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From Red Deer to international acclaim for model Danielle Knudson

Danielle Knudson is following in the footsteps of supermodels Claudia Schiffer and Kate Upton by becoming a new face of GUESS.

The Red Deer native was hand-picked by GUESS co-founder and creative director Paul Marciano for the upscale clothing brand’s 2014 spring campaign.

Leaf through any of this month’s major fashion magazines, including Teen Vogue, and you’ll see Knudson modelling filmy spring fashions.

“This is definitely the biggest job I’ve ever gotten — and it’s my dream job,” said Knudson, who feels GUESS images “are so timeless and so amazing!”

The statuesque blond was on another modelling assignment when her agency asked her to put on a pair of jeans and get her photograph taken. It was put into a lookbook of various models and caught Marciano’s eye.

“He told me he liked my energy and liked who I was. He told me just to be myself,” recalled Knudson, who shot the spring campaign over three days on California’s Laguna Beach with a couple of other male and female models.

Although “we shot from when the sun rose to when the sun set ... I was so excited and so honoured to be there, I loved everything about it,” she recalled.

The whole experience still doesn’t seem quite real to the 24-year-old, who grew up admiring photos of past GUESS models, Schiffer and Upton, in Red Deer’s malls. “It’s a big thing, since a lot of the girls that I idolize have shot GUESS. ...”

The Notre Dame High School graduate, who just finished a meet-and-greet event for fans in a Toronto shopping centre, has been modelling internationally since age 15, when she first boarded a plane to Japan with her mother.

But Knudson was only eight years old when she was discovered at a silent auction in Red Deer. Local modelling scout Kelly Streit spotted her and “asked me where my mom was, and then asked her to think about me modelling.”

In the ensuing years, Knudson practised figure skating and freestyle skiing in Red Deer.

She believes both activities helped build her confidence — as did two formative teachers from St. Thomas Aquinas Middle School, Mrs. Fereko and Mrs. McCann.

“They totally believed in me and were super supportive.”

Since she left Red Deer six years ago to start modelling full-time, Knudson’s family moved to Cochrane and she has been all over the globe.

Her pictures have appeared in fashion spreads in various Asian magazines, as well as in Elle Canada and Dressed to Kill magazine across North America.

Knudson now lives in New York City, which was initially “a big adjustment” for someone from Central Alberta’s wide open spaces. “It was so big and so fast-paced ... but I love it now. There’s always something going on.”

She’s represented in the U.S. by Wilhelmina Models, one of the world’s most prominent agencies.

“Keeping in shape and keeping healthy, with all the travelling we do” are some of her biggest challenges. But Knudson also counts travelling as a bonus — as well as meeting many fascinating people.

She’s hoping the GUESS campaign will lead to future opportunities. “I’m keeping my fingers crossed.”

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