Having long been a destination for scouts in search of elegant new beauties, the Netherlands is responsible for some of fashion’s favorite faces: Modeling icons like ’90s super Karen Mulder, Doutzen Kroes, and Bardot doppelgänger Lara Stone all got their start at home in the Netherlands. One of the reasons behind the current Dutch dominance on the high-fashion scene? Code Management’s Marit Simons, the woman responsible for the careers of several of the current era’s biggest stars, from Imaan Hammam (whom Simons spotted on the streets of Amsterdam) to Prada campaign star Nimue Smit (whom Simons discovered via social media). This season alone, several of the most successful girls—including J.W.Anderson opener Nirvana Naves and Céline star Vera van Erp—got their start thanks to Simons. With the Dutch wave showing no signs of slowing down, Simons explains what separates the new generation of Dutch models from their predecessors and which faces to keep an eye on for 2016.
How did you first become interested in scouting?
As long as I can remember, I’ve been interested in photography, design, and architecture. My plan was to become a photographer or a fashion designer. I’m part of the first generation that grew up with the Internet, so I was doing my own research about the things I liked—discovering new bands, building websites, taking pictures. That led to discovering fashion designers, models, and photographers. When I was about 15 years old I became intrigued by models like Gemma Ward, Lily Donaldson, and Lisa Cant, who were all over Italian Vogue, and I became fascinated with the idea of discovering such unique faces. I became curious about the infrastructure behind the models. At the time, I was asked to do some research for a popular website that kept track of up-and-coming models. Through them I got in touch with some agencies in Holland and started scouting.
After a while, I felt like these agencies were missing out on some opportunities. They did not see things the way I saw them as a young person. I became friends with the photographers I met and started to understand what they needed to accomplish their ideas for a shoot. I started to have my own vision about what an agency should be, a haven that focuses on a few select girls in a very personal way with high-end international goals. That’s when I started Code.
Who was the first model you discovered?
The first model I discovered was Nimue Smit. I spotted her picture on a social media website and asked her to meet me with her mom or dad. I was very young at the time for an agent, and her mom later on confessed to me she thought her daughter would be doing some local modeling, nothing too big. A year later, [Nimue] went to New York to shoot the Prada campaign.
What makes scouting in the Netherlands different than scouting in other locations?
In general the people in our country have “tall genes”: We’re a tall—and friendly—bunch of people. That makes a lot of girls more likely to model.
Dutch models have a very pure kind of beauty that radiates health and happiness: high cheekbones, strong eyebrows, full lips, and a fit body. Holland is known for their blonde-hair, blue-eyed beauties like Doutzen [Kroes], Karen Mulder, and Daphne Groeneveld, but there is another generation of young, racially mixed kids growing up into stunning adults. Imaan [Hammam] comes from that generation with a Moroccan mom and dad from Egypt, and Nirvana [Naves] with a Dutch dad and mom from Guyana.
Why do you think so many successful models come out of the Netherlands?
Dutch people have a softness and positive energy about them that makes them very likable. We also tend to be very active, ambitious people with over-planned agendas. We grow up riding our bikes through the rain, we’re sporty and persistent. We work hard and don’t expect too much. When good things come our way, we’re appreciative and will work harder to keep it up. This down-to-earth mentality allows a lot of Dutch models to stay on top. They’re rarely one-day flies.
Who are the girls we should be keeping an eye on for the future?
Kiki Boreel and Kim van der Laan are two girls with a lot of potential. Kiki just cut her hair, giving her a rock ’n’ roll edge, and Kim looks just like an angel with her light blonde curls and full lips. We also just signed a new, very cool girl by the name of Alex Neij that a lot of people are excited about.
The post Meet the Woman Behind the Modeling Industry’s Dutch Dominance appeared first on Vogue.
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