Northwestern student walks in New York Fashion Week


Source: Moses Berkson

Danielle Lauder

Amanda Svachula, A&E Editor


Seconds before taking the stage at the Just Drew show in New York City this past Sunday, Communication senior Danielle Lauder was struck by the hectic atmosphere backstage.

“I couldn’t find the model, who had the black shirt I had to wear, at first,” she said. “I was wandering around backstage, freaking out, about to walk up.”

Lauder managed to find the shirt just in time to strut down Gotham Hall’s stage as part of 2016’s New York Fashion Week, alongside well-known models including Tiffany Trump, Abigail Breslin, and Kyra Kennedy.

“It was so nerve-wracking and I’ve never done anything like that before,” she said. “But once I walked down the runway, I felt a rush.”

This was the runway modeling debut for Lauder, who in addition to studying at Northwestern, has spent her college years also working as a film actress—constantly traveling between New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Though it was her first time walking on a runaway, Lauder’s ties to the industry extend far back as the great-granddaughter of cosmetic mogul Estee Lauder.

The decision to walk in the Just Drew show on Feb. 14, was spur of the moment, Lauder said. She said she did not even know designer Andrew Warren before he contacted her through mutual friends and asked if she wanted to participate in the show.

Warren founded the clothing line Just Drew in May 2013, and the company aims to create clothing that incorporates simple, sleek lines, with bold, structural designs. In the show, the designer showcased his “It Girl” collection.

“I knew her through a friend and I really liked her look,” Warren said. “I based my clothing off the different types of New York City “it” girls and their different fashions. I think she fit the look I was going for.”

Lauder, who had never modeled before, decided to take a chance after the invitation, she said.

“I said, ‘Sure, why not?’” Lauder said. “A week before the show, we have to fill out a Google Doc of sizes and height. I looked at the height of the models, 5’11”, 5’10”. I’m 5’4” and I was thinking ‘Oh no, they’re going to put me in 6-inch heels and I’m going to fall on my face.’ But I had very manageable heels.”

Lauder said she was very nervous when she arrived the day of the show and walked into a building filled with hundreds of people that she did not know. The show had not gone through a whole rehearsal, but because she arrived the day of, Lauder added she missed a basic walking practice the day before.

“With (a fashion show) you couldn’t really do a rehearsal of the entire day,” she said. “This is because the day is made up of the preparation and changes and making sure the makeup artists are doing everything right. It was very last-minute and chaotic because you don’t really know until you get there.”

The hectic behind-the-scenes preparation at the fashion show was very different than the more relaxed film preparation she is used to, Lauder said. As a film actor, she said there’s a lot of waiting and preparation time to prepare.

At NU, Lauder has studied theater acting, but said she prefers film acting. She has been in several movies include “Ride” and “The Stanford Prison Experiment.” This past summer, she filmed her first supporting lead role in “The Charnel House,” which premieres in May.

Communication Prof. Dawn Mora has worked with Lauder for the past four years as her acting teacher. She said Lauder is enormously focused and that when acts in film, she is great at portraying vulnerability.

“Dani is a superb actress,” Mora said. “She came to NU with some training already, and she has challenged herself and grown. Since film acting is very contained and centered, it probably helped her on the runway.

She said she admires Lauder’s independence and business sense, and the fact that she can balance school, travel and work.

Lauder has also been involved with the film industry behind-the-scenes, working for companies such as the Sundance Institute, an organization that supports independent film and theater artists, and William Morris Endeavor, a talent agency.

During this past year, because of her upcoming movie, Lauder said she is often never in a place longer than a month and a half to two months at a time.

Communication senior Eleanor McEnaney has been friends with Lauder since freshman year, and said she has watched her balance her life with grace.

“She’s just really born to have this lifestyle and is really good at immersing herself in whatever she is doing,” McEnaney said. “It comes so naturally and she’s good at staying in touch and keeping up and always being present.”

Once Lauder graduates, she hopes to continue this busy lifestyle, though she does not see walking down the runway again in her near future.

“I definitely want to focus more on acting,” Lauder said. “I would love to do modeling in another facet, maybe more editorial and not runway. I feel more connected and engaged to people on a film set.”

Erica Snow contributed reporting.

Correction: Due to incorrect information from a source, the photo credit was incorrect. The photo was provided by Moses Berkson. The Daily regrets the error.

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Twitter: @amandasvachula