Irma Spies is our model of the month. Since being scouted in her native Germany, Spies has quickly established herself as a fashion force. She’s a regular face on the runway for the likes of Louis Vuitton, Valentino, Prada and Dior and in the pages of W and Harper’s Bazaar. When she’s not being whisked off to the Palm Springs desert for Vuitton or gracing the cover of style bible Spur, Irma’s juggling her studies as a third year med student, perhaps the most bad-ass modelling side hustle ever! Learn a little more about the Berlin-based beauty below, from backstage essentials to her ‘scandinavian’ personal style and exciting plans for the silver screen.
The life of a model is mostly out of a suitcase. Do you have a favourite place that modelling has taken you?
I got to spend five weeks in Tokyo and had a great time there! Also the Louis Vuitton Cruise Collection in Palm Springs and seeing the desert around that place was incredible. But what I like most about modeling is that so many different cities become a second home: you learn to navigate around Paris, New York and Milan like a local, you start having friends in all these cities and after a few times you find your favorite parks, ice cream dealers, bars, etc and I love that.
One of your first fashion shows was Marc Jacobs’ final show for Louis Vuitton, not too shabby for a new face! What’s the energy like backstage and before you walk out?
Backstage it's usually very crowded and kind of hectic. I always take a good book and some headphones in case I need to escape. But a few minutes before the show starts everything calms down and I love the tension before the music sets in and the first girl steps out. It's always like waiting for a big summer thunderstorm when the air is charged with energy already and you know it's going to pour down in a few moments. When I step out, my mind is completely blank. I just focus on the walk and the cameras.
Cindy Crawford once said, ‘even I don’t wake up looking like Cindy Crawford.’ What’s it’s like to see yourself in print and online and do you dissociate from the finished product?
I love it when a new campaign or editorial comes out and you see yourself for the first time. I'm always amazed by what make-up and styling can do to me. It allows you to be so versatile. That's the cool thing about modelling: you keep surprising yourself. Sometimes I wish I had my very own make-up artist at home though so I could look that fancy every day!
Social media is radically changing the modelling industry. What’s your personal approach to using social media?
I use it in a social way: to share my adventures with friends and fans, chat, support users/brands/campaigns that matter to me, raise awareness, get inspired and laugh (there's so many hilarious pet channels out there - honestly). I am a bit worried though that a lot of brands are exclusively focused on the number of followers these days because I think the quality of a model is not necessarily determined by her level of influence but much more by her experience and professionalism.
What are your views on social media?
I think social media has become a major part of our daily lives. It doesn't substitute social life with friends and family but for me it's a good way to keep everyone updated on my current whereabouts. I love sharing my adventures with the people from home but also fans. I'm also convinced that something like your instagram helps the client to get a better picture of the model as a person.
Is that what one of your Instagram accounts (@irma_sophie) is about?
Exactly. On my instagram I share some of my favorite moments and memories. I try to find a good mix between model-related posts (like photo shoots, shows, backstage snaps) and posts that show some of my personality - my hobbies, my daily life in Berlin, what makes me laugh, what makes me cry. Every time I post something, I try to see it through a "client perspective" too, though. Just to make sure I don't post too many silly faces!
Germany has quite the history of producing fashion stars: from Veruschka and Claudia to Julia and Anna! What is it about German girls that the industry finds so irresistible?
They are strong women, full of self-confidence and they won't let you down as a client because they see modelling as a job (and not a vocation like some others who think they are born beautiful and deserve to be a model). But at the same time German girls understand that modeling is a lifestyle and they enjoy their work. They are very natural in an industry where many people are trying to be something they're not.
Changing gears a bit, how would you describe your personal style? Do you have any style icons or inspirations?
My personal style is scandinavian ... is that even a style? I like to wear good quality basics - like jeans and a black T-shirt - styled with something like a nice bag, small necklaces or a silk scarf. I hate to worry about blisters so I mostly wear sneakers. When I leave my apartment I want to feel ready for anything that might come my way: a casting, a picnic with friends or a quick sprint to the bus. Nevertheless, for special occasions I do like to dress up, too. I like my "elegant-me" from time to time.
What are you doing when you’re not working?
I'm in my third year of medical school at the moment.
How would you describe FMD in one phrase?
If you think the fashion world is boring, hang out on FMD for 15 minutes and you'll see: there's so much more to it than catwalks and campaigns.
Finally, what’s next for Irma Spies?
I'll be out and about: traveling and working mostly around Europe and eventually finishing my degree in my spare time. I'll also participate in an acting workshop in Ischia this summer - so maybe the next time you see me, it'll be on the screen and not on a billboard. We'll see...
Thank you Irma for this great interview!
note: all answers are original and unaltered - Editor:Interview by Reilly Sullivan