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London based model, actress, filmmaker and Mental Health Foundation ambassador, Florence Kosky

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Charlie Newman

LUX’s model of the month series is back with new contributing editor Charlie Newman. Charlie is a model with Models 1 and has starred in numerous international fashion campaigns. She also works as a journalist and in the relaunch of this exclusive online series, she interviews her peers about their creative pursuits and passions

THIS MONTH: British model Florence Kosky is no ordinary 22 year-old. Since being scouted by Models 1 at the tender age of 16, Florence (known as Flo by her friends) has walked the catwalk for the likes of Dior and Dolce & Gabbana, starred in the Burberry AW 2015 campaign shot by Mario Testino, and studied at The New York Film Academy and the Met Film School. She is also an ambassador for the Mental Health Foundation, and earlier this year she released All the World’s a Stage, a film dealing with youth depression.

Charlie Newman: How easy was the transition from model to director/filmmaker? Did you feel as though you had to prove yourself that bit more or were you welcomed into the film industry with open arms?
Florence Kosky: Generally I think people have been very welcoming – I’m luckily working in a time where there is not only a momentous shift in the film industry for female voices to be heard, but also whilst there is a movement happening within fashion for models to be more than just a face for a brand. You know, people like Adwoa Aboah and Teddy Quinlivan are using their platforms to speak loudly about stuff that’s important to them, and people are listening! So it’s kind of great for people like me because it’s already tried and tested that we are more than just pretty faces.

Obviously though, there’s been a bit of pushback – I have actually been on my own sets and people have come up to me and been like ‘oh yeah so you must be art department’ or ‘oh so you’re one of the actresses’ when I’m directing and it’s a bit frustrating to have those snap judgements made because of my age and gender and what I look like, but I think the best thing to do to fight those assumptions is just be as polite and professional as possible, whilst making really great art.

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Charlie Newman: If you could cast anyone who and why?
Florence Kosky: That’s such a hard question! There’s so many incredible actors I would love to work with. I think predominantly for me it’s people like Jessica Lange and Mark Rylance, the older generation of ferocious actors who are just captivating to watch and so fully embody their characters that you forget you are watching them. Although, there’s a young British actress called Florence Pugh who I think is incredible – I saw Lady Macbeth with her in and she just has this strength and stillness that I think is really wonderful. I’d love to work with her.

Watch Florence Kosky’s short film All the World’s a Stage below:

 

Charlie Newman: If you could pick anyone to design your costumes who and why?
Florence Kosky: So actually one of my oldest friends from Dorset, Pandora Ellis, has also recently started in the film industry as a costume designer! And she’s fucking brilliant! She did all the costumes for All The World’s A Stage and The Otherworld and just smashed it. I couldn’t really think of ever using anyone else – we’re both massive fantasy and sci-fi nerds and it’s so lovely to work with someone who just understands how your brain works. The only way I could see myself deviating from this is if there was a specific character who only dressed in a certain designer or something – kind of like Tilda Swinton‘s character wearing only Dior by Raf Simons for A Bigger Splash.

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Charlie Newman: How would you describe the aesthetic of your films? Do you have any particular inspirations within the industry?
Florence Kosky: I would say my aesthetic is very stylised. I like things to be hyper-real and full of colour. I use a lot of dancing and silhouetted figures and I like to have natural elements in my work, like the stars or water or flowers (or sometimes a combination). I guess you could say it’s quite girly, I grew up on fairytales and then got lost in Tumblr and Pinterest as a teenager and then have worked in fashion for nearly five years so there’s definitely a soft prettiness that I’m drawn to and have always been… it’s hard to sum up really but I guess if I had to I would say it’s dreamlike. From the film industry, I’d say visually I draw the most from Wes Anderson, Guillermo Del Toro, Nicolas Winding Refn and David Lynch and then from fashion I’ve always loved Tim Walker‘s aesthetic and more recently Petra Collins and Charlotte Wales.

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Florence Kosky for All Saints. Instagram: @floskyyx

Charlie Newman: In light of the #MeToo movement, you work in the midst of two industries that are being lambasted in the media. Is there anything you would personally like to see change in the film and fashion industry?
Florence Kosky: I’d like more protection for models. The girls who are working a lot of the time are still practically children and I think it’s dark that more often than not they don’t even have somewhere private to get changed and if they complain they’re branded as ‘difficult’. I’d like agencies to stop sending girls out on go-sees to photographers who they KNOW have reputations for being creepy or persistent just because they take nice photographs. There’s a lot of people out there who take nice photographs and to be honest, I don’t think having a pretty picture in your book is worth being harassed via instagram DM by a photographer or stylist or whatever for months or years to come!

With regards to the film industry, it would be great if twenty-something-year-old dudes writing their first script could avoid chucking in sex or shower scenes just because they want to make it racy. It’s gratuitous and boring to watch. If it serves the narrative then, fine absolutely, I get it, but otherwise it just pisses me off because there’s no point and it just adds to the objectification of women, and for a lot of young actresses that is their first experience of a set and it’s just shitty, especially if the director isn’t experienced, it’s putting people in a vulnerable situation without the correct tools to make sure they’re okay just to give a ‘gritty’ feel to your film.

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Charlie Newman: Huge congratulations on your film All the Worlds a Stage that shone a light on the perils and understanding of depression. As an Ambassador of the Mental Health Foundation, how do you think we can implement awareness and help day to day, especially in schools?
Florence Kosky: Thank you! I think there’s a responsibility that parents and schools have to educate their children about mental health and suicide. PSHE lessons provide a really good platform to educate young people about mental health and suicide and I do think that there is actually traction there – the government announced a Green Paper on mental health last year so hopefully we’re going to see a bigger push in education about these issues.

I think it’s crucial that conversations are opened up at a young age as school aged children are at risk – 200 kids a year die by suicide in the UK and so we really have to do something about it to save those young lives. The first step to prevention is awareness and the creation of safe spaces where these children know that it’s okay to speak about mental health and feel comfortable asking for help when they need it. Aside from education though, I think on a personal level it’s important that we remember to just be kind to one another. If you think your friend is struggling, text them and tell them you love them! Go round their house and watch a movie and bring them snacks! Send someone a song that reminded you of them! The littlest things can mean the most to someone whose feeling alone.

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Florence Kosky for Harvey Nichols. Instagram: @floskyyx

Charlie Newman: What’s next for you?
Florence Kosky: I’m actually working on my first feature which is terrifying but very, very exciting. I’m still working on the script at the minute with another writer, the wonderful Josh Willdigg. It’s a fantasy film that deals with mental health, sexuality, feminism and summoning demons! It’s quite a bit darker than my previous work but I’m very excited to get into development.

Charlie Newman: Lastly, who’s your role model of the month?
Florence Kosky: My role model of the month is my good friend Amber Anderson. She’s a beautiful model, a talented actress and one of many women who accused Harvey Weinstein. She has been a bit of a SHERO for me the past 6 months by giving up her time and working on All The World’s A Stage and helping me share its message when it was released. She’s also helped me personally by giving me someone to speak to about my own experiences with sexual assault, whilst maintaining a good sense of humour and a talent for cooking vegan shepherd’s pie. Soppy, but I am grateful to have her in both my professional and personal life!

Find Florence Kosky on Instagram: @floskyyx