Cue the cameras – this is Eliza Cummings’ world, and we are merely living in it. The British model harnesses an electric energy while discussing her world, her family, the countryside and clothes. Words by Sandy Aziz.
Eliza Cummings, the energetic, optimistic Aquarian is “never in one place.” But if she had to answer the where is home question, she is torn between the English countryside, LA, and New York. “I mean, I would be, if it wasn’t for bloody Covid,” she laughs. More importantly, as a mother of a two-year-old, Cummings emphasizes that while she is a country girl at heart, home is not about the location but rather about being with family. Hers includes her husband, Greg Williams (yes, the photographer), their son, their dog, and the newest member of their family, Smokey the cat. The model is living proof that women can do it all and do it well. “I have like two lives,” Cummings jokes while explaining, “– at work, I’m this crazy South London model and a bit wild. Then, at home I am a mother and a wife, and I just like to cook and I’m constantly cleaning. I do have a nanny to help, but I am definitely doing it all.” Still, if she wasn’t modelling, Cummings would probably be a full-time mum. “I want to raise my little boy to just be a kind, lovely person. I love him so much and I am just trying to be the best mum that I can be.”
Speaking from the English countryside in her Gucci tracksuit (which she and her husband Greg are addicted to purchasing), it is immediately evident that Cummings is always unapologetically herself. “The thing is – I never actually wanted to be a model,” she bluntly begins. “I got bullied at school. I was the kid that got picked on for acne and all that, and I would have to eat my lunch in the toilet because if I sat in the cafeteria, everyone would point and laugh at me.” After a quick side conversation to reiterate just how mean kids can be, Cummings recalls, “I was in the street when the agency (I won’t say who) discovered me and asked if I wanted to be a model… I thought they were taking the Mickey!” The next day, the whole school knew Cummings had been asked to model and, because they were bullies, of course they laughed. Little did they know that about a year later, Cummings would be doing her first modelling job – an Italian Vogue cover! “They told me that never happens, and I was straight on a plane to Milan to shoot Italian Vogue and that petrified me!” And because Cummings had never worn heels before, her first job included a fashion mishap. Still, it makes for a great story to tell nowadays. “So, I was in these heels, and I was stepping into this vintage Valentino couture gown and the heel went through the dress and made a hole! It was a nightmare.” It wasn’t until her fourth modelling job, with photographer Emma Summerton, that Cummings started feeling comfortable in front of the camera. That was also the campaign that had Cummings headlining Topshop billboards and gave her the last laugh with all the bullies from her past. “I loved it because it was a fuck you to all those bullies at school,” chuckles Cummings.
After a brief stop to chat about the countryside, the conversation quickly returned to the runway. With an impressive roster including Miu Miu, Marc Jacobs, Vivienne Westwood and more, Cummings keeps coming back to a few key highlights. “The most iconic runway moment I keep coming back to was the Mugler show when Lady Gaga performed and we were in these huge heels. You know what Gaga is like – and there were models dropping in these heels,” Cummings giggles. “I remember falling backstage and Nicola Formichetti was there with a look on his face like girl, don’t fall.” Thankfully, Cummings confirms, “I fucking got out there and rocked those shoes like no other and my suit outfit was incredible!” Other notable fashion moments for Cummings included Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton and Balenciaga – both of which included incredible outfits. “It is mostly about clothes – I always go back to the clothes.”
And it should be about the clothes. Aside from these runway moments, one of the most notable campaigns that people often associate Cummings with is that Agent Provocateur campaign. Yes, the pirate-themed one. “I loved that pirate campaign – that was my favorite one! [I think it was because] I was sort of building this character you know? Like the Eliza show. It was a beautiful memory for me because I found out about my sexuality and what good lingerie was – all while also meeting amazing people.” She elaborates, “I was 16 years old and didn’t know about Agent Provocateur at the time because I was still figuring out my body and didn’t really go lingerie shopping.” Expanding on just what else made the experience one to always remember, Cummings discusses the electric energy on set. “When I turned up, I remember seeing the bubbliest, sexiest, most outrageous women, and I was just like wow. You know you look up to women like that – powerful, amazing, incredible, talented, inspirational women. I just felt like I was in the right place. All my mates were there too, and it was good fun!”
This is a piece's extract. 'Lady Eliza' editorial appears in the Fall Winter 2021 Issue 7.