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Meet Isabella Moore, opera singer, model and face of Saben's new collection 'PHASES'

Isabella Moore Saben campaign

Isabella, your journey from New Zealand to London is quite fascinating. Transitioning from the stages of New Zealand to the grand theatres of London must have been quite a leap. What were some of the biggest challenges you faced when establishing yourself as an opera singer in a new cultural and professional environment?

I’m still trying to adjust to this - not so new - environment in the UK. Although I was studying music in the UK in 2013-15, I returned at the end of 2019 with my focus on my modelling career. Of course, I was still pursuing singing but more of my time and effort went into modelling. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and so I never really had the chance to establish myself as a musician over here. At the end of 2022, I signed with my classical music agency and have slowly but surely begun to build my operatic career. A big challenge I’m facing is balancing the two careers in terms of focus. At the stage I’m at a lot of self-motivation and administrative work is required, but when I’m travelling around Europe for fashion shoots I find it rather difficult to zone into opera mode.

Your voice has captured audiences around the world. Could you share a memorable moment from your career on stage?

For me, singing the role of Suor Angelica from the Puccini’s opera Suor Angelica has been one of my most memorable moments. Her character is so tormented and full of grief. I find that every time I’ve sung her, I’ve truly given over into the character and lost myself for that hour. The music is heartbreakingly beautiful and I just can’t get enough of it.

We're intrigued by the synergy between your opera career and your role as a fashion model. How do you balance these two worlds, and do they inform each other creatively?

As I mentioned before, balancing the two is actually my biggest challenge. It’s something I am currently navigating! I’ll get back to you when the synergy between the two is flowing nicely, haha! I find that the skills acquired from each profession help the other immensely. The acting, characterisation and storytelling from opera influence my modelling make me quite versatile. I’m able to give variety on set and project different energy and levels without too much trouble.

Modelling builds resilience and requires you to leave you inhabitations at the door as confidence is key! This really helps draw people’s attention and focus, which is ideal for an operatic performance. On shoots, I often I find myself drawing inspiration from different operatic characters. I try and project the energy I believe they’d bring and it’s so helpful when you need to switch things up.

London is renowned for its vibrant arts scene. How has living in such a cultural hub influenced your growth as an opera singer, and do you find parallels between the creativity of the stage and the fashion world?

In London I am exposed to so many creative avenues that I may never have encountered had I not moved here. From comedy to musical theatre, to visual art, plays, new music and jazz concerts. There is so much going on! It’s easy to get trapped in a weird ‘opera’ tunnel vision state of mind but living in London helps get you out and experiencing more so hopefully that doesn’t happen.

I think the big wigs of both the operatic scene and the fashion world could both use a bit of a glow-up. Both worlds tend to get stuck into doing ‘what they know’ and don’t take risks, for example with the singers they use or the models they employ. I have yet to be included in a LFW or MFW even though I have plenty of runway experience. I personally believe it comes down to a ‘size thing’ (that I’m considered too big - although I don’t know this for sure).

When it comes to singing, I find that the bigger opera houses are still sticking with their favourite singers who you see on their stages each season, even though they may no longer be the best for the job/role. The world is changing and I think these industries could take more risks so they don’t lose relevance.

saben isabella moore handbag

What advice would you give to aspiring performers who dream of following in your footsteps, especially those from New Zealand?

My little nuggets of advice: Say yes to opportunities. Get life experience; you can’t tell stories without having any of your own. Have gratitude and be kind to everyone you come across. The world is a huge place and you’re going to realise New Zealand is tiny (and pretty comfy) once you’ve left home so walk with grace and humility. Treasure what makes you you as that is what’s going to set you apart from everyone else. And, just because one singing teacher/coach tells you something, doesn’t mean it’s correct; trust your own opinion more than anyone else’s.
I’m still on my operatic journey. I know it’s barely begun! What I’ve learnt is that there is no ONE path, there is no RIGHT way. You’ve just got to do your best, believe in yourself, trust your gut and stop comparing yourself to others. What is meant for you won’t pass you by.

As a curve model breaking barriers in the fashion industry, how do you see your presence in both the opera and fashion worlds contributing to greater inclusivity and representation?

I would love for my presence to shake things up. Sometimes models are treated like mannequins vs human beings, and when people discover there’s more to me than just a pretty face, it’s then that I feel I get more respect. Curve models are still often lumped into the ‘commercial fashion’ category and get ignored when it comes to high fashion, yet opera is considered a ‘high art form’ and is revered.

I hope that I might break that barrier and get the fashion industry to consider using curve models for high fashion. In saying this, opera has a bad reputation for being elitist and exclusive. I would love for people to see that opera is just exquisitely beautiful music that is meant for everyone to enjoy.

The truth is until you’re Pavarotti, you’re a struggling musician so let’s not over-hype the glamour. I guess what I’m hoping my presence will do is ultimately bring more inclusivity and diversity to both worlds and give each more insight into the other. At the end of the day, I want people, especially women who have been excluded because of their size and ethnicity to feel worthy and confident in their bodies whoever they are and whatever they do.

isabella moore saben campaign winter 2024

It was an absolute pleasure collaborating with you on our AW24 campaign. As someone who leads such a busy and glamorous life, what qualities do you prioritize in a handbag when you're on the go, especially during your travels?

THANK YOU! As you now know from my last answer - it’s not as glamorous as you think but can get quite busy, haha! For me, a small/medium shoulder bag is absolutely essential. I need it to fit my travel documents, keys, phone, and wallet! It needs to have a good amount of divisions/pockets as well as zip fastenings as I’m carrying all my important things with me. I have the Odile; she’s perfect and she goes everywhere with me.

Could you tell us about your personal style? How would you describe your signature style and what elements do you think best capture your unique personality?

 It really changes based on my mood and the season! I'm pretty inconsistent actually, lol! I love suiting and anything oversized and androgynous. Ever since the pandemic, whatever I wear ultimately has to be comfortable as well as practical as you end up walking everywhere living in London. I am a repeat offender when it comes to my favourite Axel Arigato trainers. I have two pairs now so I can mix it up a bit, haha! I am and always will be an op-shopper. I love vintage clothes and the idea that I'm giving the clothes a second life. I have a thing for pre-loved statement coats (especially leather coats!) suits/blazers and boots. I am also forever in denim/jeans. I have way too many pairs of jeans according to my husband. I love mixing in Pasifika accessories into my looks .e.g. jewellery, handbags, seis (flowers).
 
What’s your favourite SABEN bag and why?

I love my Odile crossbody bag. She is my staple, all day, everyday! I sometimes add a chain strap to elevate her on a night out. Although I love the Odile, I'm really vibing the Alexis shoulder bag from the AW24 Phases collection; I love the texture. 
isabella moore saben campaign winter 2024

What’s in your SABEN bag right now?

"Phone, keys, wallet." That's what I chant out loud as I walk out the front door everyday, haha! My passport is also in there as I'm travelling over the next week. A few spare pounds for buskers. My Inkey List lip balm and a power bank so my phone is always juiced up. There's also probably a Laura Mercier powder and some Airwaves chewing gum. Possibly some cashews and dark chocolate too!

Lastly, what can we expect from Isabella Moore in the future? Any upcoming projects or performances that we should keep an eye out for, alongside your stunning role as the face of SABEN's AW24 Phases campaign?

The modelling world keeps me on my toes and so much happens very last minute so even I don’t know what the future holds when it comes to modelling! I am hoping to get to New York at some point this year as I signed to an agency in NYC last year so we’ll see! In terms of performances, I have a few upcoming auditions and I have accepted a cover role with an opera company here in London so that’s exciting! Whenever I come home to NZ, I try and make sure I give a couple concerts/performances so I will be sure let my Saben famz know, haha!