#WhatDrivesYou: Madison Schill
June 8, 2015
Don’t be surprised if you feel like you’ve seen Madison Schill before – you probably have in the pages of top international fashion magazines or walking the runways for your favourite designers. The model turned business woman turned journalist turned collaborator has recently joined forces with close friend Addison Gill and launched Mind Over Model (M/O/M), a new website dedicated to models that’s building a presence fast. Furthermore, Madison works with FashionationTV and ELLE Canada (all while working towards a degree from the University of Toronto), and is one to watch in the evolving Canadian media landscape.
On location at the Cathedral Notre Dame in Paris - Photographers Hannah and Joel
What inspired you to become a model and work in the fashion industry?
I can distinctly remember opening up one of the earlier issues of Teen Vogue - the one with three "new" models on the cover - Karlie Kloss, Ali Michaels, and Chanel Iman. It was so magical, the sunshine and sand, the beautiful fashion and the way that the girls were personified really spoke to me. In that moment I told my parents two things: 1) That I wanted to be the editor of Teen Vogue one day, and 2) that I wanted to model first.
What have been some of your most memorable moments?
I think one of the most surreal moments in fashion hit me at around 3 a.m. as I was sitting in a gilded ballroom at Paris’ Hotel Crillon. Growing up, I’d dream of one day being a debutante at the historic Crillon Ball, getting to wear flouncy gowns and running the streets of Paris as the Eiffel Tower sparkled in the background. It wasn’t until I was sitting there, in that very space, that these dreams came flooding back to me. I’d been chosen to work personally with Lanvin’s Alber Elbaz and his team as we put together the season’s ready-to-wear collection - wearing all the garments, modelling all the looks, breathing life to ideas that were once a mere scribble on a note pad, just like my dream once was. It was such a breathtaking moment…I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to articulate it fully. All of the hard times, and I mean hard, I’d encountered up until that moment just melted away. I knew that things really did happen for a reason.
Photo credit: Baldovino Barani
What made you decide to launch M/O/M?
For a long time I really felt frustrated with the lack of honest conversations that were happening with respect to what is considered 'normal' in fashion. I’d be sitting at castings and notice the look of relief on a girl’s face when she was told her own thoughts, ideas, and insecurities were shared…and I thought to myself, 'Wouldn’t it be nice to have a whole brand that just did that for people? That validated the insecurities in women, that shone a light on fashion for the remarkable industry it is, all while gently nudging it to be better, kinder, more inclusive?'
This feeling continued and I tried my best with my own personal blog, but meeting up with my best friend Addison really sealed the deal. Knowing that we would finally be living in the same country, and would have the support of each other to create something we really genuinely believed in made us conceptualize Mind Over Model in a matter of minutes. I think there was a hunger for this to be born, and Addie and I both felt it.
What do you see M/O/M becoming?
I see it becoming a world for people - a place that Mom’s can show their fashion-obsessed daughters and know that the content we post will in no way hurt them, diminish them, or make them want to be anyone other than themselves. I believe there is a way to display product, to showcase honest content, and to attract a following that doesn’t involve glorifying one ideal of beauty, success, or happiness. It may sound naive, but that’s just because I haven’t proven you wrong yet!
There are so many options for M/O/M, and Addison and I don’t want to close any doors - an online curated boutique comes to mind, and also special initiatives and collaborations with pre-existing companies we adore. I don’t believe in starting something new if there is already a brand out there that fills the need - I’d rather team up and help promote them, while working hard to shed light on the things we can add into the world that people otherwise miss. For example, many people ask about a magazine - the industry seems so saturated with publications that I’m hesitant to create a new magazine when one could already be out there that just needs a bit of our voice.
What are the most important lessons you've learned from within the fashion industry?
Just through observation, I’ve learned to really, really, find confidence in myself. Not in one's hair, or eyes, or legs, but in really knowing and owning the essence of who you are - acknowledging the value of intellect, and a kind heart. I don’t think one will ever find true success unless they have this mentality as a foundation first - it’s like trying to build Versailles on a sinkhole.