Abby Williamson graces the May 2016 cover of "Harper's Bazaar Brasil."
On the walk: Abby Williamson's runway debut in Christian Dior's Spring/Summer 2016 haute couture.show
Abby Williamson's first test shot for Wallflower Management was a hit.
Wallflower Management refuses to play Lady Gaga. Even a mention of the pop star elicits sidelong glances from those who work in the Deep Ellum office of the Dallas-based modeling agency.
The reason for this quirky rule? Seventeen-year-old Abby Williamson, one of Wallflower’s rapidly rising stars, was slated to walk in Marc Jacobs’ Fall 2016 ready-to-wear show in New York City. Moments before the show started, Gaga swooped backstage and chose the ensemble originally selected for Williamson for her own Marc Jacobs runway debut — look number 20, right behind Kendall Jenner.
Having practiced her walk in the designer’s enormous platform boots for days, Williamson felt the sting of disappointment when she heard that Gaga had taken her spot. But one mishap does not define the ingénue, whose recent inclusion in Vogue and The New York Times lists of models to watch has her poised to become one of fashion’s next It-girls.
I first met Williamson two years ago at her family’s home in Southlake, to interview her about her burgeoning career. Newly signed with Wallflower and IMG Models, the then-15-year-old was shy, curled up on a plush chair with her puppy, Ranger, in her Paris-themed bedroom. She spoke of her idol, Victoria’s Secret model Candice Swanepoel, and an upcoming trip to Tokyo for an Elle Japan shoot. With legs for days, wide-set cat eyes, and soft freckles à la Kate Moss, it was clear she was pursuing the right profession — and her portfolio was proof.
Cut to January 2016: In the house of mirrors at the Musée Rodin grounds in Paris, throngs of editors, photographers, and top models took their places for Christian Dior’s Spring/Summer 2016 haute couture presentation. It was Williamson’s first major show; pure adrenaline guided her down the catwalk.
Rodarte, Anna Sui, Maiyet, and Baja East called upon her for their Fall 2016 ready-to-wear shows in New York. London followed (Emilia Wickstead), as did a return to Paris for more Dior, plus Ellery, Pascal Millet, Aalto, and Giambattista Valli, where Williamson snapped a backstage selfie with Gigi Hadid.
She has since appeared on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar Brasil, walked in Christopher Kane’s Resort 2017 show, and starred in an ad campaign for Marc Jacobs Beauty.
“It’s been fun to see Abby develop from a gawky, shy, but exceptionally photogenic 12-year-old to a self-assured, beautiful young woman,” says Tammy Theis, Wallflower’s creative director.
Two years after we first meet, I’m greeted by an Abby Williamson transformed — a confident jet-setter with the professionalism of someone twice her age. “I’m a different person [in front of the camera],” she says. “You know how Beyoncé has her alter ego? It’s not Abby anymore; it’s Venus. I just decided that name, like, right now.”
As for the future, professional modeling is her dream. She spent the summer casting for this month’s Spring 2017 shows. Yet she doesn’t rule out acting, another outlet that would allow her to chameleon into different characters. “I want to be a superhero,” she says. “I mean, have you seen Captain America?”
Today, globetrotting is commonplace for the model. While college prep consumes her peers, Abby Williamson juggles work around the world, posing for photographers Jeff Boudreau, Boris Camaca, and Maria Maltoni. She typically navigates airports alone. Classic rock keeps her company (Black Sabbath, ACDC, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen), and her off-duty uniform is grungy ripped jeans and flannels. “I’m proud that I’m able to travel on my own and survive,” says Williamson, who has defied her parents’ skepticism.
Like every millennial, she documents her adventures on social media, posting silly behind-the-scenes videos, sushi she tried in Sweden, and a neon sign flashing her motto: Forget the rules. If you like it, wear it.