Fashion & Beauty

Model Citizens

I LOVE IT WHEN Caroline Forsling and Ubah Hassan arrive in my home, which they do on a pretty regular basis. They’re catalogue models, Caroline for J.Jill and Ubah for Talbots (that girl is all leg!).

The women have different personalities, as seen in these catalogues: Caroline is friendly, often serene; Ubah is rarely not grinning, sometimes laughing out loud. Maybe I spend too much time alone, but I find both of them comforting, like old friends come to call when the postman drops them off.

Looking at their latest pictures reminded me of two other friendly presences, Chico’s An Hayward and Magali Amadei. There are tons of other regulars who drop by my living room periodically, but these four are the ones who stand out. And yes, I do sometimes buy clothing from those catalogues, but I can’t swear it’s because Caroline or Ubah showed them to me.

I was watching a video clip the other day of designer Karl Lagerfeld. He was saying that models are worth what they get paid because they really sell the clothes and, paraphrasing here, that “modeling is not a job you can do for 20 years.”

Tell that to An Hayward. The pixie-blonde Belgian, now 47 and living in Florida with her husband and son, is about to hit the two-decade mark. She has been modeling for Chico’s since 1999. And Swedish-born Caroline, now in her 40s and living in New York, was a kinda hippie-looking Sports Illustrated swimsuit model back in 1998 (she then went by Louise, her middle name).

Like Caroline, the Somali-born Canadian Ubah and Magali, who is French, hit the Paris runways early on in their careers. The catwalk commands a lot of money, for sure. But it can also interrupt real life.

Maybe catalogue gigs are not the most glamorous modeling work—a lot less makeup(!) and minus the exaggerated styling that sometimes inspires (and sometimes inspires laughs).  But all of the “girls” get a warm welcome in my house.

—Nancy McKeon

LEFT: When the mood to feel like a Flemish floral still-life becomes overwhelming—though it clearly doesn’t overwhelm Caroline Forsling—there’s this: from J.Jill’s Wearever line, a  3/4-Sleeve Easy Top, $69 or $79, depending on size, in this Black All-Over Bouquet pattern (in solid colors it’s $59 or $69, according to size). Rayon with a touch of spandex, at J.Jill.

CENTER: Here Caroline is wearing a style from the J.Jill Sleep Collection, the Ultrasoft Peplum Tank. A cotton-modal rayon combo, the knitted top is $24.99 or $29.99, depending on size. The top can be paired with the Ultrasoft Full-Leg Crops in Soft Coral Heather or Soft Aqua Heather, $24.99 or $34.99. All at J.Jill.

RIGHT: It would be hard to get any easier or breezier than this Asymmetric Poncho in an exploded woven gingham pattern in cotton and rayon. It’s $79 at J.Jill.


LEFT: This Diamond-Print Boat-Neck Dress worn by Caroline from the J.Jill Wearever collection can probably go anywhere, at any time. Reduced from $109 to the current $69.99, the knit pullover is a combo of rayon and spandex and promises to be virtually wrinkle-free (find your passport!). At J.Jill.

CENTER: J.Jill’s Soft Mixed-Plaid Tunic is $89 or $99, depending on size, at J.Jill. The plaids are mixed: large-scale on the front and sleeves, smaller-scale on the back, made of woven rayon. The way Caroline wears it, the tunic could be for work or play.

RIGHT: Caroline wears this Layered Linen Maxi effortlessly. But the dress only looks simple. It’s actually woven linen layers attached by a partial cotton-knit lining. The top has a slightly crinkled texture and crosses over in back to make it look wrapped. The bottom is woven linen. It’s currently available only in white for misses’ and petite sizes ($89.99, down from $129), and in both navy and white in tall ($89.99) and women’s ($109.99) sizes.

I guess modeling for the popularly priced Haband catalogue, above, is one of the gigs Caroline Forsling does when J.Jill isn’t taking up her time.

I can just hear Ubah saying, See, I may be a fancy model, but I get along with all the other girls! This shot focuses on the tops, all at Talbots.

LEFT: Ubah wears the Single-Button Ponte Knit Blazer in Bright Apple (also in black, indigo and a pale gray heather). A take on the traditional blazer, this one has a collar-lapel combo that stays forward. The lining is a foulard print, so raking back the cuffs offers contrast. It’s $149 or $169, depending on size.

SECOND FROM LEFT: Talbots’ classic V-Neck Boyfriend Cardigan comes back for fall in five new colors. It’s $79.50 or $89.50, depending on size.

SECOND FROM RIGHT: Gingham just keeps getting bigger. Here the Embroidered-Sleeve Check Top is cotton and $89.50 or $99, depending on size.

RIGHT: The Tencel Denim Shirt has a nice pale wash, and the Tencel gives it a graceful drape. It’s $79.50 or $89.50, depending on size.

LEFT: The Perfect Shirt in cotton/spandex (now $27.99 or $29.99, depending on size) is paired with the Refined Ponte Pencil Skirt, also with a bit of stretch. The skirt also comes in Bright Apple and Indigo. It’s $89.50 or $99, depending on size.

CENTER: Ubah models a Sheath Dress, part of the Talbots Textured Houndstooth Collection in cotton with “a touch a spandex.” $149 or $169, depending on size.

RIGHT: The Jacket from the same cotton-spandex Houndstooth Collection is $179 or $199, depending on size.


Friendly faces also inhabit the Chico’s catalogues, namely pixie-blonde Belgian An Hayward and glamorous brunette Magali Amadei, born in Nice, France. I’ve seen Magali in the Gump’s San Francisco catalogue in recent years, and the Travelsmith catalogue that just landed on my doorstep this week boasted An on the cover.

FAR LEFT AND FAR RIGHT: Magali and her whipped-up hair have lent an easy glamour to the Chico’s catalogue.

ON THE STOOL: The pants An wears are Chico’s Brigitte Gingham Slim Ankle Pant, which are pull-ons in rayon, cotton and spandex for stretch. They’re $99 at Chico’s. She pairs it with Chico’s Basic Denim Jacket, $99, also a stretchy combo of poly, cotton and spandex.

CENTER: A few seasons ago, Chico’s featured An and Magali in a dark-blue dinner-dress face-off, just for fun.

The Lafayette 148 catalogue, online and in the mail, is clearly more uptown and more upscale. Perhaps embodying that, the models, while lovely, are more reserved than their Talbots/J.Jill/Chico’s counterparts. They look elegant, but they don’t look as if they’re having a lot of fun.

LEFT:  The Izzie Blouse, with slashed sleeves in matte silk, comes in Black, Cloud (shown) and Ink. It’s $448 and is paired with the Manhattan Slim Pant in Italian stretch wool, $328, available in Black, Nickel, Smoke and Ink.

RIGHT: The unlined, oversize Hemingway Jacket, in wool crepe, is $898 in Cloud and Black. It’s also paired with the Manhattan Slim Pant (see above). Underneath the jacket, the sleek top is Lafayette 148’s Metropolitan Shine Diagonal Rib Sweater, in Cloud and Black, $448.


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3 thoughts on “Model Citizens

  1. Candy says:

    So that’s the key — the more smiles, the lower the price? (Except for fast casual, of course, where pouting still reigns.)

    1. Nancy McKeon says:

      Yeah, I don’t think the old “heroin chic” of the ’80s-’90s runways ever infected the catalogue crowd. (Remember those drugged-looking waifs swanning around in Calvin Klein slip dresses? How to spend $800 for a blouse AND look severely disturbed.)

  2. Nancy says:

    It’s the best when you can actually see yourself in the clothes the models wear!

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