There's Chanel Iman....... then there's everyone else.
On October 16, World Food Day, Kors and his team will take to the streets outside six of his stores in five cities – New York, Berlin, Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo and Hong Kong – to give away Watch Hunger Stop T-shirts (as modelled by Chanel Iman and Lily Aldridge) to shoppers. Willing recipients will then be encouraged to go have their picture taken inside a photo booth (to be turned into an animated GIF), which will be live-streamed across billboards in Times Square and online at Watchhungerstop.com.
Mega-Model Chanel Iman on Re-entering the Fashion Game
This Teen Vogue regular is back and better than ever.
by Jane Keltner de Valle
Hometown: Culver City, CA
Teen Vogue, the early years: Debuted in the February 2007 issue and scored cover status on the February 2008 and November 2009 issues. "It gave me a certain level of respect in the industry."
Current résumé: "Starring in a music video with Usher and attending red carpet events like the MTV VMAs [with A$AP Rocky]. I'm thrilled to be back on the runway this season after taking a little break. I'm working on new, exciting projects, but they're still confidential. It's hard in interviews because I really want to talk about it!"
Up next: "My ultimate dream is to get into film and move back home to L.A."
You grew up in California, right outside Los Angeles. How did you start modeling?
I was 12 when I signed with an agency, but I didn't really start working until I was 14. My very first job was walking a runway during L.A. Fashion Week. I don't remember who the designer was, but I remember everybody clapping. When they sent me to New York to do shows and no one clapped, I thought I was doing something wrong.
You used to wink every time you walked down the runway!
Oh yeah! I felt like I needed to do something so people would clap. I would just wink at one person when I walked down the runway to make it fun for me. I don't do that anymore. I kind of outgrew that one!
Do you remember your first time modeling for Teen Vogue?
I remember going to Miami to shoot the February 2007 cover with Karlie [Kloss] and Ali [Michael]. And then I remember shooting my second cover with Patrick Demarchelier and Jourdan Dunn [for February 2008]. Teen Vogue is one of my favorites because it's fun and young—it's the coolest magazine.
What was it like landing your first cover?
It was really exciting because Teen Vogue is a magazine I've read since I was very young, before I was even a teen. I never thought I would be on the cover! I always prayed and wished I would work with Teen Vogue on even just one picture. I would rip out pages from the magazine and post them on my wall, and then cut a picture of myself out of the yearbook and tape it on to the model's body. I would think, "One day this is going to be me!" I would tell my mom that all the time. And it happened! I'm very blessed.
We love working with you! Did your second Teen Vogue cover—the one with Jourdan Dunn—have any special significance?
For the first one, I was a lot younger and I was meeting new friends. It was more of a bonding moment when we did that first cover. When I shot with Jourdan, we already had a bond, so it was more of a power move for the both of us.
What did those shoots do for you career?
They gave me a certain level of respect in the industry, and also a platform to grab a younger audience and build my fan base. I was able to connect with people my own age. When I started working with Teen Vogue, I was the same age as the readers, but I was working in an industry where everyone was older than me, doing shows like Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren.
Why did you decide to step away from the runway at the height of your career?
When you're doing shows for so many years, it gets overwhelming and you can get lost being a young girl in a grownup world. Sometimes you have to step away so you don't drive yourself crazy! Then when you come back, you can appreciate things you probably wouldn't have otherwise. That's where I was in my career and in my life. I had to remove myself to want to come back and get excited about walking again, doing photo shoots, that kind of thing. When you're young, you're growing every day. You get confused about who you are when you're living a fast-paced life, so I wanted to stop and get to know myself a little better. There are a lot of people telling you what you should do, what you shouldn't do. You have to make your own decisions for yourself.
What inspired you to get back on the runway this season?
I'd been away, and I missed it. Fashion is kind of all I know because I've been a model since I was very young. You miss the things you're really passionate about. I'm excited to be back! I'm a totally different person—well, the same person, but better and doing more creative, fun things with my life and career.
What's your favorite thing about Fashion Week?
The best thing about Fashion Week is rocking the newest stuff before it even comes out. Sometimes I get to keep the shoes or the bag or the dress. Having that kind of access is dope.
You've been spending a lot of time in the music world. You shot a video with Usher, and your boyfriend is A$AP Rocky. Are you thinking of doing something with music?
No, definitely not. I'm just going to stick with fashion! That's what I know and that's what I'm good at, so being a model is my focus.
Do you have a favorite A$AP song?
I guess "Fashion Killa." Actually, no, "PMW." No, scratch that. I love "Purple Swag" and "Goldie." I'm done, I promise!
What about music inspires you?
Music makes you feel good, no matter what your mood is. I've always been a big hip hop fan. I love rap and R&B and soul, but I've also been listening to a little bit of house music lately, which is different for me. I like Calvin Harris. And she's not house, but I love Lana Del Rey! I also love Jay-Z. I went to the Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake concert in Miami last summer, and I went to Rihanna's concert in Paris and Beyonce's in Los Angeles.
What would you say are some of your career highlights?
Definitely being in Teen Vogue. Walking shows like Gucci after five years of there not being one black model. Going to the Met Ball with Tom Ford. Shooting the cover of Vogue. Meeting friends like Tyra Banks. I recently went to the MTV VMAs and hung out with Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez. That doesn't really have to do with my career I guess, but it has to do with my life! Every day I grow as a person, as a brand, and I get really excited for my future and where I'm headed. But starring in the Usher video, let me tell you, that video was just...I had a blast on that video set and I think that was like...I don't know, let's stop talking about it. Usher and I connected, and it all came together so well, so it wasn't really work for me.
You mentioned being the first black model to walk a Gucci runway in a number of years, and in your second Teen Vogue cover story you talked to me about dealing with race biases in the industry. Do you think any progress has been made since then?
I think there's still a struggle. I can't lie about that. I've struggled with the same situation for a very long time. Jourdan, Joan Smalls, and I got together the other day and were talking about how much more powerful we are together than apart. When you're young, people can manipulate you and make you feel like there's only supposed to be one black model, one token girl. It's a lot of pressure and a lot of stress, and then you start to separate yourself from the people you should be bonding with the most because you're going through the same things as them. The three of us weren't as close as we are now because we were young and immature and competitive. Now we look back and realize we're more powerful as a team. There's definitely room for all of us because we're so different and unique in our own ways. We all bring something totally different to the table.
So true. What advice would you offer to aspiring models?
I would say not to get caught up in the bull, people telling you what you can't do. Following your instincts will get you much farther than going by what other people tell you. When I listen to my soul and my spirit, it's always worked out.
You also had the benefit of your mom chaperoning you on every job until you were older. How important do you think that was?
Very. Without my mom, I don't think I would have made it this far. I would have given up a long time ago. At the end of the day, she was there for me and she had my back. She explained things I was confused about and taught me a lot while I was traveling. Now I can do it all by myself, but I can't imagine not having had my mom with me at the beginning of my career. It's very easy to get lost and be manipulated by older adults and people around you.
How would you describe the path your career has taken? From the beginning, you always wanted to create a Chanel Iman brand.
I have a lot of new exciting projects, but they're still confidential. It's hard in interviews because I really want to talk about them!
What future goals do you have for yourself?
My ultimate dream is to get into film and move back home to L.A. I do plan to build an empire, and I just want to be the best I can be with the things I've been given.
There's Chanel Iman....... then there's everyone else.
Last edited by LabelWhore4; 15-10-2013 at 08:06 PM.
That really was a fantastic read. She's matured so much as a person and I'm glad that she's instinctual and goal-oriented. Her future is really bright as she mentioned in the article as well as when LabelWhore4 talked to her. Upcoming shoots with other models, focusing on herself as a brand, SkullCandy collab, South Africa project, Fuse.. so much!
I can't wait
Eager for some upcoming print work:
Shoot w/ other 'big name' models
Secret South Africa project (possible shoot?)
Shoot shot at Studio 7 (according to her IG)
VS shoot in LA
Photo shoot (Balmain-esque styling, according to her IG)