Model Audrey Marnay’s Raison d’Etre

The nineties ushered in a new aesthetic showcasing the uniqueness and individuality of models. Audrey Marnay burst onto the fashion scene; a modern Audrey Hepburn, gamine, slight and lending a je ne sais quoi to everything she did. Noted among other models for her sense of humor, Audrey was a favorite of photographer Steven Meisel and designers of the time.

Nowadays Audrey can be found lending her voice to charitable organizations including Les Enfants de Bam and spending time with her own family.

You started your career as a model. Is the rumor true you got into modeling so that you could earn money to buy a bicycle?

Indeed it is true. I wanted to get a moped. I lived in the countryside with my parents and I needed to have a mode of transportation that could get me to the big city to go to the cinema and see friends. Instead, I moved to New York and bought myself a car at 18; my first child, a Mercedes Benz 280SL Pagoda from the 70’s.

What were the most memorable moments about your career?

There have been a lot. My favorite designer, as a teen, was Jean Paul Gaultier and I got to walk as the bride in his couture show. I was so emotional that I was crying while walking.  Going to the White House for Annie Lebowitz’s book launch Women and meeting Bill and Hillary Clinton and walking in the Michael Kors runway show in Los Angeles on Steven Spielberg tennis court.

What did you discover about yourself through modeling?

I discovered a passion for clothes and luxurious fabrics. I knew I already loved clothes but it became amplified. I started modeling when I was 15 so modeling shaped my life. It gave me ideas about jobs that don’t get talked about in school as options for your future.

In addition to modeling you’ve acted and worked as a stylist. What do you find the most rewarding and why?

I love to try new things but always with a common thread among them. I designed for Claudie Pierlot for a year in 2010. It was fantastic. I chose fabrics and sketched, although I draw like a kid they had professionals to help me. Acting felt like a continuation of modeling in the sense I always played roles in magazines stories, so I was a silent actress. Today I am having fun with my YouTube Channel where I can express what I want and give to the people who watch. It’s rewarding; I am doing it alone, building my little world and being in charge of it.

Tell us about how you became involved with Les Enfants de Bam.

I discovered them in 2010, through my kid’s school. I always wanted to help but was never able to choose from all the many causes. I went to Burkina Faso to be sure we were helping and it was the most magical moment of my life. When we went to visit they felt so happy just knowing someone was thinking about them it made their day.

What does your role as a sponsor involve?

I try to find ways to raise money. I created a cocktail for the Bristol Hotel in Paris. I worked with Bonpoint, Chevignon, designed a bracelet for Etername and created one bag a year with Sous Les Paves and sold them at Colette and Montaigne Market. I’m fortunate they have been so kind and generous enough to help us.

How can people get involved with Les Enfants de Bam?

There is one simple thing you can do; sponsor a child. Our family sponsors one student each and we receive letters from them through the year.

What would people be surprised to learn about yourself?

It’s hard to say. I cook, I drive fast cars, I have three children and I love photography.

Follow Audrey on YouTube and Facebook

Catching Up With Tokyo’s Top Model Chiharu Okunugi

Japanese stunner Chiharu Okunugi at New York Model Management has been a presence on the world’s runways since her Spring/Summer 2012 show debut. Whether she is starring in campaigns for Chanel, Dior or Céline, Chiharu lends a sophistication and elegance to everything she does. However, behind the beautiful exterior lies a strong work ethic and focus. For hopeful models aspiring to break into the industry, Chiharu’s agent Marina Fairfax has some words of advice, “Work hard and give this your one hundred percent focus; it’s not a job that can be done halfheartedly. It’s a competitive market and if you want to be signed then you have to be better than everyone else! When you are a new face and just starting out; never be late, rude or not looking your best – you can never redo a first impression.”

Tell us about how you were discovered.

When I was 16 I was scouted at a train station by a woman who worked at a modeling agency in Tokyo. I signed with them after that.

What were some of the misconceptions you had about the modeling industry when you entered it?

The first time I went to Paris for Fashion Week I thought it would be easier but it was really hard work going on castings and fittings for all of the shows. It was also the first time I went to another country all by myself.

Tell us about the challenges you’ve had to overcome in your career.

The biggest challenge was learning a new language. Before I started modeling I didn’t speak any English.

What are the most memorable moments of your career so far?

I was booked as an exclusive in the Balenciaga 2013 S/S show. I believe that changed my career a lot.

How did you feel when you received your Vogue Japan Women of the Year award?

I was so happy when I heard the news –  it was an amazing moment for me.

What do you miss most about home when you are traveling?

I miss Japanese food and my bed. Sometimes it’s really hard to find good food and I can’t really sleep if I’m not in my own bed.

Tell us about your goals for the future.

I want to keep modeling as much as I can. I really love my job and I think that this is my calling.

Follow Chiharu on Instagram 

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Model and Technophile Vanessa Lee Knows There’s More To Life Than The Gym

Vanessa Lee’s destiny seemed written in the stars as the reluctant model was pursued by scouts throughout her formative years. After relenting she signed with an agency and the rest is proverbial history. Infused with a serious case of wanderlust, this British-bred Taiwanese beauty is a huge technophile that would be just at home in Silicon Valley as she is on the runway.

Tell us about how you were discovered.

I was scouted a couple of times growing up but it was never something that interested me for a multitude of reasons. I’m a nerd, I was shy and insecure, and I was bullied in school so I never pursued it. When I was 18 I was scouted again and my mum and sister kept telling me it was a sign because it kept happening to me. I went to see an agency and signed with them. I modeled part-time for a few years in between studying and went full-time the last few months as well as moving to New York.

What’s been the highlight of your career thus far?

I’m in a really fortunate position that a lot of my jobs enable me to travel so I’d say most of the trips have been highlights. I have a permanent case of wanderlust so any job that lets me travel makes me super happy, even if I just see the inside of a studio. I recently flew back to London for a campaign shot by Sebastian Fauna with Simon Nessman, which was insane.

What do you hope to get out of modeling?

I’ve been asking myself that since I started. More opportunities and experiences that constantly challenge and excite me? The plus side of having such a uncontrollable and somewhat sporadic job is that I am never really sure where I’ll be, who I’ll be working with and what I’ll be doing, and that is something I really appreciate. While I’m young and ambitious I believe that a job like mine is an opportunity to really do, see, make, work and figure out what I want without the responsibilities that will naturally come later. Not a lot of people can make a living off a job that affords them an unrestricted and freeing routine and I plan to make the most out of it.

What are your career aspirations?

Over the last few years I’ve become really interested in technology, startups and business. I’m a big Malcolm Gladwell fan and I live on TechCrunch and Mashable. It’s probably too soon to say, but I think that working at a startup or company that bridges both technology and fashion wouldn’t be too far from where I’d like to end up. – Hi Instagram! I also love making YouTube videos which is something I’ve been teaching myself to do recently. I’m just hungry to learn and at this point I’m just trying to figure out what I enjoy and go from there.

Rumor has it you’re a technophile. What’s currently on your radar that excites you?

I think the sharing economy is something that will continue to manifest in other areas than just travel and accommodation For example, I just read about MealPass which sounds like a decent business model but I guess it all depends on how people take to it. One of my friends started Airbnb which is still, in my opinion, one of the best startups out there and now they’re focusing on India.

One of your goals is to host a TED Talk. What subject would you cover and what about the TED platform interests you?

It would probably be a very sarcastic and dark humored talk on how I think people should go about getting what they want in life. My friends often call me sassy because I have a minimal filter, little shame and most of the time I do before I think. Nine times out of 10 this has led me to some ridiculously, borderline unbelievable opportunities and experiences that no one would believe. That’s exactly when I know I’m going about things the right way. My second topic of choice would be a talk about how being funny is better than having abs. Screw abs! I hate working out and I roll my eyes when models say they love it or that their body craves it. I don’t know about you, but my body craves fries.

What’s your life philosophy?

It’s not so much a philosophy, but I try to do at least one thing new or scary every day which can be as small as talking to a stranger or as big as going on a trip with a bunch of people I just met a few hours ago.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

When you meet me I am constantly joking and super upbeat. I am all about having fun, but when it comes to work I’m driven, hardworking and quick. I mean, I am Asian after all.

Can you share any projects you’re currently working on?

I just started a YouTube series that revolves around millennials that love to cook, eat and drink. The idea is that I film 1-2 episodes each week where either me or one of my friends, the majority of which are models or young creatives, cook something that is their signature dish. I show the good, the bad, the burnt and of course – the food! There is such a big movement toward the younger generation wanting to cook, it’s now cool to have food Instagram accounts and throw dinner parties yet there is nothing out there which caters for that audience. My friends and I prefer to have people over and throw brunches and dinners and it’s pretty hilarious so I figured why not start making mini films of them?

Follow Vanessa on Instagram and YouTube

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Tina Veshaguri – From Russia With Love

Russian beauty Tina Veshaguri’s lithe figure and doe-eyes framed by heavy brows have been cropping up in editorials from Harper’s Bazaar to WWD. This newbie walked in all the right shows ranging from Kenzo to Givenchy this past season.

Tell us how you were discovered.

I was discovered at a modeling school for girls in Russia where they taught us  how to walk in high heels and to behave like women.

What were the biggest adjustments you made when moving to New York?

Other than being away from my family and moving my clothes from Russia to New York it really wasn’t such a big deal.

What challenges have you faced thus far in your modeling career?

Having to learn to be patient and not so anxious was definitely a big one.

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

I would be playing sports. I love anything that involves physical activity.

What are your goals for the future?

For the moment my main goal is to become a top model.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

Isn’t my personality enough of a surprise? I’m just kidding. I love to read philosophy.

Follow Tina on Instagram

Angela Lindvall On Learning to Embrace The Unknown

Model, mother, environmentalist and Kundalini Yoga practitioner, Angela Lindvall has been at the top of her game for nearly two decades. One lazy Sunday morning, Angela and I chatted by phone from her home in Topanga, California as she reflected on her career and the importance of self-care.

I thought we could start with when you moved to New York and what your first impressions were when you arrived.

The first time I visited New York I was barely 16. I went to check out agencies and see what this world was about.  I went to see if this was a possibility for me and I was like wow, this world is so big and so much is going on.  I hadn’t really considered modeling and it wasn’t really even an option.  I was the black sheep from a small town and I always knew there was this big world out there so this was my opportunity to go see what that was about. It wasn’t until I was 17 that I moved there and realized that I really did have the opportunity to create a career. I was like OK let me see if I can make this happen and moved to New York and started travelling.

Things seemed to, at least on the surface, take off for you pretty quickly once you arrived. Is that correct?

It did. I went to Paris and met both Craig McDean and Juergen Teller and that kind of was a big start for me.

Was that around the time that you shot the Miu Miu campaign?

Yes. I shot Italian Vogue with Juergen Teller and it’s so cool because back then it was pre-digital and it was literally him and his wife who was styling and his assistant.  We didn’t even have hair and makeup. In those days they didn’t have 20 assistants to the photographer.

I often hear veteran models say the element of surprise and fun is gone from the process; it’s much more corporate.  Do you feel the same?

Yeah, it’s unfortunate. I feel that in any endeavor whenever challenges are given to us they really are opportunities to push ourselves creatively.  You had this intimacy and time to play and you never knew exactly what you were going to get until the film was developed.  You would have Polaroid to look at and have an idea but there was this element of creation that happened and now there is a computer screen and everybody is watching and waiting.

In some ways being able to see what we are doing has definitely given me a lot better perspective of my job and what I am creating.  I remember when I first started modeling, Mario Testino showed me these photos he shot of me and said Look at these! Look at these! You look hideous. But in this one you look amazingAll it takes is one good shot and you are gorgeous but you need to pay more attention.

I was like wow!  You only see the finished product so seeing what everybody sees makes you a lot more vulnerable but at the same time you know what’s working and what’s not working really quickly.

Have you always been environmentally conscious or is that something you developed later on?

Well, I think growing up in nature I didn’t even think anything of it. I had no idea we even had environmental issues to face. I just was a nature girl but I’ve always been a rebel and someone who goes against the grain. I was so appreciative of my career and the opportunities that were coming but at the same time my roots were ripped from the earth and I felt like I was floating. I longed so deeply to put my roots back in the ground.  It was during the time that I lived in New York that I started to question things. I started looking at what’s in our food and water on the Internet. When I was 18 people weren’t using computers like they are now.  I have always been a researcher.  I love to read and once I started discovering this stuff I wondered why it wasn’t on the front page of the newspaper.  I was very naïve and started my own nonprofit. I created a magazine and through that we created a big farming initiative that’s still in existence in upstate New York.

Did you feel conflicted operating in a world which is very much about consumerism and excess and all of those things?

Absolutely, I have always felt conflicted.  I felt conflicted being a tomboy and a supermodel. I felt conflicted about the environment and consumerism. Now I am taking my journey as an environmentalist deeper and exploring self-care. I got to a point at the height of having my organization and going through a divorce and my sister dying suddenly and having two boys and trying to help create change on the planet and my world is falling apart.  So I thought I needed to focus on my world first and foremost and that led me on an inward journey that is continuing.

What does self-care mean to you?  I think that people now have a greater understanding that if you don’t take care of yourself then you can’t be there for anybody else.

Exactly, I think that so much of our world is stimulated by external factors like the way that we look or how we appear, what our status is and what are we doing next to what we buy. It’s like people are going crazy. We have more stimulation in the world today than our grandparents probably had in their whole lifetime.  I think people are seeking peace and calm, this connection with our infinite self. I think that through the choices that we make to take care of our self, to take care of our bodies, to take care of our thoughts, to take care of others, affects the larger host.  If each one of us are taking care of ourselves then we would live in a much happier world.

I feel that as we are more digitally connected we are less connected as people. There is a lack of intimacy. Posting on social media gives a false sense of connection.

That’s interesting what you say because my journey started as an environmental pioneer and now the word intimacy and the idea of connection, first with our self but then connecting with others. I study Kundalini Yoga which works with the light force energy which is the sexual energy.  I raised two young boys that will be teenagers and I am just thinking about when I was a teenager and what I was taught and what I wasn’t told. No one told me about my own power, my own life generating power and this ability to rise this energy up and to cultivate and then to share and connect on a deeply intimate level.  I feel like we live in a world now that is so debased and disconnected and so stimulating on so many levels that it’s carrying us away from this core of the deepest most intimate connections that we can cultivate.  I think that’s the new revolution.  I mean even in some way it’s a new sexual revolution.  So, I’m a little ahead of the curve but mark my word.

Are you familiar with The Tao of Pooh? One of the main principles is the concept of just being.

I’ve never read that.

I think a lot of people operate from a place of fear and try to control the outcome of situations which causes a lot of anxiety.

It’s so true.  I love the saying we are human beings, not human doings. There is so much focus on what we are you doing.  I was walking down the red carpet and I don’t know always stop to do interviews but I happened to stop this time and the interviewer asked what projects I was working on.  I said I was working on me and they responded, oh so you can’t talk about it.  No, that’s what I’m working on and it’s a pretty big job. It’s so beautiful that I have surrendered into this space of not knowing the future.  I walked into this year as if I had a white canvas.  Instead of being in a state of anxiety it’s so amazing.

I’m deeply in my meditation every day and I have found that in that stillness I become open and connected. Now things are coming to me.  Everything that I want to create is coming to me and I’m saying yes. This year I was asked to teach yoga. It’s been so beautiful to just step into that phase without fear and how it’s unfolding a whole other deeper space of my learning through teaching because it keeps forcing me to connect on a whole different level and show up on a different level.  I was asked to teach at a big impact summit in Madison Square Gardens.  Then, I was asked to speak at a women’s symposium and I’m starting to develop a women’s online course with some friends.  It’s going to take a little bit of time but this is what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m just going be in it and not worry.

Angela Lindvall is represented by IMG