Sofia Mechetner walking in Dior’s Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2016 fashion show in Paris, France. Getty Images
We all fantasize about running into our role model, fan-girling (or boying?) out, snapping a selfie, and then getting offered our dream job. This dream became a reality for 14-year-old Sofia Mechetner. After spotting Raf Simons at a Dior boutique in Paris, posing for a picture, and sharing her story, the young Israel native is now Dior’s lead model and walked (and closed!) its Fall/Winter 2016 Haute Couture show in Paris. And it was her first foray into fashion—ever.
“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,” a representative from the model’s Parisian agency said of the call she remembers receiving from an assistant at Dior. “And I said, ‘What? What is that?’ I have never heard a story like this, never. It’s amazing.”
But there’s more to Mechetner’s narrative than that. It’s like the style world’s rendition of a Cinderella story—but instead of fitting into the glass slipper, she’s made her way into some of fashion’s most coveted garments. According to Israel’s Channel 2, Mechetner hails from Holon (a small town outside of Tel Aviv), lives with her two younger siblings and a single mother, cooks and cleans when not in school, and at night, retires on a mattress…on the floor. (“The legs to my bed broke,” she laughed. “We don’t have enough money to buy a bed. It’s enough for me.”) Prior to Mechetner’s Dior days (she signed a $265,000 contract with the fashion house, according to the Washington Post) she and her siblings lived off of nearly $1,000 a month that her mother made working three jobs. But times are changing.
Mechetner said that after being asked several times whether or not she modeled or played basketball—perhaps due to her height (she’s 5-foot-11 and has porcelain skin, bright blue eyes and a slender frame)—she decided to try out the former, having no experience playing the latter. She tasked Roberto, an agency in Tel Aviv, to send her portfolio to Viva, a modeling agency in Paris. Viva showed interest, she visited them in-person with an Israeli chaperone, but was turned down upon arrival because of her young age. To combat such rejection—like any aspiring fashion girl would—Mechetner popped into Dior to soothe her sorrows. And the rest is history.
Sofia Mechetner closing the Dior’s Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2016 fashion show in Paris, France. Getty Images
While this one-of-a-kind rags to riches story is inspiring to say the least, (Sophie didn’t even know who Raf Simons was at first!), it’s impossible to ignore the fact that Mechetner is only 14-years-old. This begs the question: How young is too young? The Council of Fashion Designers of America has rules for fashion brands employing underage models and issued a ban in 2011 to keep models under 16 from the runways. London has similar age restrictions, but no such regulations exist for models in Italy. And while France recently passed legislation in regards to weight, age has yet to become a hot-button topic. Now, Mechetner’s joining a host of other mega-models who were discovered—most by Miuccia Prada—as tweens, such as Roos Abels, Lindsey Wixson, Kelly Mittendorf, Antonia Wesseloh, and Ondria Hardin.
Also worth nothing is that Simons isn’t just courting controversy by hand-picking a 14-year-old to represent his designs. Interestingly, Mechetner’s from Israel, a Jewish state, and with Simons having succeeded John Galliano—who was fired from the French fashion house in March 2011 after an anti-Semitic outburst—it could be safe to assume say that the Belgian designer is also doing something the brand may not have previously welcomed. And his ability to heed a model regardless of her race, ethnicity or religion should be applauded.
Mechetner, who’s been dubbed “a young Claudia Schiffer” by her Israeli agent, is definitely one to watch. Look out Kendall and Gigi—there’s a new kid on the block!
More from Yahoo Style:
14-Year-Old Model at Milan Fashion Week Raises Questions
The Fashion World Reacts to John Galliano’s Maison Martin Margiela Couture Show
It’s Official: Superskinny Models Are Banned in France