This Week's Model: Saskia de Brauw
A number of model predictors are saying 2011 will be all about the Dutch girl — and Saskia de Brauw (left, backstage at Paul Smith Spring 2011), born and raised in a small town just outside of Amsterdam, is well on her way to ensuring that prediction comes true. She first started modeling at 16 before quitting to pursue art school; now, she’s back at 29, walking in coveted spots for Balenciaga, Reed Krakoff, and Givenchy last season, and landing the Spring 2011 Eres and Givenchy campaigns. Needless to say, she’s won a fan in Riccardo Tisci — he worked with Saskia again just recently on the Givenchy Pre-Fall 2011 lookbook. But just because she’s back to modeling doesn’t mean Saskia’s left her art behind — she has a blog, on which she posts her black-and-white still life photographs. W caught up with de Brauw to find out how she ended up back on the modeling scene.
Where are you now?
I’m at home, in Amsterdam. I live near Jordaan, around the old city center.
What’s your favorite place in Amsterdam?
Home, because I’m away a lot at the moment.
Any fun shoots coming up?
I did a great shoot for Italian Vogue a couple of days ago, with Steven Meisel in New York. And the shows are coming up, so I hope to be busy then.
Do you plan to go to Paris for couture?
I might have a few options. I don’t know yet, I have nothing booked yet.
From left Paul Smith Spring 2011, Givenchy Spring 2011
You were a model at 16 and then quit to study art. What brought you back to modeling all these years later?
I was not intending to model again, but I have a friend in Amsterdam who is a makeup artist who said I should model again. I was doing all sorts of jobs to make my living [at the time] — I worked in a bakery, taught art at school to really young kids, and I would occasionally earn with my art projects, but most of the time that wouldn’t pay the bills. So when she proposed that I try it again, I thought, “Why not?” It’s become bigger than I expected it to be.
You keep a blog — tell me about that. I read on it that you take a camera with you everywhere, including to your castings last season.
I think for me, when I’m traveling, I can’t really focus on one bigger project, so I like collecting memories, visual memories. Hopefully, if I eventually amass a bigger collection [of photographs], I will make a book, but it’s also very pleasurable just to collect. I just bought a camera to bring next season, a Fuji 465, which is an analog camera. It uses larger format film, and there’s nothing digital to it. I prefer analog to digital.
The snapshots on my blog were all made with really small digital camera — I can put it in my bag, and can be more invisible [while taking photos] that way. Backstage, I’m mainly interested in the models . . . the moment when they’re not performing, the moment before they’re performing. I wouldn’t be interested in [photographing] models posing; lots of girls waiting for something [backstage], these are moments I like to capture.
Balenciaga Spring 2011
Are there any other models whose careers you really admire?
Lara [Stone] has an interesting career. She had been working many years before; the moment she wanted to stop is when her career started taking off.
When you have to do all the more crappy jobs before, you appreciate all the good work that comes out of that. There are many girls who immediately have a top model career, and there are lots of models who are doing things that aren’t as exciting as doing big campaigns and beautiful magazines.
I never had worked in high fashion before, had never experienced it when I was a model before. I appreciate it, being able to work with such talented people, It feels like a gift now. I think for everyone everything happens at the right time, and this is my time.
Is there anyone in particular you’d really like to work with?
Peter Lindbergh. I just love what he does. I would love to see who this man is and how he works.
Tell me about your relationship with Riccardo Tisci — you’re in the new Givenchy campaign and you just worked with him again on the Givenchy Pre-Fall lookbook. How did you meet?
I met him when I was doing my castings for the shows. He asked me, “Are you a dancer or an actress?,” and I said, “No, I’m a visual artist,” and he said, “Oh, I can see that.” He senses something else in models, another story behind [just the face].
Givenchy Spring/Summer 2011 Ad Campaign
How do you spend your free time?
I do hatha yoga a lot. I like to read — I’m reading Shantaram, it’s really great. I haven’t finished it yet, but it’s a great traveling book because it’s not too difficult to read, but it’s exciting. I also like to walk in town and observe, to sit in the metro and watch people, or just sit somewhere and watch people.
What’s your favorite place to vacation?
I love Italy, the most recent time I was there was for my brother’s wedding a couple of years ago. My dream is to go to India. Rajasthan to start, but everywhere, really. My boyfriend traveled a lot in India, he has been telling me about it.
How long have you two been together?
A little more than two years. He’s a photographer — he’s editing his photos now — he does documentary photography and makes films, too. We met a couple of years before we got together — Vincent photographed me, in Marseilles. We just walked in the city and he took pictures, there was no posing. And we had coffee and dinner. It was for a magazine for the train.
Any New Year’s resolutions or things you’d like to accomplish this year?
It’s more about a state of mind — I want to take everything really positive, to turn everything into something positive.
And what about tonight, what are you up to tonight?
We plan to go out to dinner at Cinema Paradiso. It’s pizza place, but it’s really good.
Runway photos: Fairchild Archive