There’s always a ripple of excitement when Fran Summers comes to visit Vogue House, throwing comedy peace signs and today wearing a black sweater and delightfully garish patchwork quilt trousers from “some random shop in Soho.” Hair pinned back, not a stitch of makeup on, the 19-year-old is all warm hugs and broad North Yorkshire accent that remains fully in tact despite her multi-season reign over the world’s catwalks. Summers walked “around 35, dunno” shows last month – or as Olivia Singer, Vogue’s Executive Fashion News Editor put it after her return from Paris: “It feels weird not seeing Fran every 90 minutes.” The most successful young British model of the moment, and two time Vogue cover girl, takes a seat opposite me to talk through the formative influences that have shaped her young life, from how she copes with the occasional loneliness of modelling, to her almost pathological adoration of theme parks.
I first read The Lonely City by Olivia Laing two years ago and have maybe read it three times since. Obviously everyone loves Olivia Laing, and it’s about artists and their experience of loneliness in New York. It’s kind of mental because I remember the first time I went there for work, I was staying on my own, and, it can be sooo lonely in New York. I can’t even explain it. You’re surrounded by so many people, but you can feel so isolated. Olivia Lang explains loneliness as feeling as cold as ice but as clear as glass, and it’s enclosing and engulfing. I remember reading that and it hit me so hard because I didn’t think anyone else experienced it in the same way I did. I was just walking around on my own, I didn’t know what to do with myself. So you just end up staying in all day and eating Deliveroo. What’s a good antidote for loneliness? [Laughs] I FaceTime my dogs a lot. But dogs can’t hear FaceTime, so that makes you even more lonely.
Californication by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. It’s my full nostalgia hit. All my family in the car together, driving on holidays in America when we were kids, off to Disney World, and you turn on the radio and three times a day it would be Californication. Why is that? [Laughing] Literally three times a day, as well as Losing My Religion by R.E.M. We would all belt it out, and it was so nice. Hearing it now really takes me back to those vacations. You remember where your brother tripped over there, or that I puked on my dad’s head over there. You know something, I really did puke on my dad’s head at Disney World. That’s kind of like a nostalgic thing as well.
This one is hard – it would even be hard if I had to choose just one drama or comedy or horror or foreign film. But after some careful consideration I’m thinking it’s got to be Hot Fuzz. I mean, it’s just the best isn’t it? It’s a bit like home – well not the murder part, obvs – but it’s a country place with country people, with super dark, dry British humour. These are my people. Literally, from the age of 10 I was watching Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and thinking Edgar Wright was just this total genius. It definitely formed me. Now I go to Fashion Week and start cracking jokes and people are like, “What? Are you alright?” I’m like, “Do you want a Cornetto?”
Can’t you guess? Flo-ri-dah baby! I think I’m going again this year. First things first, Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios – best thing ever. If I could recommend one holiday to go on this is it. Basically, me and my sister went to all the theme parks last October for two weeks and my brother came for one. Universal Horror Nights is this big thing around Halloween – they have like 10 haunted houses. There’s a Stranger Things one, there was a Saw one the year before – very scary actually – and a Michael Myers one. We got express tickets and went five nights in a row, to every house and backstage tour. I went from the Fashion Month where, I think, I did something like 39 shows that season, and literally didn’t have one break. So I went straight to Florida once it finished. Honestly, it was my best decision ever, I just forgot about everything – it was just my siblings, apple fritters, and me running away from stilt men, because I have an avid fear of them. Finally, that was all I had to worry about.
The best person who’s given me advice is my dad. Throughout life he’s had his fair share of stuff. He works in a carpet shop and no matter what has happened, he has been the nicest person ever and he told me growing up that being nice costs nothing. Your vibe produces the environment around you, and that is something I’ve absolutely taken into my working life. Sometimes when I’m overwhelmed, I have to just like be quiet – process any stress internally and just take a deep breath. Sometimes people come up to me on shoots and they’re like, ‘Are you alright, you’re really quiet’, and I’m like, ‘I’m just having a moment. Just regenerating,’ because when I do speak I want to be positive. I love this job but during photoshoots it does take energy to make those photos because you are creating art a lot of the time. You have to be that character. I think giving out too much exhausts you. You have to find the right way to keep your focus.