Nineties top model ANNA K sits down for an exclusive DESIGN SCENE interview to talk about that magical first time she took the runway, favourite supermodel colleagues, model coaching and today’s state of the fashion industry.
Read our interview with Swedish supermodel below:
What made you switch from architecture to modeling? How were you discovered?
I was 18 and had a place at ab Architecture university but it was the summer holidays and I needed a job. My best friend and I, went to this job seeking club and she spotted a tiny ad info for a model agency, grabbed me and took me to see them. I had been asked to be a model a few times before but it didn’t feel like it was something one ‘could do’. Unbeknown to me, the agency, entered me in a competition for Miss Scandinavia. When I won, it was a total surprise, as I had actually thought they had wanted me as a booker! I got sent to Paris for a week and never came back home.
Do you remember your first show / shoot?
It was a test shoot, not a job, and I remember feeling, this was something I had always done. I knew what to do and what the picture would look like. First show, was Jill Sander in Milano. I was meant to just do the make up try, with Linda Cantello and Marc Ascoli and the show room but they put me in the big show, with Linda, Naomi, Claudia and also Kate, Amber and Shalom – the new 90’s girls. It was magical, that show. Again a feeling, I was in the right place. I floated down the runway.
Who are some of the most memorable creatives you worked with?
I worked with Jurgen Teller, Avadon, Peter Lindberg, Patric Demarchelier, Helmut Newton, Testino all those. I did the shows, Chanel, Versace, Gucci, Jean Colonna and the Magazines. It was Grunge, a great time in fashion, when all changed. No more heavy make up and big hair. You could be you. No cover up, natural hair, trainers, slouchy trousers, a long coat. It felt very free and much more me.
Models walked in a more theatrical manner in the 90s. Did it come naturally to you and did you enjoy that aspect of your work?
I loved any shows really. I felt nervous before but never on the catwalk. As if I became a very real version of myself.
Which supermodels did you look up to when you first started your modelling career?
Carla Bruni was so beautiful and lovely as a person. She taught me to care about myself. She wore the most amazing cashmere, top to toe. In fawn. I loved her sophisticated understated ‘thing’. Then Kate.. She was gorgeous and so funny. Vulnerable and girly but also that naughty girl at school. She was just something else and I loved how she dressed.
What do you think about the state of fashion today?
I think it is an amazing industry to have been part of, all these creative people and anything can happen. No rules, all created on a mood, a whim, a moment. I love that world and know it so well, as it is what I grew up in for 20 years. Its all very slick and professional now, compared to my very early days, people have to be the best, at what they do.
So, has your perception of the industry changed over time?
It has changed. When I started we didn’t even have mobile phones. It was faxes, no idea how that worked out! The biggest change is the huge presence of social media and also shooting digital and on a screen. No reloading cameras, every one is looking on a screen as supposed to the model. Modelling was also less documented to the masses in those days, it felt more of a ‘hidden’ world. Now it is very accessible to everyone and all, in an instant.
Do you think the role of supermodel has changed over the last 20 years?
There are more of them. The supers felt like only a few. Also, because of social media, more of your life is exposed. The personality and life style, plays more of a role.
What do you think separates your generation of models from the ones today?
We might have had more privacy and it felt a little less serious perhaps. Less scrutinised. More fun and frivolous.
Do you think it’s fair that social media is a big part of these models’ jobs today?
The job has changed, social media is an integral part of most models life today and an opportunity to define your professional identity yourself. It is important to protect your personal life and be careful about how much you share. That is part of what I do in coaching. We set up a structure through goal related strategies, for the model to get control over their own career, rather than the other way around. You decide what you want out of it, how much of yourself you are prepared to share. It’s your choose.
What was the most important moment in your life? And in your career?
The births of my daughters, no doubt. In my career it was shooting the Pirelli calendar with Arthur Elgort. We went to Seville for 16 days and stayed in this bohemian house, with a chef cooking the most beautiful vegetarian food. Arthur would play his saxophone from his balcony and Christiaan, his hair dresser, made these beautiful sculptures out of the local sand that he sifted through the tyre patterned loincloth we were all wearing for the shoot, that he then gave to us. I still have mine now. A diamond. It was balmy evenings, flamenco dance in the night.. magical days.
If you could relive one of your runway moments, which would it be?
Probably that Jill Sander show magic. Or possibly any Chanel once. They were exciting, huge productions, people, models hairdressers, make up on a huge scale and press everywhere. They were these huge mad, whimsical, fun, festive productions, heaven to be a part of. Glamourous and so beautiful.
Nowadays, you are a certified life coach specializing in models. How did you get into that?
My personal life changed dramatically and I had a lot to deal with. I went to courses, read books, heard talks, went on a huge journey of self discovery. 5 years ago, I became a coach and it felt natural to do it for models. I wanted to give something back. But above all, it is wonderful, to see and make, my models grow in confidence, success and ease, in a way that I wish I had had access to myself.
How does it work? How does your own experience in the industry reflect on the life coaching work with young models?
Coaching is not psycho analysing, it is result based and changes come soon and are efficient. We unblock, set goals, build on where ever you are lacking. It is an amazing tool, for success in all areas of a model’s life. We look after the inside as well as the outside of the model. We look at your focus, mindset and how you meet your needs and build a healthier individual, who can cope much better with the pressures and demands of this job and world. We make you stronger whilst keeping integrity and vulnerability. To cope with a world that mainly focus on the exterior.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out in modeling today?
Keep up with Anna K on Instagram @annaklevhag
Photographer: Rhys Frampton – www.rhysframpton.com
Stylist: Alton Hetariki at Tom Folwarkow Management – altonhetariki.com
Makeup Artist: Barrie Griffith at Tom Folwarkow Management using Rodial Hair
Hair Stylist: Ernesto at David Artists
Model: Anna K at Models 1