Anaïs Pouliot: Our cover shoot, interview, and behind the scenes video with the fresh Canadian model
Spring’s glistening skin and accentuated eyes pair with bold earrings for a lasting impression on our March cover star Anaïs Pouliot. Check out our stunning beauty shoot and read up on the brightest young homegrown thing.
On a freezing winter night, Anaïs Pouliot slips into a booth at the 24-hour diner in Toronto’s Thompson hotel. A sweet-faced 20-year-old francophone from a suburb north of Montreal, Pouliot’s almost spherical rosebud lips, freshly-poured-milk complexion and bright demeanour have made her a favourite of Stefano Pilati, Marc Jacobs and Jonathan Saunders. She sits perfectly upright and sips green tea, wearing a soft camel sweater from Club Monaco (“They have nice cashmere!”) and a sparkly headband. She has an 8 a.m. call time for her FASHION beauty shoot the next morning; she’s planning to get to bed by 10:30. She’s excited about this shoot for two reasons: Her mom regularly reads the magazine, and she loves all things makeup. “When it’s beauty shooting, I am the happiest girl,” she says.
It all began when, at 14, more into sports than fashion but already model-tall and -slender, Pouliot went with her parents to Folio agency in Montreal. She started to model part-time, moving to a school that could accommodate her hectic schedule. There, she was the only model among hockey, basketball and soccer pros-in-training, most of them boys. Unsurprisingly, she attracted a great deal of attention. “I knew that some people were talking to me because I was the model,” she says. “I can tell the difference.”
At 15, Pouliot made the rookie-model pilgrimage to Tokyo, then New York, where she encountered runway-casting honcho Russell Marsh at a Prada call. “I was so scared, and I didn’t know how to walk or present myself in a casting,” says Pouliot. “Russell kind of coached me, and he was like, ‘Oh, good. She listens, she understands fast.’” He didn’t hire her then, but he did book her four years later for Miu Miu Fall 2010, firing the starting gun to her career. For Spring 2012, she walked in 48 shows, including Balenciaga, Prada and Marc Jacobs’ dance hall–themed extravaganza, which was a source of stress. “It was choreographed, with all these chairs. When the light popped on you, you had to stand up,” she says. “During the rehearsal, I missed the light. I hesitated, and they were like, ‘Can you make this?’ My heart was beating like crazy. I was like, ‘If I miss this, my career is over.’” She made her mark.
Four straight weeks of runway shows as an in-demand model is no picnic, but it has its advantages. As Pouliot puts it: “A girl who is doing no shows cannot do campaigns.” In 2011, she scored lucrative ones for Louis Vuitton, Topshop Makeup and Sonia by Sonia Rykiel; coming soon, she says, is an Yves Saint Laurent beauty campaign and one for Aldo, plus four U.S. Vogue editorials. She also made a saucy little splash last December in a video for Love Magazine’s online Advent calendar, prancing about scantily clad between red velvet curtains and lip-synching the words to a French Christmas song. “I wasn’t supposed to do that!” says Pouliot. Stylist and Love editor Katie Grand cornered her with the request to take part in this extra project when they were on set together at a Louis Vuitton resort shoot; she gamely agreed and they filmed it then and there.
There are several Canadian models on the runway circuit, but most of Pouliot’s friends are from farther afield, among them Daphne Groeneveld from Holland, American Hailey Clauson, and Fei Fei Sun and Xiao Wen Ju from China. They meet up in New York and go to restaurants or do karaoke, though it’s all pretty low-key, as Pouliot isn’t yet of U.S. drinking age. “When I say we go for a drink, I mean go for a tea,” she says, laughing. “Or go for a hookah.” As in fruit-flavoured tobacco? “Yeah. Last time I tried ‘cosmopolitan’ [flavour], but I don’t think there was alcohol in it. Just the taste.”
Although she turns 21 in July, it’s a pretty safe bet that Pouliot won’t be morphing into a Naomi-esque club-hopping diva anytime soon. “I get that comment all the time: ‘Stay who you are, stay down to earth,’” she says. “People like it.”