Nell Rebowe: The Model Citizen
article by Mary Napoli | photography by Joli Livaudais
A stunning redhead with intense eyes and a wide grin, her physique is exactly what you might expect of an international model. She is tall and narrow, but commands a room with confidence and purpose. Her beauty is spectacular, no doubt about it. But were she not the warm, humble, relatable young woman that she is, she would be just a pretty face. One thing is for certain, there is much more to her than the eye can see. She is astoundingly intelligent, extraordinarily brave, fiercely loyal to her family and incredibly lovely to know.
Rebowe was raised in Monroe from the age of five and grew up no differently than her classmates and friends. Even as a child, Rebowe had a strong sense of self. Intelligent and determined, she excelled academically at school and as a student at Linda Lavender’s School of Dance. Her lean, graceful form was ideal for that of a ballerina. But one look at her exquisitely beautiful face and one word came to mind: model.
Rebowe and her mother, Julie Faulk Verlander, have always been incredibly close. Despite her physical gifts, Verlander never considered encouraging her daughter to pursue modeling before completing her education.
“I never thought about it,” says Verlander. “She’s never been in a pageant or anything like that. When she was in high school, I was told that she had the total package and should go to New York. But I told her no, go to school. Get your degree. Then, see what happens.”
Rebowe followed her mother’s advice and attended Tulane in New Orleans, where she had been born and where her father and his family continue to live. She flourished at the university and was a member of the dance team while pursuing her degrees in Neuroscience and Business.
“The key to all of this is my education. In this profession, I’ve met people from around the world from different cultures–artists, stylists, photographers. I can appreciate that so much more and can identify with them on a more significant level,” she says. “Education has always been important to me, but after I got my degree, I realized I didn’t want to spend my twenties in a library. So, I put off grad school to see the world.”
Although Rebowe’s career took flight quickly, it was not carefully planned or anticipated. She physically fit the mold with her model good looks, but she wasn’t born a fashion maven. As a teen, the beautiful girl was not interested in fashion magazines or the latest trends. However, an aunt in New Orleans who had modeling experience encouraged Rebowe to test the waters. While studying at Tulane, she began to dabble in modeling locally, but did not take it incredibly seriously. At the time, it was an interesting hobby and sometimes provided her a way to indulge her love of travel. While a student, Rebowe had the opportunity to do some modeling in Atlanta that would begin a series of fortunate events. On the flight back to New Orleans, she found herself sitting next to a woman who worked for a fashion designer in Manhattan. During the short flight, the woman encouraged Rebowe to give the fashion industry in New York City a chance. Rebowe’s stunning beauty, intelligence and confidence were an impressive combination.
“I had been working and was on my way back to Tulane to take an organic chemistry exam. We struck up a conversation, and by the end of the flight, she had asked me to walk for her once we landed. After we got off the plane, I walked for her in the terminal,” recalls Rebowe. This was a turning point for the student/occasional model. “After that, I got representation in New York. But it started with doing a runway walk near an airplane runway.”
The chance encounter on an airplane put Rebowe on the path to major success. She has not only secured representation with a well known agency in New York City, but also in Los Angeles and Miami. Further, she is represented internationally in Paris, London, Spain and Austria. Through these agencies, she is recommended for certain jobs, which include advertisements for every brand imaginable in every conceivable form of media. From print ads to fashion editorials, packaging, music videos, and commercials, Rebowe can be seen the world over. Chances are, you have walked right past an advertisement that featured this local girl without even knowing it. Currently, her lovely face graces large banners that are suspended from the ceilings at our local Target. Find her poised on the walls of Stage or Old Navy, or gazing out from a box of hair coloring or styling tools found in nearly any pharmacy. The amazing beauty is everywhere, it seems.
The stunning redhead remains in high demand in both the high fashion world and in commercial modeling. She travels almost constantly and boasts an impressive resume. She has worked with the likes of Carolina Herrera and Oscar De La Renta and has been in nearly every reputable high fashion publication–Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Italian Vogue, Allure, and InStyle, to name a few. Recognizable brands that are popular within the marketplace, such as L’Oreal, Conair and Eddie Bauer, have clamored for her services. She has also been the focus of international television commercials for Mercedes Benz and appeared on the Martha Stewart Show. Major retailers like Macy’s, Liz Claiborne, Shop Bop, Calypso, and the aforementioned Target, Old Navy and Stage have benefitted by featuring Rebowe in their marketing.
The places she has seen and artists she has worked with have been a gift to Rebowe, but one modeling experience is most dear to her heart. She was cast in a photo spread for internationally famous Glamour Magazine that focused on unique attributes of beauty. The shoot gave Rebowe the once in a lifetime opportunity to work with another incredibly beautiful woman whom she loved, respected and shared her name with–her maternal grandmother, Nell Hayes Faulk. The Monroe natives were photographed beautifully and chosen for their striking red hair and fair skin. The experience remains one of the most memorable and special events of her career thus far. Rebowe is quick to credit her family and hometown with providing the necessary skills and characteristics to be successful.
“My mother let me be myself and be strong willed. That has been beneficial to me in New York. You have to be quick,” she explains. But when she returns to Monroe to spend time with her family, the pace slows down considerably. What does an international model do in her off time? She keeps her look natural and makes time for her favorite people and places.
“I love to work out at the MAC (Monroe Athletic Club). And you can always count on me being at the Picadilly,” she says. “I’m serious! I can’t get food like that in New York! Most people don’t even know what greens and cornbread are there…that is the secret to my success. Good Southern parenting and the Picadilly…that is how I keep two feet on the ground in New York City!” says Rebowe with a hearty laugh. Nearby, her mother laughs along and shakes her head in agreement. Down to earth and clearly attached to her Louisiana roots, the fiery redhead is as endearing as she is gorgeous.
Her career is still climbing to new heights, but her passion for science is still of interest to the enigmatic young woman. She is committed to learning continuously in her chosen field of study, and often attends events at the Academy of Sciences in New York City. Also, she is regularly invited by MIT to attend lectures by leading scientists who are speaking in Manhattan. Rebowe is vocal about how her science background has assisted her in her current career.
“Science is a level of diplomacy,” she explains fervently. “It permeates all cultures and languages.”
While modeling allows her to travel and provides her with incredible experiences, she considers a future career in science.
“I would love to work with children’s education in the future. I had the opportunity to speak to students at Grace Episcopal School (where Rebowe received her elementary and middle school education) and that was meaningful to me. The focus on science in education is lacking. Science and technology strengthen countries…I would like to contribute to building the sciences in education in the future,” says Rebowe.
Dedicated and strong willed, it seems that Rebowe can accomplish anything she sets her mind to. She doesn’t simply dream of goals she would like to achieve, she makes things happen. It is this tenacious drive that propelled her to take a formidable city by storm and build a successful career in an industry that is merciless and exclusionary. However, Rebowe accomplishes the seemingly impossible with grace and style. The world has become her playground, but the town she grew up in still holds a place in her heart.
“Monroe is home. Mom is home,” she says casting her gaze across the room to meet her mother’s gentle smile. She may roam the world over and lead a jet set life of glamour, but the bayou town that holds her darling mother’s embrace is never far from her mind.