Ones To Watch Part II: The Newest Models Fashioning London Culture.

Ones To Watch Part II: The Newest Models Fashioning London Culture.

Photography: Kim Lang

We talk to 7 models to watch from some of London’s most ethnically diverse modelling agencies. They discuss their ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and their colourful, layered London realities. From chefs to investors, journalists to criminology graduates, today‘s London models are completely redefining the traditional model candidate and changing the rhetoric by owning the motive of being able to do it all at once, and have it all. Their vibrancy and charge for life is evident of London’s hustle atmosphere as they discuss their challenges, industry woes, passions and goals all with drive and clear targets for the future.

CHIARA, NAMED MODELS @bimbacho_

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Where are you from?

I’m from a super small town in Italy between the mountains with 1,000 inhabitants. Yeah that’s where I’m from.

Tell me about your parent’s background?

So my mum is half African (from Benin) and half Italian. She was a model as well. She’s a very peculiar person. She’s super interested in arts and studying so she raised me in a way that I became incredibly interested in reading, going to exhibitions, and having a passion for all things creative. While my dad on the other hand is a full on Italian business man. So I had these two very different parents who in a way shaped me and made me understand both sides of the same coin.

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How was it growing up with a mixed background in Italy?

It was not easy. Even for me, who is very light skin and under the radar, I was still subject to racism. It was weird to me because I’m like 75% full Italian, grew up Italian and did not feel any different, yet I remember being called negro etc in elementary school. Or I would go to this carnival party and a guy greeting everyone would just skip me and first thing he’d say would be “you are African aren’t you?” I would just think ‘first of all, say hello’. And incidents like this. So it’s been quite weird in Italy.

 Do you have a song that is attached to a memory?

I remember that my dad used to have his BMW coupe when I was like 5 and ‘Crazy in Love’ by Beyonce came out. He bought the album and we used to listen to this all the time. I used to love that song so deeply. But now I realise when it plays now I love it because of that memory, the song itself I have outgrown but due to the memory I still love it to this day. Now at this moment I like ‘Frequency’ by Kid Cudi because I feel like it represents me a bit. So I can resonate. The line “Chill all alone, love is the rule”, for me just did it.

KANE, NAMED MODELS @kane_erwin

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Who were your heroes growing up?

Growing up I guess it was all footballers so Thierry Henry was one of my favourite. David Attenborough was actually always one of my heroes since day one and probably still is now. He did what he loved. Now my heroes are more in the past. People like Emperor Cicero, who I have tattooed on my arm.

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What else do you besides modelling?

This could go on for quite a while (laughs). I do photography, I do some acting and film work, and to be honest I love doing anything that comes along that sounds fun. I’ve been my own investment manager for quite a few years. I invest in crypto currencies so been following that market for a while. I also now started to get back into playing piano which I used to do in primary school. I’m also painting, which ironically 5 years ago anyone would have laughed in your face if you would’ve told them that now I’m painting. I am the least artistic when it comes to drawing but i’ve learnt in the past few years is that the most important thing in life is to do the things you enjoy, regardless of how good or bad you are. At the end of the day enjoyment is key.

Do you have a favourite film?

Pulp Fiction. That’s easy. The way it was directed, the cast, the energy. I don’t think there is one bad thing about it. The way it’s not directed in the right order, but sort of mixed and matched. Quentin Tarantino is an unbelievable director in that sense. The cast wasn’t considered legendary actors at the time but a lot of the people have become legendary thanks to this film. It’s just such a cult classic. If I’d have to choose one film for the rest of my life it would probably be that film.

AINSLEY, NII AGENCY @black__pads

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 Who were your heroes growing up?

I think growing up it was Muhammad Ali. I was really into boxing. It was just the way he would say things and he’d back them up as well. He could say anything and it was almost like poetry. He was such a clever guy, and being able to show the world in front of so many people explaining how great he is and proving it. Him all the way through. There are many others that inspire me but he’s definitely one of the main guys. Big motivation. Even sometimes now, as cheesy as it sounds but I watch those videos and think that he was able to get that far with that attitude. I think it’s the confidence that inspired me. He didn’t care, he just said however it was. People being offended on the side but he was very honest.

What was your first job?

A Chef. Even in school, I had already looked up the best schools and tried to choose anything, any school topic that would get me into cheffing. I am a big fan of science, and art history but I really wanted to be a chef. So I powered through and chose everything in school that would benefit cheffing from secondary school onwards, and into college. I only did the first year and a half at college because a very well known chef (Jack Boast) from a Michelin star restaurant came into school for presentation. That was my time to shine, so I asked him all these questions. And he didn’t even bullshit me but said college would not teach me the things I was eager to learn - you’d have to be in the industry to learn, and he took me straight into his Michelin star restaurant. The hours were brutal and it was driving me insane but that’s the chef life and it taught me everything.

DARIUS, ESTABLISHED @dariusdesouza

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How did your parents’ background help shape your British identity?

My mum was Indian, but she was very much not culturally Indian. She wasn’t your authentic, traditional, conservative type. She actually moved away from that when she was young herself, so she never wanted to impose that side of her traditional background on my brother and I as we were growing up, and my father was Jamaican. You’d sometimes have to tell him off - parents always think everything should be the way it was for them. This never happened to me when I was younger but the great thing was when I started doing my A-Levels, they saw that I got good marks. I got accepted to a great college etc. That’s when they said to me “Darius we can see you can hold your head up. You don’t need us backing you. You can do this on your own.” And I appreciate this a lot because it gave me the opportunity to explore my identity. But for me I think, they built a solid foundation for how I wanted to be.

What else do you do besides modelling?

I went to university and I got myself something called a Law degree (laughs). I got my head into the books, and fairly enjoyed it. I always wanted to keep my balance between studying and enjoying my life, and with Law, I was able to do that. I’ve been in situations where I’ve had to work in legal practices, and to be able to balance that with modelling is a novelty. It’s something quite cool to be in an office setting and people come up to you saying "oh I think I saw you in…” and then you head back to work. It gave me a different outlook.

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Do you have a favourite designer?

Currently it’s Virgil Abloh. I love his outlook and obviously him now being seen as one of the greatest in the industry. The position he’s in just goes to show that. And speaking of diversity, it’s great that he gets to work for one of the biggest brands out there. I think with time having someone like him not only evens out the pieces which you can culturally identify with, but also that people who would normally associate certain brands of having one identity now have the opportunity to mix those identities. It’s definitely a step in the right direction, especially if you’re from an ethnic background.It can be more accepting in the things you wear or do.

AFIYA, NAMED MODELS @afiya_muir

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 What else do you do besides modelling?

Acting, performing arts. I’ve done one TV screen acting course so I’m still getting into that. I also studied Criminal Investigation. It’s a funny story, kind of bad actually (laughs). I witnessed a forensic person come into my house one day and was intrigued by what she was doing. Science was my favourite subject so I wanted to do Science and Criminal Investigation. And I did.

 Do you have a favourite musician?

I listen to all types of music. Obviously Rihanna is one of my favourites. Literally in primary school all my friends tried to do dances, and when Rihanna was on the TV I immediately fell in love with her. I ended up following her every move online, even to this day I still do that. She’s everything. But also Miguel. He reminds me of Prince, but our modern day Prince. I also love this old school alternative band called 30 Seconds To Mars. I love them.

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Do you have a favourite designer?

Can I say Rihanna again? (Laughs) I’m joking. I’m quite into Off White. I feel that they’re different, never been seen before compared to current trends.

What did you buy with your first pay check?

Concert tickets to N-Dubz. That was my first concert (laughs).

MALIQUE – NAMED MODELS @_malique_warner_

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How was growing up in Nottingham?

It was nice to be fair. It’s a really small area so getting to know people is very easy like if you want to do something, it’s really easy to do. You can find people like that (snaps fingers) because everyone is close. It’s not too bad to live there, it’s quite nice.

Who were your heroes growing up?

I’m really into music so musically would be like Michael Jackson and Eminem. As a kid they were just my top two go to listeners. But also Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks and people like that, they inspired me to always push people’s opinions. That’s pretty much it.

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How did you get into modelling?

I’ve been modelling really since I was a little kid. I used to model for ASDA doing pyjamas as a kid. Other stuff as well but mainly that. And I could’ve carried on modelling, but as I got older I got a scar on my nose. That took me out of the modelling game for a few years. So now I’m kind of grown up a bit - I’m 19 now, and tried to get back into it.

What else do you do besides modelling?

I play guitar. I’m a music student in Nottingham right now. I like skating though, and am in to loads of sports, extreme sports. I used to do BMX, and I’ve rollerbladed for ever. Modelling isn’t the one for me because I keep breaking myself, and with that I really need to be careful. I’m trying my best to do that though (laughs). Funny enough I went up this massive hill yesterday and I fell. But right when I fell I was thinking that I got this shoot today and I should be mindful about my face, so I caught myself somehow (laughs). But yeah I’m into fitness, I’m into eating healthy and good - no fast foods!

HANNA – ZONE MODELS @hanna.goldfisch

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Where are you from?

I’m from Berlin and I was born and raised in Bavaria, in a small village. There is basically nothing (laughs).

What do you do besides modelling?

Nothing (laughs). My passion is illustration. I am illustrating a lot of things. When I have time I do a lot of art direction - organising my own shoots, collaborating with different brands, creating mood boards, seeing it from the beginning to the end. I’m also editing videos and travelling a lot.

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A favourite book?

‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ by Mitch Albom, I love that book. It’s about a guy who is explaining that he’s about to die. He explains the different steps about life, and how you have to live your life. It helped me a lot. I love to read it over and over. It’s a super nice book.

Do you have a favourite film?

I have a lot of favourite movies. I love Coraline. OMG I love Coraline! It’s the shit! Over time during winter when I’m drawing, I’m watching this movie. I watched it so many times and it gives me this cosy, awkward feeling. That whole movie is supposed to be a children’s movie but it’s actually pretty scary. And I love the whole button idea within the film.

Photography & Interview: Kim Lang

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