Why High School Graduates Make Better Fashion Models

Teenage would-be models in Switzerland often end up in an apprenticeship instead of finishing high school. But experts in the field say the versatility that comes from a standard education is a better bet for achieving supermodel stardom. Yes: brains matt

Swiss model Julia Saner is a recent high school graduate
Swiss model Julia Saner is a recent high school graduate
Linus Schöpfer

ZURICH - Swiss modeling agency chief Ursula Knecht, who has groomed some of the world's top runway models, says good looks alone are never enough to make it big in the business. Indeed, a proper high school education helps.

At the end of middle school, students in Switzerland are separated into several sections, according to their capacities and career intentions. Talented students who aspire to an academic career enter high schools called "gymnasium" to prepare for further study and complete their matura, the equivalent of a high school diploma. Students intending to pursue a trade or vocation complete only three additional years before they enter vocational schools, which offer apprenticeships combined with schooling.

"Every year, I advise one or two promising girls to end their apprenticeship early and to join us as a model," says Knecht, whose agency has represented some of Switzerland's top models, including Nadine Strittmatter, Patricia Schmid, and Julia Saner. "In Switzerland, there's no real way to integrate an apprenticeship with modeling work."

When Knecht discovers a young woman with great potential who is in an apprenticeship, she speaks with her adviser to find a solution that works for everyone. "If we're lucky, we can reach an agreement that allows the girl to return to her apprenticeship if her modeling career fails," says Knecht.

Exuding intelligence

Knecht cites 16-year-old Lejla Hodzic, winner of the last Elite Model Contest, as an example of the benefits in removing an up-and-coming fashion star from the apprenticeship track. To her, one thing is for certain: the gymnasium is the best place for ambitious models. There, unlike in apprenticeships, young women have enough free time to gain experience in the modeling business, walk the runway in small shows and do photo shoots.

But there are other reasons why future runway stars often choose this path before starting their careers. "Average models are just pretty, but super models exude intelligence," says Knect, citing examples such as Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer and Christy Turlington. They all successfully completed high school; Crawford landed a biochemistry scholarship and Schiffer flirted with a law degree. "Only intelligent models can effectively assume the very different roles into which they are cast by designers and advertisers," says Knecht.

The success of Julia Saner, who completed high school in Bern last year and now successfully walks the runways of Milan, Paris and London, is a good example of how versatile women need to be to compete in the international fashion business." The gap between modeling and acting is much smaller than is often thought," says Knecht.

Good knowledge of English is also mandatory for anyone working in the international world of fashion. Most successful supermodels often begin their careers around 18, after several years of preparatory studies, which offers a timeline that fits perfectly with the gymnasium path.

Of the 12 finalists in the upcoming Swiss Elite Model Look contest, the six high school graduates have the best career prospects. But what about the cliché that models are just pretty faces only interested in shopping, jet-setting, and make-up? "Our society has trouble grasping the idea that someone can be both beautiful and smart," says Knecht. "Ultimately, it's probably just jealousy coming from those who can't do it themselves."

Read original story here.

Photo credit: hugo971

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A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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