Model Shanina Shaik talks about the Australian fashion industry, diversity and her stylistic influences
You moved to New York at the age of 17 to pursue a modeling career. Are you exactly where you want to be?
I’ve definitely seen a lot of changes in the modeling industry over time. I had to merge and change as part of this trip. The world of social media has been the biggest difference because we’re more present than ever. But it’s great to be 31 and still model. I remember 10 years ago, models were told that our careers would end at around 27. What I love is that now everyone is more open to being inclusive, regardless of age, shape, size, and culture. Being mixed-race and racially diverse myself, I feel comfortable where I am, but I have a lot more to do in my career.
You come from a cultural mix of Lithuanian, Saudi, Pakistani and Australian ancestry. Did you grow up in a religious family or with traditions?
No, I did not grow up in a religious family. I was raised to live my life in the most passionate way and to follow my dreams. I am the eldest of four children and have three younger brothers. My family taught me to be caring and caring. I would say that I am more of a spiritual person and very focused on my mental health. It’s something I’ve devoted more time to as I got older. In my industry, where it’s normal to be busy, I’ve learned to focus on taking charge of my mental state. It’s about being happy to be in a place that includes others.
“In my industry, where it’s normal to be busy, I’ve learned to focus on taking charge of my mental state. It’s about being happy to be in a place that includes others.
What was your parents’ reaction to theleave the family home?
I think it’s pretty scary for any parent to see their child move halfway around the world, but I’m so grateful to have parents who have supported me and allowed me to continue my trip. My father and my mother always tell me to do what makes me happy, because it will make them happy. They know that I am very hardworking and dedicated to my career. I was very successful and still independent as a teenager and applied that to my work. They knew I had a plan and my dad always agreed with my choices.
Do you think you missed out on a modeling job because of your ethnicity at first?
I don’t think I was adopted early in my career in Australia. I had to go abroad to find my look, find myself and feel accepted. The industry was not quite the same in Australia as it was overseas. I think it’s going in the right direction now.
What was it like meeting Oscar de la Renta and Karl Lagerfeld in 2012?
Being invited to walk for Chanel during Paris Fashion Week and meeting Karl Lagerfeld will always be a “pinch me, did this happen?” moment. Knowing that I was chosen to walk in his show was beyond amazing. I also did two seasons with Tom Ford and was photographed by him. I was with mom when I got the call telling me I had to walk for Oscar de la Renta. It was during my first season as a model.
How did you come to find your own personal style?
I have become more comfortable over the past four years. Once I turned 30, I realized that my 20s were all about learning. I am sure of myself now and of who I am. I like a mix of big luxury brands and small brands, finding vintage pieces and supporting small businesses too. I love oversized men’s blazers and sneakers, military boots and avoid high heels. I wear athleisure and dress it up with fashion pieces like an oversized shirt and sneakers.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would say don’t worry so much; Always believe in yourself and don’t listen to people’s opinions of you.
“Being invited to walk for Chanel during Paris Fashion Week and meeting Karl Lagerfeld will always be a ‘pinch me, did this happen?’ moment.”
What do you think of models as social media activists?
I like being able to show my personality through social networks. The industry needs active role models to speak out when things are wrong and have a safe place to speak up.
How is it to live in Los Angeles after 10 years in New York?
LA is officially home. I bought my first home in downtown Los Angeles last year after the pandemic forced me to want a stable plan for myself. I’m always on the move and I live out of a suitcase, so I wanted a place I could call home. After living in an apartment in New York for 10 years, I longed for something bigger. Growing up in Melbourne, I know what it’s like to have a garden, and I understand now. It’s cool.
You are in a new relationship with label owner Matthew Adesuyan. How’s it going?
I am well placed. I have been with my boyfriend for almost two years and we are doing very well. Being in love is a good thing. He also lives in Los Angeles.
You are celebrating 12 years of collaboration with the Italian brewers Peroni, it’s a long collaboration.
I first worked with Peroni at Sydney Fashion Week in 2010. I love their inclusive approach. They’ve introduced a new non-alcoholic beer, Peroni Libera, which I’ll be toasting with at the Peroni x Aston Martin F1 Team cocktail party. The brand makes you want to go to Italy and eat pasta.
Tell us about your skin care plans.
I’m exploring my own skincare line and hope to have something ready soon. It’s something I’m passionate about and has been on my list for a few years. I think the time has come.
Shanina Shaik will be Peroni’s special guest at the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix.
Styling Nadene Duncan; Make up Aimie Fiebig with Sisley Paris; Hair Michele Mcquillan with R+Co; Fashion assistant Jessica Rolfe.
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