Hailing from Toronto, newcomer Madison Leyes is the latest Canadian to make waves in the modeling industry. The 19-year-old landed an exclusive catwalk deal for the spring 2012 show season, modeling on the Prada and Miu Miu runways in Milan and Paris respectively. But getting to that coveted exclusive wasn't easy. After several failed attempts at finding representation, Leyes took it upon herself to walk into Elmer Olsen Model Management (famous for launching the career of Daria Werbowy); she walked out with a contract that same day. Currently represented by Wilhelmina in New York, we met with Leyes to chat about working closely with Miuccia, her obsession with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and more.
Tell me a bit about your childhood.
I was born and raised in the West End of Toronto. Where I grew up was just on the edge of a really nice area; I lived in the worst house on the best block. [As a child], I was completely out of control. I didn't have any sort of sense of embarrassment, so I would just do whatever I wanted to do. Once, in second or third grade, I was bored taking a test so I crawled around on the floor talking to other people.
You were discovered a few weeks before Fashion Week.
Right, in Toronto. I had actually been scouted before a few times, but whenever I would go into the agencies, I never got a positive reaction. Finally, I was fed up and went into Elmer Olsen, and he immediately said, “I believe we can do this.”
So you actively sought out modeling, then?
Well, I always have this really vivid memory of being younger, and I think I’d just come back from a career fair. I just remember Googling "jobs that will allow me to travel,” and modeling came up. [Laughs.]
You were placed on exclusive with Prada and Miu Miu this past show season.
It was pretty intense. I worked with Miuccia [Prada] and her team every day — including weekends — for about a month, until the collection was designed. I didn’t even know that I was even being considered to walk. I thought I was just doing the looks, and I was happy doing that.
What do you remember most about the show?
Well, it’s funny because I don’t really remember the show. As soon as I got off the runway I was like, “Whoa, did I just do that?!” I was so focused, and on top of that, when we were ready to walk out, I was [somehow] under the impression that it was rehearsal. So I got out on the catwalk and I was like, “Oh! Not rehearsal!” You can actually see the change in my face.
How was it working with Miuccia?
Actually, right before I got out on the runway, she was holding my hand — as I thought it was a rehearsal. She’s very reserved, but not cold. She’s just very focused on what she’s doing. When you see her smile, though, you know she’s genuinely happy. She’s not someone who does the fake, cold smile.
How did you kill time backstage?
I’m really good at Angry Birds now.
Did you do the looks for Miu Miu, too?
Yeah, I did, with the show’s other exclusive, Ophelie [Rupp] for about a week or two. It was nice; we got to hang out all day every day.
Do you work hard to maintain that runway physique?
Well, I just do a lot of stretching. I have a little bit of a bad back, so I have to kind of stretch and make the effort to keep my back really straight. This also helps with my core, too.
What about your diet?
I don’t eat meat. I did dip into fish when I was in Milan because there were no nuts around. For Canadian Thanksgiving, I was in Milan staying at a models' apartment, and I found some butternut squash, which I cut in half and filled with with vegetarian stuffing. We had garlic green beans and mashed potatoes, of course.
What scares you?
Being buried alive, definitely.
What about a guilty pleasure?
Buffy the Vampire Slayer. My grandma introduced it to me and it’s my favorite show ever. I used to fall asleep listening to the musical episode every single night. I still debate over who I would date, Angel or Spike ...
Angel, obviously. What do your parents think of your newfound success?
I talk to my dad everyday. He’s very excited about all the places I’m traveling to. He knows how strong I am in terms of my personality, so he’s not worried. Although, the first thing he made me learn when I was going to Milan was how to kick a guy in the balls. [Laughs.]
Model Profile: Madison Leyes
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.BEGIN SLIDESHOW
Most Viewed Stories
The Ultimate Guide to Preparing for the Women’s March
Connecticut Politician Arrested for Pinching Woman’s Genitals
The Sheer Perfection of Donald Trump’s Golden Shower
The Obamas Visited Malia and Sasha’s Old Swing Set at Its New Home at a D.C. Shelter
Pakistani Pop Star Stops Concert When He Spots Sexual Harassment
15 Protest Sign Ideas for the Women’s March on Washington
Donald Trump’s Retweet Was Supposed to Praise Ivanka Trump, But It Tagged the Wrong User
How to Live in a 150-Square-Foot Studio
This Conspiracy Theory Will Change How You Feel About the Bachelor Villain
I’m Anti-Trump, But I Refuse to March
From Our Partners
powered by PubExchange
The Cut’s Latest Fashion FeaturesCiara's Wedding Dress Was Too Big for the Chapel
To be fair, it was a 13 foot-long dress.You and Rihanna Will Both Want to Invest in Dior’s New Bag
It's got something for everyone.Polo Shirts Have Turned Their Back on Ryan Lochte
Along with his other major sponsors.Ryan Lochte Will No Longer Be Paid to Wear Tiny Bathing Suits
Speedo remains committed to transparency.Laura Brown Is the New Editor-in-Chief of InStyle
After 11 years at Harper’s Bazaar.Tyra Banks Is Going to Teach a Class on Smizing at Stanford
"If I see somebody not paying attention, I’m gonna call on them."This Floating Pier Is the Most Zen Installation Ever
Walking on water in Italy.Nation Is Appalled by Matt Lauer’s Nude Ankles During Ryan Lochte Interview
What’s the opposite of “Jeah”?8 People at the Life of Pablo Pop-up Explain Why Kanye West Is a God
"I mean, Kanye West is just Kanye West. There's not more or less you can say about Kanye West. He's just Mr. West!"A T-shirt Is Enough
Simplicity, versatility, and cool. What more could you want?
She took a perfect pencil dive off a 30-foot yacht.American Apparel Is Being Sued by Former Workers
As the company considers putting itself up for sale.A Gendered History of the Tailored Suit
From Marlon Brando to Coco Chanel.How Zendaya Developed Such Great Style at the Young Age of 19
The star's best looks from Disney to now.Proof That If You’re Chic Enough, a Little Federal Investigation Doesn’t Matter
Is this the best they could do?5,300-Year-Old Mummified Iceman Probably Would’ve Been a Street-Style Star
He had several different looks and was “pretty picky.”J.Crew Has Identified 226 Shades of Pink
Even more than there are shades of gray.Gigi and Bella Hadid Merch Is Now Somehow a Thing That Is Happening
Today in Hadidiana.Gird Your Loins for the Return of Yeezy to New York Fashion Week
The season approaches.This Indie Brand Had a Great Response to Ivanka Trump
When she bought one of their cuffs, they donated the proceeds to the Clinton campaign.