Charisma is what matters

Zuzanna Bijoch

Zuzanna Bijoch has worked with the world’s largest fashion houses. She walked for Prada, Gucci, Marc Jacobs, Valentino, and Givenchy. She appeared on the covers of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Glamour. Who, if not Zuza, can we talk to about the behind-the-scenes of the world of fashion?

You wrote the book “A Model”. It shows that apart from having to meet very restrictive conditions, it is difficult to be successful in modeling without a strong personality and a sense of humor. What does it take to get noticed in the crowd of girls walking on the catwalks?

In modeling, building personal relationships is the most important skill. To survive and stay in business for many years, you need a strong personality. The atmosphere of a photo shoot largely depends on the energy brought in by the model. People in this business want the models to grab their attention and inspire them. This will determine whether they’ll invite you again to the set or not.

You started your career as a teenager. What was your biggest challenge at work? How did it change?

The beginnings of my career were not easy. For my first one-month contract I flew to Japan. I was just a teenager at the time. Living far away from my family and friends, a foreign language, completely different culture... it was all very overwhelming at the beginning. Over time, however, I started to see modeling trips as exciting expeditions, thanks to which I could visit the most distant parts of the world and meet very interesting people.

Fashion has become more open to all kinds of diversity lately.

What does it mean to be a professional model?

Despite being a very creative profession, modeling involved a number of clearly set requirements. A model has to come to the photo shoot on time, always in good shape and with a positive attitude. Often, you have work on set until the photos are finally accepted by the representatives of a given fashion house. You have to get used to irregular and long working hours.

How has your experience as a model influenced your ability to take care of your own beauty? What did you learn during sessions and working with makeup artists?

The most important rule I have learned is to always cleanse my skin properly at the end of the day. I use makeup remover, tonic, and a proper cream. For me, skin care is essential.

How do you help your body regenerate after intensive work, full of interference in your hair and skin? Are you on a diet?

I work out every day. I try to remember about my daily vitamins and drink lots of water. When it comes to nutrition, I listen to my body and rely on common sense. I avoid restrictive diets. From time to time, I also treat my body to a relaxing massage.

What kind of cosmetics do you always have at hand? What can’t you imagine your day without?

I can’t do without my concealer, mascara and eyelash curler.

The trending topic of body positivity accompanies many fashion campaigns now. Does this phenomenon affect in any way the world of models?

Fashion has become more open to all kinds of diversity lately. Nowadays, casting directors often hire girls with interesting personalities who don’t look like typical models. This openness to different shapes, backgrounds, and heights is a very positive phenomenon, which in turn fosters the spread of the idea of self-acceptance. Many people consider the fashion industry as a determinant of current beauty canons. Abandoning unattainable standards often achieved with the use of graphic programs is a very good development.

Have you been able to distance yourself from fashion, knowing how it functions and what governs it?

I don’t like shopping malls or going on shopping sprees. I prefer to shop online, although I don’t even do that very often. I’m much more willing to spend money on traveling, skin care, or food rather than on a new pair of shoes or a handbag.

We hear more and more about how the fashion industry affects the environment. Being a model with your position, can and do you want to support positive practices and avoid companies that are particularly harmful to the environment?

Yes, fast fashion is a serious problem. Some brands are trying to gradually minimize their impact and be more environmentally friendly under pressure from society, but this is a mere drop in the ocean. On the other hand, we must not forget that the production of cheap goods in developing countries is a complex economic and political problem that’s not black and white.

You were accepted to one of the best universities in the United States—Columbia. What do you study? Where do you see yourself when you graduate?

I major in economics at the faculty of Economics and Finance. I am currently studying and working at the same time. Modeling has always been very important to me. I’m gradually entering the world of finance. The combination of fashion and economics gives me the feeling of a perfect balance. It works very well in practice. I see my future both in Poland and in the United States.

You’re the face of a new ad campaign for the latest series of Dr Irena Eris foundations. Do you know these products? Do you ever use them?

Yes! I found out about Dr Irena Eris's cosmetics during our photo shoot and I haven't parted with them since! I particularly appreciate their makeup cosmetics, they have great texture, do not dry my skin, and at the same time are extremely durable.