Skyview student walks catwalk for top designers

By Ashley Swanson, Columbian features news coordinator

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Not many high-schoolers can say they split their time between friends, homework and modeling for legendary fashion house Louis Vuitton in Paris.

Skyview High School sophomore Samantha Bondurant is back home after a whirlwind month of runway shows in late summer that catapulted her onto the international stage.

Boudurant has modeled locally for Portland’s Muse Models the past three years, appearing on the runway for Portland Fashion Week and Vancouver’s Couve Couture.

“(Modeling) use to be a hobby when it first started, but I knew one day it could turn into a job, but it’s something I still love,” she said.

Her modeling career jumped to national and international spheres when she went New York City to update her modeling pictures and meet casting directors for the fashion world’s spring and summer 2014 shows. It led to being seen by the casting director for iconic American fashion designer Marc Jacobs. Suddenly, Bondurant’s weeklong trip blossomed into a month of runway shows, modeling in Jacobs’ New York show, then to London for acclaimed British designer Giles Deacon, a show in Milan, then to Paris for Louis Vuitton. It was her first visit to Europe as well. Bondurant loved the architecture and iconic sights of Paris, yet it was London’s Giles Deacon show that had her favorite outfit to model.

“I’m such a girlie-girl, I got to wear pink, and the whole show is just up my alley, it was more my style,” she said.

The Louis Vuitton show was also the last collection designed by Jacobs for the French fashion house, after 16 years as its creative director. The atmosphere of the show was dark and over the top, combining street wear such as jeans and leather jackets with the fantasy of the iconic showgirl.

Each model also wore a giant feather headdress.

“(Beforehand) we all had to stand next to each other shoulder to shoulder backstage, so not to hit each other,” Bondurant said. It’s not just looks that factor in to a designer’s decision, she said, “they factor in personality a great deal. They don’t want dull models, you need to be active and bubbly. They like models who they can talk to as well.”

“In Paris, I worked with Marc Jacobs and Katie Grand, and a few other models. I was working with them on looks for the shows, I got to see how he works and got to talk to him. He’s very crazy in a good way and out there, it’s pretty hilarious,” she said. “The last few days (before the runway show), he played shows tunes from ‘Chicago’ for two days straight.”

“It was so amazing, at the time it didn’t really hit me, ‘Oh I’m walking for Louis Vuitton.’ ”

“It was the longest runway I’ve ever walked,” she said, which began with two long escalators, something Bondurant has been terrified of since she was 5. She was thankful that she got to wear boots instead of heels, noting the recent trend of designers choosing flat shoes for their spring shows.

But Bondurant doesn’t see herself leaving school to pursuing modeling full time, wanting to live the life of a high school student to the fullest.

“I want to say that I graduated with my class,” she said, “my friends are a big part of my life.”

For now, this 16-year-old will celebrate her newly earned driver’s license while taking a few magazine shoots on the side.


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