Seventeen-year-old Allaire Heisig got her big break when she closed the fall 2011 Marc by Marc Jacobs show. A few months later, the Long Island–born beauty flew to Paris on a whim and scored a slot on the Valentino couture fall 2011 runway. Heisig was then asked to shoot with revered photographer Deborah Turbeville for Italian Vogue's September 2011 issue. But this precocious teen has her priorities straight — the self-professed bookworm refuses to give up on her education, choosing to juggle modeling and school instead. Which explains her absence during the spring 2012 European Fashion Weeks, after she walked for the Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti, Theyskens' Theory, and 3.1 Phillip Lim shows in New York. We met with Heisig pre-Fashion Week to discuss couture fittings, her super-secret brownie recipe, and the games one sometimes has to play in the modeling business.
Last season, you closed Marc by Marc Jacobs's fall 2011 show; what was the process like?
Marc Jacobs has a very intense casting process, where you have to go back multiple times. I actually did the looks for the label, which is when they design the clothes around a certain model's measurements. I worked with them a lot during that time; it was almost like working with a family because everyone got along so well with each other.
Were you nervous?
Yes! I was practicing backstage a lot. I remember the night before I thought to myself, "What am I doing with my life? I'm so nervous." Really though, I just didn't want to fall on the runway. [Laughs.]
You also walked the Valentino couture fall 2011 show; which show was more nerve-racking?
I would have to say I was the most nervous doing the fittings for Valentino couture. Freja Beha, Sigrid Agren, and all the big girls were there, and at that point, I wasn't confirmed for the show. And basically if the couture clothing doesn't fit you, that's it, they won't change it. I remember my cheeks getting so hot, so red because of my nerves. But the show itself was beautiful because it was held at the Place Vendome, so I felt like I was walking in a vintage French film.
Did you prepare in any special way before walking the couture shows?
Not really. It was my first time in Paris, and I was just there because my Paris agency, Viva, requested me to come. I didn't know I was going to do couture until my agency sent me to meet with the Valentino team, and then I got it! I was surprised I booked it because couture shows are usually filled with the established girls with little room for the newcomers, so I was over the moon.
If you were not modeling, what would you be doing?
Well, I'm still in school, so I would just continue doing that. I'm in the college process now and I'm looking at schools in the city so I can continue working. NYU would be amazing.
What is your most favorite and least favorite feature about yourself?
I think I'm pretty friendly, I like that. Least favorite feature is that I worry a lot.
What worries you?
Juggling school and modeling.
Are your classmates aware of your life as a model?
My friends know what I do, but I don't think they really get it. It's more of a game than people think. Once, at a family dinner, my uncle asked if someone just calls up my agency and then I walk in a show. But he doesn't know the process behind it — going to castings, fittings, and on and on. It's not that easy!
You're twenty minutes late to a photo shoot with no time to get dressed, what do you wear?
A black tank top and black jeans. You can never go wrong with a basic wardrobe. How I dress for modeling is different than how I dress back home. Back home, everyone is really preppy, wearing their cute, little J.Crew outfits, but in modeling that doesn't work.
Making brownies! It's my form of therapy when I'm really stressed out. My recipe came out of the back of a cocoa box, but it's so good.
You're about to be stranded on an island with one person and one thing, who and what would you bring?
A really good book, and my booker Kristen Bolt.
What are you reading lately?
While in Paris, I really enjoyed reading The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. At the end, Newland Archer doesn’t go with the girl he loves, but goes with duty. But he's still sitting there on a bench outside her window; it's kind of like life.
Tell us something about modeling most people don't know.
Ninety percent of it takes place in a subway.
Lastly, any beauty tips?
Personally, I never wear nail polish because I hate the way it feels. But I enjoy using Aveeno products because they're natural and contains SPF, which is important. Also, Kérastase shampoo is amazing.
Model Profile: Allaire Heisig
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.