Live From Lucky FABB: Supermodel Karolina Kurkova Discusses How Social Media Has Changed The Fashion World—And Why It’s Sometimes Important To Disconnect
Karolina Kurkova is among the super-est of the supermodels. She got her start in the business over a decade ago when, as a girl growing up in a small town (population: 50,000) in the Czech Republic, she was shipped off to Milan Fashion Week and wound up opening the week’s most coveted show: Prada. The rest, as they say, was history.
As someone who’s been in the business for well over a decade, Karolina’s seen it be completely transformed by the social media boom. And to hear her tell it—as I did during an intimate chat with the supermodel just before her Lucky FABB breakout session earlier today—the power that Twitter and Instagram now wields over our daily lives isn’t necessary a good thing. While she’s the first to admit she’s active on both platforms (with hundreds of followers, of course), she’s a firm believer in the importance of putting down your smartphone every so often and reentering the real world. Read on for her remarkably insightful thoughts.
Lucky: As someone who’s been in the modeling industry for quite some time, how would you say it’s changed since you started out?
Karolina Kurkova: That’s a huge question—how much time do you have?! Well, I’ve been in this industry for 15 years—I was 15 when I started out. I’m from a really small town, and growing up, I was never all that comfortable in front of the camera. But one day, I agreed to pose for some pictures with a friend of mine who wanted to be a photographer, she sent them to an agency, and they called me in and told me I had the potential to be a model. They then sent me to Milan Fashion Week, where I met with a casting director named Russell Marsh—he’s been behind the discovery of so many major models. He was casting the Prada show, introduced me to Miuccia and boom—I wound up opening the Prada show at 15 years old as a complete unknown. After that, I went to New York and met a casting director at Vogue, who introduced me to Anna Wintour. See, it was different back then—you had to meet individual people in the industry one by one until you were recognized by the fashion world. You didn’t have social media to share yourself with people in that way.
Would you say the rise of social media in the modeling world is a good thing overall?
It has pluses and minuses. Now, as a new model, you don’t even have to have a good portfolio—you just have to have a great Twitter and Instagram. Sometimes now, your success isn’t even based on your body of work. Like I said, you used to have to meet one important industry person at the time; with social media, you can now reach millions of people instantly. But if I could go back and start my career over differently today, have millions of followers right off the bat and get noticed that way, would I? Probably not. I like how I got my start.
Let’s talk bigger picture now—how do you think social media is shaping our world?
We live in a very fast world now. Yes, people can get to know you better than ever before on these platforms—but how far are we willing to go? How much are we willing to share? And then there’s the issue of time. We’re losing the idea of being in the moment because we’re on email, responding to tweets, checking our SMS [texts]. Yes, I try to be present on social media and embrace it, sharing as much as I want to share—but I don’t want to share every second, every moment of my life, because then sometimes you lost those moments. And sometimes, the online world makes you lose that personal connection with other people, too. I sometimes feel like we don’t know how to actually talk to each other anymore!
How do you keep that online/real world balance in check, then?
You have to be very conscious about it. For an hour, maybe just set aside your devices and enjoy a meal, enjoy a conversation, enjoy a walk outside without taking and sharing pictures of everything. Don’t give everything away and keep nothing for yourself, you know?
Stay tuned for more from Lucky FABB!