Kaska model Kieran Schilling from northern B.C. wows on runway in Milan

The Kaska model hopes to make it big some day.

Kieran Schilling is a relative newbie in the modeling world, but you wouldn’t know it when he’s on the runway.

In February, Schilling walked his first show in Milan, Italy, for Milan Fashion Week.

Schilling, 28, is Kaska and a member of the Liard First Nation. He grew up in the small community of Lower Post in far northern B.C. – population 200.

He said modelling in the world’s fashion and design capital was an amazing – albeit terrifying  –experience.

“I could see the crowd of people and I could hear them. My palms were sweaty. It was my first time having my hair and makeup done and I was worried that I was going to sweat all my makeup off before the show started,” he told APTN News.

Despite his nerves, Schilling held his composure.

“After we walked the runway, I heard the crowd and they went absolutely wild. I’m pretty sure that we got the loudest applause after walking, he said.

It was just an amazing experience and amazing to really represent and put Indigenous people on the map under fashion.”

Schilling was the only male model to walk for Yukon designer Natasha Peter’s label Kaska Dena Designs.

In January, Peter put out a callout for a male models to help her showcase men’s fashions in Milan.

Despite having hardly any experience, Schilling applied.

Peter said she could tell he was passionate and goal oriented, not to mention he was Kaska like herself.

His enthusiasm, she said, is why she chose him out of the 18 male models who applied from across Canada and Europe.

“He was amazing. I loved his energy and his personality, his humor and his go, go, go energy. It was just great working with him,” she said.

Coming from a small northern Indigenous community, Schilling never pictured himself on a runway, much less in Europe.

“It just makes me so proud to represent my people and my heritage,” he said.

Kieran Schilling
Kieran Schilling walking the runway in Milan, Italy. Photo: Submitted

Authentic life

But Schilling said there’s been struggles, too.

After the death of his father in 2018, he turned to substance use to help fill the void.

Prior to modeling he worked at a mine in northern B.C., but he knew it wasn’t his calling.

“I was in a dark place,” he said. “I was stuck in a vicious addiction cycle too.”

Last year he moved to Vancouver for a fresh start.

“I started to make some changes in my life for the better so I could build on making my life into something that I love, instead of something that was not healthy or positive for me,” he said.

He said that includes living an authentic life.

Schilling identifies as two-spirit, something he struggled with growing up in a remote community where there were few openly queer people.

At the time, he didn’t feel he had the support to come out. Looking back, he said that was just his perception.

After coming out six years ago, he’s embracing his identity with his community’s support.

“I realized that a lot of people really supported me and they’re really happy for me as well,” he said.

Kieran Schilling
Schilling modelling for online consignment store Vintique Consignment. Photo: @vintique_consignment

Future in modelling  

While  he’s a natural in front of the camera, Schilling is still early in his career.

Last fall he started reaching out to photography groups on Facebook, which led to a gig modeling clothes for an online consignment store.

Just this week, Schilling received news that he got selected to audition to walk for the upcoming 2024 Indigenous Fashion Arts festival in Toronto.

His focus now is to build his portfolio and hopefully get more exposure. He hopes to one day be modelling for designer brands like Gucci, Prada or Louis Vuitton.

“Walking the runway, it’s really broadened my horizons. I really want to go travel to more different countries and show ’em what a beautiful Kaska looks like,” he said.

Peter is confident he has what it takes to go a long way.

“I definitely believe that he has it in him to pursue the modeling and I would love to see an Indigenous male model go far and model other brands out there,” she said.

As he continues to try to establish himself in the industry, Schilling hopes his story inspires others.

“What it is you’re chasing, follow your dreams and make your life into something that you love.”

Contribute Button