“I’m sorry, but you’re not on the list.” Such was Aymeline Valade’s plight at Pier 94 yesterday before the Alexander Wang show. With winds whipping outside on the Hudson River, the French-born model simply stepped aside, and, with a knowing grin, waited for the dust to settle. Not only was she in the show, she was opening the show.
“I always have a girl who becomes the storyteller for the collection,” said Wang backstage. (Recall, last season he plucked Britt Maren from obscurity to open his show.) “Aymeline is very special. She’s the girl that I always think about, that I want to dress. When we met, I thought, ‘Let’s be friends!’ She’s the kind of girl you want to sit down and have a conversation with. She’s not a flavor of the month, she’s a constant for me.”
While Wang’s show last night was Valade’s first New York Fashion Week appearance, she’s not exactly a new face. Last year, she was living la dolce vita in Milan, enjoying local success as a model and spending time with her Italian boyfriend. Then, Balenciaga scouts came to town for an impromptu casting. “I went with my leather biker jacket, my Grateful Dead T-shirt, and my hair was messy because I thought, ‘Balenciaga, they’ll never want me!’ ” she says. They did, and she flew to Paris for the spring 2011 show. Nicolas Ghesquière was transfixed: “I like her strength, her smartness, her tonicity and her classicism,” he says. “She is very French for me. All of that seduced me.”
Others quickly followed suit. Stylist Karl Templer booked her for an Interviewshoot with photographer Craig McDean. The duo was so impressed, they suggested her to Wang for his spring campaign. “She brings the images to life and lends them authenticity,” offers Templer. Adds McDean, “Her incredible ease at moving in front of the camera is not something many models have these days.” Twenty years of classical dance training are surely responsible, but so is her age. Now 25, she cites maturity as a key component in her recent good fortune: “My vision of modeling is much more the attitude you have, I think. Whatever age you are, if you’re inspired, people respond to you. There are many beautiful girls who don’t know what to do with their beauty.” Valade, who studied communications and advertising at university, was discovered one day when scouts spotted her as she rode her skateboard to work at a Paris ad agency. “I was doing statistics, focus groups; we did everything to develop marketing strategies,” she says.
Valade’s baptism into the high fashion arena last season came complete with a pre-Balenciaga makeover by Guido Palau—an undercut, which she loves. “It’s amazing what a haircut can do, really,” Palau says. “I think she was a very different kind of model before.”
Her beauty regimen is decidedly French, comprised of theParisian pharmacy staples so well known to the fashion masses: Embryolisse cream, rose water, Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Multi-Usage Dry Oil, and Bioderma Crealine makeup remover among them. And though she’s picked up a thing or two from makeup artists and fellow catwalkers, her ultimate beauty guru is closer to home. “I get all my advice from my grandmother!” she says. For example? “Putting chamomile tea bags on your eyes. You steep them and put them in the fridge first . . . it’s so soothing for dark circles, puffiness, all that.” Another recipe from grand-mère: “Once a week and especially during the shows, I make a face mask with sugar, honey, and a little lemon juice, to purify and nourish.” Valade maintains the same natural approach when it comes to her diet. “The worst thing for the skin is soda. If you eat junk food, you’re going to have a junk face! I eat whole, good, quality food. My dad always told me, ‘When you buy food, never choose the lowest-priced item.’ So I’m not cheap with my food—it’s an important investment.”
Post Wang, she reflects. “It was a total rush, to open his show,” says Valade. “My agency always told me that I have a particular face and bone structure, so people will either like me or they’ll hate me. Now, it seems to be happening that people like me.” By the time Paris hits, access shouldn’t be a problem.
Credit Emily Weiss at http://www.vogue.com/vogue-daily/article/model-moment-aymeline-valade/