Model Meghan Collison Reflects On Her Storied Career

Model and muse Meghan Collison is a veteran of the modeling industry. As one of an elite number of models in Steven Meisel’s camp, Meghan has appeared on the cover of Italian Vogue seven times. Her feline gaze can be seen in a growing list of blue-chip advertising campaigns in addition to all the most sought after international runways and she shows no sign of slowing down. I recently spoke with the Edmonton native about her legendary career.

What was your childhood like growing up in Edmonton?

I had a typical childhood, except I always wanted a pet but I was never allowed to have one.

Tell us about how you were discovered.

My mom heard an ad on the radio announcing that there was a model search—hosted by Mode Models—happening at a local mall. She encouraged me to go because I fit the height requirements to enter. Much to my surprise I ended up winning the search and that’s how I started modeling. I’ve been with Mode Models for 13 years now.

How did you deal with isolation of life in New York being so far from your friends and family?

When I first moved to New York it was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. It definitely was an adjustment not being around my friends and family. This was before iPhones and FaceTime, but I remember texting and calling my family a lot. I also traveled between my hometown Edmonton and New York more frequently back then. It was a transition period, but I learned a lot about being independent and I’m grateful for the experience.

You’ve had a storied relationship with Steven Meisel, appearing on the cover of Italian Vogue several times. Tell us about what it’s like working with him.

He is amazing and inspiring to be around. I am so grateful for his love and support throughout my career. I wouldn’t be where I am without him. I am eternally grateful.

Who were your biggest advocates at the beginning of your career?

Honestly, my brother was the first person to truly believe in me. He helped me gain the confidence to move to NYC with so many unknowns in my future. He has always been there for me. Success in modeling is never a solo endeavor. I’m so thankful for all the photographers, agents, stylists, makeup artists, hairdressers, casting directors, art directors, and brands that have been advocates of mine. There are too many to even begin to name.

When did you realize you’d finally made it?

I can’t remember a specific moment, but there have been many highlights for me including: Italian Vogue covers, my image used for a limited edition puzzle by Steven Meisel, and Prada campaigns to name a few!

You’re somewhat of an industry veteran now. What keeps you interested in modeling?

I enjoy the creative process of modeling and photography. I also love traveling and meeting new people.

How has modeling shaped you and your world view?

It definitely helped make me more independent. I used to be quite shy when I was younger and it helped me overcome that as well. As far as worldview goes, I’ve been able to travel and experience different countries and cultures. It’s definitely opened my eyes and given me a greater appreciation that our differences are what makes us special.

What’s next for you after modeling?

I would love to live somewhere by the sea. It’s been a long-lasting dream of mine.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I can’t whistle.

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Introducing Kendall Visser

Up and coming model and social media starlet Kendall Visser’s joie de vivre is refreshing and contagious. The beachy haired beauty with a radiant smile has already walked for Giorgio Armani, and Dolce & Gabanna all while attending school. Now that she is pursuing her dream full-time the future looks bright for this Arizona native.

Tell us about your childhood. 

I am very grateful for my childhood—I am the eldest child in my family—I have one brother, one sister, and my parents are happily married. I was born in Phoenix, Arizona, and I grew up there up until I entered high school, and then we moved to Newport Beach, California. I am very close to my family, and it is something I highly cherish.

Tell us about how you were discovered. 

I was laying out by the pool at a country club in Arizona with my girlfriends when I was scouted by a model agent. I was fifteen years old at the time. The agent was from a local agency in Arizona where I was eventually signed to in addition to agencies in LA, and New York. I am now based in New York, and Paris. I am very lucky that model scout discovered me because I do not think I would have ever gone into this career if it weren’t for what happened that day.

How do you think social media, in particular Instagram, has helped you as a model?

Social media has done so many wonderful things for my career aside from just keeping me connected with family and loved ones. It has given me the opportunity to really show who I am through all the different features it has to offer. I can show my personality, my interests, my lifestyle, and my overall vibe through Instagram. It has helped brands, and casting directors get a better sense of who I am as an individual, therefore helping me get booked more.

What have been your career highlights so far?

I have been extremely fortunate in my career so far. I graduated from college last May and I moved to New York to chase my dream of becoming a full-time model. When I graduated I spent some time in Paris and I walked in my first Paris Haute Couture show for Giorgio Armani. When I was in school I would get booked direct and one of my highlights during that time was getting to work with my brother Neels. We did an American Eagle campaign together and we walked in a Dolce & Gabbana show literally side by side. Achieving things like that when I was still in school was major for me. Now that I am out of school I am able to stay focused on my career and achieve so much. I cannot wait to see what opportunities come my way.

What are your aspirations and goals for the future? 

Overall, I aspire to be happy with who I am and happy with whatever I may be doing in the future. I also aspire to always be surrounded by good people that I love. I have countless goals with modeling, and I am going to work my hardest to achieve those goals. I also have been taking acting classes so I hope there may be some big acting achievements in my near future and later. There are also so many extraordinary connections that can be made in this industry, and I feel that I will benefit from that in the long run and maybe discover a hidden passion throughout my journey.

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

I hope to have many incredible experiences modeling such as traveling to cool places for destination shoots and shows. I would love to see the world and different cultures while doing what I love. I feel that traveling to new places can really shape someone and their outlook on life. I am very fortunate that my career has those opportunities. I hope I get to be in big campaigns, big runway shows, and that I achieve the unexpected. I am optimistic that I continue to find amazing people along the way and like I said before, create new connections that can benefit myself and others.

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

I would probably be focused on acting. I started taking classes this past year and I have fallen in love with it. It is truly amazing and it’s almost therapeutic for me. Acting can be challenging but it has allowed me to express myself and get out of my shell like I never have before.

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

I think people would be surprised to learn that my family is South African. My dad was born in Zimbabwe and raised in South Africa. The last thing I think people would be surprised to learn about me is that my absolute favorite thing on earth is ice cream. I have a personalized ice cream scoop that says Ken Viss the Ice Cream Princess that my friends gave me when I was in high school.

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Introducing Veronika Vilim

Rising star Veronika Vilim traded the gritty streets of Manhattan for the runways of Milan and Paris, and she can be seen peering out of the pages of glossies in campaigns for Marc Jacobs and Saint Laurent in addition to boundary-pushing editorials in leading fashion magazines. I spoke with the platinum haired beauty with rock-chick sensibilities about growing up in the city that never sleeps and her furry obsession.

What was it like growing up in New York? 

Growing up in New York I always felt like I was in a bubble that never slept. I knew that everything was growing around me so quickly, and I wanted to keep up with it all. It made me realize at a young age that I will always be growing, transforming, and I must let myself go but also hold on tight for the ride of life. Having everything in the palm of my hands since I was a kid really made me realize I can be, act, and do whatever I want. I love New York and I love growing with it around me. I am grateful to be influenced by it every day even the good and the bad.

Tell us about how you were discovered.         

Modeling was a fantasy of mine as a kid—ever since I can recall people have told me I should be a model—but I was short until I turned 15 and then I grew 7 inches in one year. That year I walked into a few agencies and everyone showed interest in me. In that moment I realized this dream could become a reality.

How has your background in performing arts influenced your approach to modeling?         

It helped in every way. I love performing—especially in front of a camera—get me in front of one and I’m shaking my little body in every way I can. I am a Gemini—I feel like I have a million characters inside me—and in front of a camera I feel them and decide this is who I am right now and I become that.

What was the moment when you felt that you’d finally arrived?

I would say that I arrived at birth, but I actually arrived when I realized that confidence is the most important thing. When I felt it I was truly “there”. It’s something that is always growing and realizing that I knew that this would be the closest I’ll ever be to actually arriving.

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

Wow, I’ve had a lot of highlights. Chopping my hair off and dying it blue for Marc Jacobs was next level—I always wanted to do something like that—but between ballet and modeling I couldn’t do it. When this came along I was crying with happiness. Shooting the Marc Jacobs campaign with the hair was super special and surreal because I always wanted to work with him.

What have you discovered about yourself through modeling?          

I can be who I want to be and people are willing to accept me for who I am. It has helped me realize that conforming is not helpful, and telling anyone I can’t or I’ll try will never work. Always say I can and see where it takes you.

Outside of modeling what do you do to decompress?       

Basically anything creative, I love music, and I love making music. I love making clothes, painting, and acting. I also really love playing—and watching people play—video games.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?         

I am obsessed with stuffed animals, and have had a plushie obsession since I was a child. As a kid I remember going to Disney World and throwing myself onto any stuffed creature. My mom saved a bunch of my old stuffed animals and I have also been collecting them. I have a room in my apartment filled with them.

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2018: The Year In Review

As we reflect on the sea change that permeated our culture over the past year, it is with a renewed hope that we enter 2019. In 2018 I spoke to industry icons Niki Taylor, Brandi Quinones, Rosemary Ferguson, Georgina Cooper, and Simon Nessman  in addition to a new generation of models Sophia Roetz, Tess McMillan, Reid Rohling, Flaviana Matata, and Cleméntine Desseaux all of whom are using their platform to challenge the status quo and spark a broader conversation about the direction the fashion industry is heading. I also had the opportunity to speak to multi-hyphenates Vinny Michaud, and Miss Fame about their incredible journeys.

I want to thank everyone who has supported me along the way—whether directly or indirectly—your support means so much. Here’s to another year!


Model Citizen Simon Nessman On His Mission To Live Life Purposefully

As one of the highest paid male models in the world, Simon Nessman has fronted campaigns for Giorgio Armani, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Bottega Veneta, Michael Kors, and Givenchy, but in 2012 he announced he would be scaling back on his modeling work and relocating to a secluded island off British Columbia’s rugged coast. This pivot laid the blueprint for what would become the Cedar Coast Field Station and fulfilled a dream of his years in the making.

Tell us about the genesis of the Cedar Coast Field Station.

The Cedar Coast Field Station is a dream that has been years in the making. It started 6 years ago when I left New York and moved to a remote island off the West Coast of Canada, a few hours drive from my childhood home. I immediately fell in love with Clayoquot Sound and with the off-grid lifestyle. In sharp contrast to the frantic pace of big city living, this place operated with an entirely different sense of time—one that is grounded in the fluctuations of its surrounding environment. Through this experience I developed a more ecologically grounded perspective. For example, I learned that when the sun comes out, it is the opportune time for energy intensive tasks like doing laundry, and charging electronics. When it’s summertime and the salmon are running, this is the time to catch and preserve food for the winter. And, when the spring rains are heavy, this is the time to utilize the rainwater catchment system and fill the water cisterns for the drier summer ahead. This experience of place-based time helped me develop a much deeper understanding of my own dependence on ecological health, which inspired me to facilitate similar experiences for others, through the creation of an ecological field station. Throughout my time at Quest University I also developed an appreciation for the importance of ecological research, which has become a core aspect of operations at Cedar Coast.

Talk to us about the mission statement of the station.

The mission of the Cedar Coast Field Station is to preserve ecological health through place-based research and education that celebrates the cultural and biological diversity of Clayoquot Sound. We are doing this by conducting primary ecological research, facilitating the work of visiting researchers, hosting visiting education groups—like grade school and university groups—and running our own in-house educational programs. The scope of our actions are focused locally here in Clayoquot Sound, but we are contributing to a global initiative of environmental conservation. Conservation of one area is ultimately futile unless we are able to address ecological health on a global scale.

What motivated you to create this project?

There were many motivating factors in the creation of this project. First off, I fell in love with Clayoquot Sound and living off-grid in this beautiful place. I wanted to find some way to maintain this lifestyle of off-grid living while still contributing to society in a meaningful way. I fell in love with the place, and realized that if I wanted to enjoy the place in its current state for many years to come then I’d better get to work preserving it.

Tell us about some of the initiatives you’re working on.

On the research side of things we have focused a great deal of energy on monitoring the out migrating juvenile salmon for parasitic sea lice and diseases. These out migrating salmon are vulnerable to a number of natural and anthropogenic threats, including disease and parasite transfer from open net fish farms. We are also working on more general baseline ecological data collection, including intertidal biodiversity, beach micro plastic surveys, and drone based kelp forest monitoring.

Alongside our research program we host a number of educational programs, including K-12 school groups, university groups, adult education groups, and summer camps. Each educational program run through the station includes an introduction to our ecological monitoring projects. In this way we are working to create synergy between the scientific community and the rest of the station users.

Do you ever feel conflicted earning a living in an industry that is the antithesis of sustainability and how do you mitigate that?

I’m sure there was a time when I would have considered the fashion industry to be the antithesis of sustainability, but I don’t think that is necessarily the case. Lately, I have seen an increasing number of companies that are challenging the status quo and pushing for a more sustainable fashion industry. Fashion as an idea is not fundamentally unsustainable. The current trends of fast fashion, contracting manufacturing overseas, and use of harmful chemicals in the manufacturing process are all unsustainable practices. Fortunately, there are alternatives to each of these harmful practices, and the fashion industry is fully capable of adopting these more sustainable alternatives.

How has your work at the station changed you and the way you live?

I am working much harder than I ever have before. Between acting as Director of the organization, project managing the construction of our new off-grid boat access facility, and modeling to fund the whole thing, I am testing the outer limits of my own capacity as a person. There are obvious consequences to taking on this kind of work load, and I’m looking forward to scaling back my hours upon completion of the facility.

Climate change is arguably the most pressing issue of this generation. What would you say to someone who feels that anything they do won’t make a difference?

Anything they do will make a difference. Everything on this planet that we share is connected—this is not an abstract concept—every action we take on a daily basis has both foreseeable and unforeseeable consequences. Use a little bit less electricity. Use a little bit less fossil fuel. Eat a little bit less meat. Buy a few less things. Slow down. Seems simple enough, no?

What are your long-term goals for the station?

My dream is for the station to be a self-sustaining hub of ecological research and education. I want it to be a place where people from all over the world come to learn about the incredible abundance of our local ecosystem, and reflect on the ecosystems surrounding their own homes. The main goal here is to get people thinking about how our actions influence the ecosystems we all depend on.

What do you hope someone can take away from the work you and your team are doing?

I hope people will come to understand that preservation of the environment is ultimately self-preservation. We cannot survive in any humane way without a healthy environment. This project is not about hugging trees feeling groovy—though I have nothing against either of these activities—rather, it is about preservation of life-sustaining resources that each and every one of us depends on.

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