Models no longer live by the catwalk alone. Fashion’s current crop of beauties are caught up in all kinds of extracurricular projects—from filmmaking to dancing to music, styling and jewelry design.
One of the best examples of this new breed is songstress-turned-runway rambler Irina Lazareanu. She has an album coming out in August and, to dabble in another facet of fashion, tried her hand at styling for the first time—and photography—for an upcoming issue of V. For the project, she gathered some cohorts, including Daria Werbowy, Gemma Ward and Lily Cole, so that nine girls could pose together for a spread in the magazine. “Maybe I’ll do a project with different generations of models,” muses Lazareanu, who adds that Nicolas Ghesquière and Karl Lagerfeld were particularly supportive of her styling initiation.
So how did Lazareanu feel about being on the other side of a fashion shoot? She loved it, especially the styling, but adds: “It was very freaky. I had to make sure the girls got ready, got dressed. And I’m just a friend. It really was a challenge. It took 10 years off of my life.” A glutton for punishment, maybe, but Lazareanu is so keen on styling that she also just tried her hand at another shoot—this time for an edition of Vogue.
When it comes to music, Lazareanu says she will be wrapping up in June Some Place Along the Way, the album she’s recording with Sean Lennon (who is also its producer). The two play guitars and sing songs such as “Thirty Years Ago,” “Strange Place” and “To the One I’ve Never Met,” penned either by Lazareanu herself or Lazareanu with Lennon. Exceptionally, Lennon and Pete Doherty (frontman for Babyshambles, the band for which Lazareanu has written songs) might perform Bob Dylan’s “Girl From North Country.” “I love that song,” she says, adding her music mentors beside Dylan include Leonard Cohen, Billie Holiday and Joan Baez.
Some Place Along the Way should be released in October or November. Lazareanu says she and Lennon—who are still hashing out their band’s name—might perform in the U.K.’s Glastonbury Festival, also in June.
Not to say that with all this practice, getting up onstage with her acoustic guitar ever gets any easier for Lazareanu. “I have very bad stage fright, so I am the worst,” she says. “I don’t get it when I’m modeling; that’s not as personal. You’re not out there as much. Then, I am showing someone else’s work.” She says singing her own songs “is terrifying. It’s almost like reading your diary out loud.”
Backstage during this past season’s ready-to-wear shows, Sasha Pivovarova wasn’t just getting her face painted and her hair done; she also had a pencil in hand, preparing for a big art happening. The model was working on numerous projects, including portraits based on her and her best buddies, Vlada Roslyakova, Snejana Onopka, Julie Stegner and Jessica Stam.
“They are big paintings on recycled paper,” she explains. “I started with pencils, then used a glass of wine, coffee—everything I could find.” Pivovarova says that by using particular colors, she tried to convey how she sees each individual person. The stunner is no newcomer to art, saying she’s been doing it “for as long as I can remember.” Pivovarova says she hopes to show her creations in a gallery soon.
One fan is designer Giambattista Valli, who has some of Pivovarova’s artwork—made out of makeup—on his wall at home, surrounded by art by Andy Warhol, Jean Cocteau, Leonor Fini and Giacinto Cerrone. “I see her as an artist before being a model or anything else,” Valli says. “She’s a muse to designers, but in the way she thinks, dresses and lives, she is very much an artist.”
It’s no surprise that the lure of Hollywood is strong for models, who are already accustomed to playing different roles on the runway. Ward, for one, recently completed a sabbatical during which she played a supporting role in the upcoming movie, The Black Balloon, alongside Toni Collette. Directed by Elissa Down, the film—produced by an all-Australian crew—tackles an adolescent boy’s difficulty in coming to terms with his autistic brother. Ward, who plays the adolescent’s girlfriend, Jackie, says she enjoyed the research into the characters and time periods. She also likes the camaraderie. “Everyone became so close, since we spent so much time together on the set,” Ward says. The film is due to be screened in festivals by the end of this year and will be released next year.
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