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Interview With Victoria Secret Model Mélie Tiacoh
When did you start modeling? (How were you discovered?)
I started modelling when I was 19. I had just moved to Montréal, Canada, to pursue college. I was stopped on the street by a woman who recommended me to see NEXT, which I did on February 24, 2010. I was signed on the spot!
Do you remember your first show / shoot?
Yes, it was a swimwear fashion show. I was very impressed by everything and excited to be working with such beautiful girls. I invited my two best friends to the show, they were so proud of me!
What was your first big break in the industry?
The Dior Backstage Beauty campaign in March 2015!
I was on vacation in Ivory Coast and received a call from my booker saying I booked the job and had to fly to Paris, but I was not even aware I was holding an option for it! I remember the shoot like it was yesterday... it was a long but amazing day; I felt so happy and proud of myself for never giving up.
Having my face associated with those 4 famous letters was definitely a great deal for my modelling career.
What was your favorite job so far?
The Victoria’s Secret fashion show, definitely!
It was such an amazing experience and I feel so grateful to have walked the last VS show! I will forever cherish every single memory I have of that experience.
It took me four long years to confirm the show but I did not give up and I ended up being so proud of myself! I also realised that for too long I had been putting so much pressure on myself thinking I wasn’t enough while I was actually good enough. I just had to trust myself and the timing of my life and be grateful for what I had already achieved. Booking the show made me come at peace with myself and my career, to accept every rejection and celebrate every success.
What is your dream modeling job?
I have already done it (walking Victoria’s Secret). My second dream job would be
a beauty contract!
What do you know now and wished you knew when you started modeling?
I am who I am. I am unique and should not compare myself to others. I should just take life one step at a time, enjoy every moment and be grateful. What’s meant to be will be!
Who is your inspiration?
My parents. My mother is a wonderful and kind woman, with beautiful values and a great sense of style. My dad is such a hardworking person, a perfectionist who has always fought with determination and consistence to achieve his goals. I admire them so much!
What motivates you every day?
I am a very ambitious person. What keeps me driven are all the goals I set to myself in life and would like to achieve.
What do you think about the state of fashion today? Has your perception of the industry changed over time?
The industry has definitely changed over the years. It is way more diverse, less rigid. Also, models can better express themselves using their digital platforms and be appreciated for more than their looks.
My perception of the industry has also greatly changed. Modelling is not as easy as it seems and not everyone will have the same luck. There are so many parameters involved: the agencies, the bookers, the potential one agency sees in us versus what we could actually be doing at another agency, how much push we are getting, the look of the moment, the right timing, etc. Models should not put too much pressure on themselves because there are, unfortunately, a lot of things they cannot control.
Who would you love to walk a runway show for?
Chanel, Hermes, or Prada. There are many!
How do you think social media impacts the modeling industry?
I think it has both a positive and a negative impact on the industry.
The positive side of social media is that it gives models a voice, a platform to express themselves and show their personality, which adds to their looks. People get to know more about us. The industry is also now more careful about what is said or done to models because we have a powerful platform that we can use to denounce any unprofessional or negative experience that has happened to us. The negative impact of social media, to me, is the focus on the number of followers and likes. It is oftentimes not necessarily about the looks and talent of the model anymore, as it used to be, but about who is trending on social media. It is understandable as a marketing strategy, but I find it sad.
What will you regret spending too much or too little on?
I would regret spending too much on expensive clothing and accessories as we have a short career and should invest our money more wisely. However, I do think that doing it once in a while is not a bad thing.
I would regret spending too little on skin and hair care because I think we need to take care of ourselves if we want to stay longer in this industry, but also to preserve what nature gave us, whether we are still modelling or not.
What was the most important moment in your life? And in your career?
The most important moment in my life was hearing from the doctor that my dad’s life was saved after a terrible accident that had happened to him. In my career, I would say learning the news that I confirmed the Victoria’s Secret fashion show.
What negative experience has made you come out for the better?
There is not a negative experience in particular that I could talk about. I would say that the fashion industry can have a negative impact on you if you do not have strong shoulders and a good support system... Hearing fake promises from bookers or clients, being judged on your looks, comparing yourself to others, etc. All of this can have a negative impact on models who are just starting their career and are full of dreams and hope. What I have learned from this industry is to be more mature, to accept every failure and celebrate every success, to not trust all the promises made to me but instead to trust myself and to never give up. Most of all, I have learned to always stay true to myself and to be professional and nice to people instead of having too much of a competitive spirit in an industry whose parameters I do not have control of.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out in modeling today?
It is very important to have dreams and goals, to work really hard to achieve them and to always be professional and nice to people. It is also important and healthy to accept failures and not take them personally and to not compare yourself to others. If you are not happy with what you are doing and think a change of agency or some travel is necessary, then do it! Give yourself the means to achieve a successful career and always be grateful for your achievements; some would dream to have done it! Least but not last: please, stay healthy, do not starve yourself!!!
How do you deal with all the traveling required to be a model? How do you cure jet-lag?
It is quite difficult to do so. I always force myself to go to bed when it is bed time in the country where I land. Not before, nor after. When I am tired, it is of course easy to fall asleep. However, when I do not feel tired because of the time difference with the country where I flew from, then it usually takes a few days for my body to catch up.
Where is your favorite place to travel?
I feel lucky and grateful to have been able to travel to many different places that I fell in love with... so it will be hard to choose a favorite! A few favorites would be Hawaii, Cuba, Turkey, and of course Ivory Coast where I grew up!
If you weren't a model, what would you want to do?
I would be a trader on the NY stock exchange. That is why I studied and graduated in Finance. Modelling came along the way and changed my plans, but I don’t regret a thing.
What do you like to do in your free-time?
I am a homy person. I enjoy being home with my boyfriend and my dog, call my family and friends, cook a good meal and watch movies or my favorite shows, sing, go for long walks... Anything simple!
Are you into healthy and/or green living?
When it comes to eating, it is hard for me to eat healthy I must admit. I am conscious that eating healthy benefits the body, soul, and mind and I try sometimes to eat healthier but I am a big eater and it’s hard for me to change my ways.
When it comes to the environment, I keep myself informed and do the best I can to contribute to a healthier planet. On a daily basis, I try to be more careful about the environment by reducing as much as possible my use of plastic, recycling, using biodegradable alternatives, eating more organic, etc.
Name your 3 favorite brands and why?
I don’t have any. I look at the clothes rather than the brand. Is it cool or could I
make a cool outfit with it? Is it my style? Does it fit me well?
What are your favorite beauty products?
I have too many to enumerate. But I can’t go without a great lip balm! I also love
the Bobbi Brown foundation sticks.
What is your favorite food?
Alloco/poulet! It’s an Ivorian dish. Alloco is ripe plantains cut into small (important!) pieces and deep fried. It is sweet, caramelized on the outside and soft and flavourful on the inside. We eat it with a rich and tasty tomato sauce, well seasoned « à l’Ivoirienne ». I love it with braised chicken: chicken on the grill, with our great local seasonings and a nice onion/tomato/cucumber/parsley salad on top of it to bring some freshness to the meal. Yummmm!!!!
Do you support any Charity?
Yes. I am the ambassador of the Kalou Foundation. It is the foundation of ex- Chelsea and current Botafogo soccer player Salomon Kalou. 2020 is my fourth year working with them. Together, we organise every year a beautiful and fun Christmas party for the orphans of Abidjan in Ivory Coast, as well as other cities such as Grand-Bassam. We also build/rehabilitate schools, hospitals and dialysis centres, and so much more. Over the last 10 years, the Kalou Foundation has been the largest provider of dialysis machines in Ivory Coast.
We are a big family and I love what we have achieved together to bring help and
happiness to those in need.
What is/describe your personal style.
My style varies a lot but it always stays feminine. I love colors and accessories, especially a beautiful pair of earrings. It sometimes can be sexy, or very fresh with a beautiful touch of colours. I favour African fabrics and patterns as there are thousands of them and every piece is quite unique, so there is less chance to find someone else wearing the same outfit. I shop a lot when I’m home! I also sometimes adopt a rather simple, yet modern and classy style.
My style changes often and depends on my mood but it definitely is soigné and
always has a feminine touch to it.
Favorite posing tip you learned during your career?
Hmm... let me see if I can explain this.
When posing in lingerie/swimwear, when you curve your hip on one side, let the arm on that side hang and cover your hip. At the same time, stick the leg of the other side out and use the arm on that other side to hold your waist. This will make your waist and hips look smaller and your legs look longer.
What's your ultimate goal in life?
My ultimate goal in life would be to achieve all my personal projects, stay financially independent, create jobs and keep helping those in need, start a family and that my loved ones and I stay healthy and happy. I know, that’s more than one goal!
What are your dreams for the future?
My dream for the future would be to give the same career opportunities to young Africans who aspire to become models. The modelling industry in Africa is growing quite fast but is still lagging behind the Occident. As a result, I would love to help others using the contacts that I have made over the last 11 years. I am currently working on a very special project... stay tuned!!