Aymeline Valade's success can pretty much be attributed to Alexander Wang. The designer scooped her up for his first-ever "image piece" (remember, don't call it an ad campaign) for spring 2011, shot by Craig McDean and styled by Karl Templer. Then, with casting director Anita Bitton, he selected the French Valade, 26, to open his fall 2011 show. This triggered a domino effect in her runway bookings, as she later walked for Gucci, Chanel, Balenciaga, and scored the opening slot at Louis Vuitton on the last day of Paris Fashion Week. Lately, Valade has been busy shooting with the likes of Steven Meisel and Greg Kadel for publications that include W magazine and various international versions of Vogue. We talked to Valade about her rise in the industry, working with Wang, and her guilty pleasures.
Tell us a little about your childhood.
I was born in Montpellier in the South of France, though I’ve never lived there. My first main residence was in Lyon, however due to the traveling nature of my parents, I moved around a lot. I have called Aix•En•Provence, Paris, and Nice home • my constant moving has always made me feel like I was from nowhere and everywhere at the same time. My parents were very adamant about me being exposed to diverse cultures • I visited many countries in Europe and Africa, and also traveled to America, and these events comprise a lot of memories from my childhood. Back then I was very hyperactive, and I guess I could have been called the class clown — the teacher would send me on errands in an attempt to calm me a little. My mom eventually ended up enrolling me in every physical activity possible — a lot of which, classical ballet for instance, I’ve done well into my adulthood.
How did you get discovered?
I’ve been scouted multiple times at multiple ages, but due to school and lack of interest I never pursued it. When I was 23, I went to Paris and was interning at a communications agency. Every day I passed by an agency and they scouted me. I did a few jobs with them but I left after my internship was over. I eventually signed with Women Paris after my old agent from the agency became my manager and the rest is history.
Your major breakthrough was opening for Alexander Wang's fall 2011 show — how did that relationship begin? And do you still work or speak with Alex?
After my spring 2011 Balenciaga exclusive, Karl Templer booked me for an Interview magazine shoot with Craig McDean. I suppose I made a good impression because a few weeks later I was on the set of Alex’s campaign. Alex has an amazing personality and is very sweet and talented. I like being with him because he is such an easygoing person. I did his last campaign and also the look book. We also attended the CFDA awards together.
What’s your most favorite and least favorite thing about yourself?
My favorite thing is my childish behavior. Most people are surprised when they learn my age because I act like a kid. My least favorite thing is my perfectionism because it can sometimes be annoying.
Tell us something random and totally weird.
I did cabaret and I know how to dance the French Cancan.
What scares you?
That harm would be done to my friends or family.
If not yourself, who would you be?
God of course, then everything is possible — right?
There is no guilt in pleasure.
The most important one: zero stress. Another favorite of mine is, “Never do to others what you would not like done upon yourself.”. Also, Julia Nobis told me, “If it jams, force it; if it breaks, it needed fixing anyway."
When you have a day off, what do you like to do in your free time?
I sleep in and then I usually visit friends. We have a lot of fun; we go to see an art exhibit, skateboard, play volleyball, relax in the park, see concerts whatever is good to me, to us.
What was the last thing you bought?
Socks and underwear, because I travel so much and I lose them. I need to refill my stock often.
You're about to be stranded on an island and you can bring one person and one thing, who and what would you bring?
Obviously, my boyfriend. And I need nothing other than food, so the biggest suitcase full of it.
Your idea of happiness is
Happiness is a state. It is not something that you think about, but something you are. The best thing to do is to enjoy every situation as much as you can, the less you think about it, the better.
If not modeling, what would you be doing?
I would like to work on concerts, movies, or street performances — or paint. Journalism is another interest of mine.
What are your plans tomorrow?
Work, every day is a working day.
Model Profile: Aymeline Valade
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