Alana Zimmer on her Forever 21 Campaign, School and Caesars

The Kitchener, Ont.-born model is one of the stars of Forever 21's slick new fall campaign. Here, Zimmer chats about going back to school, her lifelong dedication to charity work and what she misses about Canada the most

Alana Zimmer for Forever 21 (Photo: Forever 21)

Alana Zimmer for Forever 21 (Photo: Dan Jackson)

Congratulations on the Forever 21 campaign! What does the tagline “It’s All About You, Forever You”  mean to you?
It’s a statement that I totally believe in. Everyone should have their own individual style. I feel that I’ve always kind of dressed the way I wanted to, and I love when I see other people that do the same. Style is a way to express yourself like no other, so you should own it!

What items from the fall collection would we find in your closet?
I thought that the stylist George Cortina made our Forever 21 shoot look really cool. He made it look grungy and sort of ’90s, which is definitely a trend right now. I loved this long olive wool coat that I wore, and also some of the red plaid pieces. I grew up in the ’90s, so I guess I’ll always be a little nostalgic towards that style period.

How would you describe your off duty model style? What do you like to wear?
I usually wear a lot of denim. It’s just an easy option and goes with everything. I dress quite boyish as well, even when I wear a dress I usually wear sneakers, brogues or something similar.

Alana Zimmer and Nick Rea for Forever 21 (Photo: Forever 21)

Alana Zimmer and Nick Rea for Forever 21 (Photo: Dan Jackson)

What’s it like working with your boyfriend, Nick Rea?
It was quite hilarious. We had never worked together before so it was definitely a little awkward at first. On film, they had Nick doing magic tricks with playing cards and fire, while I was standing there answering questions about our dogs and my university degree. Definitely not as entertaining! But it was kind of funny for people on set to get a glimpse of what my home life is like.

You’re celebrating 10 years in the modelling industry. Could you share two of your favourite memories, shoots or shows?
Too many to name! One that stands out would be my trip to Kenya two years ago for a shoot for Harper’s Bazaar UK. I was shooting with giraffes and letting them lick my face, they’re kind of just like giant dogs! We went on a safari and had the most incredible trip, I couldn’t believe I was working. Another would probably be Alexander McQueen’s last runway show. We wore those fantastic armadillo shoes, and he distinctly told us that if one of us fell, we should pick each other up, that we were all in it together. He knew it would be tough, but believed in us. I always loved walking in his shows.

Alana Zimmer for Forever 21 (Photo: Dan Jackson)

You posed for FLARE in September 2013 for a Dick Page beauty editorial, what do you remember about that shoot?
The shoot was great, we shot in Dick Page’s historical cottage on Long Island. It was so cozy and felt like we were just hanging out in Dick’s home rather than working. His dog Raggio was there along with his boyfriend, James, so a whole family affair.

What made you decide to go back to school? And why are you studying psychology?
I had always intended to go back to school, and was waiting for the right time to do it. For the last 10 years I had literally been traveling every week, so wouldn’t have had much time to study. I loved those years, but I came to a point that I wanted to have more of a home base, and a slightly more stable life. I chose psychology because I wanted to study something I was interested in. When I was younger, I always thought I’d be studying science or math, but I think modeling has procured my interest in society and people. I have met so many people from different cultures and with different backgrounds, that society now kind of fascinates me. I’m not entirely sure what I’ll do with the degree yet, but for now I’m just going to enjoy getting it.

Alana Zimmer for Forever 21 (Photo: Forever 21)

Alana Zimmer for Forever 21 (Photo: Dan Jackson)

What charitable organizations do you work with and why?
I’ve been involved in charity work since I was a kid. My brother is mentally challenged, so I grew up volunteering at his therapeutic riding groups, bowling, baseball, you name it. Whenever I go home to Kitchener [Ont.] I still take him to all of his activities. In New York I have done things through New York Cares, The Food Bank and a new organization which I love called “Rescuing Leftover Cuisine” which transports unused food from small restaurants or big chains to homeless shelters. Nick and I also went to Belize last Christmas and worked in a children’s home, it was such a great experience to have at Christmas. To not receive any gifts, and instead give your time and love to those that need it. I feel quite lucky to have the life I do, so try to do whatever I can for those in need when I can.

What’s it like being an undercover Canadian living in New York? Is there anything you miss from home?
Being an undercover Canadian is a powerful tool. Everyone loves a Canadian, and not just in New York, but internationally. One thing that I miss from Canada the most is a good Caesar! Canadians make them the best.

The Forever 21 fall collection will be available in stores and online September 11.

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