Last week I sat for a talk with Inga Savits, an accomplished model who recently started her own shoe brand out of Milan. Her love affair with designing for fashion dates from long before her modeling years and it's interesting to see how she took advantage of her work as a model to pursue her dream of becoming a shoe designer; and a great one too.
Already in her third collection, Inga's designs have been spotted in red carpets across the globe and in collaborations with emerging french designer Alexis Mabille.
Have a look at the full article here or read below.
Model Designer: Inga Savits
After a successful career in front of the camera, some models open up night clubs and restaurants, others launch their own fragrances and skincare lines and many of them work in collaboration with large brands to launch fashion collections with their names attached to it. When it comes to Inga Savits however, it goes the other way around.
At the age of 19, Inga was attending fashion school in Estonia, her home country, when she was approached by a model scout while shopping. Puzzled by the idea of having an opportunity to see how fashion was done from behind the scenes, the student took that chance and went to Paris. Inga’s first job was with Mr. Yves Saint Laurent, in 1998. Inga spent a few days with Mr. Saint Laurent in his atelier, hair coiffed and red lipstick on, while he worked on his collection. “My eyes were open to see how he was making his dresses, what kind of accessories he was pairing with them, pretty much everything!”. After walking YSL’s famous catwalk, Inga was thrown into the arms of the fashion industry, which embraced and still holds her dearly.
During the time spent as a model in Milan, Inga met the shoe designer Brian Atwood, who then lived there. In observing his passion for shoes, Inga realized that shoe making was what she wanted to pursue in fashion. With more than a decade of experience as a model, it was time to dive into her long time passion and for that, she moved permanently to the Italian city. She was delighted to be closer to the shoe factories she worked closely with as well as old friends who constantly inspire her to create her own namesake line, Inga Savits.
Still unsure of whether she should go back to school to study the craft of shoemaking or not, Inga took some time to research the industry. “I went to a friend of mine who works at Versace and asked his opinion. He said I had the best teachers in the world, from Mr. Yves Saint Laurent to Galliano and Donatella Versace, teachers that most students would never have a chance to meet in their lives. In his opinion I was better off with the experience I had gathered as a model. He said if I went to school for shoe design I would not allow my creativity to take flight and could be restrained by the practicalities.”
Inga’s designs are a reflection of her years on and off of the catwalk, and are inspired by her life. The main goal is to create designs that are stylish and feminine without having to compromise in comfort and versatility. “Unfortunately in fashion when you say comfortable people think about medical shoes, or ugly shoes, and my goal is to show that it is possible to create very feminine shoes that can be comfortable at the same time. I had to learn to walk in very uncomfortable shoes, so now I want to make the type of shoe you can feel good about and wear anywhere at any time of day, I don’t want women to be fashion victims when I can combine both things.” explains the designer.
Production costs may be a little steep, but Italy is where she brings her designs to life; her goal is to really establish her brand at the top, so she only works with the best factories. Entirely self-funded, Savits explains that her business is the size it was meant to be, her goal with her brand from the start was to begin small and build up from there.
Already in her third season, scheduled to debut during the September shows in Paris, the designer has gathered great compliments from her peers and has even managed to secure a collaboration between her brand and the emerging French designer Alexis Mabille for whom she is also developing a second collection for his show.
Knowing exactly what she wants for her brand, and when asked if she would ever consider going into clothing, the answer is immediate and firm: “No! I could maybe do some bags, but not clothes. I recently started looking at some bags and was really interested in them, it would be a good complement to my collection, but at the moment I am really focused in expanding my shoe collections and establishing my brand in the market.”
Dan Murphy is a bright young fella. A model, entrepreneur and hockey instructor, he is the kind of guy you can sit next to and have a chat about nothing for hours. It doesn't hurt he's good looking too.
I featured Dan in the latest Model Musing column for Look Books, and you can have a look at it here or read below.
Model Musing: Dan Murphy
Dan Murphy is not your guy if you’re looking for a fairy tale story of the boy that was found by an agent and turned into a superstar. After a short-lived career playing hockey in Canada, Dan decided he wanted to go where the sun and the palm trees were. Palm Beach seemed to be the right choice to study business management. While in school his friends encouraged him to take a drive down to Miami and try his chances with the modeling agencies to make some extra money. After being turned down by nearly every agency, he found a ‘yes’ in the last call he made.
With a manager by his side, Dan started a career that led him to the four corners of the world. Working for the best magazines in the industry and designers like Abercrombie & Fitch and Armani, Dan has enough experiences to fill a book. From hanging out on a beach with Kate Moss while eating ice cream, to spending time at Bruce Weber’s home in Montauk, it all adds to the incredible journey that has taught Dan some of his most important life lessons.
With great support from his family, whether financial or emotional, Dan has successfully established himself in an industry that is fickle and looks to the future with excitement. At the moment this male model is working on combining some of his passions, which include hockey and flying airplanes, with the knowledge from business school to put together a charity yet to be named.
Why do you love this picture?
This was taken on a really emotional day for me not long ago - a pivotal moment in my life and career. Of course, the depth of the black and white that Tony (Duran) is known for is incredible. At the same time however, I look at this photo and I am immediately feeling what I felt that day.
Were you excited to work with this photographer?
I had been talking to Tony Duran for over two years while I was on the road; discussing everything from fashion to childhood memories of Minnesota winters. By the time I found myself in LA working with him on this shoot we were great friends, so I was extremely thrilled to be working with him.
What direction did Tony give you?
He kept making me do less: “Stop thinking, just be.”.
Was this a long shoot?
By the time we were done taking photos and discussing how to solve all of the world’s problems it was 7pm!
What do you think is the biggest challenge in the modeling career?
Becoming / staying relevant in such a high turnover industry.
Do you think modeling is perceived by society in a different way for men than it is for women?
For women, perhaps fashion is seen as an exclusive glamorous feminine profession and means to express their creativity and beauty. For men however it can be perceived as “un-manly”, for the lack of of physical labor or corporate structure, almost as if being a model required a zoolander-esque mental capacity. I think of what I do as an intricate part of the sales process, whether it is an advertising campaign for a fashion brand or a catalog for a department store. It has become essential to me to be conscious of the type of fabric or shape of the garment for example, and how I can show these attributes best to make the consumer understand what it is and want to purchase it.
Do you think that it is more difficult for men than it is for women in modeling?
One of the biggest differences between men and women in this industry is that there are less jobs overall for men and that we work for a much lower rate than our female colleagues. Sure, some would argue that there are more girls than boys in the industry, but proportionally, it’s hardly equal. That’s not exactly an apples to apples comparison though.
What have you learned from your experiences in the fashion industry?
I think it is clear that we all need to count our blessings and appreciate what we have in our own way, we need to give back in whatever way feels right. We weren’t doomed to go through life being stressed out.
What has made you the happiest in being a model?
You must be very clear on why you want to be a model. When I first started I thought I was going to make a ton of money immediately; it didn’t happen. Then I wanted to use modeling as a tool to travel, so I packed up and lived out of a suitcase around the world for a few years straight; but that gets mentally exhausting. So I moved back to New York, and just wanted to stay put for a while and enjoy being in my country. My reasons for why I model have changed a bunch of times, and each time I’ve been able to use modeling as vehicle to do something I really wanted and in turn bring me happiness. If my reason from day one never changed from “make money immediately”, I would have never been able to experience the world and make the friends that I have. Not to mention you kinda have to enjoy the creative process and being in front of the camera, which I love.
From a very young age I remember being around documentaries, both my parents watched it constantly. To me, it was white noise, I could never pay attention, it was the most boring thing in the world and yet the best way of falling asleep. Nowadays, I find myself fascinated by them, I understand their purpose and am always intrigued by which subjects will be brought up for discussion.
Like with any movie, documentaries can either be really good or really bad, it’s all in the ability of its creator to tell the story and catch the attention of its audience. In “Bully” we take a ride with Lee Hirsch as he boards school buses and walks the hallways of schools in America. For the first time, the quality of the movie is not what matters, because it’s the message that counts and here it is delivered with brilliance.
Bullying is not just a subject that takes me back to my own school years, but it’s a subject that has become more and more present in our day to day lives, as we see children hurting themselves and others and accessing a level of violence that many grown ups will never in their entire lives live to witness or experience (hopefully). It’s baffling to think we have come to this point, in which our children are now becoming the villains of the story.
Awareness is for me one of the most important tools to solve the world’s problems, and that is why I believe documentary movies are so important, because they show life as it really is, and in “Bully” if you can’t identify with the victim, you will somehow identify with the bullies and see that your attitudes need to be revised. “Bully” is a necessary movie, and it is actually quite surprising that this subject was only made into a movie this late, when this has been such a pressing matter for so long.
It is 2012, we live in times in which trips to the moon are a thing of the past, and texting is practically a dialect, yet we continue to see the same type of discrimination that we used to see 20 or 40 years ago. We have to sit and watch as a fourteen year old african american girl is sent to prison because she got to such a breaking point of desperation that she had to pull a gun on other kids to try and earn some respect. She didn’t mean to hurt anyone, she just wanted to be heard, she was desperately looking for help.
We have to watch one kid after the other being called names, punched, strangled and stabbed. It is by far the most painful and gut wrenching experience I had ever been through in the movies, yet at the same time it was the most inspiring one too. At the end we see it is our responsibility to stand up and fight for change.
It is 2012, and we still live in a world in which the school system, politicians and the police, sit and watch these things happen from the distance. Hillary Clinton reminded us last year in a very important speech at the United Nations, that we are all created equal and should be treated with respect. At that time she was addressing marriage equality, which in our times brought up bullying amongst grown ups (which quite frankly is even more terrifying). Hillary’s point then was very simple: we need to broaden our perspectives, we need to educate ourselves and be accepting of people for who they are. This is why “Bully” is a necessary movie, this is why this movie should be shown in every school accross the globe, because it is so real, and it causes so much pain and discomfort, that you feel compelled to be a better person.
One of the kids in the movie, an eight year-old who’s best friend was bullied so badly that he took his own life, says “if I was the king of the United States there would be no popularity, everyone would be made equal.”. And there it is, without even having a notion of politics or Human rights he found the key to the solution. Deep down this boy knows that we are in fact all equal, but it’s the popularity contest and the silliness in the world that gets in the way.
This kid didn’t need a movie to figure out the problem. No one should need a movie to figure that out, but unfortunately these are not our times. As long as there is injustice and these violent acts continue to take place, we should continue to make movies and campaign for what’s right. It’s our responsibility to improve our world as much as we can, so that one day people can look back at these times with relief and curiosity, without understanding how it was ever even imaginable that a child would consider hurting another child.
Who knew male models could be so smart and interesting? I did!
For many years I've had to defend my male model friends, as people see the profession in a very dumb and marginalized way. The same doesn't happen with female models. But why?
In an effort to show the true beauty of men, I have now started to include them in my bi-weekly Model Musing columns on Look Books. My goal is to show the beauty that these men carry inside them, and to show that being a model is not only about looking good in the picture or having perfect abs.
Model Musing: Fabio Nunes
It was when Fabio found himself in front of a camera and had the photographer ask him to “smile with the eyes” that he realized what it was like to be a model. Fabio’s career didn’t start by chance, his sister always said he would be a model. The minute the boy turned 16 years old, she took him to an agency near their small home town, in Porto Alegre, Brazil, for a test shoot. From that first shoot on, Fabio has accumulated trips around the world, jobs with renowned photographers and designers and a smoking hot girlfriend that would not have been possible if it wasn’t for his job.
The owner of his own business alongside his loved one, the model Carolina Fontaneti, Fabio took some time from his busy schedule to tell us why this picture means so much to him.
Why do you love this picture?
Because it’s me and my girlfriend, working together for Vogue Brazil. I really admire my girlfriend’s career as a model, she is a constant source of inspiration. It was a great pleasure working with her.
Who took it? Were you excited to work with this photographer?
It was Renne Castrucci, who along with Fabio Delai also created a video editorial. I really admire their work, they are great in what they do. These two do their job from their hearts, and you can see it in the images.
What was the location for this shoot?
It was a 500 year old coffee farm from Brazil’s colonial times; it was a truly beautiful and inspiring setting.
Who was the stylist?
Giovanni Frasson, the fashion director of Vogue Brazil.
What were you wearing?
Calvin Klein underwear.
What was the direction given to you by the photographer?
“Act natural! Think that you are in your honeymoon with your wife!” - and that was easy, is there anything better than that?
Do you see yourself doing anything else besides modeling?
I do; in fact I do several different things at the same time. I know that most people who like to cook seem to think they are great at it, and I also believe I am. I believe I am a great cook and I would love to have my own restaurant when I reach my 40’s. I have also been contemplating doing something in real estate as an investment, but currently I am invested in this clothing store that I have opened with my girlfriend back home and in which I sell exclusive products with the help from my close friends who are a part of my sales team.
Do you love fashion?
I do, and I respect it a lot too.
And what have you learned from your career as a model?
I’ve learned that life is what you make of it. You can’t separate your personal life from work but you can’t also make of this connection something bad, you have to find balance so that with each moment you can become better as a person and as a professional. I love the chance to meet new people through work and with that to see the difference between the good and the bad ones and to learn to differentiate what I want to be from what I shouldn’t be. I learned that having a friend is more important than having a thousand followers.
After releasing the musical collaboration with top DJ Carl Kennedy “Once Upon a Time”, Australian model Cheyenne Tozzi is excited for the next step: launching her first solo album, which she describes as a more soulful and heartfelt collection of songs she has written on her piano over the last five years.
Cheyenne was born into a family in which modeling was just as normal as making tea; her mother and aunt were both very known faces in the modeling industry in Australia and by the time Cheyenne was fourteen years old she was already making her first moves into the same industry, when her big break came via the cover of Harper’s Bazaar Australia.
Since then this blonde bombshell has graced the covers of publications likeCosmopolitan, Vogue and Grazia and traveled the four corners of the world a few times, but always escaping back to the loving arms of her family.
Now at the young age of 23 and more than a decade into her career, Cheyenne gives us the scoop on why this image is so special to her.
Why do you love this picture?
It is very raw and innocent.
Who took it?
Brook Coffey. Brooke is beautiful and so amazing to work with.
How long did this shoot last?
20 minutes since it was really cold.
Anything curious to report about this shoot?
It was almost snowing in Central Park and having this innocent girl with antlers like a newborn I think contrasts with the whole grown woman in a tuxedo.
What were you thinking when it was taken?
Where are my UGG boots?
What direction did the photographer give you?
It was very candid so it was almost as if she wasn't there.
What was it for?
My album, entitled Van Hoorn
What were you wearing?
Dolce & Gabbana men’s tuxedo jacket (a tux includes pants), American Apparel suede bow-tie, vintage snake skin pants, white reindeer antlers and minimal makeup.
Do you love fashion or not necessarily?
I’m pretty simple but I appreciate how much work goes into it.
What about this profession makes you the happiest?
Seeing the world and meeting new people puts a smile on my face.
And the most disappointed?
Being away from my loved ones, my home and missing out on my childhood.
What were your most remarkable experiences as a model?
Starting off with a Bazaar cover gave me the confidence to take on my modeling career. I love that I get to experience the greatest and most beautiful places in the world along with seeing the newest fashion before it hits the market as well as meeting wonderful people.
What advice would you give to aspiring models?
Stay in school, enjoy your childhood and let it come find you….
Do you see yourself doing something else?
Yes, I’ve performed my music all over the world with some of my favorite artists and am getting ready to release my first album this year.
What's your biggest challenge as a model?
Staying in shape when there is so much good food around the world.
Is there anything about the modeling career that you would change if you could?
I wish everyone could see the beauty that is inside everyone.