From obscurity to superstardom: How a unique look makes the next "It" girl

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From obscurity to superstardom: How a unique look makes the next "It" girl. (KTRK)

From the runways to covers of magazines, stunningly beautiful models like Christie Brinkley, Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell have made household names for themselves throughout the years.

Yet, as the fashion industry continues to evolve so does the "en vogue" look of runways' biggest faces. Their names are now lesser known, but their stripped-back look leaves an impression.

"They used to only want blonde and blue eyes. Today, I don't believe people know their names," said Page Parkes, founder of the Houston-based Page Parkes Center of Modeling and Acting.

Over the past 36 years, Parkes and her agents have scouted some of the most recognizable faces in the industry. She says many fashion houses like Marc Jacobs and Gucci don't necessarily want the All-American pretty girl anymore. Now, they're looking for something a bit more real.

"Believe it or not, the dark circles under the eyes, they don't want the airbrushed look. They just want a snapshot of how they really look," said Parkes.

Discovering the new "It" girl can happen just about anywhere. For instance, take the story of 19-year-old Remington Williams. Bare-faced and washing dishes, Williams was scouted by the Austin-based husband and wife team of Foreman Management while working at an Austin Chipotle. Less than a month later, the 5-foot-10-inch redhead was walking the runways of the 2017 New York Fashion Week.

"I never knew when starting this business that one day I would be looking for something that didn't strike the beauty mark for everybody," Parkes said of the look that has gone from glamazon to mundane over the years.

Parkes says her model scouts can spot when someone has the trending look most wanted by designers, but confidence will always set a potential new face apart from the crowd.

Sitting in Parkes Houston headquarters with undone hair, light makeup and slender frame, 16-year-old Madelyn Whitley lights up while talking about her whirlwind two months in the fashion industry.

"It's all about feeling beautiful with yourself and your body, feeling beautiful about who you are," said Whitley.

Along with her spirit, it was the Houston high schooler's stripped back look and long legs that caught the eye of Parkes and her team. Yet, despite being hailed as the agency's next big face, Whitley was not always so sure of her beauty.

"When I was born, I was actually born Matthew Whitley, a little boy," Whitley revealed. "After I transitioned, I just felt pretty for once. I felt happy to be in my body. I felt comfortable and it was amazing."

Parkes said the explosion of interest in transgender models like Whitley is a big step as more and more designers embrace inclusiveness.

"It took one second from the minute she turned her head from looking down to looking at me, I said, 'Oh my gosh, you are beautiful,'" said Parkes.

With diversity trending, the blog "The Fashion Spot" found that not only were the 2017 fall fashion runways less white, at least 12 trans women strutted for the shows.

In the two months that she has been represented by Parkes, Whitley has landed on Houston fashion runways and even netted a TV pilot.

"At the end of the day, the camera is not going to say this girl is transgender, it's going to show beauty and confidence and that's what they want," said Whitley.

Wise words from a now very self-assured high school junior and proof we might all take a good look in the mirror and embrace the beauty of what makes us different.

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