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Lorena Angjeli is a lot nicer than she looks. With her typically all-black get-ups, punky jewelry and edgy bowl cut, she gives off a Lisbeth Salander-meets-Agyness Deyn vibe. But the 22-year-old is no tough girl, just a fan of tough-girl fashions. “I love Rick Owens and Yohji Yamamoto,” says the soft-spoken model. After flying off to Paris last summer on a whim, Angjeli signed with Nathalie and is now back Stateside with Muse. Although Angjeli is just getting started, and we predict there’s much more to come. WWD chatted with the self-proclaimed New Yorker (she moved to Queens at the age of four) about how it feels to be home.

You’re one of the only working models not in Paris at the moment.
Yeah, I just signed with Muse a few weeks ago. Fashion Week had just started, so I missed the New York castings. We thought it would be good to get established in New York first instead of sending me off to Europe like right after I signed. But I’ll be doing the shows next season!

Where are you originally from?

I was born in Albania, but we moved to New York when I was young. It’s kind of a disadvantage, being a model from New York. People are always like “Oh, you’re from here? Boring.” We go to Albania every August, though, because my parents have a beach house there. I get pretty tan, which my agency doesn’t like.

How did you get into modeling?

After I finished high school, it was kind of a weird time for me, and I was figuring out who I was. I always thought about modeling, but I wanted to figure out who I was as a person first. So last summer, I cut off all my hair and moved to Paris for three months.

And how did that go?
I’d never been to Paris before. It was a sort of impulsive decision. I had one contact there. I barely spoke French at the time; I had just taken it in high school. So it was scary, but it felt good at the same time. It was liberating.

How long was your hair before you chopped it?

Like halfway down my back. I actually have a video of when I cut it off. The hairdresser put it in a ponytail and just chopped it all off.

And you’ve kept it short ever since. Is it a lot less maintenance?

You’d think so, but it’s more, actually. My hair is kind of damaged from working, so it frizzes up, even more now that it’s short. I have to blow-dry it every morning and style it. Before, when it was long, I would just shower and go.

How did your family react to you moving to Paris?
It’s cool because my mom is really supportive. She’s kind of a stage mom. Every time I go to a big casting, she gives me tips and tries to build my confidence. She’s kind of picky about my book. Like before I came here [to meet WWD], she rearranged the pictures in my book without telling me.

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