Meet The College Student Who Walked In Kanye’s NYFW Show

Imagine the seconds before you’re stepping on stage to represent Kanye West. You’re dressed from head to toe in Yeezy gear, from your army green cap to your deep nude leggings, and, if you weren’t nervous enough, you’re walking behind Kylie Jenner and Bella Hadid. Your heart starts to pound as the music begins and the lights go on. You begin your walk toward the stage and get a glance at the front row A-listers that sit only a few feet away, including Vogue’s editor Anna Wintour and the entire Kardashian-Jenner clan. Thousands of cameras face you from every direction.

Here you are, in the entire world’s gaze.PQ1This was just one of the many incredible experiences 22-year-old model Clare Cirillo has had in her modeling career of only two years (insane, right?!). Discovered by a family friend, model manager Ken Harvey, Clare calls her entrance into the modeling world as a “blessing of a beginning.” Clare is signed with Major Models and L.A Models and has graced many magazines from Seventeen to NYLON. She’s also starred in campaigns for American Eagle, Target, Benefit Cosmetics, Wildfox, and Maybelline (including commercials alongside Gigi Hadid). Not to mention, she’s had extensive runway experience and has walked for Banana Republic, Vivienne Tam, Yeezy and more. So what’s it like to be a college student, model, and blogger, with an 18.5K following on Instagram? It’s all in a day’s work, and we wanted to know exactly how she does it.

the Lala: Okay, so let’s just jump in full force. Was there a moment where you decided, okay, modeling is for me… modeling is going to be my career. Was that a long process of decision making or was your mind immediately made up once you started?

Clare: I think from the beginning, I knew I could make a career out of it because all of the opportunities it presents. Modeling is not just standing in front of a camera and wearing cool clothes. It’s more of the idea that you get to represent brands and inspire people. I’m motivated by so many models and I hope to one day be able to do the same.

Courtesy of Clare Cirillo
Courtesy of Clare Cirillo

You have to spill about Yeezy Season 2. What was that experience like and how has it affected your career?  Tell us about the audition process, and then the actual show itself. 

It was definitely my most memorable moment in my first fashion week season. The audition process was insane, almost every model in every agency got the casting for it, so it was packed. I remember waiting in line for hours wanting to leave, but thinking “If I don’t get seen by them I will definitely regret it”… not to mention my agent told me I better stay and wait in line. Each model got their picture taken, and most were told to leave. But the casting director called me over out of the line of girls and asked me a ton of questions. That’s when I knew I stuck out to pq2them. The show was two days away from the casting, so I would get picked within the next 24 hours. And the next day, my agent called me saying they were very interested and wanted to book me, but I didn’t get officially confirmed until about midnight that night…that’s when the call to be up at 6 am the next day for call time. It’s safe to say I was freaking out, everything was so last minute! But that’s fashion week for you. As for the process, Kanye was really involved. I didn’t think he would be, but he was pretty much dressing and fitting the models. He had the final say in the outfits, and it was really cool to see and experience him fully partaking in his line… not just having other people do it for him.

Unreal show. Thank you KANYE for having me!!!!! #YEEZYSEASON2 #NYFW ?

A photo posted by Clare Cirillo (@clarecirillo) on

From as I understand, you’re working more in commercial modeling as opposed to editorial and runway. What is it that you like about commercial? How is it different than working in the other facets of the field?

Yes! So there are pretty much two fields in the modeling world, commercial and editorial. Editorial is more high fashion whereas commercial is more all-american, upbeat work. I enjoy the commercial side because I can really be myself, and my look definitely appeals more to the commercial clients. I like to be able to relate to people, and being in the commercial industry definitely allows me to do that. Editorial is more ethereal and incomparable to reality in a sense.

Have you ever felt intimidated by other models or directors you’ve worked with?

I have. But I think it’s good to be intimidated, it keeps you grounded and allows for improvement. You should constantly want to be the best version of yourself. I have met some of the top casting directors in the industry and that’s always the most intimidating… because if they like you, you’re going to make it far. They have a lot of power in the industry.

How many classes are you taking this semester? Do you find it hard to balance working at shoots all day and school? AKA, do you ever sleep?

My life is pretty insane this semester! I am taking a full course load and working full time. So I basically am going from 6 a.m.- 10 p.m. almost everyday. I try to go to the gym before work, then from there go straight to my night classes that end at 9! It’s crazy, but I just keep telling myself it will be all be so worth it to come out of this with a degree and then be able to focus on modeling one hundred percent.

Is it weird for you and your friends to see your face everywhere?

At this point, it’s not weird for me. When the American Eagle campaign came out, I went with my family on Christmas Eve to see it and thank god we were all a few drinks in because my family made a huge scene, that was a little embarrassing! But, it’s definitely great to hear from people I haven’t talked to in forever congratulating me. It’s a good feeling to see that people care and think what I’m doing is somewhat cool!

Clare for American Eagle; Photo Courtesy of American Eagle
Clare for American Eagle; Photo Courtesy of American Eagle

What’s the most memorable shoot/runway/ gig you’ve ever done (besides Kanye!)?

That’s such a hard question. I have worked with so many interesting clients ranging from Kanye to Maybelline. Getting dressed by Kanye was definitely something I will never forget and by far the coolest show I have done. Working for cosmetic companies like Maybelline and Benefit are also cool. I know I have an interesting look with freckles and red hair so it’s great to see clients that want to work with my look. Some might want your typical blonde or brunette, which is totally understandable, but I hope to one day be able to represent a brand or company that can appreciate how I look and are inspired by me!

If you could work with any photographer or model in the world, who would it be and why?

Bruce Weber is probably my favorite photographer. Getting the opportunity to work with him has always been a dream. And Russell James, who photographs the Victoria’s Secret angels. Everything he shoots is like a dream…it’s always perfect. And I have so many models that I look up to. To me, the coolest models are ones that can do both commercial and editorial gigs, which is what I’d love to do one day, like Karlie Kloss and Anna Ewers. I also love Cindy Crawford and Christy Turlington, they’ve been in the industry for years and still kill it. I also love the models that aren’t famous because of their name, or their family. That’s not to bring down girls like Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid… they’re stunning and certainly deserve to be models, but the ones that have been working at it for years and make it because they want it and will do anything for it.. those are true inspirations.  

Clare in Seventeen Magazine; Photo Courtesy of Seventeen
Clare in Seventeen Magazine; Photo Courtesy of Seventeen

What do you plan on doing after college?

I am definitely going to continue to model and pursue my fashion blog, When in Manhattan! I am really passionate about fashion and the industry as a whole so I don’t think I’ll ever be truly happy or satisfied doing anything else.


Do you have any advice for girls aspiring to work in the modeling or fashion industry?

Definitely stay true to yourself and have a good support team. I know that sounds ridiculous and can be a motto for a lot of things in life but it’s so key with modeling. I have received so many “no’s” and harsh comments throughout my career. Just remembering who you are and not letting all of the negativity get to you is so important. Not to mention my agency, manager, family and friends have stood behind me through it all. I’d be nowhere without them.

Follow Clare on Instagram and check out her blog, When In Manhattan, here

To read a full profile on Clare from The Fordham Observer, click here.

Alanna Martine Kilkeary

Contributing Editor, Fordham University Graduate Major: English, Fashion Studies Her heart belongs to: The chaos of Manhattan and the musings of Sir William Shakespeare You can find her: Sketching at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or making her way into every NYFW show... Take her away to: The Swiss Alps, a Wes Anderson Universe, the Valley of the Kings, and Outer Space

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