KASIA Struss is one of the most successful models of her generation. Discovered in 2005, she has worked non-stop at the pinnacle of fashion for the past decade. In her debut season she achieved what most models spend a lifetime dreaming of, a campaign for Gucci and a Vogue Italia cover shot by Steven Meisel, and since then she has appeared on every noteworthy runway, campaign and magazine cover in the world.
Her career conquests read like a what’s what of the fashion industry and include appearances in Vogue – including American, French and Italian, the holy trinity of Vogues – Interview, i-D, W, Another, Pop and Love magazines, campaigns for Chloé, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino, Prada, Bottega Veneta and Jil Sander, to name a few, and walked the runway for every major brand from Alexander Wang, Burberry and Balenciaga to Yves Saint Laurent and Versace. But far from letting her success and incredible natural beauty go to her head, Kasia is disarmingly charming and warm, and Glass spent most of our day with her in awe of her charisma and electric presence.
You were discovered at 17 and have been modelling for ten years. How has the industry changed during that time?
There have been many changes since I started; most notably, everything moves more quickly now with the internet and social media. Fashion is very instant now.
Social media have become a huge part of a model’s career – the number of online followers a model has can even determine whether she is booked for a job. What are the main differences that you have noticed?
It’s amazing how social media have revolutionised the industry. There is much more room to express yourself, to share your visions and passions. We can now manage our careers through the simple posts, which also allow us to be closer to our fans. On the other hand, I miss the days when fashion was more mysterious and unexpected. Even when we are getting ready backstage these days, it seems like everyone is more preoccupied with their phones rather than having fun with other models.
I think fans are keen to see into the lives of models – and we do have lives; our life is not only about modelling. But it’s very hard to be private these days because everything is out there. I try to keep private things private; I like to keep a little mystery.
What are the worst parts of modelling?
Waiting. We are always waiting – at castings, waiting for hair and make-up, waiting for flights, waiting for cars. I kill time by reading books. I like to read Polish authors so that I don’t forget my language because I don’t have the opportunity to speak it much. I’m also trying to learn to use that waiting time to enjoy myself and relax.
Kasia Struss. Photograph: Walter Chin.
Coco Crush cuff in 18k yellow gold (model’s left hand), Artsy Lion cuff in 18k white gold (model’s right hand), both
Chanel Fine Jewellery. My Dior hoop earrings in yellow gold Dioa Joaillerie. Heritage necklace set in 18k yellow gold by Van Cleef & Arpels. Dress: Saint Laurent by Hedi Slimane. Shoes: Jimmy Choo
And the best parts about modelling?
I have to say that we are very lucky to be in this industry where you get to be creative. Everyone is a pure artist, make-up artists, hair artists, stylists, photographers – they all have their own vision and it’s amazing to see how they all work together. The passion is the best part – everyone in the fashion industry is passionate about their work. We get to do what we love every day.
What was your life plan before you were scouted as a model?
My plan at 17 was just to finish high school and go to university – and part of the reason that I’m a model is that I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I would have probably been a journalist because I’m a very curious person and I like to travel. I always wanted to travel from a young age, so when I signed my first modelling contract I was more excited about travelling than about being a model – but then I found that I really enjoyed the modelling too.
Arpeggia three-line earrings with diamonds set in white gold, Eternity line diamond bracelet with round brilliant
diamonds set in white gold, both De Beers. Panthère de Cartier necklace in 18k white gold set with 47 brilliant-cut
diamonds, emeralds and onyx Cartier. Dress: DKNY. Shoes: Casedei
A lot of models use their public figure status as a platform for charities. Are you involved in philanthropy?
I don’t have my own charity but a lot of girls have set up some great organisations and I am a proud supporter of them. In particular, I support my friend (and former Glass cover model) Jacquelyn Jablonski’s foundation, Autism Tomorrow, which helps to provide a future for adults with autism. She set it up because her brother has autism and she realised that, past the age of 18, people with autism were just left to their own devices. When schooling ends, all support stops and these adults need our attention. I really want to highlight this cause as it is so important. You can visit Autism Tomorrow for more information.
Do you think there will come a point when you are fed up with modelling and want to try something else?
Perhaps, but I’m not at that point yet. I still really enjoy it. And I had a break – I stopped doing shows for a while as I got a little tired of it and needed some fresh air, and during this time I realised how passionate I was about modelling still. Sometimes you need to step away from something to realise how much you enjoy it.
Kasia’s insider tips for …
A hot night out in her Brooklyn neighbourhood:
- Nitehawk – this is a great place where you can see a good movie, and have a nice dinner and cocktails – all in one place!
- Zenkichi restaurant – incredible Japanese tapas and great interior design.
- Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg – they have an amazing roof deck with breathtaking views of Manhattan – it’s the best place to have a cocktail and watch the sunset.
- I swear by a four-step beauty routine every morning and evening: cleanse, tone, serum, moisturizer.
- Sunblock all year round.
- Drink warm water with lemon every morning.
- Running outdoors gives you a healthy glow and keeps you in shape.
- Spa-time – use the time you have free while you’re travelling to take care of your beauty, even if it’s just putting on a mask and enjoying that.
by Nicola Kavanagh
All photographs: Walter Chin
Styling: Nicola Kavanagh