As the lights came up on the Rodarte runway, out strode Julija Step,her eyelashes, lips and hair gilded with accents of burnished metallicmakeup. It’s no wonder one of fashion’s buzziest labels chose Step to openthe show. The 17-year-old Lithuanian is one of beauty’s newest goldengirls. This season—only her second on the international fashion circuit— Step walked in 42 shows. In addition to Rodarte, her roster includedMarc by Marc Jacobs, Proenza Schouler and Rag & Bone in New York;Dolce & Gabbana and Missoni in Milan, and Chanel, Lanvin, Rochasand Nina Ricci in Paris. She’s been photographed by Steven Meisel forItalian Vogue, by Craig McDean for W andInterview, by Chad Pittman forNuméro, and already has a Balenciaga campaign under her belt.
Not bad for a full-time student currently in her junior year of high school back home in Vilnius.
Though she has mastered the requisite runway look of betraying absolutely no emotion as shestalks the catwalk, in real life Step is always smiling, a vivacious, cheerful presence backstagewho chats merrily with her model friends and the myriad makeup artists, hairstylists and dressers who surround her as they prepare for the show.
“I am always cheerful, 100 percent optimistic,” she says in impeccable English. “I’m alsoreally stubborn. My father says about me that if I want something, I’m going to get it. And I’malways smiling. I love to smile.”
She kept that smile firmly planted on her face during her first runway experience, at a Gucciresort show in Milan. “It was so exciting,” she says. “I was the youngest girl there, with all of thetop models. I didn’t realize how big it was. I just smiled and was nice to everyone—I didn’t knowexactly what to do.”
Today, there’s no question that Step is a runway whiz, expertly ticking off the differencesbetween the fashion capitals (“New York is a ball of energy,” she says, while the weather in London “doesn’t always bring the best mood in the morning”) and her fail-proof packing strategyfor coping with a solid six weeks of traveling without a side trip home. “Light,” she laughs. “Ihad one big suitcase, and I tried not to take too many clothes, especially because I knew that inNew York I would get a lot of clothes from trade. I’m glad I didn’t bring too much. By the end offashion week, I had to really squeeze my luggage to close it.”
Step describes her personal style as romantic rather than edgy—Dolce & Gabbana, with itsgently tousled updo and glowy makeup was her favorite beauty look of the season—and, like mostgirls her age, confesses to being an accessories freak. In New York, she toted a chic Celine bag thatwas a gift from last season. Her beauty routine is minimalist in the way that only a teenager’s canbe. Asked about her secret for keeping her skin fresh and clear after a month of having her facemade up over and over again, she has to think for a moment, before answering makeup remover.
Discovered while buying some candy at her favorite chocolatier during an outing in the citycenter, Step wants to finish school before pursuing her modeling career full time. Her strongestsubjects are English, art and history, less popular are physics, chemistry and math. “This year Idon’t have to take them anymore, and I feel so happy about that.”
Refreshingly down-to-earth despite her heady lifestyle, she ticks off “being responsible,being flexible and being communicative” as the three main lessons she’s learned from modeling.And when asked if there’s any certain model who she particularly admires or looks up to, her response is immediate. “Everybody,” she says. “Every single model who is doing well in the fashionbusiness has her own charm, and I admire all of them.” And if her career follows along its currenttrajectory, chances are she’ll be just the type of model future aspirants look up to.
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye