Ask any average 18-year-old about their life story and it’s unlikely you’re getting one worth re-telling. This quirky brunette from Sydney is the exception to the rule. The Australian has boldly packed her bags for New York City with the hopes of playing in the big leagues. The difference is, she’s already on the radar of fashion gods (you don’t represent the clothes of big name couture houses without cutting the mustard, somehow). We’re expecting the next story she’d be telling us is of her success.
MANIFESTO: What are you up to these days?
MALI KOOPMAN: I recently moved to New York, so these days I’m just trying to find access to the closest pool in my spare time.
M: Share with us a bit of your backstory and how you got discovered.
MK: I have some Dutch blood on my dad’s side and from then on it gets fairly Australian. Initially, my brother scouted me for a Panadol commercial and it soon progressed to signing with an agency.
M: What made you want to give modelling a shot?
MK: I hadn’t had a job yet, and the idea of making money meant I could earn my way to buying cool new stationary for school.
M: Since you spend so much time travelling for work, what do you miss most about home?
MK: I miss being part of a community that I grew up in.
M: What is the turning point of your career and who helped you get there?
MK: Moving to New York was a big turning point. All of my agents collectively provide some top notch guidance.
M: What is your best modelling experience thus far?
MK: It was an intimate runway show that was accompanied by a harpist and Jarvis Cocker singing live.
M: What is your hobby?
MK: Editing stock footage from YouTube into mini trailers.
M: Who is your idol?
MK: Hawkeye from M.A.S.H.
M: What have you learnt from this industry?
MK: To be patient.
M: Any major changes in your life since becoming a model?
MK: I feel very conscious of how easily you’re put in front of the public these days and I’ve noticed myself becoming more of a private person to compensate.
M: How has modelling changed your perspective of fashion, and to an extent, your life?
MK: It changes when you’re able to see the makings of it. The build-up to certain creations and the integration of so many different industries is beyond what I originally thought.
M: Do you still look at fashion in the same way?
MK: Now, I have much more reverence for it. It’s no longer something materialistic that only exists at the local malls.
M: You’ve been doing the fashion week circuit for a while, how would you describe the experience?
MK: There’s something really satisfying in being busy. It’s like school camp, you’re made to bond with strangers and do weird tasks that wear you out, but somehow, it’s still enjoyable.
M: What do you enjoy the most at this moment in your life?
MK: Since leaving Australia, I forced my friends to be my pen pals and it’s so exciting to receive mail that has colour co-ordinated paragraphs and hand drawn flowers on it.
M: Do you set any personal objectives?
MK: To be more organised.
M: What would you be doing if weren’t modelling?
MK: Possibly travelling Western Australia with my mum, or just watching Puberty Blues.
M: What is it like being under the spotlight and being named as Australia’s next big star in modelling?
MK: I like to think it’s just people being nice and my luck will run out soon. Low expectations are best. Otherwise, it’s such a daunting prospect to be labelled.
M: What is on your current music playlist?
MK: I think I’m a little homesick because majority of it is INXS, Icehouse or Gang Gajang. Even the playlist cover photo is ex-Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott wearing speed dealer sunglasses.
M: Name three places you want to travel to.
MK: Patagonia, Scotland, and Spain.
M: Any guilty pleasures?
MK: I don’t believe in astrology, but I still look up the star signs of famous people to see if we would have a compatible friendship.
M: Any weird habits?
MK: I still check the Australian Bureau of Meteorology website even though I don’t live there.
M: What do you obsess about?
MK: Now that I’m in a new country, I’ve had to re-establish my book collection, but I’m at the point where I’m buying unnecessary books on ferns or table settings.
M: Your life motto?
MK: Wing it.
[More pictures in the September 2016 issue of MANIFESTO]
Photography: Luca Khouri
Fashion Director: Jonathan Yee
Styling: Emily Mazur
Casting Director: Bert Martirosyan
Hair: Shinya Nakagawa @ Artlist Paris
Make-up: Laura Stiassni @ The Wall Group
Digital Tech: George Brooks
Production Assistant: Benjamin Gutierrez
Photography Assistant: Daniel Rampulla
Fashion Assistant: Rampulla
Agency Support: Women Management New York