One local girl’s runway modelling dream recently came true as she took part in Milan’s Fashion Week.
On September 23, Airdrie model Ayla Burbidge strutted her stuff at Milan’s Fashion Week wearing items from the spring collection of Mexican streetwear brand, Nolo. Burbidge, who is 13, was among the first group of eight youth models to walk the runway at Milan. Held semi-annually since 1958, The Milan Fashion Week is one of the world’s big four fashion events, the others being the Paris, London, and New York Fashion Weeks.
“It was a really great experience,” said Burbidge. “It wasn’t intimidating [even though] there was a lot going on.”
The Milan Fashion Week is one of the busiest fashion events of the year. Brands and designers from the likes of Armani, Gucci, Valentino, and Versace use the week to showcase new designs and upcoming collections, and models wearing the designs will strut up and down the runway in front of large crowds, with some of the most influential names in fashion and entertainment in attendance.
In captured photos from the week, Burbidge walks the runway modelling a blindingly green rain jacket. The hood is pulled up and a black zipper divides the jacket down the middle.
“It makes you feel really powerful,” said Burbidge, describing the feeling a runway walk in front of the Milan crowd instills. “It was great. I arrived around nine in the morning and by one I was on the runway.”
“When you get there,” added Burbidge, “they take you for hair and makeup. Makeup only took about ten minutes, but the hair took over an hour. They wanted to go with a punk rock look, but because of how much hair I have, it took multiple stylists to get me ready. I almost didn’t make the runway.”
For many models, working at a show like The Milan Fashion Week can represent the pinnacle of what has been years, or even decades, of dedication and hard work. But Burbidge’s modelling career only started last May, when she was discovered and signed by a modelling agent at a runway show hosted by a class that Burbidge was a part of. Typically attended by parents and peers, the agent was able to sign Burbidge right away, folding her into one of the largest talent agencies in the province.
The agency that Burbidge is a part of is a Calgary based firm called Patti Falconer. Founded in 1968, the talent agency represents actors and models from around Canada. They boast to have “one hundred placements worldwide” and is that they are the “leading agency in western Canada for internationally placed models.” It is also the longest running management agency for actors in Alberta. Their actors have been featured in shows like Riverdale, Fargo, and Heartland.
Burbidge’s next big modelling gig will be Patti Falconer’s Nulla Art and Fashion Week on Nov. 17 to Nov. 18 in Edmonton.
The Nulla fashion show will be primarily attended by designers from Calgary and Edmonton, but will also feature items from international designers as well.
Patti Falconer represents 13 youth actors, many of whom are classified by the agency as youth models and actors. Among them is Burbidge, who thinks that her height of five feet might hold her back as she gets older. Historically and statistically, models have been, and continue to be, incredibly tall, with many women models being over six feet.
“I would absolutely love to continue modelling as a commercial model–the kind that doesn’t have to be so tall,” said Burbidge. "I also love acting and singing. I hope it doesn’t come to the point where it has to be one or the other because I enjoy doing them all and I can see a future doing all three.”
But that’s not really a terrible concern for Burbidge right now, who has her eyes set on a future doing things she loves and is passionate about. Thinking back on her time walking the runway in Milan, there is a feeling that pushes Burbidge forward as she pursues her goals. With the crowd watching and the spotlight shining on the runway in front of her, she said: “It makes you feel really powerful.”