Devon Windsor catapults from St. Louis onto high-fashion runways across the globe.
Platinum-haired beauty Devon Windsor has beaten the odds in the competitive world of fashion, capturing the attention of designers, agencies and publications across the globe. In the past year alone, the St. Louis native has become fashion’s latest “it” girl. She’s nabbed a cover for Vogue Turkey, landed editorial spreads in several American and international fashion mags (including Harper’s Bazaar, Numero and Interview Magazine), and checked off a major career bucket list item by earning a spot on the runway at the 2014 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show—all at the tender age of 20.
Windsor’s now a regular on the runways of designers in nearly every major fashion capital, and her success story is a tale of perseverance in true Midwestern fashion. After being spotted at a bar mitzvah at age 14 by St. Louis-based photographer Suzy Gorman, Windsor looked to St. Louis’ West Model Management for representation. “She had a drive and tenacity about her that was visible even then,” says West Model Management owner Gail Lasater. “She knew what she wanted.”
Windsor immediately came to life in front of the camera and was placed with IMG New York when she was just a sophomore in high school. But instead of quitting school immediately to pursue her dream, like many aspiring models do, she continued her studies at MICDS—sports and all—while spending the summers working in New York. Her hard work paid off post-graduation when she was chosen to walk for Prada at New York Fashion Week last fall. “It was a coming out moment for her,” says Lasater. “When she appeared on the runways for Prada with that brandnew platinum hair, it was a game-changer.”
When we caught up with the busy model, she was about to jet off for the runways of Paris Couture Week—one of the most glamorous showings among the European design houses. Yet even amid her skyrocketing success, it was obvious that Windsor’s unwavering determination and classic Midwest upbringing remain at the heart of what the fashion maven is really all about— setting the tone for a career that has only just begun.
ALIVE: You have been on the road a ton lately working more than ever. What has been a personal highlight on your list of achievements?
Devon Windsor: Walking in the Victoria’s Secret fashion show was definitely lots of fun and very memorable for me because it was one of my modeling goals and dreams. It was very surreal.
ALIVE: Was that the point in your career when you realized you could be a successful model?
DW: Every model hopes to be successful, but you don’t really realize how much competition there is until you become immersed in it full-time. I can’t say there was one defining moment where I thought I would for sure be a successful model. But when I signed with IMG—one of the best agencies in the world—that was definitely a confidence booster. I thought that if they believed in me, and I believed in myself, then I could go out and try to make something happen. I started off very commercial and then a year into full-time modeling, I switched to high fashion. So there are different kinds of success.
ALIVE: What is the most challenging part of working in your industry?
DW: There are so many things that make being a model difficult, but some of the most challenging things are the constant traveling and the expectations people put on you. Traveling is definitely a perk, but it’s also difficult flying to multiple countries in a week by yourself with jet leg, and sometimes it can get pretty lonely. Also, most models are fairly young. I find that people expect us to be super mature and to be able to handle our jobs, with the stresses and everything, better than is often possible. You’re forced to grow up really fast and take care of yourself.
ALIVE: Who or what inspires you?
DW: The cities I get to go to and the people that I meet all around the world really inspire who I am and also affect my style. I also watch a lot of movies on airplanes when I travel, and read a ton, which inspires me in unique ways and gets me thinking.
ALIVE: What are some fashion items you can’t live without?
DW: I think if you have a good bag and good shoes, you can look chic and expensive even if you dress very simply. I really love my Givenchy tote; it’s big but it’s also relaxed leather, so even if it isn’t full, it still passes as an everyday bag.
ALIVE: Who has been your favorite designer to work with?
DW: I don’t have just one favorite, but working with Karl Lagerfeld is always a treat. He is a character! He also looks exactly the same as he does in photos every time you see him—the classic white ponytail and glasses. He’s always so cool.
ALIVE: What has been your favorite place to travel?
DW: I went to Sardinia to shoot German Vogue with Giampaolo [Sgura] and it was so amazing. I figured it was mainly beaches, but we shot in the desert sands, as well as on a rocky cliff, and it was unbelievable.
ALIVE: What advice do you have for aspiring models?
DW: I always say two things: First, expect nothing. If you expect nothing, then you will lose nothing and just be grateful for everything you do gain. People will always let you down and there will always be the jobs you don’t get—don’t sweat it. Secondly, it’s a hard world and you can’t give up too easily. Girls try for years and years before they see any success. Timing is everything in this industry, and if you work hard and are open for change, anything is possible.
ALIVE: What’s next for you?
DW: I’m heading to Paris next week for the haute couture shows and then I get a bit of vacation time before [New York] Fashion Week starts back up again. Beyond that, I plan on simply continuing to work hard and be grateful for the things I have and people who help me along my way.
Photo credit: Manolo Campion