Georgina Cooper On The Heady Days Of Cool Britannia And Working With Corinne Day

Model Georgina Cooper rose to prominence during the height of the Cool Britannia wave in the mid nineties. A regular collaborator with photographer Corinne Day, Georgina’s look drew comparisons to American model Lauren Hutton, and she was a favorite of designers and editors alike. She featured in the pages of edgy magazines such as The Face as well as gracing the pages of American Vogue. I caught up with her from her home in London to talk about her time in fashion.

Tell us about how you got into modeling.

I got into modeling when I was 13 when my mum entered me in the Elite Look of The Year contest in 1992—I placed third in the competition—it was an amazing experience and it made my mum and dad very proud of me.

You worked with Corinne Day a lot during her early days. What was that experience like and were you aware how influential the work became?

I started working with Corinne Day when I was 15. I went to her flat to meet her and Tara Hill. Corinne really loved my look—she particularly loved the gap in my teeth—and she liked my personality too. The following week we did our first shoot for Ray Gun magazine. It was an amazing time—we all had so much fun—and Corrine was brilliant to work with. I was so young at the time I didn’t really understand how influential the work we were doing was until I got older and people would compliment me on the work we did together.

In the mid nineties Cool Britannia was all the rage. What was that time like for you in fashion?

The 90s Cool Britannia period was very cool as it was very much about being yourself. The shoots we did were quirky—but very natural—and most of us had very unique looks.

How did you handle your success?

I handled my success very well. I’m just a South London girl who enjoyed traveling the world. I’m a very grounded person and I’ve remained that way my whole life.

What are the memorable moments from the height of your career?

I had so many memorable moments from my career, it’s very difficult to pinpoint just one.

In hindsight, what advice would you give to your younger self?

If could go back and give myself one piece of advice it would be to invest. I’d also tell all the new models starting out in this industry to do the same thing too.

What did you discover about yourself through modeling?

I discovered that I’m a very giving person and that I would do anything for anyone that needs help.

What are you up to these days?

I work in the hospitality industry, and I love it because I’m a people person. After I had my son I  just couldn’t bear to leave him alone and I wanted to be there for him. I tried to continue modeling but it broke my heart when I had to leave him for work. I focused on modeling assignments in London but my life was at a crossroads and I decided that Sonny came first.

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Introducing Sophia Roetz

Hailing from Germany, newcomer Sophia Roetz was a typical teenager before being discovered and securing a slew of bookings for top designers in their Spring/Summer 19 runway shows. As an exclusive for Riccardo Tisci’s newly revamped Burberry—and with the endorsement of Hermes, Elie Saab, Altuzzara, and Prada—this statuesque blonde is one model who should be on your radar.

Tell us about your childhood.

I had a very normal childhood. I was born and raised in a small village near Cologne, Germany. The town I come from is in the countryside and everybody knows each other. I went to school there since kindergarten and graduated this year. Coming to London is very different but I love it!

Tell us about how you were discovered.

I applied online at Select Model Management. A scout reached out to me and then flew over to Cologne to meet me and my mom. They later brought me and a friend over to London to meet with the team and I signed with them.

You had a strong debut this past season. What was that experience like for you?

I never thought I would have the opportunity to walk in a fashion show. When I found out I was confirmed to walk in such big name shows—having had no experience—I was so overwhelmed. Strangely I wasn’t nervous but just super excited. I think the adrenaline took over. I loved meeting all the teams and the other models.

As a newcomer who do you look up to in the industry?

I don’t really look up to a specific person. However, I look forward to the possibilities the industry provides and the success that established models have achieved and how hard they worked to get where they are. It really inspires me to be my best so that one day I can reach that level.

How do you define your personal style?

I would describe it as simple, casual, cool, modern, and feminine.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by all the things I can achieve in the industry if I put the effort in. I love flipping through magazines/social media and looking at artistic shoots and the creative input involved with the styling, hair, and makeup.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I only applied to become a model because I received a parking ticket and didn’t want to tell my parents. I thought if I could make some money modeling that would pay for the ticket. It turned out I didn’t get fined, and now I couldn’t be happier to be a part of the industry.

What do you hope to get out of modeling?

Ultimately a successful career. I want to build connections with inspiring people in the industry and travel to amazing places I would never get to go to otherwise.

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Miss Fame Knows What She Wants And Isn’t Afraid To Reach For It

Entrepreneur, model, makeup artist, drag queen, and RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Miss Fame shows no signs of slowing down. She was a spokesmodel for L’Oréal Paris, the first drag artist to walk the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival, and has appeared in the pages of German Vogue, V, Love, and Elle magazine. With the launch of her beauty line Miss Fame Beauty, I spoke with her about her humble upbringing and the value of self-belief.

You grew up in California, right?

Yes, Central California, San Luis Obispo County.

Growing up did you have a clear idea what you wanted to do with your life? Was becoming a makeup artist something you always wanted to do and were you even aware that that was a career path?

No, because I grew up in such a contained environment. I mean, it’s a farming community, and the electives you take in school are welding, wood shop, and beef production management. I grew up close to the ocean—it was just 20 minutes away— but we were a bit inland, where work is very agriculturally driven and everybody was running wineries. It’s beautiful and very much has a country town vibe and a small town mentality where everybody knows everybody. I went to school with the same people, and everybody knows what they are going to do living there. I had to evolve and discover myself.

After graduating from high school, how did you end up discovering your path?

I knew at around 12 that I was gay—although I didn’t act upon it—and I had a realization that I wasn’t going to be able to live a life like everybody else in my family. Growing up in a small town, the people who usually stay learn a lot of the same traditions and have the same value system as everybody else. The gay community within my school was so tiny. There was a lesbian, my gay friend Jose, and another guy who was effeminate and ended up committing suicide. I remember thinking that we didn’t have a lot of resources and I didn’t feel safe. I was an artist who found my expression through my life circumstances, such as the trauma I experienced from the death of my dad and the death of my grandfather who raised me, as well as having a mother who struggled with addiction. I found an escape through art and beauty, and I always loved creating beautiful things. I had a natural talent and found my voice through my art.

How did you channel that expression initially? Was it through painting, music, makeup, or is that something that evolved later?

I grew up with a lot of uncles and aunts in the same household because my grandparents were mixed families. There was a large group of adults living in the house, and I was in kindergarten, so there was a giant age gap. Watching these adults, I had a lot of respect for them, and the women were so dynamic. They would get ready and put on makeup to go out for the weekend or to go to the football game, and I would watch them thinking it was so alluring.  I really loved listening to them gossip in the bathroom, doing their hair, and putting on their eyeshadow,  When I was home alone,  I definitely tried on some of the makeup that was in the pullout drawer in the bathroom. It was a drawer that had a bunch of hodge-podge; everyone’s stuff was in there. I would put on eyeliner or try on my grandmother’s high heels.  When you are little and you put on makeup, you don’t realize it takes a lot of work to remove it. I would have a raccoon eye and be like, holy shit I am going to get into so much trouble. There was an allure to beauty.

How did you discover drag?

It was evolutionary. Once I turned 18 (I am 33 now), I started partying and exploring the gay community that was in my county. I would go up north to a very small gay bar that opened twice a week. We would get in, and although you are not legally allowed to drink until you are 21, I would always get drunk. I was discovering myself, and in the midst of discovering my own sexuality, I also discovered my expression. I have always felt makeup was a form of protection because I didn’t have perfect skin and so I used some makeup to make me look better. My youngest aunt picked up my first CoverGirl foundation. I was so afraid to shop for makeup, because I felt like somebody was going to catch me. In the midst of all this, I found a community that was open and embraced me, and I felt like I had found my place. That’s when I started performing drag. I first performed when I was 19 and I did really well—I actually won a competition.

How many years later did you apply for RuPaul’s Drag Race?

Oh, many years later. I had moved to Northern California and enrolled in beauty college and discovered I could make people feel good about themselves by making them feel beautiful. I got my license, started working, traveled, and pursued modeling. At that time I had been in front of a camera for a number of years and had always worn makeup. I had a photographer tell me he didn’t suggest that I pursue this further, and I remember feeling that I hated people telling me what to do. I’m not willing to let that guide me. I then moved to New York and fell in love with New York. I was in a relationship and we slept on couches, toughing it out. I got a job at MAC and stopped doing hair as soon as I got to New York. I then got fired from that job but started working with celebrities. I was asked to audition for season six, so I was 29 when I made it on the show. I had been in New York for 3 years before I got on the show.

What was that experience like?

I didn’t know what to expect. Reality television is beyond your control. You have to be so strong in every arena, you have to be quick, you have to be talented, and you have to be able to handle anything that’s thrown at you. I realized that I am a sensitive person who doesn’t do well in competitions. In life I fight for what I want and that’s why I have a career, but on television I didn’t understand how to work it. I had never been on a show where I had to be in a room with people that were just dying to succeed. The exposure is great and you get a kick of momentum, but you are 100% responsible for the maintenance of your career. It’s crazy, but what I did get was a lot of experience. I learned how to become a better artist and performer. I also mentioned on the show that I wanted to work on a book, so I took my time to do that right.

There seems to be parallels between your story and Kevin Aucoin. Do you identify with his story and who has inspired you?

You nailed it. That is a great comparison, and I totally appreciate that. I have a few of his books, and I look at the way he structured faces and try to recreate those. I know a few people in New York that worked with Kevin, and I’ve tried to find out any tidbit of information I could from the icons of the 90s. The supermodels were a huge part of that for me because they were beautiful, untouchable, and luxurious. Even though I grew up very humble and broken, my expression was always to make something that felt strong, safe, alluring, and perfect. I really am a perfectionist. I am never happy until it’s really what I want it to be. Kevin is somebody who created an emotional connection with the people he worked with and he could back it up with his talent.

Tell us about how your beauty brand evolved.

I have always been able to get what I want when it comes to what is within my wheelhouse. I know what I want and I reach for it and get it. I believe that everything I had ever aspired to I could manifest. It’s like anything in life: if you want a better body, go to the gym and you are going to get a better body. I had conversations and did some research right off the bat, but it came down to finances. I developed something that’s my own and that I get to stand by. I had access to a really great team, and we get to tell a story. I turned my lipstick shades into five different provocative women and that’s exactly how I wanted it to be perceived. We didn’t have major budgets to do this. We made something out of passion with a team of people that wanted to be a success. That to me shows that your dedication for your craft will attract talented people so that you can achieve your goal. And it goes without saying, it takes a lot of hard work.

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Muse Model Tess McMillan’s Ascent To The Top Has Only Just Begun

Texas native Tess McMillan is a testament to the power of social media. After reaching out to photographers that she admired on Instagram, she began test shoots before signing with Muse Models in New York City. Fresh off her shoot for British Vogue and a Marc Jacobs beauty campaign, the statuesque porcelain-skinned beauty—who wouldn’t look out of place in a Botticelli painting—sat down to talk about forging a path on her own terms.

Tell us about your childhood.

I was born in Beaumont, a small town in east Texas and I moved to Austin when I was 8. I had such an amazing childhood. My mom’s circle of friends was always full of musicians and artists—I absolutely loved that because it opened me up to so much.

How did you leverage social media to break into the industry?

I feel like leverage might not be the right word, because I had absolutely no clue what I was doing at the time, but social media played a huge part in how I got started. I think for the most part, I just followed a bunch of photographers whose work I was really impressed with, and tried to start up lines of communication with them to see if they wanted to shoot. It really was a good way to build my portfolio.

Tell us about adjusting to life in New York.

It’s been crazy, but amazing! Moving from Texas to New York City has been a wild ride, but now I don’t think I could live anywhere else. I love the culture, the people, and how anything you could possibly want to do is just a subway ride away.

How do you think the industry is changing to accommodate more diverse representations of beauty?

I think it’s changing in so many ways. I think the industry is starting to recognize that beauty can encompass so many different definitions, and I’m so glad to see limitations being stripped away.

Modeling icons such as Sophie Dahl and Crystal Renn started their careers as plus size, but their size diminished as their fame increased. Do you feel pressure to conform to a straight size, and how do you navigate that?

I think this is a really complicated question, but the short answer is that I pretty much do what I want and do what feels good to me. Self-image and self-confidence are complicated things, but I will always do things because I want to, not because other people tell me I should—whatever that may be.

You recently shot for British Vogue. Tell us about that experience.

It was such an amazing and beautiful thing to be surrounded by people with such a unique artistic vision. I’m pretty sure Poppy Kain could take a trash bag and make it look exquisite. Charlotte Wales is so beyond talented; it was so incredible to be shot by her. The whole thing was so much fun.

What do you hope to get out of your career?

I hope I get to consistently work on projects that creatively fulfill me for a very long time.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

Even though I’m a huge extrovert and love being around people, I can be shy.

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Reid Rohling On Fashion’s Time’s Up Movement And Being A Gay Propagandist

Minnesotan Reid Rohling is part of a new breed of models bubbling under in the fashion industry, unapologetically outspoken, confident, and redefining things on their terms. With a campaign for Calvin Klein Jeans under his belt and a slew of designer shows to boot, Reid’s look is reminiscent of a 1950s pin-up with bowed lips, porcelain skin, and an unwavering gaze.

Tell us about your childhood.

I grew up in the suburbs just outside the Twin Cities in Minnesota. My parents, a clinical psychologist and a pastor of a mega-church, raised me very well—even though people seem to think that having parents with those professions would screw you up. I really should thank them more for providing me with what I think was a very normal childhood with minimal trauma. I also have a twin sister, who is not a model—everyone always asks me this for some reason when they find out. I was pretty shy as a kid, but she wasn’t, and I’d always latch onto the friends she made. When I reflect on my childhood, I think of her most. I miss not being able to see her everyday.

How were you discovered?

I moved to New York when I graduated from high school, along with my friend who was attending school here. I didn’t really have a plan, and I met my now current boyfriend within the first few weeks of moving here. He was a former model and a photographer, and he suggested I try modeling because I didn’t come to New York with a plan. He set up a couple of meetings for me, and I ended up signing with Fusion.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Most people would think the highlight was being a part of the first gay couple featured in a Calvin Klein campaign on the East Houston billboard, but honestly that just felt like a normal job to me. I go back and forth on whether or not that’s the kind of portrayal I want gay men to be associated with. Although CK always sell sex, I don’t think featuring a Grindr hookup in your first campaign with a gay couple is necessarily the best representation. I think it was banned in Russia for being “homosexual propaganda,” and at the end of the day I’m okay with being a gay propagandist. I think a nice modeling memory was doing my first show for Gucci in Milan. This was Alessandro Michele’s first show, and the team had worked 24/7 for weeks to pull off the show in such a short amount of time. People were crying after it was over, which I still have never seen before, and it was nice to work with them for 2 more years and see how Alessandro’s vision for the brand evolved.

How important do you feel social media is to a model’s career today?

I think it’s too important now. I get into trouble for not posting enough or for not posting selfies—it’s a little ridiculous. Most models I know buy their followers because some clients only care how much of a presence you have online. I use social media a lot, but I think it’s dumb.

What are your aspirations and goals for the future?

Good question. You know, I moved to New York with no plan, and I still have no plan. I just let things happen.

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

I think I’ve gotten what I want out of my career thus far. For instance, I’ve traveled all over the world at a very young age. Some people never get the privilege to do that, and I’m pretty grateful for it.

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

It used to bug me a lot when I first started modeling 4 years ago, but now I’ve just become so used to it. It’s really a part of the job, and if I got hung up on every rejection I’ve had, I’d honestly be dead.

You recently added your name to the growing number of models who support the Respect Program. What has your experience been in terms of mentorship and having a support system in the industry?

I think I really lucked out with the people I was surrounded with in the industry. My agents have always had my back on any sort of incident or complaint I’ve had, no matter how trivial. I know that’s not always the case with models starting out in their career. I think being the outspoken person that I am has been an asset to others. If I notice another model is uncomfortable on set, I will always say something. Some people in the industry don’t understand boundaries, especially when they’re working with models who are practically children. I also think new models should be aware that there are a lot of people who do not have your best interests in mind and to always make it known when you think someone is crossing a line.

What do you think people would be surprised to learn about you?

That I’m actually really nice no matter how bitchy I can sound over text.

What do you like to do in your spare time to decompress?

If I’m not working, you can usually find me at the movies. And I frequent all the art house theaters in the city. It’s really why I could never leave New York; you can see almost anything here on the big screen.

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