Introducing Tanja Stöcklin
As part of our Brighton Fashion Week coverage, Something You Said chats to one of this year’s rising stars:
“It was never my plan to do this.”
On a blazing hot June afternoon, Brighton’s Corn Exchange is buzzing and bustling as the biggest and best Brighton Fashion Week to date approaches its finish line. In the courtyard outside stands Tanja Stöcklin. She has been at the venue since 6am, is sore of throat and clearly a little weary, yet there is still a sparkle in her eyes as she lets go an infectious smile. There have been many people for whom the week has been a triumph – designers, organisers, stylists, models – but if you are looking for the star of this year’s BFW, then, in Bobbysix’s opinion, you need look no further than the 21-year-old from Switzerland.
When I suggest this to her, she accepts my praise with humility, and tells me that her modelling came about entirely by accident. “I was actually supposed to be an assistant stylist,” she recalls. “I just wrote an email to the head stylist and asked if I could help. She said I could. I went to a photoshoot to assist and a model was missing. They asked me if I wanted to be the model, so I did it, and then they asked me if I wanted to walk as well.”
And so began the would-be assistant stylist’s prominent role in the 2011 Brighton Fashion Week. “One of the my highlights was the Couture Show, especially the dress I was wearing for Alexei Izmaylov. It was a beautiful, really big dress and it felt really good to walk in. It was very playful. Also, I walked on a theatrical show for Former Glory. I was a zombie, which was fun.” However, her involvement in proceedings weren’t to start and end with modelling. “I also became the assistant producer for the War Child charity gig at the Concorde 2, so in the end, I did a bit of everything.”
Just as it has been for everyone involved with BFW, it’s been a long, busy week for Tanja. With all models giving up their time voluntarily and trying to juggle between fashion events and their day-to-day lives, late nights have invariably blurred into early mornings. But with such long working hours and hard work come feelings of satisfaction and achievement as reputations are carved and lifelong friendships are founded. Judging by the number of people that give Tanja a hug and a hello during the time I am in her company, it is clear that her dedication and generous spirit have resulted in her being held in high regard by peers and colleagues. And deservedly so. Indeed, the next evening, at the official wrap party, Director Lizzy Bishop would make a point of including Tanja in her list of thanks.
Such love is reciprocated. “I think it’s brilliant,” she says when talk turns to Brighton Fashion Week’s role in the grand scheme of things. “It’s a good place to start, even as a model because I met quite a few people who did Brighton Fashion Week last year and they got scouted and did London Fashion Week afterwards. They say Brighton is a little London and I agree with that but the difference with this Fashion Show is you can see that Brighton is very alternative; for instance, the Jess Eaton collection. Also, the models don’t have to be, like, super skinny and a size six. There are more interesting, curvy women, which I think is good.” She pauses briefly, before adding. “They say beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, which I think is quite nice.”
During our conversation in the Brighton sunshine, Stöcklin remains constantly engaging. Her words are considered, intelligent and delivered with a soft Swiss accent while accompanied by gesticulation and a smile that could melt the coldest of hearts. We talk of her move to England a couple of years ago (“I just came over on a gap year. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do.”) and of how, when she was younger, she seemed more destined to be a footballer than a model. Having played to a high standard in her home country, she still has the skills to pay the bills. “I was at a party recently and it was a bit boring, so I found a football and was just on my own, doing keep-ups.” While this anecdote makes me lament the fact that I have never chanced upon a pretty lady with awesome dress-sense and a sick haircut entertaining herself by effortlessly juggling a ball between her left and right foot at a party, it also illustrates that Tanja Stöcklin is not your archetypal twenty-something. And anyone who would rather kick a ball around on their own than throw booze indiscriminately down their throat is okay by us.
After we make tentative plans for a kick-about in the near future, it is time for Tanja to head backstage to prepare for the penultimate catwalk show. In contrast to the looming horizon for the 2011 Brighton Fashion Week, there is no doubt that things are just getting started for Stöcklin. “I got scouted,” she tells me as we talk of what was to come next for her. While clearly flattered by the offer to sign with a modelling agency, it is not a decision that she was ever going to take lightly. “I’m a merchandiser for Zara and I am doing an Art and Design Foundation course, so I’m just really busy in general,” she says, while later explaining to us that, in the future, she has aspirations to run her own vintage clothing store.
“I think studying is probably more important than modelling,” she suggests. But she delivers this clearly genuine sentiment with a cheeky look in her eye that that suggests an assault on the modelling world actually rather appeals to this hard-studying, hard-working former tomboy. “I mean, I never thought that modelling would be something for me but after this week I realised that it is actually something I really enjoy. I still think my education should have priority, but I’m sure there will be some time for modelling next to school.”
There is a brightness of character about Tanja Stöcklin that suggests, whichever direction she chooses to head, she will make a huge success of it. Considering the positive impact she had on Brighton Fashion Week, it seems that modelling might indeed be a road worth venturing down. “I might accept the contract,” she says, once again giving off that winning smile. “Why not? It could be fun.”