In our ongoing series, From Nada to Prada, we explore the transformative power of a hair switcheroo, as seen in the competitive world of Model Land, where an agency-mandated bang cut or a bleach job can make the difference between booking a Prada campaign or slaving away e-commerce for the rest of your livelong days.
When you’ve got kick ass Chrissie Hynde vibes, you don’t try to cover it all up by being, you know, your average pretty chick. One of my favorite chop-chop success stories is IMG’s Zlata Mangafic, who arrived on the fashion scene in 2012 with long, mousy brown hair vaguely reminiscent of actress (and famed on-camera hair-adjuster) Kristen Stewart. The look was precious, natural, very girl-next-door-ish – the type of unassuming babe I’d want my brother to settle down with one day, who would arrive to family Christmas parties with some organic flourless cocoa kale cake topped with self-harvested sea salt that she baked herself. Apparently the wholesome, I-make-kale-cakes look wasn’t winning her too many gigs. Soon after her arrival came a good and proper rock-and-roll shag… and this new Zlata wasn’t bakin’ shit for nobody.
Often times, fashion operates by the same rules as dating: You always want what you can’t have. Zlata’s new cut made her look like an openly hostile she-warrior who didn’t need anything from anyone – the anti-girl, as it were. (If you’re looking for an archetype for reference, just recall Angelina Jolie circa Firefox.) If she never booked another job in her life, this new Zlata wouldn’t care. As I imagine it, having been scorned by the industry for the very last time, Zlata would simply saddle up to the bar and drink her whisky on the rocks alone, muttering something like “Never wanted to be a supermodel anyway” before taking the bus back to Bosnia, where she would go on to have an even more prolific career in an alternative field. And so fashion, just like every other psychologically damaged single person lusting after the person playing hard to get, went crazy for her.
With a haircut now befitting her masculine features and a stare that could burn holes in concrete, Zlata has become a catwalk queen over the last two seasons, booking all the “cool girl” shows like Saint Laurent, Acne, Celine, Dries, Rag & Bone, and then some. Vogue, LOVE, W, and Elle, have all put her in the pages of their magazines. And if you’re one of those rich bitches who flips through designer lookbooks to figure out what you’ll be stocking your closet with next season, you’ve surely seen Zlata working it out in Marc Jacobs, Stella McCartney, and See by Chloe. Right now, New Zlata is everywhere cool where it is cool to be.
And true, her hardened, anti-pretty look is specific, keeping Zlata’s options for more traditionally fem clients sort of limited. You probably won’t see her walking down the runway wearing a Carolina Herrera wedding gown anytime soon. But New Zlata is hitting that androgynous note square on the head without trying too hard, cashing those checks with her middle finger raised high in the air.
Hey, some girls just aren’t cut out for a life of bridal gowns and baking cakes. Lucky them.
Verdict: Prada wishes it were cool enough for Zlata.