Sylvia Van Der Klooster On Her Obsession With KLM And Working With Dries Van Noten

Sylvia Van Der Klooster’s presence has endured in the fashion industry for two decades. The classic beauty could be seen in campaigns for Donna Karan and Versace and was a favorite of designers Galliano and Dries Van Noten. Proving that nice girls don’t finish last, Sylvia was recruited to walk in Dries Van Noten’s 100th show. I recently caught up with her by email.

Tell us about your childhood growing up in Holland.

I grew up in Dalfsen, a very small village, to the east of Holland. I had a nice and safe upbringing, and my parents were very down to earth. I was surrounded by forests, which later in life I realized kept me grounded. Around the time I was 12 years old I knew that I wanted to explore the world and the little village I lived in was way too small for me in every way.

How were you discovered?

I was discovered in Vancouver, Canada when I was 16 years old and visiting family. A few scouts approached me, but I didn’t do anything about it until I was 19. I then sent some photos to an agency in Amsterdam to see if I could model. My main reason for trying to model was so that I could leave the small village where I grew up. I think within 6 months I booked my first job, on my 20th birthday, for Prada. Then things happened fast.

Illustration by: Justin Teodoro

You’ve been a mainstay in the industry for almost 20 years. How has the industry changed?

I sometimes miss the romance, the authenticity, and the creativity, but maybe I am just nostalgic. I used to walk for Galliano, when he designed for Dior, and he always made us act on the runway. That was really fun—scary—but a lot of fun. You also had Polaroids to look at before the film developed. There was still some mystery, but then again, anything seems possible now. I work a lot now that I’m 40 and doing jobs that in my early days weren’t available for that age group. The industry got faster, Instagram “likes” matter now, and the urge to find new faces became more and more important.

Tell us about your relationship with Dries and how it began.

I first walked for Dries in the late 90s. It was my favorite show back then and 5 years ago I started doing fittings for him in his Antwerp showroom. It was just such an honor. It doesn’t feel like work at all. I am such a big fan of him—his way of thinking, talking, and his approach to life. The whole company and everyone who works there are so humble and kind. It’s what makes me so passionate about clothing and fashion, and it’s a privilege  to be a part of it.

How did you feel when you were asked to walk in his 100th runway show?

I was very honored to be a part of it. It was so nice to see so many of the girls again after 15 years or so. My best friend from back then, Liisa Winker, brought her beautiful daughter, and all the Belgium girls I used to hang out with were there. It was so lovely to see all the beautiful women they became. It was magic and it made me so grateful to be a part of it to celebrate Dries and his 100th show.

Illustration by: Justin Teodoro

Tell us about the genesis of your bag design and how you describe your aesthetic.

I started making my bags 6 years ago. In between modeling I custom make them by hand and design them as well. I like to create things, and shapes and textiles interest  me very much. My bags are made to become more beautiful with age. I try to be as ecological as possible and use sustainable resources such as vegetable tanned leather which is sometimes hard with certain colors. They tend to be classic bags and I am so glad so many people like them.

What influenced your decision to stay in Holland when a lot of models moved to New York City?

I used to live in New York, but never for long periods of time. I came and went as needed, as I saw modeling as an in-between job back then. I started out as a very shy country girl in the big city, who skipped all the parties and would rather read books in my hotel. I like quiet and down-to-earth people so Amsterdam is the perfect match. With all the traveling and wanderlust over the past 20 years, I could live somewhere else but, for now, Amsterdam is home. For the last 13 years, it has made me super happy.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I don’t know. I have this strange obsession with KLM. I have loved everything about that airline for as long as I have been traveling. I collect the houses you get on business class flights, and anything with their logo on it makes me weirdly happy. High on my bucketlist is to sit in the cockpit of a KLM Boeing for a landing at Schiphol. I hope a senior KLM flight attendant is reading this.

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Londone Myers Talks Instagram Fame, Cadavers, And The Future

As one of the most recognizable and versatile new faces in modeling, Londone Myers can be seen in campaigns for Prada, GAP and Topshop. Bearing more than a passing resemblance to Ms. Ross, this wide-eyed beauty with her distinct diastema is as down to earth as they come. I spoke to Londone by phone to talk about her entry into modeling and plans for the future.

You were born in D.C. but grew up in Georgia, is that correct?

Yeah.  I grew up with my mom, dad and my sisters. I am the middle child out of three and we moved to Georgia back in 2008.

Is that where you were discovered?

Oh, no. That’s an interesting story. When my parents got divorced and moved back to D.C. I was discovered on Instagram.

That’s cool.

Yeah, I was discovered on Instagram by a New York agency. I took the Megabus, because that’s all that I could afford, from D.C. to New York. The first agency that scouted me was MSA Models. I was only with them for about a month before I was scouted again when I was in Paris by a placement agency called Starsystem. They asked me if I had an agency and I told them I did but I wasn’t very happy with them. While I was in Paris they set up a bunch of interviews with different agencies and the creative director told me not to get too excited. I flew back to New York and once I hit the ground I had to see all of the counterpart agencies to the ones I saw in Paris. I went into The Lions office and I remember I sat down and started telling a really morbid story about one of my old autopsy experiences. Louie Chaban’s ears perked up and he turned around and he suddenly had so much interest in me.  We started talking and I stayed there for an hour. It was such a great experience to be able to pick whichever agency I wanted to join.

Does Louie represent you?

Yes, he does.

You were discovered on Instagram. Were you looking to get discovered or was it something that just happened?

No never, it just kind of happened you know.  I was one of those awkward kids and my jaw-line didn’t come in until I was like 20. I was super weird-looking and I just didn’t think that I fit the bill because I was pretty short too.  My agency marketed me as the newer type of millennial model with personality and charisma. Now, they are encouraging me to pursue acting. I’m about to have a few vocal classes so we’ll see.

What are your long-term goal and ambitions?

I have always seen myself teaching or maybe as a Kindergarten teacher. I’ll see how far this takes me and when I feel like it’s time to move on I’ll just apply to college to teach.

If you weren’t modeling, would you be going to college?

Yeah. I went to Montgomery College when I was still in Maryland and I worked with an autopsy technician at Georgetown University. I wasn’t even a student at Georgetown, which is the funny part. I was still at the Montgomery College Takoma Park campus going to be a paralegal but I felt like the world was taking me in a different direction. I just stopped going to school there and I started working with this guy. I used to learn so much about the human body and how it functions. I am one of those people who wants to know how things work and what they do and what makes something do what it does.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

That’s an interesting question. I would say, appealing to the weirder crowd and learning a little bit about the fashion industry because it’s not really something you learn in school.

What were some of the misconceptions that you had when you went into it?

Oh, I thought it was only full of tall, white models. I remember watching a documentary about black models and how hard it was to find an agency and how hard it was finding someone who knew how to do black hair. I went in expecting everyone to just hate me but I connect with everyone I talk to. It’s just been great, you know.  I didn’t really expect the fashion industry to be interested in someone like me. I am just a nerdy girl from Maryland.

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Model Sarah Abney On How Social Media Helped Shape Her Career

Whether she is gracing the pages of Italian Vogue, Another Magazine or Numero as a Nordic blonde, goth or red-head, Sarah Abney’s ethereal beauty is reminiscent of a bygone era. Her gaze is equal parts aloof and come-hither that challenges the viewer not to fuck with her. Ranked on Models.com’s Hot List, Sarah is definitely one to watch.

Tell us your childhood growing up in Northern California.

I grew up in San Francisco in a small household with my parents and older sister. We lived behind a mountain and the weather was always foggy. My parents came to San Francisco in the 1970s and fell in love with the city and made it their home. I think my favorite part about growing up in San Francisco was how accessible nature was, driving around in my car, all the city freaks, and at the time there was a great community of music and art.

How were you discovered?

I was scouted when I was 15 at a shopping mall in San Francisco by Wilhelmina Models but, I decided to pass and finish high school. When I was 18, I got scouted again by a San Francisco modeling agency and worked with them for two years. I decided to not re-sign after my contract was over and explore other things. At the age of 21, I moved to New York City and was scouted at a music festival upstate at the age of 22.

What role has social media played in your career?

It’s played a big role. I feel like I have been able to use my social media as a platform to show people I am not only a model. I dabble in many different art forms. I’ve landed other jobs besides modeling through my Instagram like DJ’ing and performance art.  It’s interesting and fun to remove yourself from what people may think of you but, I feel like my role in social media is true to who I am. It’s also a great way to connect to people.

What misconceptions did you have about the industry before entering it?

I didn’t realize how intense Fashion Week was. When I was younger, it looked so glamorous traveling the world and walking in shows but, it is exhausting! I’ve learned after a couple of seasons how to prepare. Once I got the hang of it it became less treacherous.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

I feel so lucky and grateful for all the experiences. Working with Steven Meisel and his team for an editorial for Italian Vogue was incredible and career changing. I loved working with John Galliano and his team at Maison Margiela for his couture shows. Those memories I will cherish in my heart forever.

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

I think I would be either in school studying naturopathic medicine or special education.

What’s currently on your radar?

I’m currently directing a short film with my friend that will come out in the fall.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I have psychic abilities.

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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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