Lake Zurich model struts it to New York
Stephanie “Stevie” Finedore, a Lake Zurich High School senior, is moving to New York after graduation to begin modeling full time. | Photo courtesy of Stevie Finedore
Updated: December 18, 2012 3:00PM
LAKE ZURICH — Stephanie “Stevie” Finedore will already be in the midst of a successful career by the time most of her high school peers begin college.
So far, the Lake Zurich High School senior has modeled in 21 shows at two New York Fashion Weeks. Finedore also has been featured in magazines like Marie Claire and Vogue Italia, and appeared in an episode of the popular TV show “Gossip Girl.”
Her transition into the world of high fashion hasn’t been the slow, proverbial duck-to-swan transformation, either.
In less than two years’ time, the 18-year-old has gone from braving various compliment-criticisms from modeling agencies like Ford and Factor Women, to strutting across the catwalk as a BMG model for Tory Burch’s Runway Show at the Chicago Field Museum.
The part-time student currently spends half her time studying and the other half racking up frequent-flyer miles to and from modeling gigs in New York; but even with a packed schedule and full plate of responsibilities as a young adult, she’s still managed to make the grade in both disciplines of her life.
Despite the constant pressure, Finedore is set to graduate Jan. 17 and will be moving to New York’s Washington Heights to pursue modeling full time.
“We are very, very proud of Stevie; she puts her heart and soul into everything she does, and she’s managed to remain humble through it all,” Kim Finedore said of her daughter, adding that she’s been working harder than ever in school to graduate early.
Today, Finedore’s modeling career has escalated to the point where it’s hard for her to imagine that 15 years of her life were spent dancing.
“I stopped dancing about a year ago ... I was sad about it at first, but once modeling took over my life, I didn’t realize that I stopped,” said Finedore, adding that her life as a dancer came to a halt when she had to choose between her two companies. She had practiced and performed with Bataille Academie of the Danse and Midwest Dance Collective, both out of Barrington, but couldn’t pick one over the other.
Instead, she decided it proved a good time to act upon a suggestion she had heard for years from friends, family members and friends of family members: Finedore began searching for a modeling agency to help her begin the journey.
Though Ford and Factor were looking for a different type of look from their models, BMG welcomed the then 16-year-old, 5-foot-10 Finedore with open arms and was quick to find clients that were eager to have her wear their clothing.
Those casting for the Sears/Kmart Fashion Show were among the first clients to notice that Finedore had what it takes.
When her first portfolio-building photo shoot with BMG revealed that she was more “editorial” and high fashion than Chicago’s “commercial” market attracts, the agency offered Finedore an international contract that would have her visiting the New York area on a regular basis.
“I was winging it at the shoot, but I think they were surprised with me,” Finedore said.
The lasting impression she left on BMG’s decision-makers served her well too, because it earned her a trip to the coveted New York Fashion Week in February.
Finedore and countless other new and veteran models spent their first two weeks running around Bryant Park to as many castings as possible, hoping to book at least one show for their third week in town.
The third week of New York Fashion week is the time in which top designers reveal their newest collections on the models that wear them best; and in that extremely competitive market, Finedore managed to land an impressive seven bookings. She booked 14 for the following Fashion Week that was in September.
“You’re just running from cab to subway to all these castings, showing them your walk, your comp card, portfolio ... and then you walk out and hope you got it,” Finedore said. “You do that for two weeks straight.”
One of the more conceptual shoots Finedore landed was for a student, whose pieces were inspired by furniture and home design.
“Everything was made out of home décor fabric and pieces of furniture, so I literally wore a dress with a seat cushion on the back of it,” she laughed. “It was definitely outrageous, but the clothes were so pretty at the same time.”
Finedore’s portfolio has since been developed to appeal solely to the New York market, as she readies herself to move to the city’s Washington Heights area after graduation.