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Monday, August 15, 2011
Giving up his job as a hair stylist to become a professional model and actor was the stuff of dreams for Kris Dillon. That was until he took to the catwalk at Norwich Fashion Week in February. Emma Harrowing reports.
Posing on the catwalk at Norwich Fashion Week in February under the hot lights with cameras flashing and a captive audience of hundreds, Kris Dillon from Mildenhall looked every bit the professional. His catwalk strut and confident poses showcased collections from independent retailers in Norwich including Dilate Clothing and Elements to their best advantage.
It was surprising to discover that 23- year-old Kris was an amateur model and full-time hair stylist. Signed to Norwich-based modelling agency Powermodel Management, he had worked on commercial jobs for companies such as DFS, but had no experience of modelling on the catwalk.
And no sooner had the spotlights of Norwich Fashion Week faded, than Kris had been spotted by Norwich-based model agency D&A, which works for the likes of Debenhams, ITV, House of Fraser and AVEDA.
He also secured a contract to model for Norwich hair salon The Gallery Haircutters in the L’Oreal Colour Awards, at which The Gallery and Kris reached the finals.
“Norwich Fashion Week is where it all began for me,” says Kris. “Modelling for the L’Oreal Awards was amazing. We made it through to the regional finals in Cambridge and then the finals at Grosvenor House in London in front of thousands of industry professionals. It was nerve-wracking, but I really enjoyed the experience.”
The L’Oreal gig threw Kris into the national arena with interest from London-based agencies MOT and Base Model Management, who he recently signed to.
Even Premier Models, the agency at the heart of the television fly-on-the-wall documentary The Model Agency, showed an interest after Kris had newfound confidence and ventured into the capital to find work.
“Walking into a London agency is every bit like what you see on television,” says Kris. “As soon as you walk in you are surrounded by bookers on the telephone while you sit and wait to be seen. It can be a bit intimidating, especially as you have your photograph taken in a corner of the open plan office, but this is all part of the modelling experience. Developing a thick skin against people’s comments about the way you look helps you handle criticism and believe me, you have to go to a lot of castings to get one modelling job, so handling rejection is vital.”
Since Norwich Fashion Week, Kris has got paid work modelling for Lotus Originals, Love clothing, up and coming Norwich fashion photographer Charlotte Rutherford and the Keeping Abreast Show held at Open on London Street.
Says Kris: “The variety of different jobs is what makes me love modelling. One minute you can be modelling for a catalogue or a commercial and the next you can be taking to the catwalk.
“Modelling for the Keeping Abreast show was a great experience, made even better by the fact that this was a charity show to raise money for breast cancer charities. Modelling on the catwalk may look glamorous, but it is tough. When I walk down the catwalk I am counting my steps in my head so that I know when to turn. I’m concentrating so much, which is probably why I look mean and moody on the catwalk!”
It is Kris’ ambition to become an actor and he is using his modelling experience to break into the industry, having played parts in films The Haunting of Harry Payne and In Love With Alma Cogan, both due to be screened next year. He also played a bit part in one episode of the new Agatha Christie series, due to screen on television in the New Year. Both films were filmed in Norfolk, a place where Kris feels at home.
“Norwich and Norfolk is the place to be right now for film and modelling work. There are a lot of talented people living here. I love being in Norwich with its laid back attitude and the quirky shops and cafes in Norwich Lanes.”
Over the past few months Kris’ career has snowballed, enabling him to give up his day job as a hair stylist and work as a model and actor full-time.
“Since Norwich Fashion Week I have been really busy and I hope this continues. It’s all thanks to Norwich Fashion Week and The Gallery Haircutters, as this work got me noticed and has enabled me to fulfil my dreams.”
Norwich Fashion Week is looking for blonde haired male and female models to join the Norwich Fashion Week modelling team this September. If you think you have got what it takes there is a casting at Vanilla on Ipswich Road from 6pm until 7pm on Wednesday August 31. All you need to do is turn up with a recent picture of yourself. Models will be judged by a panel and those chosen will join the Norwich Fashion Week modelling team who will be modelling the latest fashions on the catwalk.
Norwich Fashion Week takes place from September 22 until 29. Keep up to date with all the Norwich Fashion Week news in your Norwich Evening News or visit the Norwich Fashion Week website at www.eveningnews24.co.uk/nfw. You can also follow Norwich Fashion Week on Facebook or on Twitter @NorwichFashion