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Meet the New Girl: How Julia Saner Went From Winning a Modeling Contest to Becoming a Face of Valentino

Two years ago Julia Saner won the 2009 International Elite Model Look contest. The now 18-year-old Swiss's prize included a contract with Elite Paris, which would lead to her signing with Paul Rowland's new Ford Models editorial division in 2010. During the spring 2011 shows, Saner skipped New York and London Fashion Weeks, and debuted at the spring Gucci show in Milan. Before the week was over, she made high-profile appearances at Fendi and Roberto Cavalli. But Saner's major coup was booking the first look at Valentino, which led to her becoming one of the label's spring 2011 faces, alongside Freja Beha and Caroline Brasch Nielsen. Soon after that, she was on set with Mario Testino for a spread in next month's Vogue. Look for Saner on only the best catwalks at New York Fashion Week next month.

Tell us a little about your childhood.
I grew up in Bern, the capital of Switzerland, with my family. I still have a wonderful relationship with all my siblings (my younger brother who is now 15, and my older half-brother and half-sister), as well as with my parents.

Your major breakthrough happened when you won the Elite Model Look contest — what was that like?
For the world final I flew to Sanya, China, and met so many beautiful girls from all over the world.

You have the day off tomorrow; what would you like to do?
I'd like to meet with my friends, visit the city, and take lots of photos to collect memories. I also like to write in my diary, go jogging, and play the piano.

Tell us something about modeling most people don't know.
There are so many prejudices about being a model. For example, the assumption that models are dumb and that most have not graduated from school. Conversely, the notion that models have this easy, luxurious jet-set lifestyle and don’t have to do more work than “standing and looking pretty in front of the camera.” Those are so far from the truth. This career is a lot of work and you have to be smart to really succeed!

Describe your style in three words.
Comfortable, sporadic, and genuine.

If we looked in your purse, what would we find?
A lip balm, a bottle of water, my BlackBerry, my wallet, my diary/notebook, and my camera.

If you could meet anyone dead or alive, who would you meet?
It would definitely be Marilyn Monroe. Although some people have a misconception that she was naïve and superficial, very few pay attention to the fact that she wrote poetry and read a lot of books. She was much more than just a sexy actress.

Tell us something random and totally weird.
I always have to reapply the adhesive tape that I’m using on the broken “enter” button on my BlackBerry so that it doesn’t fall out and get lost!

Favorite thing about being a model?
The traveling that you get to do is incredible. I feel like I’ve been given an unprecedented opportunity to meet interesting people from all around the world and make great life experiences at the same time.

Worst thing about being a model?
Being alone can become difficult. It’s a small price to pay, though!

Explore other rising stars (plus all the big names) in our extensive Model Manual, featuring runway pics, glamorous editorials, model bios, career timelines, and more.

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