Arianne-Unity Hargrave entered the world of fashion at the age of 19. Now, at 23, she already gained lots of experience while modelling in her native home of the UK as well as in Paris. Arianne-Unity is also passionate about ballet, which she has been doing for the past 10 years. Her full-time work as a model slowed down when she entered Middlesex University to study dance performance. However, that chapter of her life had to be put on hold as a knee injury stopped her from pursuing a career in dancing. Nevertheless, Arianne-Unity does not see it as a failure, she is training hard to try to help her injury and is still interested in doing something towards practicing dance. Prior to studying dance, she found pleasure in combining ballet with modelling in both video ads and creative photoshoots.
Photo © Demilio Photography
Arianne-Unity intends to pursue her modelling career further as it’s something that she thoroughly enjoys doing. Her modelling works includes various shows for London Fashion Week, editorial (PUMP fashion magazine, HUF fashion magazine, Rise Magazine, Afi Magazine) and advertising athlete supplements by combining ballet. Arianne-Unity also appeared in Vogue Runway and modelled for the fashion label Off-White.
“Primarily, I would say I’m a model, but I was hoping to focus almost entirely on ballet at university before I hurt my knee. After lockdown is fully lifted in the UK, I plan to focus on both aspects of my career equally as I still hope to teach dance in the future.” Arianne-Unity says. She will surely be back on the runway and in front of the camera, she is full of natural femininity that is desired by many designers worldwide. But what made this young woman become a model? What’s her beauty regime, favourite style and her opinion on the British fashion industry? You can now find out more about Arianne-Unity in the interview that we recently conducted.
Photo © Alex Burnell
You started modelling at the age of 19, now you are 23. Most people see fashion as a beautiful yet difficult industry, particularly for women. What prompted you to become a model? Weren’t you afraid that you might go through hard times yourself?
I’m not entirely sure what prompted me to start modelling, honestly! I was never tall as a child, if anything I was below average height until I was about 17. I had a late growth spurt after I had just left school which I discovered ironically at a dance audition. I didn’t think much of it until I had finished a temporary work contract at a bank near London Bridge. I was getting coffee with a friend in Shoreditch, she had an art show nearby and I was helping her set up, and I was approached by a scout for a small London based agency. He told me that I should visit the agency in person and gave me a card, it wasn’t too far from where we were, so I decided to pop in there and then as we still had loads of time before we’d be able to set up. I was told that I was too old to sign as a new face model, so I emailed the scout and he advised me to try getting a portfolio done and also to try working freelance, so he sent me some links to various websites and other agencies to apply to. Since I wasn’t working and I had no plans to go to university, I thought that I might as well use my new height for something.
I didn’t really consider how difficult it would be at times. I do often say that I feel as though I’ve been very lucky with my experience working as a model as it’s mostly been very positive. I certainly didn’t expect to get the work that I have done, so I’m eternally grateful for that. It has definitely come with a good amount of stress as well, though. It’s very inconsistent work, so you go through both dull and insanely busy times, both of which are very stressful in different ways. People can often be rude and inconsiderate on set and a lot of people don’t see models as people, but rather as objects of some sort. The vast majority of people I’ve worked with have been absolutely lovely, but, unfortunately, you tend to remember the rude ones. I’d say that for me the worst part about it is the rejection, you’re never really given real reasons for why you weren’t chosen for certain jobs and sometimes it can be quite upsetting. You definitely develop a thick skin over time, but it can still be upsetting sometimes.
Photo © iMagazine (Daria Dmitrieva)
Looking at your work as a model, it seems like you have gained a lot of experience. What features of your character have helped and still help you at work as a model, and which complicate your work?
Thank you! I’d say that I have a pretty good work ethic which has definitely been very helpful in many ways, I certainly don’t think that I would have had this much work if I wasn’t prepared to work insanely hard. The times in my life that I’ve been happiest have been the times that I’m working hard and playing hard, as cringy as that sounds.
I do, however, also think that this has a lot of downsides that do end up complicating my work eventually. I’ve definitely worked myself to the point of burnout in the past which hasn’t helped my physical health much. If I’m not careful, I tend to get ill quite frequently; I have asthma so I’m a bit more vulnerable to getting chest and other secondary infections which need antibiotics to treat. I’ve been in better health for the past six months or so, but I spent most of 2018 and 2019 with some kind of cold, throat infection, sinus problem or chest infection. These aren’t that debilitating, though, after I’ve taken some antibiotics for a day or two, so I’m able to keep up with my work most of the time, thankfully.
Has modelling changed other aspects of your life?
It definitely has. I have made so many amazing friends through my work and I’ve been given amazing opportunities and experienced so many wonderful things because of it. I do feel as though I’ve gained some skills as well in this time, I’m a lot more organised than I used to be, and being self-employed has definitely taught me how to be resourceful and self-motivated.
Let’s talk about your beauty regimen: how do you keep yourself healthy? Do you have any tips for our readers?
I should definitely work on being healthier! But I try to have a varied diet and I don’t drink heavily very often. I do try to drink more water while I’m at home, but I’m normally not too great at this. My main things are taking good care of my skin, I moisturise twice a day using a fragrance-free moisturiser for dry skin and I wear a high-level SPF every day as I’m very pale and 80% of skin aging comes from the sun, so I definitely recommend this. Staying out of the sun and limiting smoking and heavy drinking are the most important things, although it is important to still have fun!
Photo © Talie Rose Eigeland
How would you describe your own fashion style? Considering anything or everything from colour to historical eras and more?
I’m definitely very feminine, I almost never wear trousers if I can avoid it. I love vintage-inspired pieces, my favourite era at the moment is the 60s and I absolutely love the mod style, my favourite clothing item is a pair of knee-high boots. I used to wear a lot more colour than I do now, at castings you tend to need to wear all black, so I’ve fallen out of the habit, but I’m trying to wear more neutrals and pink in general. My style icon is probably Taylor Swift – her style is very feminine and often with a retro twist, which I love.
Apart from modelling, you are also a dancer. You have been doing ballet since you were 13; how did your adventure with ballet start? Are you actively involved with ballet?
I did a year at Italia Conti when I was a child, but I never actively pursued it. The urge to get back into it came the year before I started my GCSE’s. They were really hammering it into our heads that they were going to be so monumentally difficult and stressful – not that they turned out to be easy, but they were laying it on a bit thick – so I thought I’d need to get a hobby to help cope with the stress. Ballet was the first thing to come to mind and I really jumped at the idea and I loved it straight away. At the moment I’m not actively involved in it, sadly I haven’t been for much of this year. I’m working on strengthening my knee injury at the moment and I hope to attend some classes in the autumn term if they are back up and running then.
Let’s go back to fashion. Is there any habit you follow before you walk on the stage or in front of the camera for a fashion shoot?
I’ve made Spotify playlists in the past to get into the best headspace for shooting or walking, but I’ve always found that the main thing is always the chemistry that you have with the other models and crew members. One thing I always do is roll my shoulders back and stand up as straight as possible as I don’t have the best posture, so this makes a big difference. I’ve actually been described as an accordion before because I’m so much taller when I’m standing up straight versus when normally I’m slouching!
Alexander McQueen once said, “Youth culture now really looks back and embraces the past, but keeps it contemporary but not sticking to one particular style.” It seems like younger generations seek inspiration from the past, how do you see your generation when it comes to fashion?
I’ve definitely seen a distinct direction in the next generation of designers and fashion creatives towards sustainability and being both environmentally and socially conscious. Stylistically, there is definitely a lot of vintage-inspired fashion around at the moment and I believe that there always will be. I loved Moschino’s collection at the most recent fashion week which were definitely some of the most distinctly vintage-inspired designs I’ve seen. I also think that a lot of designs draw from the Christian Dior’s ‘New Look’ of the 50s and I believe that it will always be a fashion staple.
Photo © Nick Dandalos
The modelling industry is known to be harsh; how do you perceive the British modelling industry? Is there anything you really wish you could change?
I do believe that it can be very harsh at times, but there has definitely been a lot of positive steps forward in recent years. I’ve often thought that London, specifically, is one of the more forgiving of the major cities and it’s definitely the most diverse. I do wish that models could be paid better as, based on my own experience and the experiences of some other models I’ve spoken to, I think that London has a lot more of an expectation to work for free even as a professional model. I don’t mind collaborating with people creatively, of course, but I do think that brands shouldn’t ask models to work for free, which they often do, as they intend to make money selling their products. I do understand students and new designers can’t always afford to pay people, but established brands definitely should.
As a modelling career is relatively short, do you have any plans for the future when you leave modelling?
I plan to model for as long as possible, but I do imagine that I’ll always work in a creative field. I would love to teach ballet one day if I’m able to, and I would also love to work as an art dealer once I retire from modelling full-time.
Who encourages you? Who supports you from the side-lines on your hardest days when you do modelling?
I’m very lucky to have wonderfully supportive friends and family who are always happy for me to vent to them when I’m having a difficult time. I’ve found having friends who are also models very helpful as it’s easier to complain to people who also have similar things to complain about!
Do you have any guilty pleasures you can share? Maybe something you love to eat or music you secretly love listening to?
I absolutely love McDonald’s, and terrible, low budget shark films.
In your downtime (free time) between shows and campaigns, what helps you relax? How does your perfect day off look like?
My perfect day would probably start relatively late, I’m definitely not a morning person, and when I’m not working, I sleep as late as possible. But I’d love to start the day with brunch with some close friends and, ideally, I’d visit an art gallery, my favourite gallery in London is the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery, and have a coffee afterwards. I’d love to maybe see a matinee performance on the west end and have dinner afterwards, and maybe go to a rooftop bar with as many friends as possible as well.
What are your goals, how do you see yourself progressing in this industry? Perhaps you have different plans for the future?
I’d definitely like to take modelling further before I retire as I want to take it as far as I possibly can, and I do want to get back into dancing more as I really love combining modelling and ballet. I also want to study art more once classes open up again. I’m open-minded about the future and I don’t have any real concrete plans, I usually tend to go with the flow as much as I can, but whatever I do I hope it’s something creative and fun that I can share it with the people that I love.
Photo © Le Pham Xuan Nga SS20 Collection Lookbook
Written and interviewed by Maggie Gogler
Edited by Julia Litwinowicz
Featured Photo © Julia David Photography