She is a photographer’s muse, the “it girl” for a designer’s collection, or maybe the face of a brand’s campaign. A model is a canvas for all kinds of creatives and businesses to draw upon. But what makes a great model? Is it just someone with attractive features and a body that wears clothes well? According to recent Top Austin Model winner Claire Graves, it goes beyond outward appearances. “I think what makes a great model is confidence in oneself in everything you do. From the runway, to photo shoots, as well as your life.” Throughout the Top Austin Model competition she says she maintained perseverance and a positive attitude through it all. Claire struggled with some heartbreak and difficult life decisions during Top Austin Model as her grandma passed away in the middle of the competition. When faced with whether or not to participate in the final round of photo shoots or attend her grandma’s funeral, Claire decided that she had come too far to quit on the competition. ”My grandma wouldn’t have wanted me to quit” said Claire.
Growing up in Corpus Christi, Claire first became interested in modeling when she was 16 and even started working with a modeling agency. However, her flirtation with an agency did not turn into a lasting relationship when the agency collapsed and the models were left unpaid for any of their work. That bad experience made Claire hold off on modeling for awhile but after graduating high school and staying interested in everything fashion related, Claire eventually moved to Austin in 2010 and began studying fashion merchandising at ACC. Her love of fashion and the modeling reality TV show “America’s Next Top Model” influenced her to get back into modeling and ultimately participate in Top Austin Model 2012. Claire says her favorite part of being involved in Top Austin Model was getting to know all the other girls, as well as learning and growing as a model. Not only is Top Austin Model a modeling competition, but it is also a sort of “modeling bootcamp.” Creator of Top Austin Model and model herself, Brianna Fleet, along with other fashion industry professionals, worked with the girls one on one training them and giving them advice throughout the competition.
The day after Claire was announced the winner of Top Austin Model, I shot some photos of Claire at my house to get a feel of her modeling style and to get to know her a little better as a person. One of the things I love about Claire and her modeling is that she has a “girl next door” kind of quality. Although she is obviously stunning to look at, her beauty and her demeanor is an approachable and accessible one that I think is very fitting for Austin and the Austin fashion scene. Claire says one of the things she enjoys about the fashion community in Austin versus New York or L.A. is that not everyone here has to be a size 0. Claire’s favorite supermodel is Adriana Lima and says she looks up to Victoria’s Secret models the most because they actually have curves and “women’s curves are a beautiful thing.”
I’m really looking forward to following Claire’s modeling career and whatever other projects come her way in fashion.
(P.S. these photos were taken with my Mini Diana film camera which I am finally getting into using. I wanted a sort of polaroid type of feel for these photos to simulate the kind of photos that would be taken at a model casting with minimal hair and makeup and a random setting.)
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