Maria Clara @ L'Agence
A doll-like face in a strong and positive mindset. If you looked at her at a glance, you'd find someone who knows how to present herself. A girl with an incredibly mature work ethic and dedication. An amazing surprise.
What are the weirdest questions you have ever been asked in an interview?
Starting with the hardest part I see ... The thing people always say and are convinced that is true is that for every designer I work with, I receive clothes. They say, "Oh, you should have a spectacular wardrobe." I'm like ... no.
Well, starting from the beginning now. How did you start?
Technically I started when I was three years old, doing children's and baby things. I've always been with L'Agence, so they're like my second family. I started in L'Agence Kids, doing international work because my look was not typically Portuguese, so I worked for German and Swedish brands and made several catalogs for La Redoute. I was lucky to have worked with very good brands. In Portugal I made some ads for Continente, and was an ad girl for four straight years for Ecoponto.
Regarding, to adult fashion I started in a L'Agence contest. I stopped working for five years because I had braces and to give my career a push and "announce" I had come back, I entered the contest and returned to the modelling world.
You came back and won the contest!
Yes, I won. I was not even expecting anything. At the time I still had braces! The contest was in October (2013) and I took it off in April (2014).
And what do you like the most in this world of fashion?
To embody characters. Mainly because I have a great passion for dance - I did it for ten years. I started in ballet so I like to try strange positions - mainly in the editorial part of my work. It is the art of what is behind that I love the most: according to the clothes, I have to embody a character. It's like being an actress, but I can't speak.
Had you already worked abroad as a model or was it last year that your international career began?
Last year it started more seriously, yes. I came of age and was easier to travel because there wasn't the need for my parents to sign consent papers so I could travel alone.
Italy, Qatar ...
I have been to Dubai, Qatar, Milan, Paris, London, Madrid and ... I think that's it for work.
What was the city that you like most of all?
I did like Milan. Most people don't. They think it is a very industrialized city. But the city I loved the most was Venice. I thought I was in a fairy tale ... super narrow streets, being surrounded by water ... it was wonderful.
And from of all these places where you worked, which was the most remarkable?
The most striking work?
Yes, or experience. You were in places as diverse as Dubai or Qatar ...
Yes, but I was at work and had very little time to visit. This is one of those things people think we do. They ask "you travelled a lot. What did you see?" and I've been there for twenty-four hours! I didn't even have time to see anything.
But I think the most striking work was the first time I stepped on a runway in London. It was my first international experience and it was for the Naomi Campbell show, the "Fashion for Relief" which is a charity event. I was surrounded by celebrities. There were only a few models chosen and I still don't quite know how I managed to book the work. They told me not to be a "model" in the runway, to be myself and have fun. I could dance or do whatever I wanted to. It was all very relaxed and laid back. It was awesome!
You have worked with brands such as Benetton, Moschino ... how were these experiences?
There is always extra pressure when we know that the brand is good and there are high expectations. I feel the pressure to give my best and impress the client, because my goal is always to be hired again. I think that a model has to think like this, a la longue. The future depends on if the client liked us and wants to continue to hire us year after year. But in these works people were always super friendly... There is this stereotype that big clients don´t care about us, models. Compared with Portugal, for instances, they treat us with more respect and appreciate us more. In Venice, for example, I was photographing summer clothes under two degrees. Tourists passed by us and even took photos, they couldn't believe what they were seeing. It was for a Chinese brand. But they were careful to go running with the coat immediately after the pictures were done and asked if I need to eat something or drink a cup of tea to warm up.
Is there any funny story that you can tell us? You have met so many people ...
Yes, that's the most amazing part of our work, meeting people. Each person is more spectacular than the other...
Have you met Naomi Campbell?
Yes! When I was walking in her show, everyone was already dressed and in heels in the lineup and we were standing for about 40 minutes waiting for her to get dressed. But then she appeared and stole the show! She really is unique on the runway. To see it live is even more amazing!
Is she the best model you've seen walking a runway?
And when you worked with Moschino, have you met Jeremy Scott?
He was not there! Regarding designers I have worked with, I met Ian Griffiths, from Max Mara, who surprised me in a very positive way.
From what you have learned so far, what would you say to a girl who wants to be a professional model?
First, they need to know what they're getting into! Not everyone is aware. You're going to a model apartment with six other people, which is not exactly ... clean! It takes persistence, consistency and, most of all, to like what you're doing. You can see it in each picture if a model enjoys what she's doing. If being a model is what you want, never give up and work hard in the mirror! At first I would see "America's Next Top Model" and listened to Tyra (Banks) saying that they had to work in the mirror and I didn't care much about it, but now I realize the importance of practicing in front of a mirror. It is important to read many magazines, study positions ...
Do you have the book "Study of Pose", by Coco Rocha?
No, but it is spectacular! A thousand poses! It is impressive. Incidentally, there is another competition, "The Face," with Naomi Campbell as well, where Coco Rocha is a judge. The competition is great. I've learnt a lot watching it. It shows the entire industry's range of work, not only the photographic or advertisements part. There is an episode where Coco Rocha teaches the models to "sell sunglasses" (photographically) and, in a minute, I don't even remember how many poses she does. Each picture shows a different expression. She's incredible! I was at home watching and I had to call my mother to see it!
Since we're talking about it, who is your main model reference?
I really admire Karlie Kloss!
You have resemblances...
I've been told this before, which makes me very happy!
So... you finished high school and are going to London now. Which are your plans?
I'm supposed to be at the University, but only went to a week and a half since September, so I guess that does not count!
Which course did you choose?
Advertising and marketing.
The same as Daniela (Hanganu) ...
Yes, we are colleagues! We're in the same class. If one is in Portugal and the other is abroad we can pass notes, but if we're both out is difficult ... I was recently in Milan and Daniela was passing me notes but then it reached a point where it was too much to catch up to. But it's nice to have someone in the same situation in class. Someone who knows what we're going through and that helps us.
And in terms of personal life, do you have time for hobbies, now that you spend more time abroad?
When I'm abroad I don't have much time, no... I've been trying to get my driver's license for a year and it is proving to be difficult! But one thing that I always try to not let go off is dance, even if I only do it once a week, at home. It's my passion. I did ballet for ten years and then experienced all styles, from hip hop to jazz and Latin Rhythms.
I love reading as well. It's a newfound passion! What made me discover it was the constantly being on airplanes and waiting in castings. It is a way to occupy my time and, in most cases, to learn.
Do you recommend any particular book?
I'm now reading “In Order to Live” by Yeonmi Park, one based in a true story. It's a super inspiring story, told by a north korean girl who was about 13 years. The book gives us a very strong will to live. I think everyone should read in their lifetime.
I also love to read Manga. I'm crazy for the Japanese culture!
Now to finish the interview, do you have any professional goal?
I think any model has the dream of being in the cover of Vogue, but I mainly want to enjoy myself to the fullest, not regretting anything and working with the best brands possible. We have to live one day at a time! If you like what you do, time will fly by.
photography Gonçalo M. Catarino
styling Catarina F. Pinto
make up & hair Tiago Figueiredo
model Maria Clara @ L'Agence