I've Always Been Drawn to a Life of Excitement but I Have Never Taken Risks with Money; Victoria Nixon Has Had Success in Four Careers - from Being a Vogue Model to Advertising, Television Production and Now Owning an Exclusive Deli in Fulham. This Is How She Did It SECRET OF MY SUCCESS

The Evening Standard (London, England), May 12, 2005 | Go to article overview

I've Always Been Drawn to a Life of Excitement but I Have Never Taken Risks with Money; Victoria Nixon Has Had Success in Four Careers - from Being a Vogue Model to Advertising, Television Production and Now Owning an Exclusive Deli in Fulham. This Is How She Did It SECRET OF MY SUCCESS


Byline: AMY WILLIAMS

IF ONE thing sums up my triumphs, it's that I'm good at spotting a gap in the market - and that even applies to my modelling. While other girls were being precious, I was happy to muck in on shoots, hang out of trees or carry the equipment. I've always had an intrepid streak that has served me well.

I was a 16-year-old grammar school student from Barnsley when I caught the eye of the front man of a touring rock band. He told me I should move to London and become a model. It was the first time anyone had ever said anything like that to me and London seemed like the centre of the world so I was desperate to go, there and then.

But my mother wasn't having any of it. She didn't want to see me giving up the rest of my education on the back of the advice of a wannabe rock star. As a compromise, I enrolled on a yearlong secretarial course at the formidable-sounding North of England Ladies College in Leeds. Of course I resented it, but now I am grateful; you never forget those shorthand, bookkeeping and typing skills and I still use them.

My mother had a reason to insist I had a backup plan. Our family had been affluent and I had an idyllic childhood until my father's car dealership went bankrupt and he killed himself when I was 12. We were all devastated, particularly my 19-yearold brother, who found his body. Twelve years later he committed suicide, too.

Despite the grief, I grew into a healthily rebellious teenager with the usual wanderlust. I am incredibly drawn to an exciting life, but what keeps me grounded and has always prevented me from getting into drugs is that I have had very little to fall back on. I have never taken big risks with money.

Modelling was a lucky break but it was tough. Shortly after I finished my course in Leeds I moved down to London where my then boyfriend was at university.

Things began to happen for me after photographer Helmut Newton spotted me strolling down Bond Street. He introduced me to the fashion editors at Vogue House who booked me immediately - my first job was for Vogue magazine, so it was a fabulous start. I then signed to model agent Eileen Ford in New York because that was where most of the work was based and so, having never travelled further than the Isle of Man, I was whisked off to the States.

A driver holding up a board with my name on it greeted me from the plane. He dropped me at an amazing apartment overlooking the Hudson River and then drove off. Materially, the agency treated me very well; they rented the flat for me and I earned good money. But I was desperately lonely. Unlike musicians and actresses at the time, we models didn't have an entourage or anyone to hang around with day-today.

Eileen Ford was a traditional agency and they didn't allow you much of a social life. You had to look good so it was frowned upon if you drank or stayed out later than 10pm.

There were, though, these awful parties and events we were taken along to where we were expected to mingle with the best of New York society, but I seem to remember most of the people I met were fat, balding men. I hated it, I wanted to hang out with artists and rock stars.

Though I felt very alone, my efforts to be a likeable model really paid off.

I may have been short on friends but I had made strong professional contacts who were very supportive when, after my brother had killed himself while visiting me in the city, I chose to leave New York. I needed to keep working to stop thinking about everything.

I arranged to move to a modelling agency in Zurich.

Switzerland offered a far-less pressurised work environment and my pace of life changed entirely - not to mention my circumstances-I ended up marrying a philosophy student and we lived together in a mountain hut. I would travel back to Zurich for shoots to support us both. It sounds rather romantic and it was. …

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I've Always Been Drawn to a Life of Excitement but I Have Never Taken Risks with Money; Victoria Nixon Has Had Success in Four Careers - from Being a Vogue Model to Advertising, Television Production and Now Owning an Exclusive Deli in Fulham. This Is How She Did It SECRET OF MY SUCCESS
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