Working with model Ajak Deng Backstage for Lela Rose, NYFW 2012 RTW

Thanks to being a member of UT’s University Fashion Group, I had the opportunity to visit the Big Apple for New York Fashion Week Feb. 10-13.  Rather than simply watching shows, we assisted designers backstage by completing several tasks, from organizing the garments, ensuring they were in peak condition, setting up programs and swag bags, and last but definitely not least, dressing the models.

I thoroughly relished working backstage for Lela Rose, a Texan-native renowned for her simple, yet carefully structured looks focusing on rich colors.

Meeting my model, Australian-native Ajak Deng, was perhaps the Bulgari diamond necklace on top of an incredibly eventful weekend.

Me with my model, Ajak Deng. She was wearing her coat because it was freezing inside the tent.

Currently ranked #47 on’s list of top 50 models, Deng has walked for Chloe, Givenchy, Dior, Lanvin and Jean Paul Gaultier. Check out her full repertoire on!

After dressing her (and finally getting those Lela Rose heels zipped up in the back – it was harder than it looked!) we chatted a bit, discussing where we were from and our aspirations.

After asking her where she was from (Australia), she asked me about my place of residence.

“Austin, Texas,” I said.

“Texas? Why are you in Texas?” Deng asked inquisitively. “You should be in New York!”

“I go to UT and I’m studying there, but I hope to come to New York and maybe someday work for GQ,” I replied with a giggle.

And then, as if being in New York during fashion week wasn’t inspiring enough, she said “I know that you’re going to make it. You just have to never give up and keep trying, but I can tell you will be successful.”

Great balls of fire! I was so happy after hearing that, even after waking up at 5 in the morning and chugging down lukewarm leftover Starbucks coffee.  It goes to show that models can be down to earth, rather than self-absorbed and arrogant as portrayed through the media. Hopefully I’ll get to meet her again, but as of now, I’ll just be checking out some of her latest campaigns.

Deng in an American Vogue editorial Dec. 2011

Deng in an American Vogue editorial Oct. 2011

Deng in a Dazed & Confused editorial Sept. 2011

Photos courtesy of and

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