Kelsey Close: From Alaska Girl to Top Model

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IMG_1984-1Photo Provided by Kelsey Close
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Photo Provided by Kelsey CloseIMG_2110Photo provided by Kelsey Close
Photo Provided by Kelsey Close

Imagine being a freshman in high school. September is a regular month. No special days, just school, and you are still getting to know Dimond and your new classes.

But for Kelsey Close, who graduated from Dimond in 2009, September of her freshman year meant something bigger.

Her freshman year, model Close was one of the many models attending New York Fashion Week.

Also known as Mercedes- Benz Fashion Week, New York Fashion Week is a huge event for the city of New York. Thousands of fashion moguls, models, celebrities, and photographers flock to the metropolis for one of the fashion industry’s biggest events.

At the start of her freshman year, Close was just like every other ninth  grader in Rebecca Norsworthy’s Honors English class.

“She was very bright, and focused on becoming a model, even as a freshman,” Norsworthy said.

History teacher and her former debate team coach Jeffery Bevier also remembers her as very bright.

“She really was smart as a whip, and very articulate,” said Bevier.

“She was very fun to coach in debate. She was so tall, at least 5 feet 10 inches. When she debated, she wore power heels, and simply towered over her little freshman competitors. She’d have them stuttering and just falling apart. It really was something to watch!”

Bevier is not surprised by her career path, given her height, determination and drive.

Close herself never planned on becoming a model.

“I never really decided I wanted to be a model. It wasn’t really anything I aspired to.

“But my mom signed me up for etiquette classes when I was 13 at the Laura Model and Talent Agency.

“Laura, the owner, thought I had the potential to model. I attended a modeling convention, and was signed to IMG [modeling agency] in New York shortly after my 14th birthday.”

From there, Close attended fashion week (or fashion month, as she calls it) in September of her freshman year.

Fashion Week “starts in New York, and once September hits, girls have anywhere from 16 to 21 castings a day.  Then as the week progresses, you have castings and fittings where you go to a designer’s fashion house and try on your outfit for the show.

“Then in the final part of the week, you have castings, fittings, and shows.

“As soon as the week starts to slow down, you hop on a plane to London and it starts all over again.

“The cycle repeats itself through London, Milan and finally Paris. Needless to say, it’s quite exhausting.”

However, there is more to being a model than fashion week.

Close models for magazines such as British Elle, Marie Claire and Australia’s Vangardist Magazine. She has also been in ads for Converse, Calvin Klein and L’Oreal Paris.

In fact, one of Close’s favorite moments modeling was doing a presentation for Calvin Klein.

“A presentation is like a show, but instead of walking, you stand still and fashion editors and photographers walk around you and take pictures.

“Calvin Klein has always been one of my favorite brands, so it was amazing to work with designer and his team,” Close said.

Despite loving her work, Close said there are still challenges to her job. A major one is missing her family and Alaska.

“There are times when I’m overseas and I just want to be with my friends from home and eat my mom’s cooking,” Close said.

Close said that she has become good at managing her money, because as a model, “some months you will work a lot and some months you won’t work at all.”

The business can also be damaging to a model’s self-esteem.

“You get rejected all the time for jobs. The key is to be able to separate your self- esteem and your self-worth from your looks.

“It’s so easy to take rejection personally. The way you look is inherently personal, but you have to remember that just because you weren’t right for a job, doesn’t mean that you aren’t beautiful or any less of a person,” Close said.

Still, there are lighter moments to being a model.

“Most fashion shows are serious, and they don’t want the models to smile or have fun on the runway.

“Betsey Johnson’s show [at New York Fashion Week] was so fun! We had great music and were encouraged to dance and smile while walking the runway.”

Johnson “came up to each and every model before the show, and thanked us for walking the runway, then she hugged us and threw confetti over us.”

There was candy backstage, so “it felt like a huge party instead of a job.”

However, some modeling moments have been more embarrassing than funny.

“One time in Paris I was doing a casting for a very prestigious designer during fashion week.

“Sometimes at castings they have snacks for the models, and during fashion week, this is a very welcome sight because you don’t have time to eat during the day.

“They had beautiful baguettes and Nutella. Long story short, I did the casting, only to realize after that I had Nutella on my face the whole time,” Close said .

Close, who now lives and works in Barcelona, Spain, has certainly come a long way from her high school days. But she is still much the same.

“I saw her about three years ago at Fred Meyer,” Bevier said.  “She had come home for the holidays, and I recognized her immediately. We joked about her owning a model agency some day! She’s just that ambitious.”