Growing up in the French Alps, where her family relocated when she was five, Ophelie Guillermand’s friends always pushed her to try modeling. She was eventually discovered by a photographer at age 17 while visiting Paris, but at the time, she was more interested in pursuing chemistry and molecular biology. A year later, Guillermand gave modeling a shot and quickly landed the cover of Vogue Italia shot by Steven Meisel. “If you like to dance, it’s perfect,” Guillermand said of working the camera. “On a shoot, it’s kind of like a little dance.
You were initially reluctant to pursue modeling. What made you change your mind?
I went to university and I got super bored. I wanted to be out of there and do something else. I was 18-and-a-half when I moved to New York and did my first runway show season. I was named one of the top five newcomers of the season….
I walked about 40 shows that season. Everything was new. I was not super nervous because I didn’t know what was going on.
And then, before you knew it, you were on the cover of Vogue Italia — twice.
I did some [test] shoots in between show seasons, so when I got there with Steven [Meisel], I felt kind of ready. It’s amazing working with him because he has a very precise vision for what he wants — he’s art directing and photographing at the same time. Once we get there, he’ll say, “Do it exactly like that.” It was great for me to have that direction at the start. It’s nice when you work with people who have a vision…it’s like teamwork.
You’ve booked campaigns for Prada, H&M, Emporio Armani and Tommy Hilfiger, among others — but like many models, you got your start on the runway. Do you still enjoy walking the shows?
It’s so much easier to do the shows [when you’re more established], because everyone knows you…the casting directors know you. It’s not like you have to go to five castings or five fittings. It’s way easier, so that’s super nice. It’s great to do a show because you can see what’s going on backstage…backstage is a totally different world.
How do you think modeling has changed you as a person?
I’ve grown up a lot faster. If you’re living in the countryside, you go through these normal life processes — you go to school, you find a job. But in New York, I was [thrust] into the world… I had to be on my own, find an apartment, do all this paperwork. Also, as a model, you’re always on set with older people. It’s super exciting to find out how hard people have worked to get to where they are.
What are some of your goals?
I’d like to do all the best campaigns. I’m excited by the idea of getting a beauty contract. You really have to present yourself — you have to speak, be on TV, do some videos….It’s not like a one-day shoot.