Bajan Elle is runway royalty
By Natanga Smith | Sat, October 27, 2012 - 12:00 AM
Barbadian model Chanelle King left the island for New York Sunday after a well deserved two weeks’ rest spending quality time with family and hitting the beach.
“It was beach, beach and more beach,” she said.
The former Harrison College student from St George, who got signed at age 18 six years ago to a New York agency, has done more than just grace runways; she has been photographed for leading fashion magazines such as Seventeen, Fair Lady and Jet Magazine.
At age 18, while taking part in the first Barbados Fashion Week, she was approached by a scout who suggested she take a chance and go to New York to start a career as a model. Elle decided to finish school first, then made the trip where the agents liked what they saw and signed her.
“What 18-year-old would have missed out on a glamorous career of travelling the world and wearing clothes from the best designers?” she asked, laughing. In the first year of being signed, she got her first gig – BET’s Rip The Runway fashion show but admitted it wasn’t easy.
“Once in New York City, booking jobs was harder than I thought. The competition in New York is fierce and it is difficult to break into the market, especially when you are a new face.”
Elle, as she prefers to be called, has changed agencies and is now signed to Images Model Management. She is getting ready for a few upcoming shows and in-house modelling for fashion houses Armani and Helmut Lang at the start of next month.
Living in New York at the moment, the five-foot-ten model has lived in South Africa, London and Milan for the past two years where exciting things have happened to her.
“I got the opportunity to take part in Africa Fashion Week and Cape Town Fashion Week. I then stayed in South Africa where I shot the ad campaign for Loreal’s skin care line Vichy Normaderm.
“This was my first beauty campaign and it is exciting to see my face on the product whenever I go into pharmacies in New York City. I then travelled to London for work.
“While I was there, I got the opportunity to film the new Tanqueray Gin commercial that was shot in Vilnius Lithuania. I then went to Milan for Milan Fashion Week where I worked for designer Emilio Pucci,” she said.
She had a good laugh at a painful experience she had in Milan.
“I did a hair show and I had to wear a tall, heavy metal structure that resembled a spaceship on my head. It was so heavy and I had to make sure I looked poised and elegant while walking down the runway with it. I had neck pains the next day.”
Elle recently completed a trip to Gaborone, Botswana, for Gaborone Fashion Week and over the last few months she has been featured on Walmart’s website advertising the clothing line Miss Tina that belongs to Tina Knowles, the mother of singer Beyoncé.
“She was fun to work with on set for the shoot,” she said of Tina Knowles.
Elle has now become a regular on the fashion scene and while she still goes on casting calls, some of her jobs come from people who ask directly for her. She excitedly said that the greatest perks of her career were meeting the faces behind the major fashion brands and travelling.
“I have an adventurous side. I recently did a sky dive over the Florida Keys. Amazing!”
The downside for her is the unpredictability.
“It is hard for me to plan anything as last-minute jobs always pop up,” she said. “I prefer to do photo shoots; I love posing and seeing the images from the shoot.”
Elle said she got excited when she saw her Tanqueray Gin ad being used in the yellow cabs in New York City.
“The first time I saw it in the cab I screamed so loudly the cab driver looked at me as though I was crazy.”
The model, whose guilty pleasure is online shopping, likes to unwind by riding her bike in Central Park.
“I try to take care of myself inside and out. I try to eat as much fruit and vegetables as possible. I love making fresh juices and smoothies. I don’t really have a fitness regimen. However, I do yoga occasionally. I keep my hair healthy with lots of conditioner and leave-in treatments. I also use Jojoba oil which helps with breakage.”
The shoe fanatic is even more careful with her skin.
“I try not to wear much make-up when I am not working. I like to give my skin a break so I only use mascara, concealer and lip balm when I am not working.
“I have a skin care regimen that I stick to which involves cleanser, toner, serum, moisturizer and eye cream. I use SPF when I know that I will be exposed to the sun.”
A model’s shelf life is short and Elle, who had plans of being a vet, is pursuing a degree in sustainable enterprise management and wants to go on to get her Master’s degree.
“Balancing school and work is tough but I still managed to make the Dean’s List, which is an achievement I am proud of.
“In five years time’ I still want to be modelling, but not as much. I am also in the process of creating a swimwear line. Being on the other side – dealing with design and production – is hard work. I now have a renewed sense of respect for fashion designers.”
Now that Elle is back in school she has some advice for aspiring models.
“I would suggest finishing school first, as it is always good to have a back-up in case it does not work out. Secondly, you must have a business attitude because, at the end of the day, it is a business and it is your responsibility to manage your own career.”
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