Published in Elle France February 2013
Words: Stéphanie Chayet
Photographer: Carter Smith
Translation courtesy of I Love Frida Gustavsson
Frida Beautiful Go-ahead Type
Frida Gustavsson dreamed to be an airline pilot, has been a running champion… Today, it’s on the world’s catwalks that she is running !
When she comes to New York for work, Frida Gustavsson (IMG agency) always goes to the Maritime Hotel. “I feel at home there”, she says showing a couch made by the Swedish designer Josef Frank, which has a print who reminds her of her grandma’s living room. This Stockholm native doesn’t even have 20 years old, and she already has 4 years of work – four years of travelling all around the world. Discovered at 14 years old in an H&M where she was shopping with another student, she immediately found herself overbooked. “The day after my 15th birthday, I went to Japan for work during the whole summer, mentored by my father. Everyday a car came to take me at dawn. I’ve only had two days of vacation.” Then she goes to London and Paris, where she does, at 16 years old, the opening of the Valentino fashion show. If she had to redo it today, she wouldn’t change anything : Frida lives a fairytale. What do you need to know about her ?
She has two moon-shaped scars on her knees, remains of a fall during a relay race championship. Since she was born, Frida runs fast, very fast. Spotted by a sport trainer at 7 years old, she enrolled in a competition out of curiosity and wins all the rewards. Revelation. “Until then, I had never thought I excelled in anything. That’s the problem when you grow up with two brothers.” Throughout the years, she accumulates medals (more than two hundreds) and physical wounds : two fractures of arms, and one of the hand. “I was clumsy. When I stopped to become a model, my parents felt relieved.”
She did her first photos for a Swedish magazine called “Frida”, like her. “It was a Christmas shot, there were gold and glitter everywhere. I fell in love with this job.”
Her career has begun with the Valentino show. “The day of the casting, I saw all my idols. They kept me in the showroom during five days for the fittings, without telling me if I was selected or not. The day before the show, my agent called me and told me I was going to do the opening and the closing. It was huge. I had never walked for a fashion show before so I was terrified. But when I hit the catwalk, I felt euphoric.” The next season she was doing seventy two shows.
She has had good marks at the baccalaureate… without going to high school. Since 11th grade, Frida has taken correspondence courses. “Like it was a special class about fashion, I had to bring my sewing machine everywhere.” She doesn’t travel with it anymore, but she’s still sewing. “Some clothes are really hard to find in my size. I made a long coat in cashmere that looks like a dressing gown, which I never leave.”
She wanted to be a pilot when she was little. Even today, she loves airplanes. Good for her because she travels 250 times a year. “I’m taking the flight SK903 Stockholm-New York so much that the stewardesses know what I eat for breakfast.”
She never travels without a Moleskine notebook and her Polaroid camera she bought in Tokyo. She fills her notebook with recipes, ideas, drawings. And she takes landscape photos and then archives them in shoe boxes. “Someday I would like to make a book with them”
She dresses like a man. Her uniform : black cigarette pants, an oversized white shirt and man shoes A.P.C. or Sebago (“I have those in every color !”). At night, she keeps the same outfit, with high heel Celine silvery boots and a big jewel. Frida is collecting Lanvin necklaces. “I buy one every season”.
She is addicted to stickers. Her BlackBerry and her MacBook are full of them.
She’s crazy about oils. Argan oil, morning and night, on her face and olive oil, once a month, in her hair. “You have to let it on your hair the whole night and shampoo in the morning. I take this ritual from my mother, who has incredible hair.” For make-up, she uses a corrector of dye Laura Mercier and a classic red lipstick, Dior 452.
She loves 70’s music. Pink Floyd, The Velvet Underground, Neil Young. “Everything my father was listening to in the car”.