Justin Hopwood – Iconic Beauty

With matinée idol looks, Justin Hopwood landed the cover of the Abercrombie and Fitch Quarterly and has become a mainstay in the Ralph Lauren family fronting campaigns for the brand season after season. Named by Models.com as one of the industry’s Money Guys, this native South African routinely has clients calling on him.

Tell us about how you got started as a model.

My younger sister, who was modeling at the time, dragged me into her agency to do some admin work and a gentleman by the name of Byron Kealumans asked me if I was interested in modeling.  I told him I wasn’t really interested. He asked me to grow my football inspired mohawk out and clear up my skin. At the time I had pretty bad acne. Once I followed Byron’s advice, I did a little work here and there in South Africa and then in 2010, Bruce Weber scouted me for an Abercrombie shoot. He flew me to Miami where we shot and one week later Jason Kanner, the owner of Soul Artist Management, signed me. Within minutes of meeting Jason he sent me to Ralph Lauren. A month later I shot my first ad with Ralph and then the rest is history.

Hailing from South Africa, what were the biggest adjustments you made living in the US?

I guess the culture and the exchange rate. Oh, and the weather – we don’t get snow in South Africa.

What do you hope to get out of modeling?

I hope to grow as a person as much as possible and really embrace the opportunity that I’ve been given.

Models Bridget Hall, Tyson Beckford and Tanga Moreau all had longstanding relationships with the Ralph Lauren Corporation much like yourself.  How does it feel to be part of such an iconic brand and family?

It’s a really special feeling! I remember growing up seeing all of the iconic Polo ads with Mr. Beckford. Now I’m able call him a good friend and work alongside him which is very special to me. Ralph Lauren has used the most iconic models in the world over the years and I am beyond grateful and humbled to be a part of the team. They really are like family.

What has been the most memorable moment of your career thus far?

I would say all my shoots with Bruce Weber since day one with Abercrombie. The Big Pony fragrance and the new Polo S/S 15 campaign are also up there. Bruce Weber is really special to work with. He knows how to bring something out of you on camera that’s special and really captures a moment.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I’ve had a unibrow since I was ten years old that I constantly have to tame.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome with modeling?

The distance from my family.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Jason Kanner told me to “stay humble and be patient”.

What are your goals and aspirations for the future?

To invest in property and grow as much a possible in both modeling and as a person.

Follow him at @justinhopwood_

Mini Anden – From Sweden With Love

Stockholm native, Susanna ‘Mini’ Anden began her career at the tender age of ten before signing to Elite Model Management when she was 15. She has been on the cover of Vogue, Elle and Cosmopolitan in addition to campaigns for Gucci, DKNY, Calvin Klein and Louis Vuitton. Mini met her now husband on the set of a DKNY shoot and resides in Los Angeles with her family. Still very much in demand, Mini spends her time between her home in LA and New York. Mini reflects on her career as Emily Sandberg and I caught up with her.

Can you pinpoint a time in your career that changed everything for you?

My career really took off in 1998 when I moved from Paris to New York. I had already worked with some great photographers like Peter Lindbergh and Mikael Jansson but the campaigns and money jobs started rolling in after I arrived in New York.

You met your husband on set while shooting DKNY. How did you make the relationship work with such erratic schedules?

Oh, the fun we had on that shoot! It’s true that’s when Taber and I became a couple, but we actually met a few years prior to that on a shoot in Sweden for Arena Hommes Plus with Mikael Jansson. We were both dating other people at the time but definitely noticed each other.

About a year and a half later we met again, this time in New York for an Italian Vogue shoot with Peter Lindbergh. We were attached the whole shoot and Taber gave me his number. He went home at the end of the shoot telling his roommates if this girl calls, I’m done. I did call but whoever answered the phone never gave Taber the message. When we met again two weeks later at the DKNY shoot I saw him and asked how he was.  He said he could be better and I asked him why. He said it was because I never called.  That’s that the beginning of our love story.

How did we made it work with our schedules? Well, we made it a rule never to go longer than two weeks apart. When we were both traveling a lot we made sure we connected around the world. Relationships will always hit rough patches but I truly believe we belong together so we’ve just made it work. Meeting at such an early age sort of meant that we grew up together and luckily we never grew apart.

Your family splits their time between LA and NYC. How do you manage to maintain balance now that you’re modeling again?

We have lived in LA for over 10 years. It means a lot more traveling on my part which sucks because I don’t like flying but it’s worth it because of the quality of life we have. When I started modeling again, after becoming a mom, we’ve traveled together as a family. Taber can take his work on the road so I have been really lucky. Until I’ve finished nursing Felix I want him with me. It will definitely be a challenge when I have to start traveling by myself again. Leaving my boys will be hard but that’s the gig. It’s not fair on a toddler to drag him across the world for a few days at the time.

How has your modeling career evolved over the years?

I feel my career evolved in the way that I am now more settled. I have my steady clients and don’t up and leave every other day. Things are definitely more planned. In the beginning of my career it was full-force all the time with 12 seasons of shows and traveling non-stop. All that work paid off and I now have my steady well-paying clients.

What kind of career guidance did you receive at the beginning?

I have been lucky in my career to always have great agents around me that I trusted with whatever they would throw my way. I always felt cared for and protected.

What advice would you give to younger self?

Buy an apartment in New York! I can’t believe all the years I wasted on paying rent.

Who were the most influential people in your early career and why?

My amazing agents Jan Stewart and Susanna Rönn and photographers Peter Lindbergh and Mikael Jansson. The editorials that I did with them really paved the way for me.

Did you ever notice a inversely proportional relationship between your success and weight?

When it comes to the weight issue I feel I never really suffered too much pressure. I’m naturally thin and athletic. Taking care of your body and fitting into samples sizes just comes with the job. But yes, I do think most models, including myself,  have a bit of a warped body image.

Follow her at @TheMiniAnden


Agyness Deyn On The Inspiration Behind Title A

Undeniably one of the most influential models of this decade, Agyness Deyn has generated more column inches than most of her contemporaries. Much of what has been written about her has focused on her style, celebrity friends and love life. Agyness has defied expectation and refused to be reduced to just another one of fashion’s It girls. As the founder of clothing line Title A, Agyness gives us a glimpse into the inspiration behind her latest venture.

You were lauded as a style icon throughout your career. How would you describe your style?

It’s always surreal and a little embarrassing to hear that. My personal tastes have been to the moon and back, but right now I just want an extremely classic and slightly awkward wardrobe.

Before embarking on the development of Title A you collaborated with Uniqlo and Dr. Martens. Has designing always been in your blood?

I’ve been around that world for a while now. I guess I’ve always had an opinion or preference to certain things and maybe maturity has brought out my ability to share it.

What was the inspiration behind Title A?

I wanted to create a place where someone could go and always find what they’re looking for.

How would you describe the blueprint of your line?

There is always a suit to ground the collection and it expands from there. We try to respect craft and detail in womenswear as much as it’s respected in menswear and strip out anything too frivolous.

Can you describe the typical Title A woman?

It’s tricky for me to nail her down; everyone is so different. I imagine the things they would have in common is the desire to have a wardrobe that doesn’t wear them and a love of strong female characters. I’m in love with Joan of Arc.

How do you think your background in fashion has informed your approach to design?

I would guess it helped me to know what I don’t want.

Were you conscious of the model cum designer label and if so did you have any reservations before embarking on this journey?

Ah, yes. I know the stigma but it doesn’t bother me. Probably because this isn’t a licensing deal and we’re pouring our hearts into it like anyone else who’s been insane enough to start a label from scratch.

Do you have plans to expand the line into accessories or menswear at any point in the future?

We do. We are in the middle of finalizing beautiful leather handbags, you can see sneaks of them on our Instagram. Sunglasses are next and we will definitely venture into menswear down the line.

Agyness is represented by The Lions NY

Introducing Bart Grzybowski

Bart Grzybowski may be a rookie in the modeling game but he brings to the table a wealth of life experience. This Villanova graduate quotes Robert Frost and cites The Fountainhead as inspiration while having the blessing of veteran photographer Bruce Weber. I caught up with Bart as he waxed lyrical about his passions and explains why there’s more to life than being really, really, really ridiculously good-looking.

How were you discovered?

I used to do high-end, residential construction for Laurion Construction in Miami, but after the housing market crashed things slowed significantly and I ended up bartending on South Beach. I was approached by Jose Ochoa, who was an editor at Ocean Drive Magazine, and he told me I needed to start modeling. He sent me over to meet with Christian Alexander at Front Management and they offered me a contract the same day. Since I was planning on moving out to California in six months to try to become a General Contractor, I needed to save some money for the move and I signed the same day.

If you weren’t modeling what would you be doing?

Ever since I read The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, I was inspired to build and work with my hands, so probably something to do with construction/development. I love the creative expression it allows and also the reward of seeing what you have accomplished at the end of the day. There’s something to be said for busting your ass all day and falling asleep tired. I know that 30 years from now I can go back to a home I helped to build, knock on the door and meet the family that has created memories in something I put on this earth.  It means a lot to me to know a part of me will be around even after I am gone.

How do you define success?

That is easy. Are you happy? If yes, then you are successful. If not, keep trying. I think the most important thing a human can do is spend a lot of time with that question: what makes me happy? Once you figure that out, do it. For me, there is always something more that can be done, so I am constantly changing my goals and adapting my game plan to achieve them. When I’m gone I know I will consider myself successful if I have left the people who knew and loved me a little bit happier and more inspired.

How do you handle the scrutiny and rejection that comes with modeling?

You definitely need thick skin when it comes to modeling. When your job is to make money off your appearance, every inch of you will be critiqued. However, I’ve never considered myself to be solely a “model” and so my success in this industry doesn’t define me as a person. I graduated from a good school, Villanova, worked hard jobs in social work and construction, and most importantly, have been through the pain of losing a parent which, all by itself, forced me to evaluate, scrutinize and come to love and cherish the person I’ve become. No matter what kind of rejection I get, I’ve realized that “maybe there’s more to life than being really, really, really ridiculously good-looking.”

What are your goals and aspirations for the future?

Eventually I’d love to be comfortable enough financially where I can provide for my family and help take care of my parents and siblings, but money isn’t the most important thing. It’s just a means to an end.  In the meantime I’d love to travel a lot more: Italy, Greece, Spain, South Africa, Brazil, to name a few. I’d like to design and build my own home out West somewhere, probably Colorado or California. I’d like to make an impact on the lives of others and help make this world better rather than worse. After my experience working for a foster care program in Miami, I promised myself that I would adopt a child when the time was right. I guess ultimately though, it is to be a good person and make the ones I surround myself with happier for knowing me.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

I love all the amazing people and places I have met and seen and I want to send a big thank you to everyone and everything that has made this incredible ride possible. If I had to pick one moment, I guess the highlight of my modeling career was flying out to Dunton Hot Springs in Colorado for the Ralph Lauren Chaps shoot. It’s a small mining town from the late 1800′s that was converted to a nature resort where each miner’s cabin has its own natural hot spring right outside in the back. It’s like a blast from the past, I got to spend a few days with the RL Crew and Richard Phibbs basking in the raw, majestic beauty of our surroundings and really getting to know everyone personally. We had family dinners in the main lodge and we even did a Tommy Boy movie night. It was incredible.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

Hmm, that my favorite movie is Legends of the Fall? I’m going to get my chops busted for that one.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about modeling?

That it is an easy job. Sure it pays pretty well, and there are a lot of perks, but like most things in life nothing is guaranteed. You never know when you will get booked, or how frequently for that matter. You have to take a leap of faith and have the will power to make your foray into the industry a successful and profitable one.  I see a lot of my friends becoming doctors and financial advisors and all sorts of high paying professionals and sometimes I wonder if that route would have been better for me, just based on the security it provides. But then I remember an often over-cited quotation, but one that is very fitting:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” Robert Frost

You seemed to bond with Bruce Weber when working together. Did he have any advice for you?

Bruce is a legend in the industry and has a wealth of experience and artistic talent. His style has inspired other photographers for decades. When he took me under his wing, he helped launch my career, as he has so many others: for that I will always be grateful.  I can’t say for certain, but after spending time with Bruce on numerous shoots and talking about my life and what I’d been through, I think he saw something more in me: that there was a story there. His best advice to me was to channel that and to never hide it. To come out of my shell and to show it to the world. In fact, it’s probably one of the reasons why I’m so forthcoming with these answers. I guess on that note, I should say thank you so much for the opportunity!

Follow him at @bartgrzy

Liisa Winkler Reflects On Her Career

Canadian stunner Liisa Winkler was the star of three consecutive Gucci campaigns during fashion’s love affair with Brazilian models. In addition to starting in campaigns for Balenciaga, Calvin Klein, Valentino and Longchamp, Liisa has graced the cover of Vogue, Numero, Elle and countless others. Dividing her time between modeling and motherhood, I caught up with Liisa to talk about the heady days of her career and to find out what she’s doing now.

Tell us about how you got started in the industry.

I was scouted at a local mall and my best friend convinced me to do some pictures with her.  I started in Australia, which was a beautiful place to start, then tried Paris where I lived in a youth hostel and ate macaroni every night with four-dollar wine from a plastic bottle.  New York didn’t work all that well either but just as I was contemplating a career switch, I was booked by Tom Ford for an exclusive Gucci campaign.  I owe him my career. All the doors that were previously shut began to open.

You studied ballet before entering modeling. What parallels can you draw between the two and how did your background inform the way you modeled?

The two careers are very different. With ballet you can improve with hard work and dedication, but modelling is mostly about physical appearance and not something you can get better at. My ballet training was a real asset at the beginning of my career.  I was often referred to as “the ballerina” and mostly ended up doing movement jobs.  I remember wishing for a simple portrait style shoot for a long time but later realized that it’s much more creative to be moving. I have always found it very rewarding and exciting to be involved in creating something artistic and beautiful both in dance and in fashion.

How did you remain grounded during the height of your career?

My family and friends kept me grounded and being raised in a small town made me value a simpler life . My dance training taught me that in order to succeed at anything you had to work very hard.  I guess I felt that being a model was not enough and I was always searching for something else to work hard at.  When you are busy trying to work hard at things, you are more likely to keep your feet on the ground.

How has the industry changed over the course of your career?

Social media has really changed things.  Nothing can be forgotten or erased from digital memory. I remember jobs that I did near the beginning of my career that I cannot find anywhere. It’s kind of nice because some things are best left in the past. I would hate to see behind the scenes footage of jobs where I felt less than comfortable.  Girls now have to live with every bad decision or backstage half-naked photo ever taken of them.  We used to shoot Polaroids and film. Digital really makes things faster and more accurate, but you lose some of the flow and spontaneity that came with using film. People are sometimes so obsessed with looking at the screen to see how the shot looks, that they lose the momentum and creativity that comes when the focus is only on set.

During the rise of the Brazilian models, Models.com refered to you as one of the most underrated models in the business. How do you feel about that sentiment?

At that time, being Brazilian almost guaranteed you an “in” with clients. Drinking champagne backstage was crucial to fitting in. My agent was always hounding me to attend fashion parties, that I never went to, and we often joked that I needed to stage a drug overdose in order to create a buzz. Perhaps I was a little too grounded?  Anyhow it served me right I guess.

How do you feel about social media and the branding of models?

I think it kind of makes sense.  I like that models now have personalities that are more public and they can speak out about causes and things that they feel passionate about.  It creates a better role model for young girls and also gives the model more power to manage and direct her career.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I have prosopagnosia- an inability to recognize faces. I sometimes don’t recognize people who I know quite well if they have changed their hair or are wearing a hat.

How has motherhood informed the way you approach modeling?

Having children has balanced my life in a really good way.  They are my everything and modeling jobs are like the icing on the cake.  Having kids has really put things into perspective and allowed me to have fun with modeling in a way that I was not able to before.  I don’t take myself so seriously anymore and am not afraid to take risks and ask questions. I love what I do and that allows me to have fun.

What have you learned about yourself through modeling?

That life is more fun when you just go with things and not take yourself too seriously.  Taking risks is pretty important and stepping out of your box can be scary but is totally worth it.

What are you doing these days?

I feel incredibly lucky to still be working as a model.  I also work as an ambassador with World Animal Protection, with my main focus on farm animals.  We live half in the city, half in the country and try to grow all our own vegetables. I am really interested in medicinal herbs and will be working on my diploma in herbalism this year.  Mostly I spend time with my five and eight-year olds,  cooking them things that are often not so tasty, sometimes really awesome, but always totally healthy.

Follow her at @liisawinkler1 and on Instagram