Back Story: model Kelsey Markey

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// photo by Adrian Mesko

Though she’s walked runways from New York to Milan, Northeast Florida native Kelsey Markey never dreamed of being a model. Actually, her dream job is decidedly less glamorous. “Ultimately I would like to have my own environmental consulting firm, a place where companies could go to to learn about becoming more green or environmentally friendly,” says Markey, an Environmental Engineering major at Columbia University. The 25-year-old, who graced the pages of Jacksonville Magazine’s Bride in 2010, recently spoke to us about life in high fashion.

How did you wind up in the industry? When I was in high school, my grandmother sent me this ad for a local modeling school she had clipped out of the newspaper. It ended up being a total rip-off but it led me to get a comp card done. Agnes [Lopez, Jacksonville Magazine’s staff photographer] was actually the first person to take professional photos of me. I sent them to agencies in Miami and Orlando and was eventually signed.

Biggest career high: I lived in Paris for three months as the in-house model for Saint Laurent. Hedi Slimane [Saint Laurent’s creative director] designs on models, rather than sketching his designs, so I would go in every day and he would drape fabric on me, and then have the atelier make it and alter things until they were just right. It was really amazing to see a collection come to life like that. I also met my boyfriend there—he was sort of the male version of me.

Pick one: print or runway? Runway is usually more exciting, but it’s piled into a month of Hell, where you work twelve-hour days. Print is more artistic, you can sort of pretend you’re a character. So I think print is my favorite.

Best part of your career: Obviously it affords you a sort of economic freedom that I don’t think I otherwise would have. Going to private school in New York certainly puts that into perspective. The travel is great, too—you get to see so many cultures and it’s affected me profoundly.

Best place you’ve traveled: I’m a big fan of Tokyo and I love all of the small beach towns in Europe. Favorite thing to do in FL: I love going to the springs. When you live in a metropolitan environment, it becomes so clear how much nature you’re missing. So I get really excited about simple things, like seeing stars or walking outside and seeing trees.

How long do you plan on remaining in the industry? I think I have a couple more years in me, maybe do it full-time after I graduate so I can get it out of my system. Basically, I will do it as long as the industry will have me.