2020 is becoming the milestone year of the international model Nathalie Dahn. While the 22-year-old is clearly not short of them in a life of unimaginable purpose, it may just be that the women empowerment supporter finally finds herself coming full circle.
Born and brought up in Berlin, the young model doesn’t find herself restricted to one side of the globe, rather her curiosity escalates to all the corners of the world. Nathalie Dahn may just look like a pretty face with powerful eyes, but there is more to this feisty diva who believes in forming connections, supporting sisterhood and widening her learning horizons with every step she takes. Having started her professional journey at the young age of 16, Nathalie was supported through and through by both her parents and her incessant quench of fashion, finally called through when she became one of the biggest known names in the industry. While posing for the camera, she spoke to L’Officiel India, On a personal level, having done photoshoots since I was young, it’s probably the most comfortable I’ve ever felt. I’m at the point where I know the value of my art, and I understand how the system works, and once I realized and accepted that part of it I’ve become a little bit more fearless. Edited excerpts follow…
What inspired you to take up modeling as a career? Who has been your mentor all through in this competitive industry?
I love fashion, always have; for me, fashion is a gratifying chance of self-expression. I can even trace back to my early school days when occasionally I’d even layout the outfit for the next morning. I am also an avid photographer and the art of photography itself is extremely close to my heart; I believe there is something very special about capturing a moment in time forever. My greatest mentors have been my parents, I started modeling when I was 16 years old, so that is pretty young. They have definitely been a constant source of motivation and inspiration for me ever since.
I love fashion, always have; for me, fashion is a gratifying chance of self-expression.
What was the moment when you felt like you had made it in your career?
The time I landed upon the June 2020 cover of Harper’s Bazaar was surreal. Definitely one of the most exciting moments in my professional journey. Also, the year prior to this, I got a chance to walk the runway at the New York Fashion Week SS/19. As well as getting more and more press releases, it’s been quite an exciting ride.
What’s the biggest thing that modeling has taught you over the years? And what’s been the biggest change in the industry?
Modeling has taught me that confidence is key. And that you should treat yourself as your own brand. I think it’s very important to stay true to one’s values and beliefs no matter what. Sometimes this can be quite challenging in an industry that often wants to shape you in a certain way. The biggest change has definitely been the contribution of social media. Personally, I’ve had my Instagram profile since I first started out in the industry at 16 – being 22 now that’s a whole 6 years. I’m proud to say that I’ve reached my personal milestone of 130,000 followers – to me, social media is a fun platform to connect, network and share insights of your personal life with like-minded people.
I’m proud to say that I’ve reached my personal milestone of 130,000 followers
We’ve read that you can speak five languages including, English, German, French, Spanish, and Tigrinya, your mother’s home language. What caught your attention to study all of them?
Yes, I am bilingual as I learned English and German, while I was growing up in Europe and I’ve lived in both France and Spain while pursuing my educational degrees. Once in the country – practicing and speaking with locals is the most fun and easy way to pick up languages. This is the same for Tigrinya, the language native to Eritrea, a beautiful country in North East Africa lying right on the Red Sea, my mothers home country and one very dear to my heart as we have traveled there many times as a family for personal and charitable purposes.
One of my main sources of inspiration for learning more has been my father who was a world traveler and speaks seven languages; needless to say this made for some great bedtime stories growing up. One of his main focuses being learning Mandarin – reading and writing included. I suppose it is a part of my genetics, it’s easy to say we quite love a good challenge. Also, languages allow us a glimpse into the distinct cultures as well (certain phrases and idioms untranslatable sometimes) and also the sense of humor in each language is quite different and unique (for example, German humour is for sure one for the books and hard to grasp if not fluent) – this is something I definitely want to further look into in other languages. The term, Citizen of the World will naturally become much easier to live up to once COVID-19 Quarantine orders have been lifted. I can’t wait.
You’re part of the first generation of models for whom social media is a key part of the job. When people look back at this moment in fashion, what do you hope your impact will have been?
Modeling has given me a great platform for self-expression and I’m very grateful for social media to have given me an even greater chance to reach a wider audience. Looking back I hope the impact of both platforms will instill a sense of independence and individuality for young girls in this industry which prior to that had quite a lot of restrictions. Freedom is an expression and vice versa.
Modeling has given me a great platform for self-expression and I’m very grateful for social media to have given me an even greater chance to reach a wider audience.
It goes without saying that fashion is an integral part of a model’s life. Who are your favourite designers, if we may ask? How would you like to describe your personal style?
I truly agree with this, and as stated before, to me fashion is a sense of self-expression. My personal style and favourite brands alternate based on a multitude of factors: my current mood, the location I am in, the season of the year, just to name a few. For example, I would not wear the same attire I would in the streets of Berlin (where I am from) as I would walking down the streets of the Promenade of La Croisette in Cannes (one of my favourite holiday destinations) for which I would say my favourite brands include Dolce & Gabbana and For Love & Lemons (best finds for floral dresses). couple of keywords for my personal style include timeless, classic, girly yet tomboyish, minimalistic yet extravagant a good sense contrast is what I usually aim for.
Being an international model, you’ve seen the global debate on being all-inclusive. What are your views about the concept of ‘inclusivity’ in the fashion industry?
Yes, I think it’s vital to continue preaching inclusivity in our industry so that everyone around the globe can feel comfortable and confident in their own skin. I believe this is an innate right of people all over the globe.
My personal style and favourite brands alternate based on a multitude of factors: my current mood, the location I am in, the season of the year, just to name a few.
They say that there’s a deep connection between interior and exterior beauty. But in the global fashion industry, what you see on the outside is applauded. Given a chance, how would you bring about a change in such a decree?
Interviews such as these, are great opportunities for women in the industry to speak up about topics that lie close to their hearts. I find that it is the true and timeless beauty of every individual that makes them shine out of the crowd at the end of the day. I would love to start a podcast or Youtube series that hosts such get to know me interviews with talent across the globe. I think getting to know someones passions and dreams can add a sense of depth to the global fashion industry and could be quite inspiring for myself and others.
What are your views on media and feminism in the modelling industry? Does being under the public eye bring its own fears in your mind?
Everyone should have the freedom for self-expression and be celebrated for standing true to oneself. Of course that is easier said than done. It’s the natural course of life the ups and downs, the peaks and valleys – but as long as you have a strong support system around you your inner circle of family and your closest friends that is sometimes enough to keep you going when times may get tough.
I think getting to know someone passions and dreams can add a sense of depth to the global fashion industry and could be quite inspiring for myself and others.
What will you advise other models who may wish to soon be a part of the fashion industry?
My first word of advice would be to believe in yourself and your mission fully. Don’t take no for an answer and don’t let setbacks get to you, there is always an opportunity around the next corner if you keep your eyes open for it. Remind yourself of your why daily to inspire renewed motivation to keep working towards your goals the sky’s the limit at least this is once we once believed until voila, we landed on the moon. A good mentor is also a huge plus and the realisation that this will be a journey of a lifetime enjoy every minute of it. I even sometimes look forward to the end of it, when I have amassed countless pictures and stories I can show and tell my future children and grandchildren. Lastly, the most practical advice ever given to me would be: Everyday work and complete at least one task that will bring you closer to your goal.
We also know that you are an avid reader too, and you enjoy your quiet time by indulging yourself in a good read. What has been the most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or nonfiction)?
Yes absolutely, I think growing up as an only child I think I’ve naturally had a lot of time on my hands, and reading quickly turned into one of my favourite past-times. I read a wide variety of books, my passion lies in psychology and philosophy. Another favourite of mine are books based on entrepreneurship. I used to enjoy fiction when I was younger but lately, I’ve been into books focused more on concretely applicable knowledge to my current projects.
I think growing up as an only child I think I’ve naturally had a lot of time on my hands, and reading quickly turned into one of my favourite past-times.
Staying fit and healthy is a constant commitment but its worth it. What kind of fitness routine did you have to follow for the same? Tell us about your diet as well.
Definitely staying fit and healthy is totally worth the commitment. Choosing a career in modeling this is a part of the job description and I constantly have to remind myself of that. It’s not always easy but I remind myself of why I am doing it and it refuels my motivation to keep going on the healthier route on a daily basis. Health is wealth and it’s important to satisfy all your basic needs such as sleep, nutrition, and even happiness and positivity. These are the building blocks for excelling in all other aspects of your life such as career and your personal relationships. Practically I like to do a mix of cardio to break a sweat; alongside resistance training to gain muscle daily. As for my diet, I like to stick to whole foods vegetables and fruits; lean proteins fish, chicken, turkey, and whole grains my favorite bread being pumpernickel. I also love detox elixirs ginger, lemon juice, and green juices.
Which destination do you look forward to visiting once the COVID-19 situation comes to normalcy?
Eritrea for sure, I haven’t been there in a couple of years and I can’t wait to go back and visit my family there. Also, its cuisine is my favorite, if you know you know. I also want to discover more parts of Asia. With the current tumultuous circumstances, I’ve been building quite an interest in meditation as a means to stay grounded and balanced specifically Chakras and Buddhist philosophy. Although the current textbooks I’m reading are quite interesting I would love to learn more about these two first hand via travel.
Definitely staying fit and healthy is totally worth the commitment.
What do you plan to do next? Tell us about your upcoming projects.
I have several projects that I am working on at the moment, I would hate to spoil the surprise. One thing I can say is that it will stay in congruence with my passion for natural beauty options, I believe every woman should have access to the beauty secrets of non-invasive alternatives and the gifts of Mother Nature.