Being asked to walk in Jean Paul Gaultier's show during Paris Fashion Week remains a dream for most models around the world. Not so for Kawerau's Danielle Hayes.

The freckle-faced beauty admits she knew little of Gaultier before he asked her Australian-based agent Phil Darley to ensure she appeared at a casting when the world-famous designer was selecting his catwalk models.

"He's a very cool designer," Danielle told the Rotorua Daily Post.

"I have huge respect for the guy and am very thankful he gave me the opportunity to walk in his show."


She described Paris as like the Olympics of modelling.

"The standards are raised on all levels - it's insane."

Danielle's mother, Trina Hayes, admits she thought Mr Darley was joking when he said John Paul Gaultier had phoned asking for her daughter because of her strong features.

"I said 'yeah right' and her Dad asked who Jean Paul Gaultier was," Trina said.

Danielle has not been in Paris long after working in South Africa for five months.

She described the modelling in South Africa as more commercial, less edgy, and with loads of money to be made.

"It's great for the off-season," Danielle said. "The people, the food, the landscape, are a few of the reasons why I fell in love with South Africa.

"Oh, and the biltong [cured meat]. Love me some biltong."

Definitely enjoying her modelling journey, Danielle said "catwalk" is the best way to travel - especially if you're tall, lanky and unco-ordinated.

It's all a far cry from New Zealand's Next Top Model in 2010 although Trina said show judge Colin Mathura-Jeffree made a few predictions for Danielle that had ultimately played out.

"Colin said Danielle would eventually be a catwalk model even though she remained adamant at the time she would only do photos, and that her look would be well-received in Europe. I'd say he was pretty much on the money," Trina said.

She is also quick to point out the modelling industry is "hard work" and can be vicious.

"Dani has had a few speed wobbles along the way but she has developed the toughness and the skills needed to endure."

In the quiet moments, Danielle admits she still misses home. "I miss my parents, my siblings, my animals, my friends and seafood. Having to pay for oysters, crayfish, mussels, squid and fish in general is ridiculous, and trying to find somewhere that sells kina is a challenge."

A trip home at Christmas could be on the cards for Danielle who has requested a hangi, a boil up, some kaimoana and fried bread "please".