When Karlina Caune smiles, it’s like honey being poured over your heart. Her beauty is mesmerising and the warmth she radiates melts you down to the core. Then, in a matter of minutes, she is on a runway – distant, mysterious, looking into your soul with her gorgeous sparkling eyes, teasing and seducing. Her exquisite beauty won hearts of the agents who chose Karlina for the Ford model competition, the judges who put gorgeous teen on the top of the pedestal and then – practically every fashion designer under the sun, from Sophie Buhai and Lisa Mayock of Vena Cava, Jenni Kayne, Behnaz Sarafpour, Mona Kowalska of A Détacher, Tory Burch and Georgina Chapman of Marchesa who booked the beautiful Latvian for their Fall 2010 shows to Stella McCartney, Tom Ford, Karl Lagerfeld, Peter Copping, Giambattista Valli, Jason Wu, Kinder Aggugini, Christopher Bailey, Donna Karan, Oscar de la Renta, Dolce & Gabbana, Marc Jacobs (for both Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton), Erdem, Emma Hill, Christopher Kane and many more. She walked for Chloe, Chanel, Mulberry, Etro, MaxMara, Versace, Blumarine, Marni, Missoni, Nina Ricci, Carve, Rochas, Sonia Rykiel, Vionnet, Roland Mouret, Burbery Prorsum, Carolina Herrera, Roberto Cavalli, graced pages of Vogue, W, Numero, Harper’s Bazaar, L’Officiel and Elle and became a face of Akris, Stella McCartney, Tom Ford, Just Cavalli, Rebecca Taylor, Strenesse Blue, Sportmax, Jil Sander and Givenchy.
And despite this impressive CV, the girl I meet is the sweetest, down to earth, nature loving philosopher. She is constantly on the move, waking up and falling asleep on different continents, getting through the busy schedule and yet, when I ask for an interview, she finds time, generously shares some of her childhood photos and thanks me for the opportunity. And just like that, sentence by sentence, her story unfolds before my eyes…
Katrina (or Kate as her friends call her) was born in Riga, the capital of Latvia, but the family soon moved to Jelgava where the little girl and her three sisters grew up. “The town on the river” and the connecting link between Latvia and Lithuania, Jelgava was the best of both worlds, combining the history and nature with the buzz of the modern city.
Unlike many girls who dream of being on a runway, modelling wasn’t exactly on Katrina’s list until the day her phone rang. The agent who caught her off guard during the Youth Guard training, informed the girl that she was chosen for the Ford Model competition. It turned out that the girls cousin sent an application form for her and before she knew it, 15-year old Katrina Caune was whisked away to Sao Paolo and won the top prize. A few months later, she was booked for her first fashion shows and editorial, and became Karlina. Two years on, aged 17, the young model was signed up by Viva Model Management. From this moment her career took a very different and more serious course. In just two short years she made it to the top 50 models.
“Fashion business calls me by my other name. That’s kinda cool, because there're too many Kates and Katrinas, but I am the only KARLINA.”
What happened after the competition?
Not much. I was too young and it wasn’t my time yet, I travelled, did some jobs here and there, but nothing really at the same time.
Did you ever think of modelling before you got approached?
No, not at all. I kinda knew what modelling was, but never came to the point that I would be interested in taking part in it. I guess, it just wasn’t at the top of my interest at that point.
What was the main reason to become a model?
I always liked jumping into new things. I guess, traveling the world and seeing what time brings you were the main things that excited me. As I like to say - never look back, just forward. Never say no, say - why not.
What did your parents say about your choice for a job?
My parents are really happy, because I am happy in my work. They always wanted me to do what I feel happy doing and I like, rather then pushing me into something fully opposite my interests.
“Family is my backbone and most important over everything. Without them, I am nothing.”
Who is your biggest fan?
My grandmother. She's been collecting every single magazine I've been in.
What do you like the most about being a model?
What I love the most is the gift of meeting new people and never sitting in one place, I always wanted a job where I can be in the movement.
Where do you find the energy and how do you recharge?
I've been always a nature kid. I love nature and spending my time off work enjoying raw beauty. Big city rhythm is great for work and it inspires to move your ass and do something, yet its very exhausting, at least for me.
Models are constantly judged by other models, designers and public - how do you deal with that?
I don’t deal with the judgement of others, I just don’t care. I believe criticism is a good thing in correct amounts, but only if it comes from people who give it to you for unselfish reasons, like family.
You walked pretty much for every big designer - was there a show that felt like a career height?
There wasn't one particular show what felt like career height. It all came together, working with top designers, make up artists, hair stylists & biggest models in the business. Just being a part of it is amazing, if you think how many girls would kill for the possibility I have. Appreciate everything.
You also became a face of several big campaigns including Tom Ford, Stella McCartney and most recent Givenchy - how did you feel when you got chosen?
Very honoured, they could have any girl they want, but they picked me.
“Being a part of it is amazing. Appreciate everything.”
In just over two years you became one of the most sought after models - what do you think makes a model so successful?
Personality, self-esteem, being in the right place in the right time.
Do you believe there's an element of luck involved in the process?
I believe its pure luck.
Your perception of life sounds quite philosophical…
You are on the right track. I believe in karma and that everything what goes around must come around. I love reading post-war literature – it’s very deep and rough, but makes you understand and appreciate everything what comes your way.
What is the most important lesson about this profession and the industry you have leant so far?
You have to stand for and take care of yourself. If you won’t do that, no one will.
6 things about Karlina
Words that best describe you… Sarcastic, adventurous life-loving loner.
Who did you want to be when you were 5?
I don’t remember precisely, most probable a candy shop owner, fireman, princess, McGyver.
Forget past indiscretions, and stolen possessions. You're high. In the cold light.
Favourite childhood memory
Cooking breakfast while my mum was still sleeping, and seeing that face expression when I announced - I cook, you clean. Priceless.
Another question on what I can not answer with a single answer, I love listening to good old Rolling Stones, Chilli Peppers and newer - Imagine Dragons, Coldplay, Kings of Leon.
Waffles! The thin and crispy ones my mummy makes!
Photo source: Chloe Fall 2013 backstage, childhood photos c/o Karlina Caune, Vogue UK October 2012 (photography: Boo George, styling: Charlotte Pilcher), Akris Campaign 2012 (photography: Karim Sadli, styling: Spela Lenarcic), Vogue Turkey August 2012 (photography: Jem Mitchell, styling: Konca Aykan), Vogue Paris September 2013 (photography: David Bellemere, styling: Capucine Safyurtlu), Chanel Resort 2013 backstage, Black No 19 2013 (photography: Michael Schwartz, styling: Aeri Yun), Elle France February 2012 (photography John Akehurst, make-up: Jurgen Braun, hair: Olivier Lebrun), backstage and runway photos via stylebistro.com and style.com.