Muse/Part 1: Leah Hibbert
Model scout Leah Hibbert takes great pride in her job. She’s always on the lookout for the next big thing - a new face, an extraordinary look. But rather than searching for young replicas of the latest Vogue cover model, she pushes the boundaries. She likes to remind people that beauty is subjective, and we should always be challenging our own standards. Leah sees an opportunity to encourage the fashion industry to see beauty in the ‘wonderfully strange.’ The ‘oddballs.’ Here, we sat down with her to find out what else she loves about her job (festivals all summer, anyone?) and what she wants in her wardrobe from the latest Preen Line collection.
How's your summer going? I see you've been at Wilderness recently - how was it? Have you been to many other festivals?
Is it summer? Where is the sun??? I've been walking around freezing festivals in the rain and mud up until Wilderness! Finally a sunny festival!
It such an amazing event. A few too many kids called Rufus and Cynthia, but I was there with a great group, and the scouting was brilliant. I find about 50% of my models throughout the summer at festivals and gigs so it's always important to get to as many as possible. Surprisingly it can become tiring!
Tell us a bit about being a model scout - the best/hardest/coolest thing about your job?
Best - I love spending time with my models. I like to watch them grow up and adapt to the industry as adults. Some of my youngest models are the funniest people I know. They have an enthusiasm and energy that I have found myself totally addicted to being around. A youthful naivety I guess which makes me very protective.
Hardest - The uncertainty is hard. You can be in a crowd of 100,000 people and not find a potential model. You can stand in torrential rain in a horrible town or city, and everyone you see could be 5'2". It's just part of the job.
Cool? - I think the power you have as a scout is pretty amazing. Casting directors and agencies put their trust in you. So for the odd balls, the "weirdos", the girls and boys who don't necessarily seem themselves as a "model", I have the platform to give them a chance. Beauty is subjective, and if you can encourage an industry to see beauty in the wonderfully strange then that's only a good thing.
What's your favourite item from the Preen Line shoot, and why?
Sequins, sequins, sequins. I'm like a moth to a flame.
What three words would you use to describe your personal style?
Always bloody changing...
What person has had the greatest influence on your personal style and why?
I guess the only time I let myself be influenced by someone in the public eye was in the 90s when I discovered No Doubt. Gwen Stefani was like a god to me. I rushed down to Camden (before it was full of Pret and Office) and bought myself bleach, crop tops, bindis, and those AWFUL punky belts in what seemed like wholesale quantities. This was topped off with Chinese bumps and over plucked eyebrows. Up until that point, I lived in an England football kit.
If you could swap wardrobes with someone for a day, who would it be and why?
Jane Lane from Daria. I know she's a cartoon, but if I only had one day it would have to be something simple and classic. She was so effortless.
Check out Leah's website @ www.MUTHA.co.uk and you can follow her scouting adventures on instagram: @londonmodelscout
You can follow the lovely Tabi on Twitter & Instagram - @tabijgee
Photography by the amazing Eva K. Salvi - @evaksalvi