New Girl, New York, and Her Debut at New York Fashion Week
Clad in royal, silk prints and adorned with massive gold earrings, a small-town, southern girl owns the runway. She isn’t nervous, only slightly afraid of slipping, but she knows that won’t happen. Backstage she flings off her designer clothes, hands out sweet smiles to her newfound friends, and hails a car to her next job. Gracing 10 stages in her first ever New York Fashion Week this past February, the 18 year old made her name and will be back for more.
Sophia Williams from Greenville, South Carolina is a freshman at The Kings College. Every day she juggles the hectic life of a New Yorker, a hefty homework load, and now a full-time professional job. Lucky for her she loves it, and after signing with one of New York City’s top modeling agencies, Wilhelmina, she has added a new dimension to her crazy schedule.
“I’ve been modeling on and off for my whole life,” Williams said. She was scouted by Directions USA, a modeling agency based in North Carolina after walking in Charleston Fashion Week when she was 16. She then finished high school posing for small shoots and even did a few pageants on the side.
“Charleston Fashion Week was my first real exposure to modeling. I loved the rush and chaos and knew I wanted to work in the fashion industry whether that means modeling or something else.” Williams described the workshops that Charleston Fashion Week offers its models where she learned basics of the runway that she was able to use last month in NYFW.
After walking in Charleston, Williams decided to pursue modeling in college and beyond. “I needed to leave my town and go to a big city for school and work,” she said. “I applied to Pepperdine in California, American University of Paris, and King’s (among other schools),” Williams stated. The South Carolinian appreciates the style of education King’s offers and has created a class schedule that allows her to model almost every day too.
Upon her arrival to the Big Apple, Williams waited to meet with agencies until getting aquatinted with her new city. In early November, her home agency, Directions USA, booked her interviews with Wilhelmina, Ford, Marilyn, and Q. Williams laughed when she admitted to being 15 minutes late for her meeting with Ford. “They were really nice about it though and it was a good experience. I just knew it wouldn’t work out,” she said.
Since signing with Wilhelmina in November, Williams has been busy attending castings, doing test shoots, participating in NYFW, and has even modeled for two brands: Of a Kind and Edwin USA.
“You want to sign with whoever seems most excited about you because if they remember you they will be more likely to suggest you to the clients wanting models,” Williams said when describing why she chose Wilhelmina.
Williams’s decision to sign with Wilhelmina proved to be the right one and had perfect timing too as she jumpstarted her career at New York Fashion Week soon after. Walking for ten designers in three days, the King’s freshman described fashion week as exhausting, but also a lot of fun. Her favorite show was that of Malta-based designer Charles and Ron. Modeling for Grayling Purnell, a new wave American luxury brand, and Sweet Talk Swim also made it on her highlight reel.
Though Williams is more than content with her current profession, she doesn’t want modeling to make up her entire career. After she graduates from The King’s College she hopes to use her business degree in the fashion world while modeling on the side. Williams’s position as a model in NYFW gave her opportunities to speak with designers about potential jobs and internships.
“You’re stuck in a room with the same people for twelve hours, so you make a lot of friends and can network with the other models and designers backstage. I was able to land jobs with designers who asked me to work for their future campaigns and they seemed surprised but excited when I, in turn, asked them about internships,” Williams said.
If Williams could change one thing about her fashion week experience it would be the tough hours she had to work. The South Carolinian found it a challenge to make the early mornings and late nights, along with managing a full course load at King’s. But she did it, nonetheless, and with seeming ease.
Fashion Week ended last month, but Sophia Williams doesn’t get to rest. Now her early mornings are met at the gym, she spends long hours at school, shooting around the city, and she ends her days studying for classes at King’s.
“I model because it feels like a performance, like a concert or a play, but with less stress. You get to dress up, there is pounding music, and I love it” she states.