People love to cluck and murmur about underage models, but Vittoria Ceretti isn’t here for it. The 19-year-old has starred in campaigns for Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, and now for Tiffany & Co’s signature scent, and she began working at age 14.
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“I’m glad I started so young, because it meant I could do it little by little, and my mom was right next to me the entire time,” she says at Tiffany’s Fifth Avenue flagship store. “I learned a lot about modeling, but also a lot about myself,” including when to sleep on planes, what to pack for last-minute trips, and how to be an off-duty therapist.
“I studied psychology in school,” says the Italian native, “and I learned how to understand people’s feelings, how to get along with people and relate to people. I’ve always had it inside—this ability to read people, how to get into someone else’s head and help them with their problems. And I love when people trust me with their feelings and I can get into any kind of dialogue with them about their inner stuff. I think it’s the thing I enjoy most besides modeling.”
That’s not to say it’s always easy. “I do remember, during fashion week in Paris, my friend had a breakdown while we were in lineup,” Ceretti says. “She made it out on the runway, and her makeup was perfect, her walk was perfect. But seconds before, it was a mess. But she got through it, and she got stronger because of it. Feelings come at really unexpected moments to all of us, and they come so fast… especially in Paris. Paris is when everybody is so tired, and so disoriented, so everyone has a breakdown!” (Reader, this includes moi. I once cried so hard at Chanel, I had to scrub my face in the basement of a French palais.) If you’re in a similar situation, Ceretti recommends cotton swabs and a little patience. “I don’t often wear mascara in real life, but on-set or backstage, if I’m crying or even if my eyes get watery, I get a Q-Tip and I wet it with a few drops of water. Then I go lash by lash and clean it up.”
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Now that Ceretti’s the face of a major diamond hub, she gets some heavy metal perks—like the $10k worth of jewelry she wore for the campaign shoot. But leaving it backstage at a fashion show isn’t an option. “You have to take all your own jewelry off before you get on the runway. So I would take off my jewelry, wrap [necklaces] around a hair tie, and then put them into one of my shoes. You have to do everything so fast. I like that, actually—I like it when it’s a little scary backstage, when everyone’s yelling your name and everything’s rushing by. That’s a real fashion week vibe.”
What do models do with their own clothes during a fashion show? “Those go under the rack. You just stuff them down there,” she laughs. “So if you’re wearing like a white silk shirt that needs to get steamed, I mean, forget it!” Which might explain why model street style staples include hoodies, denim jackets, and other crumple-friendly staples.
And finally, we had to ask: with New York Fashion Week bringing gawkers of all levels to the streets, what’s the worst pickup line she’s ever gotten? “Oh, I know that one!” she grins. “I was walking down the street with my friends, here in New York. We passed this group of kids—like 13, 14 years old. These kids thought they were extremely cool. They had their skateboards on them, they were blasting loud music, they were all out. We pass them, and this one little kid—way younger than me, way shorter than me—he looks at me, and he goes, ‘Hey, do you have a name or can I call you mine?’ Did he really just say that?!”
“My friends and I were shocked. We’re all older [teenagers]. We’re all super-tall. And when I was 13 or 14, I would not fuck around with older kids. I would have been intimidated. And these kids were just like, shameless. It’s a good line though, isn’t it?” she grins. “I’m going to have to use it sometime.”