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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Rosemary Ferguson On Wellness And The Inspiration Behind Her 5 Day Plan

Model turned nutritionist Rosemary Ferguson was a ubiquitous presence in the fashion industry in the nineties. A favorite of photographer Corinne Day, and best friends with Kate Moss, Rosemary was a part of the fabric of Cool Britannia whose influence remains to this day. After stepping back from the industry, she studied homeopathic and complementary medicine, and embarked on a new career as a nutritionist. I spoke with her about her 5 Day Plan and the challenges people face in an increasingly harried society.

Tell us about how you became interested in complementary medicine.

I come from a homeopathic and complementary medicine background and I have always been interested in what food can do for you; I’m obsessed. After 15 years of modeling, my inner nutrition nerd led me to study at The College of Naturopathic Medicine. I qualified as a naturopath and nutritionist in 2009 and now run a clinic on Harley Street in London.

What does wellness means to you?

Wellness means well in mind and body. Support your body with the right nutrition—as well as being mindful of what our mind needs—whether that is going for a big Sunday lunch, a run, yoga, meditation, or a good night out!

What inspired you to create your 5 Day Plan?

I often use food plans in my clinic to help get people back on track. I tell them what to eat, what supplements to take, when to take them, and for how long. These plans last anything from 7 to 14 to 30 days long. They are designed as a reset, and to get people on the right track. The food and supplements support the liver, the kidney, hormone and sugar balances, and are super anti-inflammatory. Do you feel amazing? Yes. Does everyone have the time or motivation to make the food themselves? No! And so The 5 Day Plan was born.

We started in the country with four of my friends. They always asked for my help on how to get back on track—they felt they didn’t have the time to achieve this—and weren’t knowledgeable about what to eat. After talking to friends and clients it became clear that people were desperate for someone else to fix them. Between raising kids and busy weekends, this needed to happen during the working week. I stuck to 5 days as that seemed the most realistic time frame that people could cope with.

Tell us about how the 5 Day Plan differs to other diet plans.

The 5 day plan is a process—there is method to the madness—and each day has a different focus and contributes to the end feeling of Fresh by Friday. Monday and Tuesday are slightly heavier on complex carbohydrates. This helps bring your blood sugar levels into balance as you leave the world of refined food behind you.

Monday is all about supporting the liver and kidneys so there are lots of healing herbs and spices, a green juice, and hydrating veggies to help with water retention.

Tuesday is a little more carb heavy and high in nutrients that support the liver and will help get you ready for Wednesday’s liquid only day.

Yes; Wednesday is a liquid only day. It is always a turning point in the plan—some people love it and some people hate it—but by Thursday everyone feels great. They have a flat tummy, their mind and body feel lighter, and surprisingly they are full of energy. A liquid day allows the gut and digestive system to rest so your body can get on with other repairs. 50% of our energy is used by digesting food.

Thursday is always high in fibre and this helps the removal of waste to maximize the effects of the liquid day.

Friday is always gut focused. During the first 4 days you’ve worked hard to get your gut to a state of calm and encourage the good bacteria colony to grow. We make sure it includes lots of prebiotic food to continue the process.

How do you think social media has influenced people’s relationship with food?

I think it’s mostly a positive influence. People are getting back in the kitchen and reconnecting with food. Social media is a great platform for free content which is so accessible to all.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to cut through all the noise surrounding fad diets and embark on a more holistic approach to nutrition?

It’s not rocket science; it’s about balance and sustainability. Keep it simple. Live by the perfect plate rule of one-quarter complex carbs, one-quarter lean protein, and one-half vegetables. This ensures your meals are always balanced.

Is there a commonality between the challenges your clients face when embarking on a lifestyle change?

Time is a big one! Everyone is working so hard that they think they don’t have time to look after themselves. Making time can be the hardest first step to take.

What projects are you working on that you can share with us?

The 5 Day Plan will be back in New York in the New Year,. We are hoping to start on a book with The Plan and everyone’s favorite recipes. There are some nutritional powders for the skin in development too. On another note, we are excited to be launching Filth, a healthy food restaurant for hedonists, in the New Year too.

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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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