The Perks of Being Abby
Mar 27, 2014 08:34AM
● By Anonymous
Photo courtesy of Bludoor Studios.
By Linden Wilson
Southlake’s budding supermodel is making a high fashion name for herself
She has the ethereal beauty of Kate Moss and the down-to-earth personality of Heidi Klum, but Abby Williamson is a model breed all her own. Just 13 when she was discovered by Dallas boutique agency Wallflower Management, the now-15-year-old Southlake Carroll freshman has already filled her print portfolio with photo shoots from D Magazine, D Brides, FD Luxe and Modern Luxury Dallas and campaigns from online fashion destinations like UNIF and the Forever 21-esque Pixie Market. In January of 2013, she joined the elite ranks of Moss, Klum, Gisele Bündchen, Miranda Kerr, Carolyn Murphy and Candice Swanepoel when she signed with IMG Models, one of the world’s leading international model management agencies.
Watching Abby in front of the camera is like watching a model who’s been in the industry for much longer than two years. Every subtle move she makes is one killer pose after the next, and the camera clearly loves her stunningly unique face. In her first-ever shoot with photographer Lauren Withrow, Abby posed in dainty white dresses at a house in rural Farmersville, Texas.
“At first, I was kind of nervous because I didn’t know what to do, but then as the shoot went on, it got easier,” Abby says. “The more shoots I did, the more natural it felt.”
Since then, she’s also been the subject for Dallas-based photographers Maxine Helfman and Steven Visneau as well as New York photographers William Lords and Keith Lathrop, whose meeting with Abby led to her signing with IMG.
“Keith is friends with David Cunningham, the VP of Talent for IMG,” says Abby’s mom, Amy Williamson. “Keith was in Dallas, and he wanted to photograph Abby. We met, and he did a huge shoot at a backyard pool. He asked right then and there, ‘Can I send this to IMG?’ He was very pivotal in getting the ball rolling.”
Abby’s IMG contract covers big markets including Australia, Milan, London, Rome and of course, New York. Abby flew to the city this past summer to network, visiting Seventeen, Teen Vogue and NYLON, where she was held for an option. During the school year, Abby stays equally as busy with casting calls, fittings and test shoots. Amy says a typical week is similar to a particular one that occurred this past February — a casting during the week for Fossil (headquartered in Richardson), a fitting on Saturday and a photo shoot Sunday afternoon.
“One or two things during the school week is about all we can fit in,” Amy explains. “Abby could stay busy with test shoots every week, but we limit them because we want her to be a kid and just hang out with her friends on the weekends.”
Although her extracurricular activities are limited, Abby still finds time to watch one of her favorite TV shows, “Project Runway,” and browse the iPhone app called The Hunt, which she uses for everyday outfit inspiration.
“People post clothing and show you where you can buy different pieces of the clothes,” she says. “I’m obsessed with it right now.”
Her favorite brands include Michael Kors and GUESS (“I’ve gotten shorts and I’ve had a swimsuit by GUESS — I like their designs”). When selecting clothes from her closet, she sometimes likes to overdress, favoring fun accessories like scarves and skirts with high socks. Yet when Abby goes shopping, she doesn’t simply browse the racks.
“I’ve gone into stores before and said, ‘Hey mom, look at this model. Look how she’s posing.’ And I try to mimic that pose and study her face,” she says. “People are probably looking at me like, ‘What is she doing?’ But I’m trying to learn.”
Abby’s also gaining experience on the runway. Before models walk in major runway shows, it’s typical for agents to want them to get their feet (or, high heels, rather) wet walking in shows for charity. This past October, she walked in a show for hairstylist Kevin Murphy at The Dallas Contemporary. In February, she walked in The Pin Show, Dallas’ largest independent runway event that showcases independent designers from all over the country. Currently focusing on print editorial, Abby wishes to continue to gain runway experience so that she can excel at both.
“I hope that modeling will be my career,” she says enthusiastically. “People think it’s not hard, that you just have to stand there and look pretty. I don’t know how to explain it, but it can be exhausting and is harder than it seems. I want to be like Heidi Klum or Tyra Banks or Kate Moss. I want to work hard so I can model for a long time.”
IMG is adamant that Abby be successful, according to Amy. “They want her to have a long career. The girls they choose, they invest in them for their future. I don’t think people understand that this will be her job, versus, ‘Oh that’s cute, you model.’ When she gets in front of the camera, she’s a different person instead of a 15-year-old kid.”
For Abby, who prefers art and theater to math and sports, modeling provides her an outlet to showcase her artistic side. “Modeling is kind of like acting, but you can’t speak. You have to let people see your emotions through your face.” She says the different clothes she wears during photo shoots dictate her mood. “If I’m wearing a wedding dress, I’ll be dramatic. And crazy couture just gets me into character.”
This summer, Abby will travel to Japan with Wallflower to expand her already impressive portfolio. The visit will mark her first overseas trip for a modeling gig. Looking back on the past two years, she remembers how her meeting with the agency almost didn’t happen.
“My mom saw there was an open call,” Abby says. “It was a rainy day, and we weren’t sure if we should go because we were worried about the roads. But I said, ‘Mom, we have to go. I have a good feeling.’”Wallflower, whose creative director, Tammy Theis, is responsible for jumpstarting the career of Irving native Erin Wasson, among many others, has since signed two of Abby’s siblings, 11-year-old Grace and 9-year-old Jake. Like their older sister, they appear comfortable and easygoing in each of their photographs. Yet Abby’s natural presence in front of the camera, her quirky, contagious personality and willingness to work hard and succeed cannot be denied. The girl is going places.