses again?
Well my boyfriend was wearing … I lent him my sunglasses and he took out the…. We had a dressup party this summer and he dressed up like Napoleon Dynamite. So we took out the glass so he was wearing them to dress up. So I started wearing them. It makes me feel [tongue in cheek] more intelligent.

So you feel like you need to feel more intelligent in fashion biz?
It’s just kind of cool. Because all the girls are so trying to be fashionable and models and stuff... and I always just kind of like to be really dorky, just the opposite. I don’t really feel like I have to be this…

What do you think about the skinny models debate?
Some of the girls I was talking to wanted to go to Madrid and were having problems. I’ve heard so many stories, like girls drinking lots of water before [shows] so they would get into the weight limit. All this crazy stuff. Because they all had to be this certain weight. For me, it’s ridiculous, because I would love to gain some weight but I can’t really. I’ve been skinny my whole life and sometimes it’s a problem, I can feel really weak because Fashion Week is like tiny little food, little carrots and little pastries, there’s not much food backstage at Fashion Week. It’s no wonder that we got so skinny. A lot of girls, it’s their structure, it’s how they are. I mean I can’t say there are no girls having anorexia because there are.

Yeah of course. But not that extreme or anything. There’s maybe a few girls who are having anorexia. But most of the girls just eat normally. I’ve been doing some little movies for my friend as well, some interviews about girls, and they all think it’s crazy. And it’s always been like that in the industry so why all of a sudden make such a big drama about it? In America there are lots of people that are having lots of fat people.

Sure – obesity affects a very high percent of the population. By the same token there is pressure on models to stay thin.
I know that we influence people a lot. I actually have someone close to me who has anorexia. And I know that she’s in a clinic.


m.h. said...

I like these sort of models like Stange. She sounds like McNeil in the way they know better and know they shouldn't be pushed around. It's professional and businesslike and at the end of the day a good job. It's also pretty cool she's thinking outside of it whereas alot of models wouldn't know what to do when their time is up. That Agnete Hegelund model, she's going to be a proper doctor after... all's well that ends well, for some that is.

i love this still:
Nick Snider (New York)
'I just model, i don't do anything else.... helps pay the bills.' - j.lindeberg 07/08 show.

HotCaviar said...

I love iekeline... she's so down to earth and the epitome of dorky cool... this is my absolute favourite kind of people... the ones who have personality and good looks, but don't know how good looking they are because they're really just nerds of a feather after all... so rad...

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Kinga was the one "who is in a clinic." Or maybe Elsa Sylvan.Thank God Ieke has a strong head on those graceful shoulders! I love her work!

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