A Kiwi teenager spotted on Instagram could soon be walking the catwalk with the likes of Karlie Kloss and Cara Delevingne after being signed by one of the world's largest modelling agencies.
62 Models manager Andrea Plowright knew Maia Cotton had the star factor and "belonged on the stage" the moment she spotted a picture of the 15-year-old on Instagram two months ago.
"She just looks amazing. She just has that versatile look where she can do edgy, she can do high fashion. She's just incredible," Ms Plowright said.
Within days of being discovered, Maia and her mother Luanne Cotton were flown to Auckland from Palmerston North where the agency signed her on the spot.
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62 Models then posted a photo of Maia on its Instagram page. A week later New York-based Ford Models arranged for the teenager and her mother to fly out to meet them and are now representing her.
The Palmerston North Girls' High Year 11 student has already met Miss Teen Vogue magazine staff in New York and is visiting Ford Models' Paris office to scope out work before returning to New Zealand at the end of May.
Ms Plowright said it was an incredible and rare achievement for a New Zealand girl to be signed with such an impressive agency as it usually took about three years for a model to get to this point, not a couple of months.
Ford Models has represented models Veronica Webb, Rachel Hunter, Cheryl Tiegs, Jerry Hall, Elle Macpherson and Christie Brinkley and is linked with high-end fashion brands including Jil Sander, Dolce and Gabbana and Calvin Klein.
"It's just remarkable. This just doesn't happen to many girls from New Zealand ... She's just a really savvy, smart girl that's just got it all. And she's so nice — all her friends are being really supportive."
Before going overseas, Maia did photo shoots for fashion retailer Superette, clothing brand Twenty Seven Names and was photographed by Lorde's boyfriend and photographer James Lowe for blog site Katherine is Awesome.
Maia plans to juggle her modelling career with her NCEA level 1 school work. She is the daughter of painter Shane Cotton and is a keen dancer who was last year accepted into the New Zealand School of Dance Associates programme.