Even as she was scoring major ad campaigns for Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Stella McCartney and the Gap, and doing shoots for countless fashion magazines (including this one), Sara Ziff was never content to only model. At a wise-beyond-her-years 18, traveling back and forth across the Atlantic for runway shows, she and her then-boyfriend, filmmaker Ole Schell, began capturing footage of her frenetic life as well as interviews with fashion bigwigs (Nicole Miller, Gilles Bensimon) and fellow models Missy Rayder, Cameron Russell, and others. The result is Picture Me, a documentary that looks honestly at the glittery ups (fat paychecks, glamorous travel, free clothes) and salacious downs (drug abuse, sexual harassment by powerful photographers, getting replaced by pre-pubescent 14-year-olds) of the modeling industry. “Our careers are so carefully managed that we are like marionettes,” says Ziff, now 27, a senior at Columbia studying politics and a volunteer for Andrew Cuomo’s New York gubernatorial campaign. “It’s really unorthodox to tell your own story.” The film will premiere at a Nicole Miller-sponsored New York fashion week party, and open in theaters on September 17 in New York and September 24 in Los Angeles.
From left: Picture Me poster; Ziff filming.