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Soraya Jansen

The artists-slash-models taking over fashion

We spotlight five people straddling careers as models and up-and-coming artists

Over are the days when models were selected for sharp cheekbones and waist measurements alone; contemporary fashion’s most agenda-setting designers want to see their clothes worn by models who embody their visions in a more holistic way. Character and individuality top the list of every casting call now, so we’ve picked out some of London’s talented people. Each of them juggle modelling work with their creative practices – busting the notion of the vacuous model in the process. Here are five young artist-slash-models that you need to know now.


Urban storyteller Isabel Alsina-Reynolds takes inspiration from London’s underground rave scene. “Without wanting to sound like a total wanker, raves themselves are an art form,’ says the Venezuela-born 22-year old. Last year saw Maison Margiela’s diffusion line MM6 select the Anti-Agency signed model, distinguishable by her acid-green hair, to walk in its AW16 show. As for her art, she creates abstract narratives using movement, painting and spoken word.



Central Saint Martins student King Owusu draws from his friends and family as a source of constant inspiration. “I grew up with an urge to understand the world around me and illustration helps me to do this, it’s how I learned to communicate,” he explains. The 19-year-old modelled in Grace Wales Bonner’s AW16 show in January, and has since been plastered across billboards as part of this season’s Topman campaign. Owusu is represented by London’s freshest agency, Nii, launched this year by photographer Campbell Addy with a view to promote diversity within the industry. Raised in North London, Owusu identified the city’s breadth of opportunity as its best feature, saying “London is a city that which enables all that are hungry and ambitious.”



Born ‘n’ bred Londoner Lottie Hughes works mostly within the realms of illustration and collage. When asked what inspires her, Hughes names figures, facts, interiors, abstraction and architecture as strong influences in her work. “I’m inspired by intuition and thought; I guess everything inspires me.” Hughes strolled into the world of high fashion this season, walking for Vetements and Gosha Rubchinskiy. Of her hometown, she said “London is expensive and fast and the creative scene here has to fight to stay grounded. Despite the pressure of this city, it’s creative as hell and I love that.”



21-year-old Soraya Jansen grew up in Kuala Lumper, studied at Glasgow School of Art, came to London to meet with an agency and was signed on the spot. “The photographs I take revolve a lot around the non-place. I’ve spent a lot of time in airports,” says Jansen, “I find beauty in the non-space and embrace it. It’s almost a cathartic experience to me.” The nymph-like photographer went on to say that her favourite thing about London’s contemporary art scene is how multicultural it is.



Runway favourite Gaby Sahhar graduated from Goldsmiths’ Fine Art course in 2015, rounding off his degree by showing alongside Wolfgang Tillmans and Gillian Wearing at the Zabludowicz Collection. “I use shock and dark humour to provoke a different way of thinking,” says 23-year-old Sahhar. “I like to exaggerate political situations in London to show how meaningless and stupid they become.” The multidisciplinary artist’s look has caught the eyes designers internationally, earning him walks for Yeezy, Kenzo, Hood By Air, Vetements and Rick Owens. Sahhar’s careful observation of society allows him to paint, film and perform responses to the sheer ridiculousness of modern life.