Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Kim Cloutier- Canadian Model

    My upstairs neighbour Jenna and I were watching the Victoria Secret Fashion Show (my first time ever) and she voiced the idea that I should consider interviewing a model. It hadn't really crossed my mind before, but as soon as she suggested it, it was something that I felt could have some serious potential. With that in mind, Jenna and I started looking at a list we found of well-known Canadian models. To be honest, we looked for a mix of a good story and, well, honestly, who we thought was one of the best-looking Canadian models currently in the business. Hey, it's best to be honest, right? We decided who I was going to try and reach out to, a 26-year-old from Quebec named Kim Cloutier. I really had no idea how to reach out to her, but I did notice that she had Twitter. Well, it's a modern world we live in, so I just decide to send her a tweet asking if she'd consider an interview. Imagine my surprise when I hopped on Twitter the next day and realized she had followed me, and sent me a private message curious for more information. After we messaged back and forth on Twitter a few times, Kim decided she'd love to do an interview. With excitement, I planned a time and date to Skype.
     Leading up to my interview with Kim, I realized I knew very little of the modelling world- from how you get into the career, to how you come around to getting contracts, and what the work week was like. It all seemed like really basic knowledge, but I didn't have a single clue and was really curious. Unfortunately, school and work got the best of me, and by the time I was to speak with Kim, I had no questions prepared. With that in mind, I winged it. Totally winged it. Luckily, it turned out great. It was an hilarious, wide-ranging discussion, touching on The Notebook, musician Adam Lambert, and even some of the psychological troubles of being a model. There was tons of laughter from both of us, and it turned out to be one of the funnest interviews I've ever conducted. In short, the story of Kim Cloutier is incredible.

Kim's first "big" photo shoot- Abercrombie and Fitch, 2008
Retrieved from http://abercrombieandfitchmodels.blogspot.ca/2008/06/kim-cloutier-next.html

     At about the age of seventeen, Kim's father (well-known photographer Michel Cloutier) voiced the idea that maybe "she would interested in modelling" herself, to which she replied with a definite no. Photos may have been her father's thing, but it wasn't something that really interested her. Her life as a teenager continued as normal, and (as I've learned some teenage girls tend to do), Kim and her girlfriends would occasionally flick through magazines. After a while of seeing photo shoots that seemed fun, she decided to ask her father after all if he could get in touch with the people he knew in the modelling world, and see where it went from there. To both of their surprise, her career exploded. Her first shoot was pretty big in itself, Elle Quebec (a magazine, branching from Elle Canada). I didn't know much about Elle Quebec, but when I asked what she felt to be her first "big contract" was, it was a name I recognized immediately- American clothing retailer Abercrombie and Fitch. It was a big set with 25 models in total, and a really welcoming photo crew. Having the chance to shoot with Abercromie as a teenager was a fun experience, and when explaining modelling to others her age, it was really a company that stood out. She finished high school, and turned 18. In was then that she moved it, and started travelling for her career.
     I couldn't imagine what she was going through. She told me it was difficult at first, she was "really suddenly, and really early" dropped into an adult life. From having her mother there to "cook and do my laundry", Kim transitioned to being based in Montreal and France for the sake of her career. That back and forth lasted for about three years, and then she finally moved to New York state. During the span of those three years, she had the chance to do one of her most memorable shoots, and I made sure to ask about it. I asked all about the time she had the chance to do a "rather racy" photo shoot with Grammy-nominated pop-musician icon Adam Lambert, only a few months after he was named runner-up in American Idol season 8.

Kim Cloutier and Adam Lambert (one of the "non-racy" shots)
Retrieved from http://forums.thefashionspot.com/f52/kim-cloutier-41778-35.html

     Although she seemed sort of shy when using the wording that she had heard back then, I asked how she ended up getting that contract. It was like any other contract, Adam had voiced that he wanted to do a shoot with a "sexy woman", and Kim's agency was approached. They decided that she would be the best for the job, fit their criteria, and she was pleased to take it. She was nervous at first, but that eventually changed. It wasn't due to Adam as a person, since he was "super nice" as Kim informed me, it's just that some of the shots in mind were a bit outside of what she was used. Never the less, it was a blast.
      Kim then seemed to predict one of the things I was going to ask about right after, by saying she could never forget the time she had the chance to be in the famous Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. This was back in 2009, a year before the Adam shoot, and had to be one of the funnest photo shoots her career has yet to ever hold, Kim informed me. This was due in part from how well known the publication was, and in part from how different of an experience it ended up being. She told me how she was flown down to Mexico and was working with an extremely incredible team of photographers. This was paired with a red carpet release, and I'm sure the feeling of a real appreciation for her (occasionally) underrated art form. In that 2009 issue (with Bar Refaeli on the cover), Kim was named "Rookie of the Year", a title she still proudly lists on her Twitter biography. 

Kim Cloutier posing in a photo shoot.
Photo from http://www.listal.com/viewimage/1474439h

     Sitting on a stool, while Skyping Kim from my kitchen of all places while making some coffee, with my roommate beside me doing some homework, I decided to take a more serious direction to the interview and touch on what I have heard to be some of the biggest struggles of modelling as a profession- the competitive atmosphere, and what I assumed to be the inevitable toll it took on your mental well-being. I was glad when Kim was not only willing to answer, but willing to answer with complete honesty. First, I began with competition, wanting to touch on other models from Canada. Kim voiced some of the other big names on the scene today from our home and native land, such as Coco Rocha, Jessica Stam, Heather Marks and Linda Evangelista among others. When asked, she said she didn't feel in competition with them at all. In fact, it was the opposite. She was always proud to see others from Canada excelling in the industry, especially those from her home province of Quebec. Being Canadian is also a big asset globally, as she recalled several memories of people getting excited whenever she mentioned her home nation, or informing her "how cool Canada is".
     Then, the psychological. Kim told me it's ever present, even if her, especially in her early day. At age 17, she would have people commenting on your visual appearance (negatively as much as positively), which got to her. There was pressure "to always be thinner, be more toned, change your hair", she was literally in an industry that paid based on appearance. She realized at a young age that you needed to be grounded, and a strong person mentally to not let it get you to a place you shouldn't be. Luckily, she had those traits. It got to her, but never made her stay up at night worrying. It was taken in stride, and the next day was always a new one.
      There was one last stereotype, that I had knew to be around from a life of television and film viewing, that I decided to not question Kim about. I didn't need to, as she busted it without even mentioning it. I hate to even write it, but there is the common stereotype that models are generally not that intelligent. I was never one to believe this, and Kim solidified that for me. Even through our short Skype conversation we had the chance to have some incredible conversation, on topics ranging from authors Marie Laberge to Paulo Coelho and his famous book, The Alchemist. I sincerely hope that stereotype is bashed soon, because like most stereotypes, it's based on nothing. We also did have the chance to touch on her favourite movie, The Notebook. Although it's a great movie, I still had to poke some fun at her choice. She knew it was coming though, she began laughing before she even got her answer out and started with "oh, this is going to be very cheesy, but..."
      She knows that the career she's in is generally a short one, and really depends on being "in the right place at the right time" or "the look of the month." As of now, she's travelling for work about once a week, and is enjoying every moment while she can. For model Kim Cloutier, the dream would be a chance to do a shoot for a cosmetics line, or a perfume, as she feels that would something really fun that she's never yet had the chance to do. Of course, the best case would be getting a contract with Victoria Secret. I laughed, thinking at how full circle that would be from how the idea to speak with her came to mind.
       Maybe I'll just have to watch next year to keep an eye out.

Kim Cloutier strikes a pose.
Photo from http://www.viewmanagement.com/models/969-kim-cloutier

2 comments:

  1. This is a terrible "interview".

    So you made her laugh.. good for you. We don't care. We want to hear her story from her voice. Not your giggly self boasting about interviewing a model. Your post is downright creepy.

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  2. I'm sorry you feel this way. As for your first comment related to the style my interviews are written in, this is simply how Canadian Stories is maintained an it will not be altered.

    Kim and I have both been over this work, and feel it accurately depicts her career as a model- both her origins and current experiences. This is followed by the real negative and psychological troubles in her career today, which I feel are ignored (dangerously) in interviews with models. It my intention to write these in the hopes that a true picture of an individual, not one laced with stereotypes was depicted. If you wish to continue this conversation further, I can be reached at www.facebook.com/CanadianStories

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