Published in Elle Sweden September 2012
Words: Mari Jansson
Photographer: Jimmy Backius
Scans and translation courtesy of I Love Frida Gustavsson
The Fantastic Frida
As a child she wanted to become a pilot. Today Frida Gustavsson has flown countless times around the world. ELLE meets a 19 year old super model, millionaire, and computer game nerd.
The best thing about Frida… Emil ponders, though, not for long. – That she’s not a diva. She has a smart worldview. And she still wants to go to Prisextra and buy two tubes of toothpaste if it means she can save four kronor.
Sweden’s most sought after model at the moment – and in the most past few years – is in the studio with her 23 year old boyfriend Emil Myrbäck. He’s an assistant at a company that specialises in films online and he’s nervous before his debut in front of the camera. But Frida is in a field where she feels at home. She’s been doing this since she was 15 and on an international level since she was 16. Now she’s only just turned 19, but in the modeling industry you’re a veteran after seven seasons of fashion week success and bragging missions. Furthermore, photo shoots is her weekday.
Frida arrives straight from London (in baggy rolled up jeans, colourful t-shirt from Tokyo and Prada pumps with ankle socks), tired after only two hours of sleep. She did the main story for Interview’s September issue till late at night. Before that she walked Prada’s menswear show in Milan and shot a luxury brand’s cruise campaign in Savannah, Georgia. Tomorrow haute couture in Paris awaits. Frida travels all the time. or as she puts it herself: – Most people go by car, bus or subway to their jobs. I just have a slightly longer itenerary to mine. Her job isn’t just any job – with any salary. Last winter Dagens Industri made a big case out of Frida making more money than most CEOs and that she turned down a job that would pay her more than a million. Frida sighs a little, well knowing that it sounds crazy. It wasn’t something hard or embarrassing, just a regular international brand. – My agency decided that it would pay off in the long run. I’ve become so well established that I can do more money jobs, catalogues and such. She doesn’t want to discuss her salary any further.
- Aftonbladet published a type of list that shows how much money people are making when I was written with my dad. Suddenly I started hearing from old class mates … you bullied me in school and now you want to be my friend?
- Not even my parents or Emil knows exactly how much I make, she continues. She has tax plans and stock shares and complete control over her own stock company. It has to be declared in five countries which is hard to manage when you’re young. I didn’t have business economy in school but I didn’t need it – I learn everything now. Frida graduated from St. Martins fashion gymnasium in Sundyberg a year ago with good marks despite having 92% absence. The teachers allowed her to e-mail tasks. But that’s also how Frida appears to be: disciplined, prepared and clever. She started school at the age of five – she even preferred staying home reading – and she was allowed to attend the same class as her one year old brother Erik up until year 6. He was the popular sports guy while I was the kind of dorky girl. But it was of course always me and him when we were growing up. We wanted to live in a small house so we could be roommates. Her big brother was the one who introduced her to Frida’s big hobby: computer games. As kids they stayed in during their summer holidays playing gameboy. They returned to school pale and with Nintendo thumbs. Later she started playing Diablo and World of Warcraft all night until her parents simply banned it. But it’s still a big hobby of hers. She even managed to make Emil a fan.
Frida and Emil are sitting at the lunch table together in the studio, each with a creamy pasta and coke. They’ve been together just over a year and it’s so obvious that they are in love with each other. Frida kisses his neck and brushes her fingers through his hair. – We had mutual friends and we started hanging out when we lived 45 minutes from each other. When Emil’s lease expired it was just as well that he moved in with me, Frida says and Emil adds: – We started going out for dinner together and then we went out drinking wine together. Really it was just like dates, but we didn’t realise it at the time. When Frida is being photographed I ask him how it feels to see his girlfriend whenever he opens a magazine, at the newsstand or on billboards. When we’re doing this interview the subway in Stockholm is plastered with pictures from Frida’s Tiger of Sweden fall campaign. – A few days ago I was on the subway with a few friends and they asked me what my girlfriend does. I told them that she’s in the fashion industry and they asked if she was a photographer or something. No, she’s a model. Oh really, can you make a living from being a model? they wondered. Mmm, there she is, I said and pointed. Emil looks both proud and timid. Frida was “discovered” for the first time at the age of 12 but then it just felt unpleasant. Then it happened again two years later. At 15 she travelled to Tokyo for the summer. She met her best friend there, Polish Monika Jagaciak who had just turned 14. The following year they met again in New York and shared an apartment – which they still do. That season Frida got her big break. She was given the opportunity to open Valentino’s haute couture show and did 60 shows next September. 75 shows the following season.
- You had no clue.. I had just turned 16, slept two hours a night, and only ate small sandwiches between the shows. There are many people who don’t think about how young the models are, they’re just kids. Some girls are 14 and travel alone across the globe, they don’t speak the language and they’re expected to inspire photographers and stylists who are 30 years older than themselves. Thankfully I’ve managed quite well. I didn’t have to stay in a model apartment with bunk beds and cockroaches, but a lot of friends have cried themselves to sleep. Frida talks a lot about the loneliness as one of the industry’s disadvantages. But that’s also why she loves coming home to Stockholm, to meet her family and Emil, her friends and to decorate her apartment. At an age where most people have just graduated school and starting to consider their future, Frida has already worked in every continent, bought (cash!) a one room apartment in Vasastan, and driven with a learner’s permit to check out her summer house. From the moment I started modeling I’ve known that it’s a temporary job. And there’s nothing I can do to change that. When I was a child I wanted to become a pilot or architect, now I’m thinking about doing something in the fashion industry. – So there’s a big chance you might never get rid of me!