It’s been a while that I’ve wanted to talk about the career of modeling.
Mostly because it’s a job that questions and makes people dream, but also because I think a lot of things have changed in these past few years in modeling and I have the impression that everything is being reinvented.
To talk about it, I immediately thought of Constance Jablonski.
Of course, because she’s she’s a Frenchie who lives in New York (yo sistaaa!)– but not only is she sublime, she’s also level-headed, always has a smile for you, and gives off the most relaxed energy, even when everything’s gone mad during fashion week.
She does shoots for magazines I love and she’s an ambassador for Estée Lauder – a brand that’s known for its impeccable casting. She’s super present on Twitter, Instagram, and has an interesting point of view on her profession.
So, in short, she’s top.
So, how did your career start?
When I was 15 my brother, who I’m very close with, sent both our pictures to an agency and without telling me. The agency was interested and said they would like to see me, so I went with my brother. When I was 15 I was into tennis and sports. Fashion was not something I knew about, but I did it for him.
I ended up participating in a competition and I won the French part, and then the international part, and I got signed. But I was 16 at that time and I wasn’t into it so much. My parents are French doctors and they told me I had to finish my studies and go back to school. So I didn’t do anything for two years.
Then that summer after high school, I went to New York to visit family with my mom. I was enrolled at a university in France and I was going to start in September, but that summer I met someone from my old agency. We were talking and they told me I should try modeling here, in New York, and to be honest I was lost and I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I was going to go to medical school because all my friends were doing that and it was something I was used to because of my parents. When the modeling opportunity came up, I thought I should try it for a year, learn English, the world, and a new culture. So I decided to go for it, so I stayed here and never went back to university and I’m super happy.
Modeling is made up of a bunch of different things, like runway, editorials, advertising. How do they all work together?
For runway, you don’t get paid. It’s a promotion, so it’s really important for your image because you get to work with all of the big designers and everybody sees you at the shows. You do it at the beginning to get promoted, and at the end you do it for pleasure with the designers you really connect with.
Editorial, again you don’t get paid, it’s promotion too. If you’re in a magazine that’s how people see you and see how you work. But it’s very, very important in a modeling career because that’s how you show people what you can do, what you look like, basically how you work as a model. And you get to work with amazing, experienced people. I love doing editorials because it’s when you get to do the most beautiful and crazy pictures. The photographers for editorials are really artists.
And for advertising campaigns, those are the jobs that pay. At the end of the day you do the editorials and the shows in hopes of getting an ad campaign later. It’s also very important for your modeling career because it’s always big exposure, but you get paid which is nice.
Becoming a big model and the face of a brand like Estée Lauder comes with time. What would you consider the big breaks along the way?
My first fashion week. It went pretty well, and then it slowed down a bit, and then I did my third season, which was my biggest one ever. I did 73 shows.
I was the girl that walked the most that season so it was a big thing. Then I would say my contract with Estée Lauder.
What does having a contract like your Estée Lauder contract do for your career?
It really gives you a certain kind of respect. It’s advertising, so you get paid which is what you want to get at the end of the day. I’m really thankful and really lucky because Estée Lauder has the whole package: it’s beautiful, it’s a great team of people to work with, they’re so nice as a client and they really treat us like family.
Do you feel like a contract like Estée Lauder helps you stay relevant with all of the competition in the industry?
Yes, I’m definitely lucky because there aren’t many contracts left like that in this business. It gives you such a security. You know you’re going to work for a certain amount of time. When you do shows and campaigns, those are one-day shoots; nothing guarantees that you’ll still be in the picture after that. It makes you more relaxed too because you know you’ll have work for 5 more years, worst case.
What is important to ensure you have a long career if you don’t have one of those contracts?
The most important thing is to make sure you have diversity in your work. That you do a lot of high fashion, but you also do money jobs on the side because you have to live. You have to make sure you have the right balance between those two. And then make sure to promote yourself the right way. You have to find the reason why you’re special and why people like you and develop that.
Before you got booked for jobs, how did you survive? How did you push yourself?
It was really hard. Once I started modeling, for my parents and for myself as well, they gave me one year to prove myself and to try it and if it didn’t work I had to go back home. It was really stressful because I wanted it to happen fast but in an artist’s business you have to be patient. And many times I wanted to go back home, I thought that it was never going to work, I wasn’t making any money, I couldn’t live like that.
So how do you change that for yourself?
You just do your best, you take it as it comes. You do your best as a model: you arrive on time, you connect with the people, with the photographers and you do your best on set. I guess you feel it as well if you like the job or not. I love my job, even before when it was hard I loved it.
I’m very lucky because in a way I thought I would give everything and try for a year and worst case I was only 18, I could go back to France and start my studies all over again. So that was my way of staying positive, I was always telling myself, it’s okay just do your best and you’ll have no regrets. If it doesn’t work it’s fine, you’ll be okay. You have the possibility to go to school and do something else.
So how did you learn how to model? How to pose and walk?
I’m still learning today, you learn everyday. There is no school. There are some people who are more comfortable than others, but you learn on the job.
Do you feel like having an education in fashion is important as a model?
When you start, you learn everything on the job. It was hard for me at the beginning because I was really new and didn’t know anything about fashion. But it is important to know about the industry because you want to know what your talking about and you want to enjoy and appreciate it. There’s so much history behind each thing. It’s really important to educate yourself.
How do you prepare for a casting?
For me, the best is not to think too much and not drive myself too crazy. At the end of the day, somebody will book you if they like you so you don’t need to pretend to be somebody else. The person likes you for what you do and who you are. So the most important is to go, to be yourself, of course to have a nice look and style to show your body, how tall you are, all of that. You go with a big smile and you have a good talk with a person.
When you’re on set on a shoot, what kind of role do you like to take on the set? Is it more active or do you tend to wait for direction?
It’s funny you say that because we are all different. For me, what I love is to know what the story is and the character. Once you give me the character, I like to do my own thing. I like to move and to try all different things.
Do you feel like there is a difference when your shooting an editorial versus an ad campaign?
When you do editorial you are freer because it’s more of collaborating with the whole team. Because they don’t really know how the picture will be you can try a lot of things.
When it comes to an ad campaign, because it’s marketing they have more expectations. There’s a certain message, image size, number of images. Sometimes with editorials they would say we need 10-40, but well see what we get. With an ad it’s more the client that decides what they want.
How do you prepare for a photo shoot?
Most of the time you don’t know what you’re going to do until you get there, so it’s hard to prepare. I go with no makeup or hair. Once your there, you create a story.
What about for runway?
It’s different. I have to prepare. I try to sleep a lot before. Of course you have to be in shape. It’s much more of a physical thing.’
Lots of brands are also doing videos now. Do you feel like you need to be an actress as much as you have to be a model?
It used to not be like that, but I feel like from now on, for new girls starting in the industry, yeah, not to be an actress but to be okay working with a camera and at least talking. Now we have to talk all the time on video and we have to move a lot. The modeling business has changed, it’s not pictures anymore, it’s definitely motion.
Who is your biggest modeling role model?
My biggest role model would probably be Daria Werbory.
Today, it seems that models have more control over creating their careers. What do you have to do to take control of the jobs you get?
You have to be careful in an artistic business. You can be there one day, and be gone another day. You have to realize that; to be grounded is very important. It’s a real work. You have to understand the people and try to do your best on set to communicate with the photographer, stylist, and makeup. It’s also good to have a good agent.
What’s the typical relationship between a model and their agent?
I think it’s important to have an agent that you really connect with rather than just a strong agency because your agent is like your parent. He or she knows where you are all the time and makes your schedule and has to understand you and listen to you. If you don’t have a good relationship with an agent it’s bad because you are connected 24 hours a day.
The role of a model has changed so much. Definitely in the 90s it was more passive, now it’s more active. Do you think there’s a reason for that? For this shift in the industry?
Well it’s easy: it’s the Internet, the power of Twitter and all of the blog space. Fans follow you because of how many other followers you have. It’s new for models but also for brands.
You’re very active on Twitter and Instagram! Is it something that comes naturally to you because you grew up with it, or is it more strategic?
Now I’m 21, but before my modeling career I was really doing it because it was part of my life for my friends, I really loved it. But now I’m on Twitter and I do that more as a work tool to show my work, show my fans a little bit of my life because they want to know about me. But I enjoy it. I can’t say its work because I really enjoy it but I definitely started Twitter for work.
Now that fashion week has become such a thing, do you feel a pressure between shows to keep an appearance?
The first season yes, because everything was new. But now I’ve come to realize that every season it’s the same. Once you do it once, you don’t think about it so much.
Do you feel for your image, it’s important to go to a lot of events and be more social?
Yeah, it’s important. It’s related to the Facebook and Twitter, the whole Internet thing. The more people that see you the more people follow you. It’s advertising, it’s important.
Modeling has a much cleaner image than back in the day where there was more partying, do you think that it is because the lifespan of a model is different now?
We’re more serious now because there are so many of us! We need to be more focused and happy because there are always so many images floating around on the internet. You cannot be at a crazy party and then wake up the next day and look online and see all these trashy pictures. You can’t do that anymore, there is no more privacy.
How do you mentally and physically deal with the competition in the industry?
I try to stay grounded with my family. I’m still close with my friends from my hometown, we grew up in a small place. I have a group of four girlfriends I was in class with from 7 until 18, so we’re like sisters. So friends and family, and doing sports.
Do you still play tennis?
I try to but it’s hard. Now I go to the gym or run because it’s more flexible and easier.
Are you able to tell people when you’re not comfortable with something?
Yes. I felt so bad telling somebody that they weren’t doing a good job. With makeup or hair, I understand now how okay it is to say when you don’t like something. At the end of the day you’re the one that’s modeling and they want you to feel comfortable. You have to say it in a nice way and find a compromise and they will understand absolutely.
For younger girls who are dreaming about the industry, what advice would you give for staying healthy?
Having good parents and good friends, people that are not in the business as well. Read a lot and always be aware of what’s going on. When I’m backstage I can read and educate myself on any subject and it’s good to do that.
And it depends on who you are, but if you like sports it’s so good. Not just to stay in shape but for your mental health.
How do you see yourself aging in the industry? Do you still want to model as you get older?
Yes, I would love it. I mean people change, maybe I will hate it in 10 years. I guess when you get older its different you don’t do so many things. You want to do a shoot once in awhile. You want to see your friends. You don’t want to work all the time. It’s the different life when you get older. Only time will tell.
Is there a dream job you would love to do in your career?
Yes of course! There is a photographer I would love to work with Jean Paul Goude for instance. I would love to try being in a movie one day. Just to try it!
Check out the other career posts here!