Cassi van den Dungen makes her move

stephen ward via dion lee's facebook
Cassi van den Dungen fans will no doubt be thrilled to hear that the next instalment of the Cassi saga is.... she just made her international runway debut at London Fashion Week, walking for Australian fashion star Dion Lee in the International Woolmark Prize show overnight. Lee lost out to Belgium's Christian Wijnants, but the whole exercise was a fantastic promotional opportunity for Lee and all the other contestants, not to mention van den Dungen, who strutted her stuff in front of a prestigious judging panel headed up by no less than Diane von Furstenberg, Donatella Versace and Vogue Italia editor Franca Sozzani. 

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since the Australia's Next Top Model Cycle 5 runner-up famously snubbed contracts with Priscillas and Elite New York to sign with Helena Vitolins at the Work Agency in Sydney. Then there was the ill-fated Paris Fashion Week trip three years ago, which saw van den Dungen miss out from the Balenciaga exclusive that she was originally flown over for. Beyond that disappointment, there was of course the blowup over her Facebook comments about her dealings with the French (which made London's Times newspaper).

Motherhood has of course intervened in the interim, along with a hell of a lot of solid Australian fashion work. Now still just 20 years of age, it seems van den Dungen is finally ready to make that international move. A fortnight ago, she changed international agents, moving to Next Models in New York, Paris and Milan and Premiere in London. Three years ago, as some may recall, she was momentarily placed with IMG Models in Paris. 

Travelling without her partner and 18 month-old baby Drake, just one of her Australian agents, van den Dungen arrived in London on Thursday. Among other appointments, she has already met with Katie Grand at Love magazine. 

Next van den Dungen heads straight to Paris where, according to Vitolins, there has been significant interest, including some offers of exclusives - which Vitolins declined.  

"As an agent, you have to make some decisions for girls" Vitolins told frockwriter. "I felt that Paris was the place to put her energies - it's an important launching pad. I really feel that Cassi is a working model now. She's ready, she's focussed and she's committed to doing the show season. I think it's important for her to not do [just] one show. She's got more chance of doing campaigns and editorials if she sees as many people as possible. Just before she left she shot a Dion Lee Woolmark campaign [above] and a lookbook for Zimmermann, as well as 16 pages with Will Davidson for Australian Vogue [April issue]. She's doing well and the thing is, she's grown up". 

We wish her all the best. 

UPDATE 19/02: Van den Dungen's plans to head straight to Paris changed on Monday after getting a callback from Katie Grand. In addition to editing Love Grand styles for, among others, British designer Giles Deacon. Overnight van den Dungen walked in Deacon's show - one of the hottest tickets on the London Fashion Week schedule.