Saturday, March 5, 2011

Myf Shepherd is back in the game

david jones AW11 backstage

Myf Shepherd was the new Australian modelling supernova of 2008. Scouted in February that year and famously snubbed by the producers of Australia’s Next Top Model, the 17 year-old went on to walk in more shows than any other model during her first Australian Fashion Week in May 2008, before heading off to the northern hemisphere show circuit four months later and walking in 51 shows in her first international season. The next season she walked in 62. Then followed campaigns for Gucci, Sonia Rykiel, Miu Miu and others. By September 2009, however, something was up. Following a blitz of publicity over her personal life – and an apparent weight gain - Shepherd was much less high profile during the Spring/Summer 2010 show season. Then came the announcement she would be taking a break from modelling to study set design at the University of NSW’s College of Fine Arts. In fact, as Shepherd reveals in this short interview that frockwriter recorded backstage at last month’s David Jones show in Sydney, she didn’t just intend to take a break from the business – she decided to quit it altogether. 

Fortunately for Shepherd’s fans, however, one year on she is back in the game.

Currently in Paris, she is in the midst of her first international show season in eighteen months. And what a confident re-entry she is making. 

Shepherd only joined the Fall/Winter 2011/2012 season in Milan, but with five days still to go, she has already walked in seven shows, alongside some of the biggest names in the modelling business: Angelo Marani, Sportmax, DSquared2, Anne Valérie Hash, Anthony Vaccarello, Gaspard Yurkievich and AV Vandervorst – opening the two latter shows. Update 07/03: Add to this list Sonia Rykiel, Vivienne Westwood, Kenzo and Céline.

sportmax FW11/12/

Frockwriter: So how is the course going?
Myf Shepherd: Really good. I’m really enjoying it.

FW: Stage design?
MS: Well it’s just a design course. The first year pretty much they give you a taste of everything. And then you get to choose. You narrow it down each year. the second year you have three kind of main streams that you follow and then you get through and then you get two and you do one for the final year.

FW: So you’ve done one year. How many years is it?
MS: It’s four years. But I’m going to defer the next year and go back overseas.

FW: You had such an incredible start, really, didn’t you? You did all those shows at RAFW, then went straight to the OS shows and hit the ground running. I can imagine it was a bit insane.
MS: Pretty much. Yeah, well I was doing Year 12 at the same time so that was really intense, because it was like a fulltime job and fulltime school.
FW: So you wanted to take a break because it was a bit too much?
MS:  I wasn’t really ready for it. I don’t think I really appreciated it either. And now I miss it a lot and so I can see all of the good things that I had before and I want to go back.

FW: Were you at all worried that in stepping out of it, you might miss your chance? Modelling is an intensely competitive business and some people talk about striking while the iron’s hot, having the right look at the right moment etc…
MS: I don’t know. I’m really young and it’s not the end of the world if I don’t make it again or anything.

FW: Well you are stepping back into it now. But when you left, were you worried that it might be difficult getting back in?
MS: I didn’t want to get back in when I stopped. That’s why I got piercings and tattoos.

FW: You were rebelling against….the fashion industry?
MS: Yep. [It was like saying] It’s my face and I can do what I want to it.

FW: But there are lots of models with piercings and tattoos aren't there?
MS: Not eyebrow piercings.

FW: I mean Abbey has lots of piercings and tattoos. So does Catherine McNeil. So what have you done with those today – taken them out?
MS: Oh it’s hidden by my hair [lifts fringe].
FW: I guess it is a very regimented life.
MS: Yeah, there are a lot of people who control your appearance

FW: So you are going back tomorrow [Thursday]. What’s the plan?
MS: I’m flying tomorrow to Paris and then I’ve got a few direct bookings in Paris. I don’t know what they are. And then I’m going to go to Milan and do shows and go to Paris and do shows and then go where I’m needed.

FW: Are you looking forward to going back onto the frontline?
MS: Yeah, I’m looking forward to it. I’ve missed it. I’ve been Facebook-stalking all of my friends who are at the New York shows at the moment and getting jealous. 

AF vandervorst FW1112/

FW: So what’s been the best thing about the year off?
MF: I had an amazing year. I just had so much fun being a regular person and not a model.

FW: Did you find that people recognised you?
MS: No, not really. Not in Sydney. I don’t really ever get that in Sydney. In New York, all the time and especially anywhere during Fashion Week, because everyone’s kind of  on the lookout for models. But no, I don’t really get it in Sydney. There was one time at a café where I had a really strange experience, where a woman came over and asked my friend while I was in the bathroom, if I was Myf Shepherd. And my friend was like, ‘No, it’s not. Leave her alone’. And then the woman was like, ‘No, I know who that is – that’s Myf Shepherd. I’m going to wait here and talk to her when she comes back out of the bathroom’.   

FW: And so did she meet you?
MS: No my friend scared her off!

FW: Obviously many fashion blogs - including obviously this one - monitor what models do and talk them up. Often the mainstream press then pick the stories up. Does all the hype get a bit much when you’re starting out?
MS: If you read it, I guess. I don’t know. I think I was just a bundle of hype.

FW: A bundle of hype?
MS: I think that hype entirely just can really influence someone’s career.

FW: Well, modelling is like the stock market...
MS: Yeah. So... I feel like I had a lot of good hype when I started and that definitely helped me.

FW: How tough is the weight issue? Obviously it affects every model at that elite level. It must be really difficult.
MS: It is hard that you’ve got to look a certain way. And I’m still healthy. I went like... I stopped caring at all when I decided that I was going to take time off. Or when I decided that I was going to quit. And then when I decided that I wanted to start back up again I started watching what I was eating and exercising more. But it wasn’t at all a massive lifestyle change. It was all about mindset.

FW: So you actually quit?
MS: Yeah. I just wanted to go to uni. 

FW: When you finish your course, what are the plans then?
MS: I do want to do set design, or something like that. I would love to do set design for fashion shows. I find that so interesting. They have some amazing things over in Europe. 

FW: And there are some great production companies.
MS: On that Gucci campaign that I did I was talking to the set designer for an entire day. That was kind of around the time that I decided I was going to apply for uni. 

dsquared2 FW1112/

FW: What did you miss most about modelling?
MS: I don’t know, there are lots of things. I miss transforming, that’s probably the major thing. 

FW: You mean with the photoshoots, the hair and makeup etc…
MS: Yes. 

FW: What was the highlight?
MS: There were way too many good times.

FW: Favourite shoot, favourite photographer?
MS: I have too many… I’ve got too many friends who are photographers and I don’t want to offend anyone by saying. 

FW: But that’s what you miss the most – the theatrical side?
MS: Yeah, I really, really enjoy becoming a character. 

FW: For any young girls in your position at RAFW, who have never been outside Australia and who all of a sudden get picked up and thrown into it like you were, what’s your advice to them?
MS: [And become] the next big thing? 

FW: Yes – having been through it all, what’s your advice... having stepped out of it to get some perspective and going back into it now?
MS: Don’t take it too seriously.



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