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.I can’t figure out what it is about 17-year-old model Natalie Westling. Maybe it’s the ratio of eyes to lips—how those giant, baby-girl doll orbs threaten to swallow you whole, how her pert, tight-lipped pout offers you nothing. The character. The neighborhood skater turned high fashion model vibes. That’s probably what it is. That, and, you know, that flaming red hair always gets me. I think I inherited my dad’s affinity for gingers.
Of course, my new favorite model teen isn’t a natural, 24/7 ging. Earlier this year she went from a dishwater auburn to fire engine red for the Marc Jacobs Spring 2014 campaign, where you’ll find her splayed out on a beach alongside Miley Cyrus, sporting a color she describes herself as “Little Mermaid hair… I guess?” And it was really this hair and Marc Jacobs who yanked Westling out of Development Board obscurity; before locking down a Jacobs’ runway exclusive for his Spring 2014 show, New York clients didn’t know what to make of her. (She isn’t the most conventional beauty by industry standards; Westling’s got the look of a beautiful, precocious, petulant British socialite, a face that rises to the occasion by virtue of its surroundings, or, if that’s too much of a stretch of your imagination, think Corey Kennedy on a really good day, pre-rehab.) Since then, designers have been less hesitant to hop on the bandwagon: Westling has Prabal Gurung, Vera Wang, and Anna Sui right where they should be—in her back pocket.
Since last season, there’s been big buzz over Westling, with her hair inspiring all sorts of dad jokes clever titles(“Newbie model Natalia Westling is a girl on fire” or “Natalie Westling is painting fashion red”). She’s scored spreads in Vogue, W, i-D, LOVE, amongst many others, as well as a really beautiful spot in a recent Saint Laurent campaign, Hedi Slimane’s requisite black and white rendering her hair color obsolete… something Westling’s career seems far from being.
Verdict: Trying to think of some clever bon mot that has to do with red but coming up short… I’ll just leave you with a simple, “Prada.”
GIF courtesy of Elles Belles