Florentina de Comtes
(Not your typical) Model
Florentina de Comtes is a model based in London. Primarily a hair model, Florentina has modelled for top hair product brands and salons and is also a very capable fashion model. However, she is not your typical model. She has a PhD, and has previously worked on the CERN Particle Accelerator project in central Europe. She is a beautiful woman, but is also incredibly learned and I can also confirm she is an incredibly nice and sincere person. I had the chance to sit down and chat with her about her experiences so far, here's what she had to say...
Solstice: When did you start modelling? Were you discovered or did you apply to be a model?
Florentina: I started modelling in summer 2016, just after exams were over. I was minding my own business in the London underground when a scout from Named Models approached me and said “hey you’ve got a cool look, pop by the agency if you fancy being a model”. I had been waitressing, and doing other jobs and I thought why not? A little extra cash never hurt anybody, it’s flexible and is probably much more fun than these other jobs.
Solstice: So, you’ve only been modelling for three years. What are the best and worst things about being a model?
Florentina: The best and simultaneously worst thing is not knowing what’s going to happen from one day to the next. Most things are very short notice - I generally get my daily schedule around 6pm the night before. Modelling really helped me being more flexible in my life. However, it makes it hard to plan anything in advance and occasionally I even have to cancel on my friends because of a last minute job.
Before becoming a model I was working in the scientific sector, a completely different world! Everything was structured and precise, whereas modelling is a bit all over the place and spontaneous.
You meet a variety of characters working in the fashion industry. Some are crazy, creative and inspirational, while others really are not that nice or inconsiderate. You just have to deal with that and learn to not letting it get to you. It makes you grow up and tackle your problems but I definitely would not recommend becoming a model to anyone with insecurities.
Solstice: What did you study?
Florentina: During my entire 12 years of Catholic Private School I always knew that I wanted to do something with science. Growing up I’ve always been the ‘smart one’ - the nerd - and to be honest a bit of a tomboy. The fashion industry was never anything of particular interest to me. It’s actually a little ironic that I became a model later in life. After High school I studied Physics in Linz for 2 ½ years instead of 3 years, as I just powered through the degree and finished it early. I then worked at CERN for half a year before moving to London to do my Masters in Biomedical Engineering with Medical Physics and Imaging. Specializing in Therapeutic Ultrasound, I graduated with distinction from Imperial College in Sept 2016 and even won a prize for my thesis.
Solstice: You’ve been a hair model for most of your short career, how did that start? And will you be branching out into different types of modeling soon?
Florentina: My very first job was for HOB Academy. It was Akin Konizi, the owner, who introduced me as “Flo with the ginger mullet” and my hair ended up being my trademark. Hairdressers went mad over it and I started working almost exclusively as hair model, walking national and international shows and did lots of hair collection shoots.
It’s a bit of a tricky business though. Like Forest Gump says “Life is a like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get” - You never know what they are going to do with your hair. You have an idea, but it is always a bit of a surprise. It pays well, but obviously, the hair suffers. I particularly enjoy hair shows. They are generally longer and more creative than normal fashion shows. Also you tend to work with the same great girls and it’s almost like we are a small ‘hair show family’. Fashion week is always a welcomed change from the hair work. With walking 7 shows, this past season went really well for me. I am looking to do more fashion and beauty in the next few months and am talking to my agency about making some changes.
Solstice: What is your dream modelling job?
Florentina: That’s a hard one. I’d love to do a sports campaign for a big brand such as Nike, SkinFit etc. I’ve always been into sports and fitness; I used do a lot of fencing before moving to the UK, I run and do weight training so that kind of work definitely appeals to me and obviously, the bigger the better. However it’d also be super cool to do a massive fashion week show like Louis Vuitton/ Versace etc.
Solstice: What has been your favourite shoot/campaign that you have modelled for?
Florentina: I worked on a TIGI campaign, which hasn’t come out yet. I loved the team and finally changed my hair colour from red to blonde. They were your typical Italian team, all very fun and great to work with.
Solstice: Would you like to work in any other country/city for an extended period of time?
Florentina: When I went full time in March, I told my agency that I definitely wanted to travel and experience different cultures and customs. New York and Japan are on the top of my bucket list but I’m not very picky. Asia would be a dream because of the incredible and unique shooting locations.
Solstice: What would you be doing if you weren’t a model?
Florentina: I’d still be in a lab somewhere trying to cure cancer. When I was a kid I always said that one day I’d win a Nobel Prize, but I obviously realize now that this is a very unrealistic goal. But if I am completely honest I actually have no clue. You just have to live in the now, and not think too much about the future.
Solstice: What is your favourite thing to do when you are not working?
Florentina: I love to work out, and keep busy. I’m not one to just stay at home, doing nothing. Weightlifting is the only time when I can really shut off the world and let my worries escape me. I also like exploring this wonderful city when the weather is good and spend rainy afternoons doing puzzles, but the big ones that take a lot of time to complete. Alternatively I love to watch old black and white films. All the classics from the Hitchcock movies to Casablanca or Some like it hot. I also have the cutest 2 cats, which I absolutely adore.
Solstice: What are 5 things you cannot live without and why?
1. The people I care about - my family and my friends. I love sharing with people, there’s no point to life if you can’t share moments.
2. Sports – I go crazy if I don’t exercise regularly – I get uneasy
3. Delicious Food – I cook almost every day and like to pay attention to a healthy diet. Although I have to admit: my three guilty pleasures are Ice Cream, Popcorn and Pizza , they are the best!
4. Beanie hats, a bad hair necessity! They also help keeping me warm as my ears are always cold.
5. My Cats. Nothing lightens my mood after a stressful day than cuddling with my babies.
Solstice: What is your single biggest aspiration for the future?
Florentina: I probably would have answered this completely different a year ago. Now I’d say I just want to be happy, and not fall into a rut where I am not improving. I want to enjoy life and make the most of it. To be grateful for what I have.
Interview conducted by Sebastian Santa Maria
Photographer: Sebastian Santa Maria
Hair & Make Up: Shamirah Sairally