"I've learned to say no to things that don't align with my values and my personality and being okay to say no"
"Do what makes you feel good"
Photographed by : Donna Mcgowan
Full interview below.
Lili Johnson, a rising star in the modelling world, shares her inspiring experiences the exhilarating highs, and the challenges she faced to reach where she is today.
In the captivating world of fashion, where trends and beauty standards often dominate, a model's journey is not always paved with rose petals. Lili Johnson, a rising star in the industry, shares her unique story and her perspective on what it means to embrace individuality and stay true to oneself.
"I got discovered when I was 17 and I got into contact with Mark Collin at Colours Agency," Lili begins, recounting the early days of her modelling career. "I did a little test shoot and some digitals, and then spoke to Alison and the team for them to kind of get my personality. I feel like at 17, I was brand new at university and was looking for a part-time job, so I was excited to have some form of a job. I didn't really know what would come of modelling."
Modelling life is often a process of trial and error. Lili Johnson emphasise the importance of staying true to one's values and personality, even if it means saying no. "I've learned to say no to things that don't align with my values and my personality and being okay to say no," she reflects. This wisdom came with experience and maturity, as Lili learned that staying authentic to oneself is the key to success in the industry.
Lili's personal style is as unique as her journey. "I feel like I love very long dresses," she reveals. "I think it almost makes me feel empowered in a way, and I feel like in life, I've had to go through a lot of things that have knocked my confidence. When I wear things like that, it represents how I really feel." Fashion has the power to empower and express one's inner self.
In an industry teeming with talent, Lili Johnson takes a moment to appreciate the journey of others. "I think I have to mention a photographer close to home called Tobias La Croix," she says with pride. "I've loved seeing his journey. I don't think he realised how amazing he was, and when I met him, I remember telling him he would do amazing. Now I see his work in London, working with Vogue, GQ, and Grazia, and I'm really proud of him."
One of the most thrilling moments in Lili's career was her experience during London Fashion Week when she was just 17. "I didn't think I was going to book a show, then I did," she reminisces. "It's kind of like an adrenaline rush when you go out there, and you come out, and you just feel so good afterwards. You just want to go out there again." The excitement of the runway is a feeling that never gets old for this dynamic model.
Beyond the runway, what brings joy to Lili's life? "A good bowl of pasta," she chuckles. "You will see me in Sugo every single weekend." Even in the glamorous world of modelling, it's the simple pleasures that often make the biggest difference.
Lili's career has been a journey of self-discovery. "It's been a process of learning about yourself and what makes you happy and what doesn't make you happy," she reflects. "If something doesn't make me comfortable, I won't do it." She emphasises that it's essential to stay true to oneself and not succumb to pressure. "Back when I was 17, I would've just said yes to a lot of things just be yourself."
Lili's modelling journey hasn't been without its challenges. She shares an eye-opening story from her early career. "During London Fashion Week, there was a time I woke up at 6 am in the morning with bed hair, thinking I was going to get my hair done," she recounts. "We had to whip our own little kit to look presentable on stage. It made me realise the lack of inclusion of afro hair in the industry."
Lili's world of fashion reveals a fascinating and unconventional side. While dressing rooms and trailers are often associated with glitz and glamour, Lili's story takes a different, refreshingly authentic turn. She shares, "I don't have an amazing dressing room with a big massive mirror and trailer, unfortunately (she chuckles). I've had to get dressed up in the most bizarre places, like a tent in a park. It's not like you've got this big massive dressing room with a chair that has your name on it."
In an industry where versatility and adaptability are key, Lili's experience serves as a testament to her dedication. Her unconventional settings for dressing up not only showcase her unique journey but also exemplify the spirit of making every moment a runway. From tents in the park to bustling city streets, her story speaks volumes about the determination and passion that fashion can ignite.
Lili's narrative reminds us that fashion is not solely about the glamorous exterior but about the heart and soul that goes into it. It's about making the most of every circumstance, and that's something worth celebrating.
In a world where beauty standards can feel constricting, Lili Johnson stands as an advocate for embracing individuality. "I think just embracing everyone's individuality is really important," she emphasises. "It's important not to just generalise certain beauty standards and say everyone should have this certain beauty standard. It's important to embrace what makes people them."
As our interview draws to a close, I ask Lili what advice she would give her younger self. Her answer is both simple and profound: "Do what you want to do. Don't do things just to make everybody else happy because that's when you become unhappy. Do what makes you feel good."
Lili Johnson's journey through the world of modelling is a testament to staying true to oneself, embracing individuality, and finding joy in the little things.
Her story is a reminder that the path to success is often filled with surprises, challenges, and, most importantly, the courage to be yourself.