Potsdam model walks runways in New York, Milan

Margaret J. Maurer was manager at the Isle of You boutique, Potsdam, before a friend sent photos of her to a Toronto modeling agency which recruited her for top runway gigs. Photo by Tom Newton/Special to the Watertown Daily Times.

POTSDAM — Margaret J. Maurer has been swept up from her modest life in Potsdam onto runways in New York, Milan and Paris.

Ms. Maurer, 25, was one of the models for Calvin Klein’s latest fashion line, strutting the stage during New York Fashion Week on Valentine’s Day.

She worked as manager at the Isle of You boutique on Market Street until the call came from the Elmer Olsen modeling agency in Toronto in January. Her first job came just a few weeks later.

Her mother, Pamela J. Maurer, remembers getting a call from Margaret at 6 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday: “Mom, I have to be in New York tomorrow.”

She had been chosen by Calvin Klein to model the design house’s fall lineup in New York. After the show, she jetted off to Milan, Italy, for another of the world’s largest fashion weeks. Paris is next.

Pamela Maurer said her daughter’s rapid rise to fame was sudden but not surprising. Margaret’s tall (almost 6 feet), slim frame drew attention wherever they went.

“Even when we were just walking down the street, people would always tell me, ‘Margaret should be a model,’” she said.

Margaret’s friend Thomas C. Newton started taking glamour photos of her about five years ago.

“They started getting better, and I started realizing that she could be a real model,” he said.

He sent the photos to the Elmer Olsen agency in Toronto on a whim.

The agency loved the photos and recruited Margaret almost immediately.

“I still haven’t processed it. It’s still too crazy to think about,” Mr. Newton said.

He said he hopes to use the photos to launch his own career as a fashion photographer.

“Hopefully, we’ll both end up at the top,” he said.

Margaret’s boyfriend of eight years, Michael G. Cliff, said she never had any big dreams of becoming a model. It just sort of happened.

“She wasn’t really looking for it. It’s all happened so fast,” he said.

Mrs. Maurer said Margaret was always the most quiet and reserved of her five daughters.

“She’s gone into the universe to discover herself,” she said.

The whirlwind experience of the last few weeks has been exciting and strange, Mr. Cliff said. He went to New York to visit Margaret and got a taste of the VIP lifestyle. He recalled being allowed to cut in front of a line to get into a high-end restaurant, where he saw Leonardo DiCaprio eating.

“I go down there and there’s famous people and I’m just a guy from the woods,” he said.

The rapid rise has not been without its problems, he said, but the benefits outweigh the frequent separations and jet-setting lifestyle.

“It’s fairly new,” he said. “It’s kind of stressful on her and me, but it will all work out.”

“It’s an opportunity of a lifetime,” he said.

-Jacob Tierney, Watertown Daily Times staff writer