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ALI MICHAEL: the interview

Posted on: 2009/03/13

Ph: Sofia Sanchez&Mauro Mongiello

@ Kim Dawson (m.a.)

PONY RYDER:Why didn’t you take part in this season's fashion weeks Ali?ALI MICHAEL: I needed to take some time for myself this season.

PONY RYDER: How did your modeling career take off?ALI MICHAEL: I started modeling when I won the Kim Dawson Model Search in 2005. I was fifteen.

PONY RYDER: You started so young. What is it like to be a model in the teenage years?

ALI MICHAEL: In the beginning, balancing high school and work was a bit of a challenge. 

I had meetings with my principals and counselor and set up ways for me to complete my work in advance and make up time that I missed by coming to school early, staying late, and spending Saturdays in the classroom. 
Eventually I enrolled in some classes through an online university in Texas. My high school was incredibly cooperative with me and I ended up graduating with my class in 2008.
PONY RYDER: Now that you have a lot of experience as a model and have a well-established career, do you think it’s best to start at a very early age or later on?
ALI MICHAEL: Even though I don't regret the choices that I made, I would absolutely recommend to anyone who wants to start modeling to finish school first. 

Working on a local level in Texas would have probably been pretty easy to manage, but once I began doing the shows and hit the international market it became much, much more difficult. I also think that those few years can make a big difference in really knowing if modeling is what you want to do.
Lanvin's Jeanne Lanvin

PONY RYDER: What do you think was your big breakthrough moment in fashion?ALI MICHAEL: I don't know that I had one big "breakthrough moment" but I do think that opening Lanvin my first season was a great thing for me. It was absolutely surreal to even be doing the show, let alone open it.

PONY RYDER: Were there any people trying to bring you down, or suggesting you should not be a model?ALI MICHAEL: Of course. I was awkward, weird and really insecure in school. Guys didn't find me attractive and I never had a boyfriend until high school. When I was just working in Dallas my school newspaper ran a picture and story about me and I remember hearing about people scribbling my face out of the picture and talking about how ugly I was.
PONY RYDER: How did you deal with that?
ALI MICHAEL: Of course it made me feel bad because I was so self conscious. Now, I have just come to see that that kind of criticism comes from other peoples' insecurity. I don't take it to heart. Different people have different ideas of what is or isn't beautiful. I've definitely learned that at least in my own perspective, physical appearance just doesn't pull as much weight as people act like it should.
Ph: Jason Kibbler

PONY RYDER: Ali, after everything, after going through a difficult time, how did you regain your strength and renewed your body, skin, hair...soul?

ALI MICHAEL: I basically just try to be mindful of my choices. I follow a lot of macrobiotic principles that affect not only my diet but also my mentality as well. 

I always cleanse and moisturize my face in the morning and at night, try and get plenty of sleep, and I don't smoke. I think the most helpful thing for me is to honestly just breathe. 

It sounds funny but sometimes I forget to stop worrying and just be present, and taking deep breaths really brings me back to what the focus should be.

PONY RYDER: Tell us about your best friends!
ALI MICHAEL: I try to have a balance of friends in and out of the fashion world. I have a few friends in Texas that I really miss that I can just be completely crazy and stupid with. I love being crazy and stupid but it doesn't happen with everyone. 
When I'm gone we just record embarrassing and ridiculous videos for each other on facebook. 

Otherwise I'm probably a bit of a bore to most people because my favorite things are just hanging out in bookstores, reading, and walking around the city. I do have to say that last season in Milan, Taryn Davidson and I had a dance party in our hotel room.
PONY RYDER: What happens when a model skips a castings or comes in very late?
ALI MICHAEL: During the shows people seem to almost expect you to come a little bit late to things because your schedule is so crazy.

I'm a person who really hates being late to things so I guess I really haven't had much experience with it. I think that being late or skipping castings would come off as pretty unprofessional.
Ph: Magnus Unnar for Flair Italia
PONY RYDER: When you are working on the cover, do you know that in advance, or do you just think you are doing an editorial... and then - surprise!
Nothing is guaranteed. You might do a "cover try" but you can't expect it to happen until you've got the magazine actually in your hands.

Ali for Wallpaper, ph: Paola Kudacki
PONY RYDER: How has your personality changed and improved with time?

ALI MICHAEL: Modeling has definitely matured me a lot. It's made me much more comfortable interacting with people. It's also the reason why I moved to New York which has really caused me to become independent. 

Living here is amazing when you're young because there is so much to do and so many people from all over the world to meet. Having that kind of exposure has shaped me quite a lot so far. Really, I'm just growing up and figuring things out like any other eighteen-year-old.

PONY RYDER: Ali, how do you maintain balance between a fantastic shape and nutrition?ALI MICHAEL: I do cardio at the gym and do floor exercises at night and in the morning. Most of the time I get my exercise by walking all over the city. I don't even have a subway card because I just prefer to walk.

It's definitely more scenic than running on the treadmill. As far as nutrition, I think the most important thing is to have a healthy balance of nutrients in your food and to appreciate and be mindful of where it comes from and how fortunate you are to have it.

Ph: Terry Richardson for Vogue Paris

PONY RYDER: Is there something else as well?ALI MICHAEL: I grew up riding horses. That is one thing that I miss so much about home. I love being at the stable on a really quiet, early morning and just being with the horses. It's so therapeutic for me. When I'm in Texas I ride as much as I can.

I also ran track my freshman year in high school. I was disqualified in my first race for accidentally tripping the girl next to me by running into her lane. 

The judge shot a gun in the air to end the race early but I didn't know what it meant so I kept running until i got to the end and realized I had run the whole way by myself.

Ph: Sofia Sanchez&Mauro Mongiello

PONY RYDER: How do you maintain your skin?ALI MICHAEL: I cleanse and moisturize my face twice a day.
PONY RYDER: What products do you prefer?
ALI MICHAEL: I love Origins products. I use the Checks and Balances face-wash and A Perfect World moisturizer and eye cream. I have really sensitive skin but I've used this stuff for years and I love it. 
I also occasionally use a face-mask made only of azuki beans, rice bran and soybeans ground together. For body, I use a natural exfoliating scrub from Sabon in NYC in the shower and moisturize every day with organic avocado oil and a shea butter cream. I also have a total obsession with lip balm.
PONY RYDER: And hair. Do you have any special regime you do...? 

ALI MICHAEL: I don't have any special regime. I just shampoo and condition it whenever I feel it needs it.
source: TFS by the glass angel @ imaxtree

PONY RYDER: Do you have any beauty advice?

 ALI MICHAEL: I think that taking care of yourself mentally and physically is the key.

Ph: Jason Kibbler for Mixte

PONY RYDER: Let's talk about your style choices. What is the last style item you bought?
ALI MICHAEL: I bought some jeans from Uniqlo.

PONY RYDER: What will be your summer look this season? 

ALI MICHAEL: I don't seem to change it up too much season to season. I'll just wear less layers. Most of my clothes are black and gray so I stick to that. I like not having to really think about it.

PONY RYDER: And where do you shop for your clothes?

 ALI MICHAEL: There are so many places to shop in New York. I really like to have simple t-shirts by Kain, T by Alexander Wang and Clu. I go to American Apparel for some basics and I also love Ksubi jeans.

PONY RYDER: Ali what is important for you at this moment?
ALI MICHAEL: Balance..
Ph: Paolo Roversi for Italian Vogue

Exclusive interview with fashion model Ali Michael is original work Of Pony Ryder blog.

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