Introducing Kenneth Guidroz Jr.

Star of the Ralph Lauren Polo Red Extreme fragrance campaign, Kenneth Guidroz Jr., oozes a masculinity reminiscent of the male supermodels of the nineties. A favorite subject of legendary photographer Bruce Weber, Kenneth has graced the pages of Vogue Hommes and CR Fashion Book in addition to staring in campaigns for Barney’s and C-IN2.

How were you discovered?

Initially on a site called Model Mayhem by a guy in Dallas that runs a magazine. After working with a photographer here in New York, he introduced me to Jason Kanner, who is my current agent.

What do you hope to get out of your modeling career?

Well, like all of us, I want to get paid and book lucrative jobs. During the process I hope to make great friendships along the way. I also hope to inspire others that have aspirations to pursue modeling.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

It’s gotten better every year since I started but I’d have to say that becoming a part of the Ralph Lauren fragrance franchise has been my greatest accomplishment.

What challenges have you faced in the industry?

Getting people to look past the obvious (tattoos, physical size, age). Also ,finding productive things to do with all the downtime and developing patience.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

That even though I look big and intimidating, I’m actually a sweetheart with a big heart and wouldn’t hurt a fly, unless I was eating it. Also, I always cry when movies have a happy ending about people who overcome high adversity and obstacles.

What are your long-term goals?

To become a better father. To continue to make my momma proud. To become a better person. To pursue acting.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Travel.

What’s currently on your radar?

I really want to do a music video with a top female artist. I also look forward to taking my son to Disney World.

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Frances Coombe On Fashion’s Progress And Making The Hot List

Editorial favorite, Frances Coombe has carved out her niche in the fashion industry with spreads in Italian Vogue, Numero and ELLE as well as making Models.com’s Hot List. She’s walked for Marc Jacobs, Dior, Oscar de la Renta, Calvin Klein, Anna Sui, Ralph Lauren, Marchesa, John Galliano and Saint Laurent, to name a few. With an ability to inhabit various guises, Frances has shown staying power in an industry predicated on change. I spoke with the Toronto native about growing up in Canada and so much more.

Tell us about your childhood growing up in Canada.

Growing up in Canada was great. I grew up on the cusp of Scarborough and The Beaches and enjoyed having a city life. I was always academic but had a passion for the arts; dance, mixed media, photography, painting, drawing, drama and music. My parents always encouraged us, my brother and sister, to create.

Tell us about how you were discovered.

I was scouted in my tenth grade career class by a booker named Alison MacGillivray. I had braces at the time so I waited until they came off that summer to start testing. It wasn’t until I was 18 that I moved to New York full-time after I left high school.

What were your misconceptions about modeling before entering the industry?

I don’t think I really had any misconceptions with modeling before I entered the industry. I sort of had an idea in my mind of what it was and it has somewhat stayed true to that. Maybe it is a little harder work than I had imagined in terms of travel and dealing with large egos.

What’s on your radar at the moment?

At the moment I think fashion is headed in a better place than it has been in the past. It has always been a way of making statements. Politically and socially the industry is reaching to use that to address discrimination, racism, feminism, but there is a long way to go. I am just happy to see more inclusion of people, after all we are all equal souls with different packaging. We all should be entitled to fair treatment and representation.

How did you feel when you made Models.com’s Hot List?

When I made the Hot List it was a pretty cool feeling to have known that I was recognized for all of my and my booker’s hard work. It was sort of like a trophy, encouragement to keep going and produce even more great work and collaborate with more amazing, talented and creative people.

What’s been your most memorable moment so far?

My most memorable moment was when Hedi Slimane gave me a custom necklace one season after the shows were over. He hadn’t said anything about it so when I opened it at my apartment I was genuinely surprised and just felt the love. He encourages the men and women he works with to be themselves, which I admire.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

People would be surprised to learn that I decided to become a vegetarian at the ripe age of five.

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

If I wasn’t modeling I would still be in fashion. There was a Fashion Communication course at a university in Toronto that I would have applied to if I hadn’t moved to New York that summer and also if I had finished high school.

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Debra Shaw Talks Fashion And Her Musical Project Debra’s Dream

Born in Philadelphia and raised in New Jersey, Debra Shaw was a designer’s dream manifested. Her lithe figure and angular features were a favorite of couturiers Galliano, Ferre and McQueen. She appeared in Robert Altman’s Prêt-à-Porter and George Michael’s Fast Love in addition to appearing on a commemorative stamp issued in Gibraltar. Now living in Paris, I caught up with Debra to talk about fashion and her new music project.

Tell us about your childhood growing up in New Jersey.

Growing up in New Jersey township, the energy could be slow. My dream was to be in a city where things were happening faster, like Philadelphia or New York City.

You had an interest in fashion growing up. Did you have any idea how that would manifest?

I was inspired by people who had a unique fashion style. I studied design and afterword I decided that my dream was to travel to Europe.

Tell us about how you got into modeling.

Since Paris is where I wanted to live, I entered a modeling competition where I won first prize, which was a trip to Paris.

Which designers and photographers were the first to support and advocate for you?

There are so many supporters from different regions such as New Jersey, Philadelphia and New York City. They were the first to encourage me from an early start.

How has the industry changed since the nineties?

The roles of the models today are very different than the ones in the nineties, where designers encouraged the models to be expressive and creative like actresses.

The Fashion Spot’s biannual diversity report shows incremental improvement in casting for the Fall 17 runway shows. Why do you think the fashion industry has been so slow to diversify?

In the late nineties there was a shift happening in the fashion industry with new positions created in the business. This major change affected also the hiring of the models and the diversity.

What achievement are you most proud of?

I feel blessed to have worked with amazing artists in the fashion industry and that my work became an inspiration for other artists and models. Today I am a singer performing at sold out concerts in Europe. This is  such a great emotion!

What advice would you give to your younger self-starting off in the fashion industry?

I would tell my new models, whom I consult with today, that looks are a small portion of the business. It’s also important to think about the bigger picture and your future thereafter.

Tell us about what you’re up to these days.

My new music project is called Debra’s Dream. It’s an exciting  storytelling adventure which mixes my singing and spoken words with original jazz and funk compositions. I feel very grateful for this opportunity.

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Introducing Willow Hand

Flaxen haired and wide eyed Floridian Willow Hand bears more than a passing resemblance to Gemma Ward. From humble beginnings it wasn’t long before Willow was scouted and soon found herself opening the Prada show followed by the Steven Meisel lensed campaign. When she’s not in front of the camera, Willow spends her time honing her musical craft and relaxing at the beach when she gets the chance.

Tell us about your childhood in Florida.

I had a very fun childhood. We had horses and lots of other pets. I was outdoors a lot; swimming in the springs or at the beach. My grandparents live on an island so we went boating a lot. I did community theater also.

How were you discovered?

I was discovered by my mother agent, Marianne Tamposi, when I was twelve-years old. I was in my parents store helping out.

How have your family responded to your career?

They are very supportive. They are always excited to see my new work when it comes out. My mom was thrilled recently to get to attend one of the shows that I walked in.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Obviously it was a huge thrill to open Prada for my first show and then to do the Prada campaign shot by Steven Meisel. It was also very exciting to get the cover of Vogue Russia. Mariano Vivanco was wonderful to work with.

Tell us about your short-term and long-term goals.

My short-term goal is always just to show up and do my best for every job. There are still some really fantastic photographers that I haven’t worked with yet. So that’s a goal that I have. Long-term I’d like to be one of the models lucky enough to have an extended career and I’d love to do some acting either in film, Broadway or both.

Tell us about how you decompress in your spare time.

I love to sing and play my piano or guitar. When I’m in Florida, I really enjoy a beach day to relax.

How would you describe your personal style?

Classic, maybe? I like elegant, well made items. I wear some designer clothing and some vintage. We live in such a disposable society but I prefer things that can stand the test of time.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

They might be surprised to learn how much I love all animals, including reptiles. My eighteenth birthday present to myself was a ball python.

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Introducing Elina Nikitina

Hailing from Ukraine, new Face Elina Nikitina is slowly building an impressive portfolio. Discovered on Facebook, Elina soon found herself walking as an exclusive in Marc Jacobs S/S 16 and F/W 16 shows and appeared in the pages of Love magazine. With porcelain features and wide eyes, this beauty is showing promise of great things in her future.

Tell us about your childhood.

I grew up in Ukraine. My mom is a photographer, my dad is a bodyguard and I have a younger brother. I’m very close with my younger brother even though we are 10 years apart. My mom always told me how important it was to be positive and taught me English at a very young age which is why I speak it pretty well now. My dad taught me how to protect myself; I even know how to use guns and fight.

Tell us about how you were discovered.

My mother agent found me on Facebook when I was 12. She found me through a friends page, another model. I already knew how to pose since my mom is a photographer. I was lucky enough to book two jobs in my first two hours as a model.

What were the biggest challenges you faced moving to New York from Ukraine?

People in Ukraine are less likely to show and share emotion.  I really enjoy New York, as it seems to be the opposite. People are very open, honest and happy to get to know each other as individuals. It’s very different from what I was used to growing up.

What was going through your head when you walked in the Marc Jacobs show?

Before the show I had so many thoughts. I was afraid I was going to fall or step on my dress. However, the minute I stepped on the runway all of those feelings went away. I was completely clear-headed and felt overwhelmed with joy.

When you’re not modeling what do you like to do in your spare time?

Yoga, running, hanging out with friends, exploring the city, meeting new people and working on my social media.

What’s on your radar at the moment?

I love the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ed Sheeran, Adam Levine, Maroon 5 and Green Day. In my free time I like watching TV series like Sherlock, Elementary and any good comedies. All in all I think it’s very important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, which never goes out of style. Being healthy makes me feel beautiful, happy and keeps my energy up.

What do you hope to get out of your modeling career?

My dream is to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a Vogue Paris cover.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

Everyone seems to be surprised that I began working when I was only 13. It was an easy transition though, my mom was a photographer since a young age, so I learned to pose and be very comfortable in front of the camera. I’m also trying to learn Chinese. I think it will be a very useful language to learn.

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