Photography Olgac Bozalp Fashion Director Katy Lassen Model Ilana Kozlov at NEXT
Top and jeans by Stella McCartney
Five minutes with Ilana Kozlov
I have heard you fell into modelling by accident, tell me more about how it happened.
I was at a local flea market in Los Angeles waiting on my friend who was furniture shopping. Two representatives from NEXT approached me and asked me if I was signed, gave me a card and that’s it.
Did you have an interest in fashion imagery before you started modelling? Has this changed/developed?
Sure, advertising is ubiquitous. I think every person has a relationship with images, and by extension, fashion images. My relationship with fashion develops in tandem with my work within it, so I suppose there are certain things I pay attention to that weren’t always on my radar–but that kind of thing happens by proxy. One thing that I paid attention to before I started modelling that I continue to observe is the visibility of heavy-handed infantilisation, fetishisation, racism and sexism in fashion images.
You have walked the first two seasons for Demna Gvasalia’s Balenciaga plus shot the campaign, how did it feel to land such a great client so early on in your career?
I didn’t really think I would have a career in modelling where I would be working with such powerhouse names, so it made me feel confused more than anything! But I just went with it!
Demna and his stylist and muse Lotte Volkolva’s vision for design and casting is really disrupting ideas of beauty in fashion right now, how does it feel to be part of that and what are your views on the representation of female beauty in contemporary fashion imagery?
I’m not so sure I agree with that statement. I would maybe lend myself to that statement more regarding their other project Vetements. Their most recent show had a ground-breaking casting that I’ve only seen in the likes of Rick Owens. Casting people of all ages, body shapes and having a more ethnically diverse cast than most designers was something I loved seeing. Talking about diversity in fashion becomes kind of funny sometimes because you’re still talking about mostly 17 year old tall girls.
Diversity in casting is improving with more and more women with an individual aesthetic entering the fray, but there is a long way to go. You have a strong look with a lot of tattoos, how do clients react to your look?
I mean I exist in an echo chamber, I suppose? I don’t interact with clients who have a problem with my tattoos because those clients don’t ask for me. So, I’ve never encountered any kind of prejudice because of my tattoos.
Before modelling you worked mainly as a multimedia artist, have you managed to maintain your output alongside the modelling and is there a relationship between your art and your work as a model?
Well my art practice has its own kind of life, and sometimes it’s dormant regardless of whether or not I’m busy with modelling. I think that my modelling exists in every space in my life and my art is sometimes more loudly reflective of that than other times. Sometimes I make work that specifically relates to my experience as a woman within the beauty industrial complex…but that’s an experience everyone has regardless of whether or not they’re a model.
With the rise of social media, especially Instagram, more and more models are able to express their personalities and look on their own terms. A lot of clients now look to Instagram to see what the girl has to say when considering the casting. You have over 19k followers on Instagram, are you aware of using it as a marketing tool or just as an extension of your work?
Well I think Instagram, as a social media platform, works so well because it’s reflective of the mechanics of capitalism. We seek capital in the form of followers for labor in the form of lifestyle images. So, every single person on Instagram, whether they like it or not, is using it as a marketing tool (unless they’re just voyeurs.) So to answer your question, I suppose it’s always both for everyone.
Where do you see yourself in the future – do you have any modelling goals/would you like to concentrate on your personal work at some point?
I’m always concentrating on my personal work. I don’t really know what my modelling goals are, I suppose I would like to have as many conversations as I can to maybe change some people’s minds about certain things and continue making money for the future.