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How a Haircut Can Make a Modeling Career


Photo: Tommy Ton

While a roomful of catwalkers sat having their strands twisted into undone buns at Vera Wang or meticulously rolled to create classic French twists at Oscar de la Renta, one model stood casually on the side observing the action with a knowing half smile. Isabella Emmack—a breakout face on the NYFW scene—embarked on the Fall ’15 season with a new cropped cut and a fresh perspective (a move that skyrocketed supers like Edie Campbell to the top). Here, the 16-year-old model from Kansas City, Mo., talks about losing her beauty trademark and standing out in a sea of long hair.

On the runway at Alexander Wang Photo: Gianni Pucci /

On the runway at Alexander Wang
Photo: Gianni Pucci /

You haven’t always had short hair, so when did you opt for the chop?

I cut it November of last year.

Who cut it?

Guido Palau did it.

What prompted you to lose your length?

Well, you know, it actually had nothing to do with my job or anything. It was kind of like a personal [decision]—I wanted to stand out. I wanted people to see [me]. When you look at a lineup of girls, and they all have long hair, and you see one with short hair, your attention goes [there]. I just wanted something about me to stand out and be unique.

You’re very savvy for 16. Have you ever had short hair before?

Never ever. My hair’s always been way down to my stomach.

Were you nervous to cut it all off?

I did build my book in New York and I came here and test shot. My long hair is what got me signed; it was my look, so being so dramatic and changing that much is a risk. It was a risk I was willing to take, and it ended up being good, but I don’t know if I would take the same risk again!

Did you cry when Guido broke out the scissors?

I did! I actually still have my ponytail intact. It’s a keepsake.

Do you have any tricks for styling when you’re off duty?

With this new cut that Guido did, I actually just leave it and it looks pretty cool. I just put some pomade gel in it just to make it look cooler.

It must be a lot easier with short hair, especially during fashion week.

It is 100 percent easier. You wake up and you’re good to go.

Do you feel like designers are responding well to the new cut?

Yeah, I think [people are] responding very well.

I suppose you spend less time in hair and makeup, so that’s always good.

Yeah, it is. It’s much faster.

And you’ve definitely stood out thus far on the runway.

I’m confident and comfortable. It’s definitely a big change, but I love it. I love the length and I love the way it looks, and that’s all that matters.

I love a girl—especially one still in high school—who doesn’t follow the crowd. ​

A photo posted by Isabella E (@isabellaemmack) on

—Amber Kallor,

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