Season after season, hundreds of rookie models take a stab at New York's runways — but only a lucky handful actually make it to the catwalk. And of those privileged newcomers, even fewer will ascend to the fashion stratosphere. How to know who will rise above the rest? That's what we're here for, to separate the wheat from the chaff and tell you who to keep an eye on and why. From Rasa Zukauskaite's Prada campaign to Kelly Moreira's training at Paris Fashion Week, some girls simply have an edge going into this Fashion Week. Here's who you need to know.
Think MySpace is dead? It's not. Just ask Kelly Moreira. The 18-year-old French native got her big break via the social-networking site after she submitted her profile for the 2009 Elite Model Look France contest. Though she didn't win, she garnered enough attention to book the spring 2010 runways for Lanvin, YSL, and Kenzo, where she closed the show. Not a bad start — especially considering she just landed the Uniqlo campaign. And the Vogue brand has taken to her: Photographers Inez van Lamsweerde and Vindooh Matadin shot her for French Vogue, Mikael Jansson shot her for Japanese Vogue, and she also booked a Teen Vogue editorial that's coming out in the March issue. Caroline Poznanski, the women's director for Ford, notes, "Kelly is the embodiment of modern beauty — classic and interesting at the same time. Her charm, personality, and grace will be what set her apart, though."
2 of 10
Ieva Laguna (Women Direct)
Ieva Laguna is picking up steam on the model circuit — and fast. After booking big-name spring shows — Burberry, Christopher Kane, Marni, Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino — in Europe, the 19-year-old Latvia native continued her hot streak at São Paulo Fashion Week, then hit the couture runway by walking for Elie Saab this month. And the globetrotter isn't slowing down: She's scored the spring 2010 campaigns for Topshop, United Colors of Benetton, and Stefanel, and has landed editorials for Interview, British Vogue, AnOther Magazine, and Pop. After shooting Laguna for his blog ModelsOffDuty.com, street photographer Craig Arend remarked about her genial personality: "In the long term with her great attitude, it won't surprise me if we see a lot more of her, as a great attitude gives a solid base for longevity in the modeling industry." Now it's just a matter of where she makes her New York debut.
3 of 10
Debora Muller (One Management)
Leave it to the Brazilians to cultivate another heavy-hitter. Debora Muller of Pato Branco, Paraná, Brazil, first broke onto the scene during the spring 2009 season when she debuted at Alexandre Herchcovitch in New York. The 18-year-old's androgynous, charming look really caught on by spring 2010, where she walked for seventeen designers between New York, Milan, and Paris, including BCBG Max Azria, Moschino Cheap & Chic, Celine, Dries Van Noten, Miu Miu, and Yohji Yamamoto. Editorials in Italian Vogue, Russian Vogue, and Chinese Vogue are in the pipeline for this statuesque beauty. Most recently she walked seventeen shows at São Paulo Fashion Week, of which she opened two and closed two. In an interview she gave to WeLoveModels.com in November, she said (translated from Portuguese): "For me, everything that's happened was the result of hard work, discipline, and force of will. Now I only think about getting better."
4 of 10
Nastasia Ohl (DNA)
Nastasia Ohl's first year of modeling was full of huge accomplishments that would satisfy even the biggest names in the business. After signing with DNA models last year, the Florida native made her debut as one of Karl Lagerfeld's handpicked models at the fall 2009 Chanel couture catwalk in July. Just a few weeks later, casting directors Maida Gregori Boina and Rami Fernandez booked the green-eyed 16-year-old as a Calvin Klein exclusive for the spring 2010 season, easily New York's best runway coup. Her stunning mix of Asian, Eastern European, and Jamaican origins stood out in a sea of pale faces, and she went on to book the Rochas and Maison Martin Margiela shows for the spring 2010 season in Paris as well. With another Calvin exclusive unlikely, she's open to walk as many runways as she can, and we're curious to see how other designers will adapt to her distinct look. Benetton has certainly taken to her; they just booked Nastasia for their spring campaign.
5 of 10
Sedene Blake (New York Models)
Without a single runway under her belt, newcomer Sedene Blake is already turning heads. KCD casting director Michelle Lee named the Kingston, Jamaica, native as a model to watch just a few weeks ago on Modelinia.com, a big deal considering Lee casts Marc by Marc Jacobs, among many others. The 19-year-old with captivating almond-shaped eyes got her start in 2007 when she placed as a finalist in Pulse Models' Caribbean Model Search competition — the same contest fellow Jamaican wunderkind Jeneil Williams won in 2005. Most recently, Blake posed at a Calvin Klein presentation in December. And her rising-star status isn't just hype — the proof is in her forthcoming editorials for Teen Vogue, Russian Vogue, Vogue Pelle, and Italian Vogue.
6 of 10
Gwen Loos (Marilyn)
International model agent Wilma Wakker first signed this Dutch stunner (along with her twin sister, Donna) when she was only 13 — but because of European age restrictions (models must be at least 16 to walk), Gwen Loos didn't debut on the catwalk until the fall 2009 runways. Nicholas Ghesquière's Balenciaga booked her as an exclusive, but allowed Olivier Theyskens to use her since the Nina Ricci designer personally asked for permission. (Christian Dior also asked to cast her, but Ghesquière said no.) From then on, her career shot off. She reappeared for the fall 2009 couture shows and walked for Valentino and Chanel, and she scored a spot in Christian Lacroix's legendary last couture show ever. Terry Richardson also shot her for a Lacoste campaign, and she starred in an Italian Vogue editorial in September 2009. For the spring 2010 shows, she skipped New York, London, and Milan to really focus on Paris — and it worked in her favor, as she walked for Balenciaga, Chanel, Givenchy, and Vanessa Bruno.
7 of 10
Amanda Norgaard (Supreme)
Blonde hair, blue eyes, European — Amanda Norgaard hit all the talking points. But what makes the 16-year-old Danish model stand out is her sleepy gaze on the catwalk. It may sound like a runway dealbreaker, but as it turns out, many commenters on the Fashion Spot claim her wistful, longing eyes are her best asset. And designers agree. After beginning her career in 2008, Amanda first debuted at the Neil Barrett menswear show in Milan last January, and followed up her introduction by booking editorials in spring issues of Acne Paper and Dansk. She skipped New York last season, but went on to score major runway bookings in London, Milan, and Paris: Christopher Kane, Prada, Fendi, Miu Miu, and Chanel. Her editorial coverage is picking up, too, as she landed in the December issue of Interview, photographed by Robbie Fimmano, and also worked with photographer Camilla Akrans for the February issue of Harper's Bazaar. On the campaign trail, she stars in the United Colors of Benetton ads, shot by Josh Olins, as well as the spring 2010 Topshop campaign, a company that is known to pick rising stars.
8 of 10
Reina Montero (Supreme)
The Dominican Republic is churning 'em out: Next in line after Arlenis Sosa and Rose Cordero, who both hit big in the last few years, is 16-year-old Reina Montero. Montero actually broke into modeling because of Cordero, who was her volleyball teammate (Cordero's mother pointed Montero in the direction of Rose's agency). After signing in 2009, she's already landed editorials for Pop magazine, French Revue de Modes, and AnOther Magazine. She was also featured in V magazine's much-hyped shape issue, which came out earlier this year. Though the New York runways haven't seen a turn by Reina yet, she did make the rounds last year at Dominica Moda 2009. And we're guessing that her majestic beauty, with her long legs and deep-brown eyes, is likely to catch on.
9 of 10
Rasa Zukauskaite (Next)
As of now, Rasa Zukauskaite is most famous for losing her head. The 18-year-old Lithuanian rookie was the only model cast in the spring campaign for Prada shot by Steven Meisel, the first only-girl campaign for the label since Linda Evangelista in 2008. But the public didn't know Prada signed Rasa right away. When shots of the campaign first leaked in December, they featured a model carrying Prada bags and bracelets, with her head out of the frame. The photos circulated and speculation ensued, until a few weeks later when Prada revealed the rest of the campaign and Rasa was the star. It makes sense, then, that she made her official debut on the Prada catwalk for the spring 2010 season. But she didn't stop there, going on to appear in Milan and Paris shows like Alberta Ferretti, Missoni, Moschino, Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton, and Miu Miu, and she recently took a turn on the Prada menswear runway for fall 2010. Her editorial work is steadily building, as she just appeared in a piece for W magazine's January issue, shot by Craig McDean. Known for her calm look on the runway, this classic beauty is poised for a big New York debut.
10 of 10
Jenny Sinkaberg (IMG)
Jenny Sinkaberg has an icy stare, and casting directors and fashion editors are warming to it. The 17-year-old Norwegian debuted during the spring 2010 season, walking for Les Copains in Milan. She went on to walk ten spring shows in Europe, including Balenciaga, Giambattista Valli, Kris Van Assche, and Miu Miu. And that was just her first season. She debuted in the pages of Dazed & Confused's December issue, shot by Kacper Kasprzyk. And Daniel Jackson photographed her for Chinese Vogue, alongside Patricia Van Der Vliet and Shu Pei. She also was one of several women models who made appearances at the fall 2010 Prada menswear show. Now, fresh off a strong run at January's Paris couture shows — she walked Christian Dior, Chanel, and closed Valentino — it's just a matter of which New York designer decides to scoop her up first.