With New York Fashion Week Spring-Summer 2022 in full commence, the University of Kentucky is being represented by one of its own students in several of the most luxurious of fashion shows. I had the privilege of interviewing Julia Long, a fellow student and close friend, about her life and how her journey of modeling has brought her to taking part in one of the most exclusive social events of the year.
Long was born and raised in northern Kentucky and is a current junior at UK studying Health Communications with a minor in Health Promotion. Growing up as a true Wildcats fan, Long had no complications when choosing the right university for her. Although she is from Kentucky, Lexington is far enough from home to where she feels comfortable in her independence.
Long became interested in modeling at the age of 14. The idea of Long modeling arose in encouraging conversation with family and friends, persuading her to at least give it a shot. Long was quick to agree, as she had always been interested in fashion, hair, makeup and all the girly things. Heyman Talent in Louisville, Kentucky was the first agency her mother ever brought her to, where she immediately got signed. To this day, Long accredits all of her success to Heyman. Throughout her first few years in the industry, Long gained attention from some of the top modeling agencies in the country. Today, she is signed with Heyman Talent, One Management and the Source Models.
One of the biggest priorities for Long when she began modeling was finding the right agents in the industry that will support her educational needs. She wished to find an agency that would encourage her to get a college degree rather than ask her to make modeling her entire life. When asked how difficult it is to maintain a double life as a UK student and model, Long explained that in the beginning, it was all very daunting. She believed she would never be able to succeed at both simultaneously. Yet, with her incredible support system consisting of her family, friends, coaches and even UK faculty, she has been able to maintain a 4.0 GPA while traveling from city to city.
For the past few weeks, Long has been back and forth between Lexington and New York City. In the beginning of August, Long spent many tireless days in New York, busy developing her portfolio to show potential clients during fashion week. She was able to come back to Lexington for a few short days only to go right back to New York for three consecutive weeks. As if things couldn’t be any more tiring, Long's days quickly filled with castings, fittings, school and jobs. While discussing the opportunity to walk in New York Fashion Week, Julia expressed that it wasn’t a spontaneous decision in the slightest, but that it was actually quite a long time coming.
“After five years of training and building up my portfolio, I signed with One Management in New York which put me in front of casting directors, designers, and photographers,” Long said.
Due to the exclusivity of New York Fashion Week, I was more than eager to learn more about the casting process and what goes on behind the scenes.
“Most castings consist of a precast with the casting director, which then leads to a fitting to confirm that you are walking in the show," Long explained. "It is a long, competitive process, but it really is necessary for the designers to get the perfect look for their collection."
She explained that the models are essentially hangers for the designers' visions, and that you must have thick skin and not take denial personally. When asked if she was nervous during the casting process, she explained that her nerves mainly came from the known craziness associated with New York Fashion Week. She enjoys structure and set plans, so being in an industry that is so last minute made her rather anxious. Castings and bookings can come up within as little as an hour before you have to be there, which means you always have to be prepared.
After many tiring days of preparation, Long had the opportunity to walk for Bronx and Banco, an Australian-based contemporary fashion label, and for the Revolve presentation, which featured several other luxury brands.
I asked Long what was one goal she wishes to achieve in her career as a model. She replied that other than hoping to one day work for her dream designers, like Ralph Lauren, or to be in Vogue magazine, she truly wishes to be able to support herself for years to come. When asked what her most exciting experience in modeling was so far, she had no hesitation in her answer: New York Fashion Week by a landslide.
“The production of the events is huge and it is so fun to see all of the work of the teams and the designers' visions come together," she said.
Lastly, I asked Long if she had any advice for those at UK who want to start modeling. She said that confidence is the key to success. Confidence in yourself will take you much farther than you think in the modeling industry. She stressed that knowing your own personal worth is essential, and that denial is part of the job but you should never take it personally. If you don’t book a job, it is most likely because you do not fit the look the client is going for.
“They may want a pale blonde with blue eyes one season and they may want a dark-complected brunette the next,” Long said.
I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to speak with Julia Long about her thrilling career. She has let all of us at the University of Kentucky know that truly anything is possible with hard work and passion for what you do.