Members of the invitation-only TheFashionSpot forums are well-known among other fashion lovers for their enthusiastic reactions to new runway collections and fast sharing of new pictures and scans. Some have already made a name for themselves in the industry and some have all the potential to become part of the fashion elite in the future. In our continuing series, we are spotlighting some of the most outstanding and interesting contributors to the tFS forums and giving a peek inside their offline lives.
18-year-old Elena Drogaytseva, known on the forums as Stereo_Flo, is one of those members that make the tFS Forums a most valuable resource for anyone needing information about any model. Elena not only regularly updates various models’ topics, she also starts threads on new faces, compiles seasonal runway model showlists, helps other members identify models in the ‘Female Model ID thread’ and scans rare editorials from Russian magazines to share them with fellow tFSers.
Elena was born and still lives in Moscow, Russia. She is studying management in the hospitality industry but is interested in turning her six-year fashion obsession from a hobby into a career. She has been a devoted forum member since 2009 and says she joined when models Sigrid Agren, Frida Gustavsson, and Monika "Jac" Jagaciak were rising stars and she had heard that The Fashion Spot was a well-organized and popular forum where their work was being shared and discussed. She chose her username by opening her music playlist and looking at songs that appealed to her. "Thank God, I didn't pick something else… Wait a minute, what was everyone listening to back then?" she asks jokingly. Elena was very surprised when I asked her to do this interview and was very glad to tell us more about her passion for models and about how she keeps herself organized when collecting the work of models.
The Fashion Spot: Elena, how did you become interested in fashion and models? Do you remember a special event or picture or anything that triggered your interest?
Elena Drogaytseva: The first women's magazine I bought was Elle Russia May 2007, with Valentina Zelyaeva on the cover. That was something incredible compared to magazines for teenagers that were on my bookshelves at that time. So I started buying more magazines, and I rarely read them, to be honest, since I was interested in photoshoots and advertising campaigns on the first pages. In fact, that was a true pleasure for me, especially Dolce & Gabbana and D&G ad campaigns (they are still among my faves). Only now I realize that the model casts were absolutely great, but at that time I only wondered for myself who the models were and that I had to find out more about them. Initially, I remembered models' names from credits in the magazines, then I started searching for them on the Internet. At that time, new supermodels (such as Coco Rocha, Jessica Stam, Freja Beha, etc.) were really popular, while I was totally mesmerized by Doutzen Kroes. I even bought the beauty products that she was promoting at that time. I take it that she is one of the best commercial models ever, as she did prompt me to buy stuff.
A big article with Anna Selezneva in Vogue Russia September 2008 was a great boost for me because I realized that modeling was a serious industry. And that's when I started to become active on the Internet. I was studying at school and I had a lot of free time, so I gave up all my previous hobbies in favor of learning more about models, as my priorities had changed. As I dug deeper into the issue, I eventually got into moderating one of the local models-related Internet communities. That was a truly amazing and unique experience, as I felt responsible for getting the work done and for organizing both myself and the community, and I was supposed to voice an unbiased opinion. Even now I don't have any favorite models, because I equally respect the work of each of the girls. So when I was a moderator, I learned a lot about fashion and modeling, and what's more, I also learned about tFS.
tFS: You seem to dedicate a lot of time to finding new pictures, looking up new faces on model agency sites, scanning material, etc. What makes spending time on it worth it?
ED: Out of all kinds of pictures, I love Polaroids and backstage pictures most, because they show models as they are. I do appreciate it because recently I'm really into interviews with models, and in fact it does help to grasp a better picture of the things. Actually, all enthusiasm for a model fades away when I see that a girl is not taking her job seriously and is just having fun and simultaneously doing some random stuff without bothering to put things into perspective. Girls with no ambition don't seem interesting for me. By contrast, I do adore those who set clear goals and go for them. I remember that once Jasmine Tookes mentioned to Modelinia that she wants to work with VS, and eventually she got there! This gives me energy and at these moments I realize that devoting my time to the threads of committed models is worth it.
I do love scanning magazines, but now I don't do it that often, only if the magazine isn't available online. I really appreciate the efforts of all the members who post digital versions of magazines, but my heart belongs to scans and printed magazines.
tFS: How do you do it, how can you keep up with so many models and how do you decide which models you want to create a thread for? And how does a model usually catch your attention when you browse agency sites?
ED: As for the large amount of information, I try to keep everything organized. My room may be a total mess, but in my laptop and notes, everything is in order. The information that I can't memorize needs to be available at hand. I know around two thousand models, so if I can't remember her name, I know exactly where to search for it. I spend a lot of time browsing through sites and blogs of model agencies, the frequency of updates on the sites and blogs is what is important for me. I put down the names of the girls and their agencies, then follow them for a while, and if there's a development, I create a thread on the girl. Honestly, I don't have time to follow girls that are listed only on the mother agencies sites, sometimes I create threads for them, but most typically, they are really outstanding, so they get signed with top agencies pretty fast. Also, opinions of casting agencies matter much for me, I always take them into account as well.
I'm really glad for Ruby-Jean Wilson, her thread was one of the first I created — I spotted her when she was doing Australia Fashion Week — and now she's a muse of Marc Jacobs. That's really big, and I'm happy for her.
At times I can't finish the stuff, but it only means that I switched my attention to something that seemed more important currently. So I try to post a little bit in many threads of models. Unfortunately, a huge amount of photoshoots, tests, etc. is still not covered and not posted at tFS. I stay up late, but that's hardly a way out, I do appreciate contributions of other members, and try to update “dead” threads, so I'm really happy when a girl gets fans to follow her thread — so I switch to other models.
tFS: What are some of your favorite threads on tFS?
ED: I have loads of subscriptions, sometimes I get lost in them, but browse through each of them anyway. My favorite threads are those which are relevant at a time — during Fashion Weeks these are Showlists and Castings, and Supporting Cast and Ad Campaigns the rest of the time. But I rely heavily on live posts, so I can see the updates even from the threads that I see first time.
tFS: The Supporting Cast section on tFS is hugely popular and so many people are here for the models. What do you think makes models so interesting and where does that fascination come from? What do you love most about following models' work?
ED: Indeed, Supporting Cast is really popular. However, new faces don't seem to get that much attention, because everyone loves supermodels, model-celebrities and those that do something alongside modeling. Honestly, that's not what it's about for me. I'm not interested in gossiping and the private life of models at all. Also, I don't really feel entirely commercial projects are that interesting I love high fashion, fashion as art. Apparently, it's a business and it's supposed to yield profits, but I'm more interested in the artistic side.
It's clear that the issue of high fashion vs. the commercial side of fashion can be discussed forever, as well as modeling and other issues. And honestly that's what I constantly do with my elder sister Katerina, a.k.a. MissMelissa on the forums. She's really great and always supports me. Actually, we started our fashion stories together, and we still make a nice team, I believe. Although I post much more than she does!