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 in the gray ether of e-commerce for the rest of your livelong days.
Canadian model Janice Alida arrived on the scene in 2011 with a solemn stare and a serious pout, the type of face that reminds me of someone’s sad suburban wife, waiting at home for a dude who never answers his phone when he’s on “work trips.” (Alida is, in fact, married, and though I don’t know the details, let’s just assume happily.) Porcelain skinned and blue eyed, Janice was rocking that monochromatic, dishwater look my LA agency gamely stripped me of ten years ago because they didn’t know what they were doing. “Go brunette,” they demanded. “You’ll look more editorial” – which would have been great if I were actually living in a city where you could book Vogue shoots. The type of modeling gigs you get in LA are more along the lines of dancing around a beach in a pink latex bikini singing “Don’t you want a Fanta? Fanta?” Think cheesy. Think lucrative. Think anti-fashion bullshit.*
Alida’s agency, however, apparently knew what they were doing with her when – after a promising start walking for the likes of Proenza Schouler and Marc Jacobs during the F/W 2011 show season, along with Acne, Jil Sander, and Yigal Azrouel for S/S 2012 – she forfeited pretty/passive in favor of a sharp, masculine, bleached blonde pixie. It was a commitment that earned her editorials with headlines like “Boy Talk” for British Vogue and a place in the lineup of Givenchy’s menswear show. Now it was Alida was wearing the pants in the relationship; no more sulking around the house waiting for some dude to arrive.
After taking the blonde quickly back brunette, Alida had a knockout S/S 2013 season. Her bookings practically quadrupled, adding to Victoria Beckham, Missoni, Marni, Chanel, Lanvin, Fendi, and Louis Vuitton to her runway rolodex. And as the runway sitch improved, so did the editorials: Alida booked two back-to-back issues for Vogue Paris and shot lookbooks for Lanvin, Louis Vuitton, and Jonathan Saunders. In the last three years, Alida has become a sleeper staple, that girl in practically everything that you almost almost almost know by name.
In the seasons since, Alida has kept a respectable clip on runways and in magazines, her hair in an ever-changing iteration of a similar theme: Rock ‘n roll boyish, schoolboy boyish, futuristic boyish. Recently, she appears to be growing her hair out, lending her a softer, more feminine appearance that meets the Old Alida and the New Alida somewhere in the middle. And that middle is pretty damn perfect.
Verdict: Yo, Miuccia. Why you ain’t called yet?
*Note: There are always exceptions to this rule; there are plenty of people in LA holding it down in the good taste department.
Photos courtesy of respective publications via Models.com.