JERUSALEM – Its a classic rags to riches story that’s almost too much of a cliché to be true, but last week an Israeli teenager with no previous modeling experience strode down the catwalk at Paris fashion week -- as the leading model of fashion house Christian Dior.
According to a report by Israel’s Channel 2 on Friday, Sofia Mechetner, 14, described by her Israeli agent as a young Claudia Schiffer, was catapulted from her modest apartment in a depressed high-rise apartment house in the town of Holon, near Tel Aviv, to fashion world stardom by an incredible coincidence.
Used to sleeping on a broken bed, sharing a bedroom with her two younger siblings, sweeping the floor and folding laundry to help out her single, three-job mom, the 5-foot-11 blond-haired, blue-eyed teen thought she might try modeling after being asked one too many times if she’d ever considered it.
She turned to a Tel Aviv modeling agency called Roberto, which saw her potential and sent her images to the exclusive Viva modeling agency in Paris. Initially, Viva expressed interest, but when Mechetner arrived in Paris with her Israeli chaperon last month, the agency decided she was much too young.
With free time on their hands, the two Israelis decided to check out a Dior store in central Paris. Once inside, the Tel Aviv chaperon spotted chief Dior designer Raf Simons near the counter and decided to ask for him a selfie. After posing, she introduced Mechetner to the fashion leader, and the rest, as they say, is history.
In the 20-minute news feature broadcast by the Israeli channel, an unnamed Viva agent described receiving the phone call from a Dior assistant that would change Mechetner’s life:
“'You have a young girl called Sofia, from Israel … she was in a Dior shop, and I don’t know for what reason, but Raf Simons was in the same Dior shop, and he met her and he wants her.' And I said: ‘What? What is that?’ I have never heard a story like this, never. It’s amazing,” said the rep from the Viva agency.
Mechetner, who last week signed a $265,000 contract with Dior, is already featured on the company’s Web site.
In an interview with Channel 2 after the show in Paris, the teenager, who is young even for an industry that is all about youth and beauty, seemed overwhelmed by her newfound fame but said she knew exactly what she would do with the money: “move house and hopefully get a room of my own.”