Whether you attended one or all of the runway shows during fashion week this year, you would have seen a variety of talented local and global designers. However, the models wearing these designer garments on the runway are just important as the clothes themselves , as this is the best selling point to the consumer. A model who not only wears a garment, but can sell it to an audience and help them see themselves in it, will stand out from other crowd beauties any day. This year’s ‘Model of the Year’, Alexis Hamilton, no doubt fits this description. Since winning the title of Phoenix Fashion Week’s ‘Model of the Year’ and receiving a prize package, including a signed contract with The Agency Arizona, Hamilton has walked for many local luxury brand fashion shows, including Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom.
I had the opportunity to catch up with this runway queen via phone to talk about how life has changed since fashion week and her personal tips for selling it on the runway!
Q: What is your background in modeling?
A: “I started modeling in high school for local shows and then in college. I ended up taking a year off to pursue modeling and ended up in Ebony and JET Magazine. I went to 180 cities in 9 months with a traveling fashion show. I thought, ‘Hey, let’s go to New York!’. I got signed to an agency there, but it was too fast paced. I moved to Atlanta and then to Phoenix, where I got a job as an underwriter at a mortgage company. I started modeling again to meet new people and found out about the Phoenix Fashion Week Model Search through a friend.”
Q: What was your journey like leading up to fashion week?
A: “At first, honestly, it was hectic because we had a lot of photo shoots and video shoots for emerging designers and model practices. I was really committed though and only missed one out of all of them. I had decided in my head to get signed and wanted extra cash, so I was hoping there would be an agency at the shows. This was my ultimate goal, so I tried to make myself available as much as I could.”
Q: Congrats on winning the runway challenge….which was your favorite challenge and why?
A: “Runway has always been my passion, and I also liked the headshot challenge. Ebony was mostly runway work, so I never thought about my angles for photos, which sounds weird, but I was more focused on runway. I used to be self conscious in front of the camera, but this challenge taught me to not only be comfortable with shooting with many photographers, but with headshots and print time.”
Q: What was it like winning the title of ‘Model of the Year’ and being signed to an agency?
A: “I was actually signed on Thursday night. The people assisting backstage were from The Agency Arizona, which I had no idea about, but I just did what I would normally do for the first and second shows. Right after the established designer show, it was like a secret announcement, and they gave me a card and then Margaret came and she said ‘We want you.’ It was such an incredible moment and I told her, ‘I want you to want me.’ I couldn’t cry because I had another show to do and didn’t want to ruin my makeup.”
Q: How has your life changed after fashion week?
A: “I am busy every weekend…I’ve only had one weekend since PHXFW that I haven’t had a booking. My agency wanted to figure out how to market and present me, so they shot me with long wavy hair for my headshots. I loved the pictures, and it was a great experience. I shot with Matt Priestley, an established photographer that has also shot Kelly Mittendorf, and the test shots should be on the website soon. I have booked shows at Nordstrom, Macys, Neiman Marcus, and I have a Saks Fifth Avenue show coming up this week.”
Q: How do you think other emerging models can benefit from PHXFW?
A: “I know I personally benefited from this experience. Phoenix Fashion Week’s Style Team is amazing and so were the models this year! I saw how much hard work they put into it, and I developed some great friendships. It also was a great networking opportunity, to meet photographers and build a portfolio, working with the emerging designers, etc.”
Q: Can you offer any advice to aspiring models hoping to make it in the industry too?
A: “First things first, always get your walk down. There are many pretty and skinny people in this world, but there’s more to modeling than being pretty. You have to be able to sell the garment and make people say, ‘Oh I want to buy that.’ You need to be comfortable in front of camera …people see it and gravitate towards your confidence, so you want it to look natural. Don’t take pictures to look pretty and get your hair and makeup done. Your ultimate goal with pictures should be to sell the item.”
Q: Any additional comments?
A: “Always stay humble…like they say, one minute you’re in, the next minute you’re out. Anything can be taken way, so always live for the moment.”
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Article by Lauren Pfingstag for Phoenix Fashion Week
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