| Felicity Gilbert
London, Jan. 21: The British snowboard enthusiast being hailed as “the new Kate Moss” is confident that she will be able to sidestep the pressures of fame and the scandal that have bedevilled the older model.
“I’m strong-minded. I haven’t had any experience (of drugs) yet, and hopefully I won’t,” Felicity Gilbert, 20, said.
She was speaking during her lunch break on one of the dozens of photographic shoots that have been lined up since she walked through the doors of Storm Model Management ' the agency that discovered Moss ' just two-and-a-half months ago.
“As soon as I saw Felicity, I felt the same adrenaline buzz of excitement I got when I first saw Kate,” said Sarah Doukas, Storm’s founder. “She’s got the X-factor. She’s exquisite, with the most fantastic face, razor-sharp cheekbones and beautiful eyes. She’s not tall; just 5 feet 7 inches, a bit like Kate. I said straight away to her: ‘You’re going to have to walk tall’.”
Gilbert ' who had always thought she was too short to fulfil her ambition of becoming a model ' trained for a certificate as a snowboarding instructor. She took up the sport on a family skiing holiday when she was 14.
“I still snowboard. I even went snowboarding over Christmas,” she said. “I love it and I don’t think it’s dangerous. You have to be really unlucky to have an accident. My boyfriend does freestyle and all the jumps ' I just ride the hard pistes.”
Storm has not taken out any extra insurance on its new discovery. “But perhaps we should be thinking about it,” said Miss Doukas. “God forbid she should break a leg ' it would be catastrophic for her career. But we can’t ask her to give up snowboarding.”
Gilbert was on a two-week work placement at the offices of the London fashion PR Beverley Cable, packing up clothes in carrier bags for magazine photo-shoots and hanging up samples on the rails, when she was persuaded to try her luck at Storm.
Fuelled by Doukas’s excitement and a couple of Polaroid shots, her career has since gone into overdrive. She has already been chosen as one of the stars of the forthcoming campaign for the French fashion label Chlo', photographed by the duo of Ineez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin.
She features in the Fashion Gallery of Faces of 2006 in the February issue of British Vogue and has been photographed for Italian, French and Japanese Vogue.
Her debut photo-shoot was a saucy new campaign for Pussy Glamore, the luxury lingerie range designed by the teenage student entrepreneur Marissa Montgomery.
“It’s all quite overwhelming at the moment, mainly because I wasn’t expecting it,” said Gilbert. “But at the same time, it’s amazing and exciting. It’s strange when people talk about my face, because for me it’s just the one I’ve always seen when I look in the mirror.”
She says she never considered snowboarding as a career. “I always wanted to work in fashion. Kate Moss is my favourite model, but I also love Jean Shrimpton.”
Gilbert, who was educated at St Mary’s, Cambridge ' a private, Catholic, independent school ' is the only daughter of Mark Gilbert, a London property solicitor, and Catherine Gilbert, a linguist.
“My parents are divorced, so I divide my time between dad’s place in Maida Vale (London) and mum’s in Bishop’s Stortford. We’re very close as a family. My parents are very excited about everything that’s happening and my three brothers are loving it because they think I’ll be able to introduce them to models.”
She has no worries that her career will jeopardise her relationship with her boyfriend, Oliver Smith, 21. “He loves hearing about all my travels and the people I meet. Talking about them makes everything seem more real ' because at the moment it’s all a bit like a wonderful dream.”