Thursday, August 16, 2012

Julia Nobis, undergrad supermod


She might have been overlooked by some of Australia's biggest media outlets, but fashion aficionados were thrilled to spot Julia Nobis in the David Jones Spring/Summer 2012/2013 show on Tuesday. The 20 year-old Sydneysider has ruled the international runways for the past two seasons, clocking up a whopping 73 shows in March, prompting WWD to dub her "The face of Fall". But as Nobis discovered this week, the runway protocols of major brands such as Prada and Louis Vuitton can differ greatly from those espoused by Australian retailers. With the DJs show being filmed by the Arena channel for a special that will air on August 20th, more than one audience member giggled at the sight of an Arena producer holding up a quaint "Smile" sign at the end of the runway (below). Nobis, who is better-acquainted with backstage model cue cards that read "strictly no smiling", did her best to muster a smirk. Frockwriter caught up with her after the show.  

via kelly tanti's instagram

So is total runway domination your mission now going into show seasons?
Definitely not [laughs]. I mean it's a pleasant surprise, I won't deny that.

I posted a shot of you outside the Miu Miu show on the last day of the shows in March and you were looking a little Crusty the Clown, I have to say, what with the crazy makeup and what looked to be sheer exhaustion after four weeks on the road. You must be shattered.
You go from like Go Go Go to just nothing for a couple of weeks. And I jokingly say that I get Post Fashion Week Depression because all of a sudden, I'm like, 'Well, what do I do with myself? Do I go to the agency and say, are you sure you guys don't want to send me on a casting so I have something to do with my life?' But the first three days is like this ultimate relief. It's like graduating high school all over again. It is finally over.

How many shows a day would you do on your busiest days?
I think the most was six in one day.

But what many people wouldn't realise is that that also means many hours of waiting around, travelling, hair and makeup etc… 
And fittings in between shows and then well into the night.

You seem to have the transfers thing down with a scooter. 
Not always. If it calls for it I get a motorbike, but most of the time I'm just in car. Actually in Paris, I'm always on the Metro and then in New York, on the subway. It's faster most of the time, because of the traffic.

I got all of these congratulatory emails about that. And I was like, 'OK, cool, pat on the back I suppose'.

Does it make a difference?
It does. I mean, that's the funny thing. It's just a website, you wouldn't think so. But it does. People were really, really A/ supportive when I got on there and B/ happy. They do look at it.

You have mentioned that you originally planned to study medicine. Those plans are now on the backburner presumably?
I've got my biology text book in my bag.

You are already studying?
I'm not actually studying medicine, I'm doing a Bachelor of Science through RMIT in Melbourne. I started at the beginning of this year. I only do it part-time, one subject at a time. It's easy to manage. But it's enough to keep my mind working. I download my lectures. I've got them on my iPod so I can just be sitting getting my hair done and learning at the same time.

Do you find studying a good fit with modelling?
It is. It's not the most mentally stimulating industry of all time.

Many would concur.
It's not brain surgery, but it's also not easy at the same time. There are times when you'll be emotionally and physically drained. Holding a position for an hour is hard for even a yoga master so it can be tough. But I've got a scientific mind.

It has all happened pretty quickly for you. You first did that Calvin Klein show in 2010.
It's been two and a half years, just over. I thought I was only going to be doing it for a year, just dip my toes in and see how it went. And now I'm kind of stuck. Not in a bad way of course.

You are making good money, presumably?
Yeah. I mean it's fine, I'm paying my way through university, which was the main idea in the first place.

What do you plan on doing with the science degree?
Ultimately, when I'm done with modelling - whether that's because people stop booking me or because just get sick of it, I mean I can't tell the future - I'm still in two minds as to whether or not I'll finish the science degree or transfer out of it. And then do medicine either undergrad or post grad, it depends. I could potentially lop off a year or two from the medical degree. If I keep a good average which … right now... I'm cruising on an HD average, so hopefully I can keep that up.

It must be a challenge studying while doing a show season. Particularly for you, with such a massive volume of shows. 
Yes, because it [uni] started on the first day of Milan [Fashion Week]. I mean I took two weeks off in the beginning and didn't really pay attention to my schoolwork. But then I got fully into it.

So you haven't actually met any of your fellow students?
I have. I went to Melbourne six weeks ago. It was my birthday as well and all my friends came down from Sydney and we all just had this really nice time. They compressed the course pracs into one week and we did prac every single day. So I made some uni friends. I was really proud to say that I actually had uni friends.

Did any of the other students recognise you? 
[Deadpan] They're science students. No - which was actually really nice. Yesterday was the third time that anyone has ever approached me in the street. Excluding photographers out the front of a show or something. I mean a walking down the street sort of deal. It has only ever happened three times. It was like, 'Hi, are you Julia?' And I was like, 'Yeah'. And then it was that awkward moment when we're both walking in the same direction and… do we walk together or do we not? What do I do in these circumstances? I'm not very good at it yet.

What are your thoughts on modelling as a career option? Do you think it's unrealistic that young girls who want to enter the industry can expect to make any money? What would be your advice to them?
It's not unrealistic, but I wouldn't plan on it either, because things change in the blink of an eye. Take it seriously, by all means, take it seriously while you're doing it. But always have a Plan B. It's better to be safe than sorry.

You were scouted on the street weren't you?
Yes, when I was 15 and still in school. But I told the agency to bugger off and that I was going to finish high school before I did anything. I would occasionally go to a casting during the school holidays or whatever, but that was it.

Who are some of your favourite fashion industry people to work with?
I love working with [photographer] Craig McDean, he is a crackup. Of course the Proenza [Schouler] boys are lovely. Marc Jacobs - and I'm not just biased because of Louis Vuitton [Nobis is in LV's current Fall 2012 campaign]. He is a really nice guy. One of the funniest people I have ever met, he's great.

You mentioned in one interview that all you do is eat after the shows have finished.
Yeah, you don't get to eat much at the shows. Just sandwiches and catering. And every time there's a rehearsal, we can't eat because we're in hair and makeup. During the rehearsals the photographers have nothing to do so they eat everything. We get backstage and there's like grapes and a lettuce leaf left over. It's just adding to the [skinny model] stereotype.

Do you do anything in particular to prepare for fashion month?
No. I actually try to do more mental preparation than physical. I don't do massive amounts of exercise or diet or anything. I'm naturally thin and I can't do anything about that. But it's more just…. [I try to think] don't be disappointed. It's like my booker told me during my first show season, 'Julia, there are two reasons why girls cry during fashion week: they're either doing too many shows or not enough'. And so I think about that and I'm like, 'Look, I've done really, really well in the past' so it's cool.

Do you hang out with the other Australian models?
Sometimes. I like hanging out with the Aussies outside of the shows. But there's something special about being the only Australian in a show and now that there's a whole bunch, I'm like [laughs], 'Oh, well I'm not special any more'.

What do you do to wind down at the end of the season?
We have a strip club that we go to. It's in Opéra, around the corner from our [Paris] hotel.

A female strip club or a male strip club?
Both. Five of us [models], but also hair stylists, makeup artists, we're friends with everybody.

The Cobrasnake hasn't discovered it yet?
I don't think he has. It's become a weird tradition. We go every now and then - or if we get a night off. Because it is literally around the corner from the hotel where we stay. Otherwise, we are all on the same flight back to New York and either sleeping or chatting or doing whatever.

You don't do a lot of nude work, do you?
I just don’t like full nudity. But that's just a personal thing, I have no problem with anyone else being naked. I don't like it. But topless is perfectly fine.

Do you often get asked to pose nude?
No not really. Everyone is really quite conscientious about it. 'Are you OK with this?' etc… I'm like, 'As a matter of fact, I am'.

What are your thoughts on the push to organise the industry, from Actor's Equity in London, which now represents models and the Model Alliance in New York?
It's annoying because we're not covered by the typical benefits that you would get in a normal job, because we're all freelance. So we get no union benefits, no health insurance. I have travel insurance, but it's not through work. You can't call in and get paid sick leave. If you call in sick and you can't work, you don't get paid for that day.

Welcome to being self-employed.
Also, a lot of the girls are just so young. In a normal job, if you're freelance, that's what you've been working towards. But if you're a 16 year old girl, you don't speak English and you're all of a sudden in New York, it's like, 'What's going on?' I mean you need someone to talk to. I don't know if it necessarily needs to be a whole union type thing or if the agencies should do more. Although I think that the agencies are fine, they're always lovely. I haven't really had a bad experience with one.

You were 18 when you started modelling?

Do you have issues with much younger girls entering the industry?
Not really.

Do you see a lot of them?
A lot of 14 and 15 year olds. For some people, it can just fuck them up. Other people, it can be fine. I mean look what Miranda Kerr has done - she started at 13 and it worked out perfectly fine. Then there are train wrecks who started when they were 13. By 15 they were a coke addict and then out on the street and no one's heard from them for the past five years.

Family support has to play an important role there presumably. 
Exactly. And that's the thing - most of the younger girls these days have either a parent or a sister or someone with them who is there to take care of them. It's when they get sent out alone, with no guidance, no idea of what's going on. I don't even think I knew what cocaine was when I was 13 years old. I'm sure if someone had like, handed it to me on a plate, I would have been like, 'Yeah, sure, let's go for it, I have no idea what I'm doing but this is great'. And next thing you know, it's terrible.

Would you encourage your daughter to model?
Encourage? No. But if she fell into it, as I did, I wouldn't be opposed. I would tell her everything that there was to be told about it. But if she wanted to do it then I'd let her do it.

What age would you let her start?
After she finished high school.


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