“I've always been tall and thin,” Paraganlija says, of the way she grew into recognizing her beauty. “I always stood out, even in middle school, when I towered among all of my classmates. It was definitely hard to fit in.”
On top of majoring in History at Cal, Paraganlija says she has also always worked while at school, and that because she has become used to working more than 20 hours a week and having four to six classes, "modeling is just a weekend side job, my after-school activity.”
Modeling was not something Paraganlija seriously considered until last summer, of 2008. She came across a photographer who suggested cutting her hair, and after heeding this advice on a whim, photographers started popping up everywhere offering her jobs.
“Everything took off from there," she says. Once she began to see that modeling would be a valid choice for her, she entered into the fashion world with a unique and inspiring mind-set.
“I wanted to separate myself from those simply thin, tall models because I thought I was too smart and had too much to give,” she reflects. “But when I did get that opportunity to model and experience that entirely different world, I was really taken aback by the entire concept of what it meant to 'model'. It wasn't about just me, the model, it was about the photographer's vision, the concept, the clothing.”
This expanded understanding of the art behind modeling inspired Paraganlija to continue to pursue high fashion modeling. Apart from having a feature spread in BARE’s newest issue, Paraganlija was recently featured in a beautiful photo spread of W25 magazine.
Although she is not yet represented by an agency, that prominent photographer Nels Olvin took an interest in her, and offered to shoot the photos which they then submitted to the magazine, is incredibly promising.
Paraganlija was sick the day of this grueling eight-hour photo shoot, but no one could ever tell from the photos. She credits the professionalism of everyone working on the shoot for the great end result. It is no wonder that Paraganlija is all set to move to New York City next year after graduation to pursue what will hopefully be a lustrous modeling career.
“This is a new-found dream,” she says. “Before this, I wanted to go to nursing school or get an office job. I don't really know what I want to do long-term and I am in no rush to find out. I'll just take it as it comes.”
And while her future and her passions lie in the high fashion world of Manhattan, Mirela says she really has BARE to thank for opening her eyes to something she would have never thought of doing. And, she adds, “I'll always have those pictures from BARE Issue 1 in my portfolio because they really did let me know that I could really be successful in doing this.”
Mirela's photo shoot from BARE magazine's first issue in Spring 2007, for local Berkeley designer Cari Borja. Photography by Tao Ning.
Writing by: Taylor Samara
BARE Senior Staffer
BARE Senior Staffer