Welcome to Crucial Questions, a series in which Times columnist Stephanie Hayes asks people questions she dies for. Do you have a suggestion for a topic? Lower the line to [email protected].
Models in homogeneous black bodysuits walked the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Sunday. It was the first American fashion show of Balenciaga’s creative director, Demna Gvasalija, to oppose idolatry to finances with a certain emptiness. The the footage went viral.
Everyone could be forgiven for missing her, given the wardrobe that obscures her face. But if you know the artistic royal members of St. Petersburg, you know that Eugenie Bondurant was there.
Bondurant, 61, is known for her striking appearance and 6-foot build. She worked as a model a few decades ago, but assumed she was getting old and started acting. She played the Tigris Hunger Games: Jay mockery – part 2 and a key (and intimidating!) role in The Conjuring: The devil made me do it. The constant flow of work kept her from jumping between the big cities and St. Pete, where he teaches acting and lives with his wife, writer Paul Wilborn.
Then! With a surprising turn, Bondurant returned to high fashion with a boomerang. Hand-picked at the historic house, she spent the fall and spring walking the Balenciaga runways from Paris to New York. Our chat is arranged for length and clarity.
How did you connect with Balenciaga?
Demna took me inside The Conjuring: The devil made me do it. He said, “You scared me for three days and I had to have you on my show.” Then the scout reached out. I mean, this is a scam, as we would all think, right? As for age, I thought, I don’t care.
So I googled Balenciaga models and found out for sure that Demna chooses a wide selection of types. And really, there were models in my category, and it was fascinating to see. This is my fourth show with them, and they also picked me up for a print campaign.
Did you sign a contract with Next Management then?
I had my wonderful theater agent at Brevard here in Florida. She and I are friends and she is very honest with me. She said, “You need a modeling agent.” Well, man, I’m sweating. How do I find and do this? It’s such a difficult thing. They are looking for people who are much smarter than me.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. I picked up the phone and called coldly (Next). I was so nervous. I had four names and three didn’t pick up the phone.
Do you remember what you said?
Are you planning your weekend?
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“I’m Eugenie Bondurant” – in this very high tone that I shouldn’t have used – “and you don’t know me, but I’m one of the models for Balenciaga” – I immediately put Balenciaga – “and I’m an actor and I was just asked to do this print campaign for them, and I need help. Can you help me? “He says,” Wait, wait, wait. What was your name again? “
Have you ever imagined being on the runways in Paris and New York at this point in your life?
no. (Hysterical laughter.) I send pictures to my nieces and nephews, who say, “What did you just do?” Another weird thing is that I’m the guideline for corporate finance. The only reason I graduated in finance is because there are guys there, and the guys are handsome. But, oh, god peas! If I could tell my younger self, “You’re going to be on the New York Stock Exchange, but not the way you think.”
A few years after graduating from college, I became very ill with cancer. The things I thought were important were no longer that important, and really living life and finding joy and finding a dream became more of a goal. Not that things were frivolous or anything like that. I am very careful and I am really trying to think about my choices. But I moved to New York and was admitted without chemotherapy. I ended up working there. I never became Naomi Campbell, but I did pay my bills.
When did you know you were going to wear a bodysuit?
I went for a checkup around April 13th. I was in Paris and they told me: “Do you agree with latex?” And I think, yes, because I’m an actor and I wear all sorts of nonsense. We would try different body suits to see which ones suit us. They measured from the top of the head to the shoulders, the top of the head to the base of the throat where it joins the collarbone, how long your neck is.
In fact, the closer they got, the better they felt, weird. They put all our hair in our skulls. When you put it on and when they buttoned it up, believe it or not, it was more comfortable.
Does the designer give you a story or just physical instructions?
We only get physical instructions. For example, the last show I was on was this one an amazing, touching show in the snow. It was absolutely stunning and beautiful and very difficult for the models. We did a rehearsal in the snow, but we didn’t know that on that day (Demna) would make this beautiful monologue in their native language and give everyone these blue-and-yellow giant T-shirts in the color of the Ukrainian flag. They increased the wind speed and the music was very loud and intense. The fake snow entered our eyes, ears and mouths, and we all struggled to get through it. Strobing represented bombs and thunder. Shell shock. That’s what he was trying to convey.
I am so happy. I am so happy to have someone like that and I have that challenge.
It’s great that you live in St. Petersburg, but you have a rich modeling and acting life.
When people ask me where I live, I tell them I live in a city of artists who create growth and nurture it. That’s what I do with my classes here. I support my artists and they support others around me. If I’m in Paris or New York, I wave that St. flag high. People say, “I wouldn’t expect that.” And I say, “My mango is going to fall soon, my avocado is going to fall soon.” And I say I live in an amazing place.
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