Isilda @ Central Models

At a first glance, she might just look like a pretty teenager. But when she moves and she talks, you can easily understand you’re in the presence of a Model. Isilda is a proof that hard work and focus do pay off!


How did you start working in fashion?

Four years ago I went to London for the Summer Holidays. It was the year of the Olympics. I was in a mall with my aunt and a man came over and asked me if I was a model. I said I wasn’t and he said I had some potential, handed me his agency’s card and told me to stop by the next day. It was IMG. I told him I was going to think about it. Next day I went there, said I was only 14 and that I was Portuguese and would be coming back to Portugal soon. They told me they worked with Best, here in Portugal, so I arrived back home and signed with Best.


Being found in a mall is a classic story!

Yes, and it was very crowded. It was near the Olympic stadium. I was lucky!


So, you got back home and signed with Best. Then what?

I arrived, had a few workshops and started working at ModaLisboa – I arrived in August and I believe ModaLisboa was in October.


What kind of workshops?

To learn how to walk, mostly.


What were the first things you struggled with, working as a model?

Firstly, to manage my time and balance modelling and study. And then, when shooting, I would look at other girls and think they were better and more sure of what they were doing. I would always have the same expression on my face. That was one of my biggest struggles to overcome.


How did you overcome this last struggle of adopting new expressions?

I read a lot of magazines and books, and then started practicing daily in front of a mirror. I would also go on agencies’ websites and look at what their models would do and try to repeat it. I still have this habit of listening to loud music while looking at the mirror and trying out new expressions.


And how did you start working internationally?

The following summer I went back to London. And then the summer after that. I did some test shoots there and would get back to Portugal to attend school. Then I also went to Barcelona and Madrid, for Bridal Fashion Week and Madrid Fashion week.


From all these experiences, what did you learn about the Portuguese fashion market?

There is a huge different. The way productions are organised is far more efficient abroad. In what runways are concerned, Spanish are very disorganised, I must say. ModaLisboa is much more organised. But in Bridal Fashion Week everything was absolutely organised. The models would get to the location and had to sign an agreement and show the ID card to get in. 


What was your favorite shoot so far?

Maybe Luis Onofre’s campaign. I admire him so much. I already did before being a model. It was the only designer I knew before becoming a model. I always loved the shoes and bags… I was so happy when I was told I was going to do his campaign!


Being 18 and having worked in this industry since you’re 14… how did you manage things between school and modelling?

Working a lot. Sometimes I would have to miss test and evaluations, and would have to do them later, alone. I would also miss some classes, so my colleagues and my teachers would send me everything so I could keep up with the subjects. Then I would study at home or at the jobs’ sites.


Did you feel support from your teachers?

Yes! Not one of them made me believe this couldn’t be done.


You’re 18 and have already worked much more than other older models – you’ve done all the major shows in Portugal, magazine covers, campaigns... Do you think this puts any pressure and expectations on you?

I feel like I have to really succeed in this industry, or everything I’ve done so far has been for nothing. Maybe not for nothing, but I would be sad for sure.


What was the best advice you’ve been given so far?

Don’t get into drugs.


Do you feel that is a big stereotype in this industry?

It is. Everyone warns be about it…


But do you feel there is a lot of opportunity in the fashion world to get into drugs?

Not more that in any other environment, to be honest. Maybe in parties, you feel there is an opportunity to do that. But you only find it if you look for it. There are as many drugs in the fashion industry, as in any other industry.


If you could change anything about the fashion scenario in Portugal, what would you do?

I think agencies have to work more with their models and help them achieve international careers. But it is already happening nowadays. Before, models had to try and do it on their own. They would have to put their foot down and pay for their own trips to go abroad.


How do you spend your free time?

Watching TV series. But I’m late to the Prison Break party... I’ve only started watching it now!


Tell us something about you that most people don’t know.

I love listening to music while working on expressions on Snapchat!


Do you have any future goals you can share?

To work internationally for haute-couture brands and, of course, for Victoria’s Secret!


production  KAEOT

photography  Gonçalo M. Catarino

styling  Catarina F. Pinto

make up & hair  Sara Peterson

model  Isilda @ Central Models