By FARAZ ALI
The sweet heart of the Fijian fashion industry is slaying up in New York. As fashion week kicked off today, she has already walked the runway for the first time for high fashion label Nicholas K (the opening show for the event). The design house is responsible for the costumes featured in the Hunger Games: Catching Fire film, and work continues with stylists for sequels within the franchise. Nicholas K has been the opening show for Mercedes Benz Fashion Week New York since 2011.
“I thought she was the casting director, then when I showed up for fittings they called out for the designer and she turned around.” She says upon discovering that she was hand picked by the designer herself.
Her day started early, waking up at 4:30am to leave by 5am for a 6am call time.
“This is my first ever international show, the first time I’ve walked on a catwalk internationally. But to book Nicholas K… It’s such an incredible privilege. When I got the show I was over the moon. For my first show to be Nicholas K, I am just so grateful.”
“I would have to say, there was so much effort and struggle put into booking just one show. People have these stereotypes – they think once you’re a model everything comes easily that someone will just say ‘I want you to walk for this or that designer’. Now I realise that is not real life. I have a lot of respect for models. They live on 2-3 hours sleep. They’re out in the hot sun or braving the cold winds, even just to book a small job.”
“There are thousands of girls who want the same thing. It’s a competition everyday – 10 to 15 times a day there is a different competition. You face so much rejection. I have faced so much rejection, and now I am able to face a lot more approval. I put so much on the line to do this. I open myself up to judgement. I accept and embrace rejection, because I know that the next time I’ll be accepted.”
When asked how she felt walking on an international stage for the first time she said: “By the time it came for me to walk, I was panicking because when we were rehearsing before the show, my shoes were too big for me and I kept messing up and I was so embarrassed. But then when we were back stage before the show, Nicholas K came up to me and gave me smaller shoes which was really nice. And while most girls only wore one look, I was chosen to wear two and had to do a quick 30 second change. I was so nervous, but as soon as I got on the runway, I felt so, so good. It was amazing.”
“I had so much fun. All the girls were so nice. The designer, the hair and makeup artists, the stylists, they were all just so nice. All that effort was really worth it in the end. I’m so excited that I got to be a part of New York Fashion Week. In Fiji it’s so easy to book a show, but here it’s so hard so it feels so rewarding after all that effort. To top it off, there were so many important people in the audience, but when I stepped onto the runway, all my nerves disappeared. I can’t explain the feeling.”
Steele has many more shows booked, and others still to be confirmed. We have no doubt that she has a very bright and successful future ahead of her.
Read more about Phillipa in the April issue of MaiLife STYLE which is out on sale in late March.
And below are our favourite looks from the Nicholas K collection.