Twin sisters, May and Ruth Bell were noticed by a talent scout from Elite in 2012. The identical twins were shopping at a mall in Essex, England. Tall, slender and blond, the young women had what Bob Dylan would call "cocaine eyes," eyes that are simultaneously elusive and scintillating with energy. At the time, they were only sixteen years old.
Elite signed the sisters to a management contract. Soon thereafter, in 2013, the sisters participated in Elite's nationwide modelling contest. May took first place. The British media gave her the sobriquet of "The Baby Kate Moss." Sister Ruth explained her sister's selection, saying, "May's better at walking than me. I tended to fall over then."
Initially, the sisters modeled to make spending money. As their portfolio grew, so did the jobs. They chalked up a big win when Italian Vogue paired them with Ellen von Unwerth for a photo shoot. Topshot and Urban Outfitters took notice and wanted the sisters for their forthcoming fashion promotions.
Their careers skyrocketed in 2015, when, just like the Biblical Samson, a simple haircut made all the difference in the world.
Alexander McQueen approached Elite, inquiring about Ruth's services. There was a catch, though. The photographer, David Sims, specified that Ruth would have to shave her head. The powers-that-be at Elite stopped breathing for a few seconds. Asking a model to shave her head was akin to asking the Pope to convert to Islam. As the Director of Special Talent and Public Relations at Elite, Vanessa Emilien, said, "The company has to think about what the impact is going to be on the girl's future work."
Ruth wanted to do it.
Ruth's head was shorn. Her long tresses went to children undergoing cancer treatments.
Sims shot the photos for Alexander McQueen's 2015 Autumn/Winter promotion. Highly stylized and hazy, like a Gerhard Richter painting, the photos featured Ruth looking timid yet beatific. A curious field of suppressed energy emanated from Ruth. The campaign's effect transcended all ordinary degrees of acclaim. Overnight, Ruth attained superstardom. Haute couture houses clamored for her services. She began working non-stop, traveling all over the world for photo shoots.
She did a shoot for Saint Laurent; then one for Gucci, followed by another for Versace. Iris van Herpen and Lanvin featured her in shows, where she displayed her sheared, unparalleled presence on the catwalk. Her conspicuous lack of hair imbued her with an unrelenting and secretive appearance, yet at the same time conveyed a sense of insolence that lacked contemporary equivalence.
At first, May was overshadowed by her more famous sister. May's services were in demand, but she wasn't invited to participate in the large, international shows. Slowly but surely, Ruth's celebrity spilled over and engulfed May. As May put it, "Now people know Ruth and find out about me, so it's working in my favor too."
The cup of transition recently arrived. The sisters attracted the attention of Burberry, unquestionably a gem in the tiara of any modelling career. Burberry will showcase the identical twins in their 2016 Spring/Summer promotion, shot by Mario Testino, one of the top fashion photographers in the world. His work has been featured in Vogue, V Magazine, Vanity Fair and GQ.
Now the Bell sisters, Ruth and May, have both achieved supermodel status: double trouble for the fashion world.