The photographer and host of ‘The Face’ comes to Chicago for Art Van’s supermodel search.
This week, fashion photog and reality TV star Nigel Barker heads to Chicago to help a panel of judges pick the winner in local furniture company Art Van’s first-ever Supermodel Super Search (the winner will be photographed by Barker for an upcoming ad campaign). Splash readers are invited to attend — our own publisher and editor Susanna Negovan will help judge while CelebTV’s Kelli Zink emcees — by RSVPing at Artvanwoodridge.eventbrite.com.
I love taking on side projects. Art Van approached me and wanted me to talk about style and fashion and how their business — designing and styling the inside of people’s houses — is an extension of someone’s fashion sense. I wanted to help tell that story, so I created, directed and shot their entire catalog. I wanted to inject life into furniture.
Growing up, I wasn’t too interested in the fashion world; I was actually destined to become a doctor. My mom entered me into a televised modeling contest and I was in the top three. I was offered a contract, so I decided to take a year off before medical school to see the world. I discovered a world I loved: I went from a conservative background to being with all the freaks and the weirdos and the wonderful fashion people.
[Doing ‘America’s Next Top Model’] was a risk. Not so much now, but then the fashion industry frowned upon reality TV and the commercialization of fashion — it’s an elitist world and they felt like shows like that exposed them, ridiculed them. But I also thought, ‘This is an unusual approach and the world is changing rapidly.’ I didn’t know it would become a cult phenomenon.
The best people on reality TV are very much the same people on and off TV. Miss Jay [from ‘America’s Next Top Model’] is Miss Jay and there’s no changing him. He is flamboyant but very loving and straightforward. Tyra [Banks] is extremely business-oriented; I’ve never met anyone who works as tirelessly as she does. She’s a very jovial character, young at heart and strikingly beautiful.
‘America’s Next Top Model’ was all about the diamond in the rough, finding real women and uncovering potential. ‘The Face’ is all models handpicked by supermodels and taught to take it to the next level … Personality is what is unique to [each model]. The individuality is what inspires you. It’s not the perfect skin or great hair or aquiline nose, but the way you move, the way you talk — the same things we find fascinating in the people we fall in love with.
Head to the Art of Spring Party at Art Van (900 E. Boughton, Woodridge) April 17 from 6-9 p.m.