Having graced the covers of every major magazine and been shot by all of the world's best photographers, Hannelore Knuts was our moving model for the MM6 x Opening Ceremony editorial, 'Pixel Geometry.' In this interview she chats about her art projects, her most memorable model moments and the importance of hugs.
Your neighborhood (in NY):
How did you first start modeling?
I was a photography student at an academy in Antwerp that had a famous fashion department. I did the final jury show for Bernhard Willhelm and people kept convincing me to go to an agent. Long story short: it took me a year to be convinced and then I went to Milan. By the end of that first show season, I had walked all the shows and had met Inez and Vinoodh. They booked me for the Johyi campaign, which would be my first portfolio.
What is something about you that no one would expect?
I laugh and smile a lot. I'm less intimidating than one might think. And I wear a lot of color. I hardly have any black in my wardrobe. I'm a lady, not a tramp.
When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a child, I wanted to be a dancer in big theater ballets. As a teenager, I wanted to be a photographer.
I saw images from the retrospective show about you, 'UltraMegagLore,' and it looked amazing! What was your favorite part of taking on a gallery like that?
It was a three-floor museum show with a book that went along with it. The fun started straight away when I got all the positive confirmations from artists, designers and photographers. It was me and a very small team who did the whole production and logistics. I learned so much and even loved the stress and 24/7 occupation. My right hands and I became one – we got to understand each other so well.
Are you working on any new art projects?
Not as a curator. I would LOVE to though. During 'UltraMegaLore' I had to kill some darlings so I have many ideas that still need a room. I'm more participating in art projects – like as a character in a comic by contemporary artist Peter Rogiers. I'm also in the opening scene from the long awaited first feature The Invader
, by Nicolas Provost, which will premiere in Venice next Sunday!
What’s the most memorable photo shoot you’ve ever been on?
My first Steven Meisel shoot for Italian Vogue
. It was in a great location, in a house in the Hollywood hills. Later I recognized it as a set in The Big Lebowski
. It’s a great experience when you're starting out as a model and you're watching the movie with high school friends!
What was your first runway show?
My first one in Paris was Véronique Branquinho's first show with Peter Philips for make-up. He gave us all black teeth. You can imagine fashion started to fascinate me slowly but surely, but it still took another year before I made the decision to become a model.
The show that I remember the most after that one was my first Gaultier show – the love boat one. I was one of the few models who had to start on stage. My cue was when Erin O'Conner arrived at the second palm tree. I had practiced one pose in the bathroom earlier. Shaking like a leaf but looking cool (I've been told afterwards). I saw Erin strike one pose after the other while gliding down that runway, and then it was my turn. I bluffed and did it! Pose after pose, with Mr. Gaultier cheering from the backstage and holding a glass of champagne for me to sip every time I would pass him. I guess that's when we became friends!
What was the easiest or hardest thing about modeling for Opening Ceremony?
OC was easy. I love the store and now in combination with Margiela!? Really fun and cool. I also like to work with people who don't really work in fashion. Like the director, Jason Oliver Goodman. It always brings an interesting approach.
If you could steal one thing from today’s shoot, what would it be?
The leather jacket! (I did and have been wearing it every day since.... Ssssssh!)
Essential photo shoot song?
Depends on outfit, make up, crew and time of month.
Best friends you’ve found in the fashion industry?
The real ones.
Best gift you’ve ever received?
Advice and hugs in time of need. They make you feel you're not alone and that you’re loved because of who you are, not what you are. And also, the first drawing by my God child. She's only 1! But at this very moment? Help from Raf Simons to dress me on the red carpet next week.
What's the most played song on your iPod?
Music is my medicine, my favorite friend. It would be unfair to put one song above the other.
Best past Halloween costume:
Favorite place to escape the city:
What would you choose as your last meal on earth?
Doesn't matter what it is, as long as it's a 7-course meal ... At least!
MM6 maison martin margiela x opening ceremony
meet the model