Why Not a Model?

Well...quite obviously to anyone who follows my body of work....I am the face of Mahlia Collection. I am Konstantina Mahlia, I am the heart , the voice and the visionary behind Mahlia Collection, and I am the 'house model.'
When I launched Mahlia in February of 2005, it was obvious to me, that the name, the 'brand' the lifesytle and the face all had to tell the same, seamlessly linked story. The aesthetic footprint came from my soul.. and 'oh well' the aesthetic composition was evident in every nuance of 'me'.

My family was not happy at all about my face being out in public at first They had to adjust to the idea. Last year, my mum, (who is not that computer savvy),was told by some relative, that there were 'naked' pictures of me on the internet. I had to show her my Facebook account, so that she could see the images for herself; and yes, there was some skin showing...but they were not 'naked' pictures of me on the internet for anyone and everyone to see.

I get it all the time. 90%...maybe 95% of the people who know of and watch my brand, love that I too, am the 'face' of my brand.There is that 5 percentile though who will say," You need to get your designs modeled on other models. "You should get a sixteen year old 'hottie' to wear your things. Then they will sell off the shelves." And then you ask..."AM I on the right path?" And to me, the answer has always been "yes".I think that my pictures show my character as well as my 'face', and that to me is hugely important, because I am a female of 'substance." I believe in what I am doing. There is a purpose to my work. I work very hard at it, and I want to share things of good value with others...so why not endorse my beliefs, with my art, with my image? Who could do it better?How could I hire someone to be the 'face' to represent what I believe in? I couldn't. No- one can fulfill that role except me. there is the reality that there will come a time when wrinkles age spots and sagging skin don't work;mthe battle that all models face... but as long as I can do it...I will.

At first, though I had been asked to model before, I never had. I was honestly very ambivalent about being in front of the camera, even though I had chosen to do so, and the photographers I have worked with since this started will tell you so.I learned to model. I learned that there are angles that work and angles that don't; that if it hurts...a LOT, you've probably got it right...and to hold it! I learned to like it...and now..enjoy it. I am in the very , very fortunate position that I am the boss..I am modeling for me... and if it's not what I want...it's over. That's a very different position to be than projecting what some one else wants for their brand identity.To sell your soul because you need the job. I don't have to be a chameleon...if anything, the more I am me, the better. This last shoot of 'La Marionette Rouge' was a departure from that agenda. Yes I wanted the shot to be 'glamorous, sexy, timeless, beautiful...but I got to play act and 'remove 'myself this time.I have had comments like, "It's hard to take my eyes off of your face. My eye s jump between you and the jewelry" Or " It's YOU in every picture, -not the jewelry."and then you have to try and analyze what's good for the brand...and if the picture has grabbed their attention...then to me... we won...THAT"S a good shot.

I have always gotten a lot of attention for my personal style.I was voted best dressed at my all girls prep school; as well as being on the student government god knows how many times- and the lead role in every school play in high school as well as one of the provincial champion debaters, people always noticed the way I looked and how I dressed. Even as a teenager.For me, as much as I LOVE fashion...clothes were another artistic palette with which to express myself.And then too, I was fortunate to be able to wear them well. When I was five and decided to run away from home. I had to drag the suitcase up two flights of stairs in order to get all my clothes,because I wasn't going without them. When I got to my room and finally managed to get the suitcase onto the bed...my plans to run were a 'no go' because with all my party dresses on the bed, I could not unlock the suitcase to pack them.And I was NOT going ANYWHERE without my beautiful dresses. The dice was cast. I was a born fashion maven in the making.

My stylist had noticed the attention I always got at the salon, and we were talking about this one day when I was at the salon. I was finishing up to go and I was wearing jeans a a pale blue Gap t-shirt when we walked into the lobby of the salon. A woman stopped me to say" I Iove your t-shirt. Where did you get it?" My stylist and I looked at one another and started laughing; I mean it was a blue Gap t-shirt.But a seed was planted at that moment... and I thought...if my t-shirt gets that kind of attention...EVERYTHING I wear is going to be me. I will not be a billboard for anyone else.

The thing is that the brand is indivisible from me. The jewelry, the book, the interior designs have all had their endorsements from awards to editorial exposure..but when they want the interview, they want a picture of me in the story. They want me for a radio interview. Very rarely do they want a picture of the jewelry without me;the request is almost always with me, unless of course it's the men's stuff...but then I can wear that fairly well as well.( just joking) All of these elements come what feeds the work and that is -my values, my philosophy of life and what inspires me and my heart.I think that one of the things that makes my images memorable is there is a a connection form me to the camera...the person looking at the picture.There is something in my eyes...the look in my eyes that's a connection. But have not been able to find clothes that are both sweet and sexy, stylish but not unwearable, comfortable and well made with fabrics that travel like a dream. I want lace and gorgeous buttons and fabrics that hug my form without being too provocative. these are all the things they say of my fashion designs....and that nobody else is doing it. And partly the fashion has evolved because I can't find what I want out there. I would have to live in stores and quite honestly...I don't like shopping or going to stores. I go for 'homework." to see what's out there and where's my competition...but I don't shop. I get most of what I need on the internet.
( YOOX....my secret addiction)

So...i started making my own. I found some amazing cutters and seamstresses...yes....HERE in Tucson... and it all began to become another division of the brand. All of the pieces are 'one of a kind' because that to me is true style...to be your self, and make a statement of who you are when you walk out the door. And they are also the fashion pieces in every photo shoot. I always wear Mahlia Collection. Always. And when I'm doing a show, when I'm at a big social event, or even a smaller one...i wear Mahlia... and people know that now.Mahlia clothes, Mahlia jewelry.

When I was at Paris Fashion Week in October, I went to a fashion show. There was a horde of photographers -99% male- at the end of the runway taking pictures of the girls and they come down the runway with this blank look on their faces. The girls aren't supposed to show emotion and they are not supposed to have a 'form' that distracts from the clothes.They are walking human, mannequins.The are wearing the same hairstyle, the same shoes, the same makeup... and they 'model' the clothes. No wonder these girls get so messed up. there are very, very few who make it to become' themselves' in that world. the majority are denied the ability to be themselves and are a canvas for the designer. i am the designer, i am my own canvas, I am my own story. That's why i am the 'model.' Much, much simpler.