Alexander Wang has a knack for discovering models. (Just ask Anna Ewers.) This season, a little birdie on the West Side Highway told us to be on the lookout for new IMG model Peyton Knight, 17, who was rumored to be making her debut as an exclusive on Wang's runway this season. In addition, she underwent a semi-extreme makeover at the hands of hairstylist and long-time Wang collaborator, Guido Palau.
According to Palau, Wang wanted the girls to look like they'd just come in off the street; he wanted individuality rather than a uniform look. Palau even cut bangs and bowl cuts on some of the lesser-known models. "Because you don't know [them], you'd never really know if it had been cut or not," he explained backstage before the show. "It's not like I cut Anna Ewers's hair off!"
We're pretty sure Knight won't be an unknown for much longer, though. Here's what she had to say backstage before her very first runway show ever.
Hi, Peyton! I understand this is your first show and you're an exclusive?
Well, I wasn't allowed to walk any shows before his. So yes, semi-exclusive, I guess.
How did you get discovered?
I was discovered when I was 11 by Elite in my hometown, St. Louis, Missouri, at a movie theater — I was with my mom seeing Twilight: New Moon. They asked me to come to New York and sign a contract and then I switched to IMG when I was 13.
What did your mom say when it happened?
She was all for it because she knew I was into it and she had heard of Elite before so she knew it was a legit thing. She said, "Fine let's do this. It’s clear that it's your dream. You can go and do it." They've always been so supportive of me following whatever I wanted to do.
At 11 were you following fashion?
I mean, not really, but I thought I was really cool and I was, like, stylin' and everything. But I was just a regular kid.
How did you dress and what did you look like then?
I just remember when I got discovered I was in a red puffer vest from Justice and, like, a brown T-shirt. It was not a good look, but they saw something and I'm glad they did.
What kind of modeling did you do up until now?
Mainly just print stuff. I've been to Japan and London and in and out of New York and Chicago a lot. When I was 13 and switched to IMG I actually got my first-ever job with Steven Meisel in W's September  issue.
When did you find out you got this show?
Well, I got called back a couple of times to do a mini run through for Alex himself. Then my agent called me the morning after he found out that I had booked the job. He called me into the agency and said, "You confirmed it last night. I didn't want to freak you out and I wanted you to be able to sleep. You made it." I started crying, honestly.
So do you know Alex's work?
Oh, yes. I'm a huge fan.
Do you have any of his pieces?
I don't — I’m such a Topshop person, honestly. I'm cheap! It's expensive but it's quality, that's for sure. [Ed. note: I feel you, Peyton, because I really want this sweater and it costs $2,100.]
Let's talk about your hair because I know Guido chopped a bunch off. What did it look like before?
Before it was below my chest and long. Long layers, not anything short or choppy. It was mostly straight and slightly wavy.
Are you happy with it?
I am! It's something different. It sets me apart from other people, which I think is cool.
What does your agent think about it?
He was all for it. He was excited about it because he thinks good things will come from it.
Did Guido give you any tips about how to style it?
Well, my mom's a hairstylist. So she recommended I get a texturizing cream and my agent wanted me to [style] it piece-y and messy.
Have you had bangs before?
Yeah... when I was in third grade!
This interview has been edited and condensed.