If you don’t know who Grace Mahary is, you will do soon. The Canadian-born model, who made her show debut last season, graced the catwalks of every fashion heavyweight for spring/summer 2013 - from Marc Jacobs and Prada to Chanel and Saint Laurent, the latter of which she closed. The 22-year-old beauty even joined in on Hedi Slimane’s post-show celebrations, when he was given rounds of applause, with glasses raised to celebrate his debut for the label.
“He was very sweet and interested in my ethnic origin,” said Mahary of Slimane. “He also surprised me when he photographed the final looks himself with this brilliant film camera. Every girl’s shot oozed retro cool, all in black and white. Everyone was pretty calm, but excited to put on a great show. The best part was the mob of us leggy girls hiding under huge floppy brimmed black hats in our sleek blazers and gowns - it was so dramatic.”
Speaking of catwalk spectaculars, Mahary was also hired to walk in Philip Treacy’s show - the designer’s first return to the London Fashion Week line-up in over a decade - starring the one and only Lady Gaga.
“She’s amazing,” said Mahary. “She greeted all of the girls backstage and even took pictures with the team. It was a little crazy and you can only imagine how much singing, dancing, and fun took place just before we hit the runway. Luckily, my hat was super light.”
Mahary - whose parents hail from Eritrea, East Africa - never planned a career in fashion. As a teen, she was a keen basketball player with “doctor or physiotherapy dreams”, but was scouted in a Toronto shopping centre while she was on holiday with her mother. The self-confessed “grungy tomboy” went on to win a model search competition, then moved to Toronto to pursue modelling part-time. Her first major fashion break came when Riccardo Tisci booked her exclusively to walk in the Givenchy autumn/winter 2012-13 show. She is now represented by Premier Model Management.
“I still find it hard to accept that I’m a full time model,” she said. “It’s an unbelievable honour to have worked with iconic fashion houses like Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Prada, but the sweet designers behind Balenciaga and Saint Laurent were a pleasure to work with too. I have to admit though, I learned and laughed the most with Riccardo Tisci and his team at Givenchy.”