Dressed in a slouchy leather jacket and a pair of extra-high flatforms, Kiev-native Cate Underwood has a transfixing and hustling intensity. Originally a marketing major who "wore a lot of black," the photographer-turned-model-turned-DJ has become one of the most sought-after young fashion personalities.
A bit of a well-dressed vagabond with bee stung lips and brooding cheekbones, Underwood splits her time working in Kiev, New York, and Milan. At only 23, she has photographed editorial spreads for Vogue Ukraine and has been profiled by Vogue Italia as a "Voguette."
Now, Underwood is making a name for herself in New York City. For this past New York Fashion Week, she focused her lens on the shows and after-parties in an exclusive photo diary for V Magazine. We recently sat down with Underwood to learn about how her time in the industry and how she's a talent to be reckoned with.
Fashionista: You are quite the multitasker. How did you start being a photographer, model, and DJ? Cate Underwood: I started as a photographer. First, I was just shooting people on the streets, and then I won the Harper's Bazaar (Ukraine) Fashion Award. They were searching for new talents and it was for a young fashion photographer. I first started shooting for Harper's because they asked me to do editorial. Somehow then I realized I wanted to do fashion photography. [I became a model] when I was shooting test shots for one agent in Paris. So when I went to Paris I just signed a contract as a model because he said, "What are you doing behind the lens?" That's how I started to model.
DJing is just entertainment for me—I have loved music from an early age. It just is a hobby and it kind of nice feeling making people happy with sound.
Where do you DJ? At first I started in Ukraine at random parties. Then I played during Vogue's Fashion Night Out in Milan. [Designer] Mauro Grifoni asked me to come to their showroom during Fashion's Night Out.
What brands have you shot for in Ukraine? Vogue Ukraine, Harper's Bazaar Ukraine, Elle Ukraine, and L'Officiel Ukraine where I shot a cover. My first cover was for Playing Fashion, I think I was 19. Then I won the Bazaar Fashion Forward Award and then I started to shoot for other magazines. At 21, I shot my L'Officiel Ukraine cover. What I have done is not even one percent of what I want to do—you are always developing yourself.
What have you been doing outside of Ukraine? I think my biggest thing for now and what I really appreciate is that Vogue Italia asked me to make a video interview for them as a Voguette. I was really scared when I went to their office for the first time—I was shaking and was like, "Oh my God, I'm in this huge Vogue Italia office!"
When I came in I just saw a picture of me from my Instagram on a board, actually in this leather jacket with a hat, I had just come off a flight—I was so sleepy! There was this picture in their office and on it was written a couple of questions like, "Who is she?"
What was it like covering New York Fashion Week for V Magazine? The idea was to represent V Magazine during NYFW and cover events in my photo diary on vmagazine.com. It wasn't exactly a job, but a way of showing Fashion Week through my eyes, the way I see it. I realized how many amazing things I saw and people I met after I was done with the intense week.
Where do you see your career in five years? I have no idea where I am going to be in five days, so it's definitely impossible to tell what happens in five years. But I won't stop, for sure.