Next Top Model
I can spot her easily from a mile away – walking the streets of Manuka in aviators and ripped boyfriend jeans. The former Australia’s Next Top Model contestant is slim and statuesque; with her messy hair tucked behind her ears and a big grin on her face. Dajana Bogojevic’s image has been plastered across magazines and television screens around the country; smouldering, pretty and perfect, it’s hard to imagine models as real people. It comes as somewhat of a surprise to find this beautiful model is unusually loud, outgoing, and a normal Canberra teenager. So how do you go from being a local schoolgirl to a model on the national fashion radar?
As it turns out, Dajana would rather talk about what she’s going to order for breakfast than her talents as a model. Dajana’s face lights up as she professes her love of bacon and eggs, ‘I know I should order granola but I can’t go past eggs in the morning.’ Her enthusiasm for the coffee made with almond milk is contagious, ‘It will change your life – seriously.’ I promptly order a life changing coffee ‘with almond milk please.’ It doesn’t take much encouragement to get Dajana to talk about her experience on Australias Next Top Model; One of the first things she blurts out is the way she was portrayed as the class clown a loud and proud wog on the hit show – which is pretty much exactly how she is in real life. This cool, casual, effortlessly chic 18-year-old has shot for Cosmopolitan, bleached her eyebrows in the name of fashion, and received personal tips from some of Australia’s top designers and photographers. Dajana’s modelling career is well underway and, now she has finished high school, is pursuing modelling full time. But life for Dajana hasn’t always been so blessed. Raised in Bosnia for the first five years of her life, Dajana’s family moved to Queanbeyan to escape the War. She started school not knowing a word of English, ‘I would cry and cry and cry… I used to hate being a massive wog, because I always got bagged out for it’ a fleeting moment of sadness flashes across her face before triumphantly stating, ‘Then I just thought – I want to be Australian, I want to learn English, I don’t want to only know how to speak Serbian anymore.’ Dajana jokes that she’s probably only thin because she used to secretly throw out her sandwiches to avoid ridicule, ‘we have this kielbasa it’s a homemade smoked sausage, it has a really strong scent. I’d go to school and my mum would pack it for my lunch. When I opened my bag everyone would be like oh my god, what is that smell?’ laughing as she recounts the horror. ‘I was always really ashamed of my background and where I came from – of my food and my heritage and my culture’. But, after hitting her teenage years, Dajana realised how lucky she was to have such a unique heritage, ‘When I got to high school I was like, hold on a second, if all these Australians can have their culture – their meat pies and sausage rolls, why can’t I have my kielbasa and my prosciutto?’ ‘Then I became a big wog like I was in the show. I wasn’t ashamed of where I came from – who I was, my heritage. I started embracing my culture, and finding myself, or whatever they call it.’ Obsessed with Australia’s Next Top Model from a young age, Dajana applied as soon as she was old enough and making it on the hit show was like a dream come true. Despite her conservative parents’ protestations, and having to pack for elimination every single week – the mere sight of a suitcase still induces some serious anxiety, Dajana speaks of her time on the show as one of the most valuable experiences she has ever had. ‘I definitely came back from the show a different person. I think I came back a lot more down to earth, which is weird because you would think when you came off the show you would be like, oh my God, I’m the shit, fuck the fuck off!’ ‘The show taught me more than just modelling. It taught me life lessons – what it’s like to be in the big world, what the industry’s all about…Yeah, I’m grateful for all the amazing photos I have, but I’m more grateful for the things I learnt that you can’t learn in any classroom. Money can never pay for an education that teaches you that sort of stuff.’ Dajana is still bewildered by the attention she receives from the media and her fans. ‘It’s a bit surreal. Don’t get me wrong; it’s the best feeling being able to help other people but I don’t see myself like these little girls see me, I’m just a girl from Queanbeyan to be honest … I went through shit growing up as well you know; I had idols that helped me through and it’s kind of like I’m that person now. It’s a bit weird, like I don’t understand it, but it’s an honour.’ We speak further about Dajana’s idols and influences growing up. ‘My biggest influence during primary school and high school was always Hilary Duff,’ she is deadly serious, ‘biggest obsession. I literally cut a fringe because of her.’ LMAO this girl is so refreshingly honest you can’t help but love her. Inspired by her squeaky clean teen idol to become an actor and singer, Dajana was advised to do some modelling first. ‘That’s how it actually started. Modelling just grew on me and started taking over acting. I liked the fashion side of things.’ Today, Dajana lists different idols – Marc Jacobs, Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing, Tom Ford and Alexander Wang. ‘And obviously my idol for fashion is Coco Chanel, like 100 per cent,’ adding insightfully, ‘She was just out of this world. I honestly think if it wasn’t for her, androgyny wouldn’t have happened.’ I know right? With all this attention and so many experiences it’s pretty cool to learn that one of her favourite photo-shoots of all time was with Canberra photographer Tina Nikolovski. ‘I had to bleach my eyebrows for it; it was really fucking cool. I looked grungy as shit.’ Despite loving her grungy look in the shoot her own personal style has a level of relaxed sophistication that reflects her experience in the fashion world, ‘I don’t like wearing tight mini clothes. I’m all about black and white. When I go out, if I can wears jeans, a shirt, a blazer, and heels, I will. A simple white top with jeans is so much classier than the trashy shit people wear to Civic these days.’ So true. With plans to move to Sydney to pursue her modelling career and a degree in fashion marketing, Dajana says Canberra will always be her home; the place where she came into her own and learnt that if you want to make it big, you need a big personality. PHOTOGRAPHY LEIGHTON HUTCHINSON//HAIR BY CHAD//MAKE-UP DAVID REID//TOP MADE FOR THE SHOOT BY CORR BLIMEY// http://www.leightonhutchinsonphotography.com.au/ www.formhair.com.au/stylists/chad http://corrblimeyfashion.com/