Last month’s Dazed & Confused cover star Arizona Muse talks about walking the runway and playing muse to the world’s top fashion houses. Via Dazed Digital.
In a matter of months, Muse has already shot with Inez and Vinoodh, Paolo Roversi and Steven Meisel, appeared on the cover of Italian Vogue, and featured in both the Prada and Yves Saint Laurent S/S11 campaigns. Credentials like these are what new faces dream of attaining after a stretch of years, but for Arizona Muse the dream has swiftly become reality – the glowing all-American girl (actually half-English) has sky-rocketed to the top this season, walking a total of 23 shows and being granted the exclusive honour to open six of them and close three.
In the fashion world, this privilege is second to none – the designer’s declaration of a model’s stardom – but the really unusual thing about Muse’s success is that she has become muse to more than one designer at the same time, and so quickly – spring/summer 2011 was her first show season. “She is a nice person inside and out,” says Amanda Bretherton, Arizona’s booker at Next. “As friendly to the third assistant on the shoot as she would be to the photographer. She is a real mother hen and looks after all the girls despite only being 22 herself.” Here, we meet the muse of the season who starred throughout last month’s 57-page collections special.
Dazed & Confused: How did you first become a model, and how were you discovered?
Arizona Muse: I grew up in Santa Fe and met my mother’s agent there – she used to be a model and had some contacts in the industry and offered to help me start.
DC: Since then you’ve had a baby. The big break that happened after that… How did it take off?
Arizona Muse: I had Nikko so I took a year and a half off. I wasn’t sure if I was going to model after I had him. I stopped when I was pregnant and it was good to have some time to really think about things. It was really important to have that space. When he was one, I decided to start working again but I said to myself, ‘If I am going to work again, then I’m going to do it properly this time – really focus and be interested’.
DC: How did that happen? It’s been such a big buzz! Obviously, Russell Marsh booking you for Prada was such a big deal – how did that come together?
Arizona Muse: I hadn’t met people like Russell Marsh before. When I came back my agency could see that I had really changed; that I had grown up a lot and was really focused. Everyone I met at castings during fashion week witnessed that change, and thought, ‘Wow. Let’s use this girl, we really want her… enthusiasm… I think that’s what people saw!
DC: Did you want to be a model when you were younger?
Arizona Muse: Not really. I’m only just learning now how it works. I’m finding it really interesting and it feels like I’m a part of something really important, which is a good feeling!
DC: You’ve got such an amazing name, is it your real name?! Everyone wants to know!
Arizona Muse: It is! I was born in Arizona. My mum’s English and she’d just moved there right before I was born. I guess she was really impressed by the desert and she named me Arizona! Muse is my dad’s last name so that’s that! I like it but it took a long time to get used to!
DC: It’s very apt for this issue and your sudden rise to supermodeldom!! You’re such a muse to so many designers at the same time. How does it feel?
Arizona Muse: It’s amazing, and it’s so flattering that people think I’m interesting. It also feels like a lot of responsibility, because I feel I’ve got to live up to all their expectations! I think that’s helpful, though – I don’t think it’s a bad kind of pressure. People are interested in me, so I should really show them my interest as well – then it’s a win win situation, to have a mutual respect for each other.
DC: Do you have a muse or a role model yourself?
Arizona Muse: Many. I really have a lot of respect for my parents, and they have a lot of really amazing friends. I feel like I have a strong group of friends who are of a different generation too, and I’m really grateful for that.
DC: Are your family and friends excited about the industry you’ve become immersed in?
Arizona Muse: Some of them, but some not… and that’s fine. I think I wouldn’t be interested in it if I weren’t modelling. But I love clothes. I’ve always loved clothes. I think it’s an unexpected opportunity that I probably wouldn’t have fallen into if things hadn’t happened the way they have.
DC: Do you ask for other models for advise?
Arizona Muse: I’ve received a lot of helpful advise from other girls. Other models are really friendly and I haven’t experienced any jealousy.
DC: That’s surprising. Lots of the girls must have thought, ‘Who is this new girl and why is she opening every show?!’
Arizona Muse: I don’t know. Because it’s my first season, I don’t have anything to compare it to. I’m really looking forward to my second season, to have the reference of the first. And moving forward… I think it’s going to be great!
DC: Have any of the designers or stylists given you tips on how to survive the fashion industry?
Arizona Muse: Olivier [Olivier Rizzo – stylist for Prada]. When they told me I was going to open Prada, he said: ‘This is going to change your life!’ That was probably the biggest one-liner that I received! I love Olivier. He’s so supportive. That was really nice to hear, and it’s true my life has changed so much in every aspect – having a baby, returning to work and everything going really well. It’s all changed so much in the last year.
DC: Did you notice how quickly things were going and how successful you were becoming when you were doing the shows?
Arizona Muse: I did notice it. Fashion week sounds so short but they actually last a whole month – there’s definitely some time to notice what’s going on. Paris felt really different from New York, where I was completely new. I went in with the attitude that it might go really well or it might not. We’ll just see what happens. New York went pretty well and then doing Prada in Milan really set the stage for Paris, and I was so busy in Paris! Then I realised: this is what it’s going to be like!
DC: How does it feel to be the only model ever who’s taken over Dazed?
Arizona Muse: Wow. This is the first time you’ve done the whole issue on one girl?! I didn’t know that! It’s very exciting. I hope I can live up to your expectations!!! I hope I don’t let you down and disappear next season and no one ever books me again for anything and you’re like, ‘Oh no! We have this whole issue on this random girl who no one knows about!!!’ Wow… what made you choose to do that?!
DC: I think it was because you continued to keep on impressing the designers so much so that you’d be booked for every show – we needed to meet this girl! Opening Prada and closing YSL is a big thing. To people outside the industry these things don’t mean much, but it’s a big deal in the industry…
Arizona Muse: I’ve really learned a lot this season about how it all works, and I still feel like I have a lot to learn and understand. It is really interesting, though. It’s a huge industry and so many people’s lives depend on it. We’re definitely not feeding starving children but there’s so many really creative, really talented individuals I’m working with now, and it’s really amazing to be at the top of an industry. These are all the people that are the best at doing this in the world, and I get to work with them! That is really special.
DC: What’s been your highlight of the season, or can you tell us what was a really great show to be part of?
Arizona Muse: John Galliano was amazing because it was such a performance. I was really scared and worried when we were in the line-up. They said, ‘So, you’re not just going to walk down the runway… you’re going to interact with the audience and just do whatever you want…’ I was like, ‘Oh no. I’m going to freeze up! I was probably one of the only few who didn’t know what a John Galliano show was usually like. I was worried I’d fall or not be able to impress anyone! But it was actually really fun. Melissa, another model in the line was a little nervous too, so together, we were like, ‘Oh no- what are we going to do?!’ We devised a little game plan together. It became really fun because we were doing it together. I loved it too, which surprised me! That was definitely a highlight. After that show, I felt really great. I had this big rush of energy and excitement.
DC: Back to the beginning of the show season and the performance of it all – catwalk modelling isn’t easy, did they teach you to walk?!
Arizona Muse: Yes! I had so many lessons, I could not walk at all for so long… Then I finally got it. I think for me, timing was everything. I guess I just wasn’t ready for a career in modelling when I was 18. Now, I am ready.
DC: You’re 22 now?
Arizona Muse: Yep. And I think that’s also a little bit why I’ve got a good response from casting directors and designers. They’re like, ‘This girl is 22 and she’s really ready… and let’s be ready for her, because this is something we need to do now. I need to start with a bang because I’m already 22. Of course, I’m really young, but not for a model. Some girls have been doing this for six years already when they’re 22!
DC: Lastly, what would be your dream shoot?!
Arizona Muse: It’s hard to say! I want to do a lot of things. I’m really planning on being here to stay! I guess I just really want to do it all!