Alexandra Agoston is one of Australia’s most successful modelling exports. She has appeared on the cover of leading international magazines and is a regular at the Paris couture shows. The 26-year-old, who is based in New York, chatted to me about how she got her big break, working with John Galliano and aspiring to be an actor.
When you were young, did you always envisage yourself to be a model and live the life you lead today?
No, not really – it wasn’t a dream of mine. I was scouted when I was 15 in Paris so before that, I didn’t really know. I wanted to do something creative but I also liked physics and maths at that time and I never read any magazines before I started working. I didn’t wear any makeup or ever wear any high heels or anything. I was so raw when I started.
How were you scouted?
It was in Paris on a family holiday with my mum and my brother and walking down the street and a woman came like running after us. She was from one of the top modelling agencies in the world and she was the head of it and she was like, “We would love to represent you.” So I came back to Sydney and I started to work here while I was still at school and then, when I was 16, I went to New York and did Fashion Week and did 23 shows in my first season.
What was it like when you first started?
When the opportunity came about, I was definitely intrigued by it. I remember the first job I did. I had never worn high heels before and the stylist could tell so he gave me a pair of heels in the shoot and said, “Put these on and don’t take them off – even brush your teeth in them and wear them with your pyjamas.”
Was it daunting to be thrown into such an adult world as such a young age?
Yeah, you are definitely thrown in. Especially then – even though it wasn’t that long ago – I feel now there is a lot more exposure to the way things work in the modelling industry. With the TV shows like Top Model and Instagram and social media it has created a lot more fascination about backstage and the real life of models. But I feel like when I started, there wasn’t really any of that. There wasn’t even Facebook!
How important is social media with models these days?
I think it’s really important and I also – for me, I love it because it allows me to put together something that I think represents me completely… Then [companies] will book me for me and what image I represent.
Yes, it seems that models these days have to be savvy on social media. This was evident with American Vogue’s Instagirls cover in September.
Yes exactly, it’s amazing. It kind of brings it back to the ’90s supermodels, where it was more about the model as a person and as a personality and about what they represent.
Do have plans to branch out into other things?
I’ve done some acting work and studied acting. So I love that as well. I’m kind of just in that creative zone.
What would be your dream role?
A Quentin Tarantino film.
Does Chris Colls [her boyfriend, a photographer] inspire you?
Totally! In that way I think we have a really beautiful relationship. I’m definitely inspired by him because he is so talented. I’ve learnt so much from him and collaborating and shooting together is amazing.
Do you get to work together very often?
Yeah. We actually just shot a story for Porter magazine, which is really cool.
Is it easier or more challenging shooting with your partner?
It’s easier because we, I think, trust each other so completely that we can both be so open when we shoot. I completely trust his eye and his judgment, so I’m just so free in front of the camera because I know he is not going to capture me in a wrong way.
What would you say is your biggest career highlight so far?
Definitely working with John Galliano for Christian Dior would be a major highlight. To be in that environment and to be part of that historic process is so beautiful. He would design the dresses on me. So what happens is they employ me for that month and I’m on call for him whenever he needs me… I worked with him over a period of almost three years, so I got to know him very well… And to be at the 60th anniversary celebration show at the Palace of Versailles was amazing.
What’s next in the pipeline?
The Kookai campaign is out. I recently shot the high summer collection in St Tropez, which was unreal. Also [this week] Jean Paul Gaultier, who I’ve worked with a lot, is having an exhibition in Melbourne and he asked me to be a part of it because I’ve worked with him in Paris over a couple of years and he is putting his muses together for his collection. He just interviewed me for his book and asked me to attend with him, so it would be great to see him.
WE WENT TO Kitchen By Mike, Roseberry.
WE ATE a chicken Caesar wrap and a daily salad.
WE DRANK freshly squeezed juice and mineral water.