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Bellarmine’s Katherine Barr Aspires to be Next Top Model

Updated: Apr 27, 2022

by Dalila Bevab

Soon to join the glamorous ranks of Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell could be Carmel, Indiana, native and sophomore business administration major Katherine Barr.

Katherine said she was told she should model ever since she was a baby. A local boutique asked her to model professionally for the first time when she was a high school freshman.

“I reluctantly said no out of not having confidence with myself,” she said. “Standing in front of a camera and getting my picture taken frightened me.”

Katherine’s younger sister, McKenna Barr, said her sister was always interested in fashion and modeling.

“We would watch models’ ‘Day in My Life’ videos on YouTube all the time and wrote down the recipes they ate,” she said.

McKenna said her sister would always read magazines that talked about fashion, especially Vogue and Teen Vogue.

She said Katherine took her senior photos at Richard’s Studio in Bloomington, Indiana, and said, “That’s when I think it clicked.” McKenna said Katherine was a natural behind the camera, and both the photographers and her mom noticed, too.

But Katherine said she didn’t take modeling seriously until her first year of college when she started to become more confident. She said, “The trick was, I didn’t know where to start.”

Katherine said she began researching Coco Rocha’s Model Camp last summer and thought to herself, ‘Yeah, there’s no way I could get into this camp.’ However, this investigation began her professional modeling journey.

She asked a family friend to take her digitals, raw photos that show agencies and designers the model with no makeup and clean hair.

“During that shoot, I never felt more confident,” Katherine said.

A few days after her photoshoot, she said she received an email from Vogue advertising tickets for the virtual Vogue Forces of Fashion Summit, where she could have the opportunity to listen to her fashion idols speak. Katherine purchased her tickets, and on July 8 and 9, she sat in her basement listening to roundtable discussions about the Met Gala and even had the chance to listen to her favorite designer, Vera Wang, speak.

“One thing that she (Wang) said that I took to heart was, ‘the best leaders are not popular right now – they are working in silence,’” Katherine said. She said Wang’s quote meant so much to her because she took her advice and started to build her career without really telling anyone.

On the second day of the summit, Katherine said she began networking with the visual and creative director of Vogue, who said she looked like Anne Hathaway in “The Devil Wears Prada.”

“I asked a lot of questions about the modeling industry. From there, I made connections with other models,” Katherine said.

She said one of the models she met, Therés Amee, told her about Coco Rocha’s Model Camp, and Katherine said it was her goal to attend one day. Amee told her to go apply on the website and she would contact Coco herself.

Within 10 minutes of applying, Katherine said she received an Instagram direct message from Coco with an invitation to attend the camp. Coco said she was impressed with Katherine’s digitals and saved a spot for her at the New York camp. The competitive program accepts only 5% of applicants.

“The Coco Rocha Model Camp was an unbelievable experience,” Katherine said.

On the second day of the camp, she said she learned how to pose and walk the runway from the ‘Queen of Poses’ herself.

“I loved these classes because the girls and guys I attended the camp with cheered me on as I stood in front of the class and posed next to Coco,” Katherine said. “It felt like a workout class.”

Katherine said on the third day of the camp, she worked with two photographers who shot images for Vogue. She said Coco cheered her on and told her she was “killing it” for a newbie.

Katherine said she’s always looked up to Coco Rocha because of her work and how she’s always been outspoken about some of the darker things that happen within the modeling industry. She said she never thought she’d have the opportunity to have her idol as her mentor.

Outside of Coco, Katherine said she also looks up to Gigi Hadid. “I love how genuine she is and how well she works with others,” she said.

She said she once heard Hadid say, “You can be the prettiest girl in the room, but if you aren’t the nicest or the most hardworking, that won’t matter.” Katherine said she was inspired to write ‘thank you’ cards to her hair and makeup team at the camp, as well as the photographers, for making the photoshoot come to life.

“They genuinely appreciated my kindness and expressed that they wanted to work with me again one day,” she said.

Katherine said she had people say her goal is “too ambitious” and she wouldn’t be “one of those dumb models” because she was in school.

“Instead, I twist these sayings into a positive. My ambitious goals got me to do amazing things, all models are smart particularly in business because at the end of the day, models are self-employers. We run our own brand,” she said.

Body image is something Katherine said she has struggled with in the past as a dancer. She said when she hears people tell her she’s too thin and slender, she tends to not let those comments bother her.

Braeden Helby met Katherine when she first got into contact with Vogue, and they’ve been close friends since.

Helby said, “Watching her strive to be a successful model within a very competitive industry is very awe-inspiring.”

He said it’s “crazy” watching someone’s dream become reality, and he can’t wait to be in the audience watching Katherine walk in New York’s Fashion Week.

“Don’t be mistaken, these things don’t just fall in her lap,” he said. “Katherine networks and pushes herself to her limits so that she can get these opportunities,” he said, whether it be a photoshoot, an interview or being featured in a music video.

Katherine recently appeared in a music video for local rap group, The Homies. She also accepted an ambassadorship with nutritional supplement company, Alani Nu.

Katherine said she intends to use her business administration major to help her career goals within the modeling industry. She said she has entrepreneurial ambitions and is working on two businesses while also educating herself on investing, real estate and modeling.

When she’s not networking with industry professionals and perfecting her poses, Katherine is involved on campus where she holds several leadership positions.

She is a sophomore representative and food service committee head in the Student Government Association, the senior vice president for Delta Sigma Pi, a member of the morale committee for Bellarmine University Dance Marathon, and a participant in the Bellarmine Dance Company and Bellarmine Christian Fellowship.

Katherine said these positions allowed her to grow in her confidence and taught her how to present herself in a professional manner, which are important skills to have in both the business and modeling worlds.

“I have received a lot of support from my professors and other mentors and advisers of mine at Bellarmine,” Katherine said. “They are all excited for my career and constantly ask for my autograph just in case I become famous.”

Helby said when he looks at Katherine, he doesn’t just see her as a model or businesswoman.

He said: “I see her heart, and I can without a doubt say she has had a profound impact on my life.

“Katherine is the first to say you can do it when you doubt yourself, the first to notice when you truly aren’t yourself and the first to offer help whenever you most need it.”

Katherine said her next steps focus on building her modeling portfolio so she can eventually be signed by an agency with a manager who can represent her internationally.

“I am so proud of her and I know she is going to get better and be a bigger influence as she continues to grow,” McKenna said. “Soon, it will be me watching her ‘Day in The Life as a Model’ videos.”


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