Santa Barbara native Natalie Tirrell has been an international model, a biochemist, and a virtual reality designer for UCLA. Starting at 17 on a Greek Island, Natalie’s modeling career spanned 33 years in New York, France, Italy, Greece, and Tokyo. Early on Natalie won the award "Best Model in Europe" at the Moda Mare Internatzionale in Italy. At that time, she was Emilio Pucci's model in Florence. She moved to New York, and while modeling during the day for top fashion designers, she went to college at night. In 1983 she graduated Summa Cum Laude in Chemistry, having won a National Science Foundation Undergraduate Research Grant. Following graduation, Natalie became a member of a hemophilia research team with Dr. Dominique Meyer, M.D., Ph-D, at The Scripps Research Institute, Molecular Genetics Laboratory, in La Jolla, CA. Concurrently, her modeling career continued, and from 1985 until her retirement in 1998, she was the star model for designer James Galanos.* Her work with him culminated in a major retrospective show, "Galanos: 45 Years of Style" at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Natalie is prominently featured in the award-winning documentary, Galanos on Galanos. The interview with Natalie also provides the backbone narrative of the video.
Upon retiring from modeling, Natalie returned to UCLA to do post-baccalaureate studies in Art History and discovered a talent for virtual reality modeling, creating interactive 3-dimensional computer models of buildings and archaeological sites. Her models were used by UCLA professors who projected the architectural "walk-throughs" for classes in Minoan Art and Ancient Greek Architecture. In 2002, she was employed by the Cultural Virtual Reality Lab at UCLA to model the 17th C. town of Port Royal, Jamaica, sunk in an earthquake in 1692. Natalie researched and recreated the pre-quake town of 2000 buildings in a virtual model that plays continuously (click for fly-through) alongside nautical archaeological artifacts at The Ocean Institute Museum in Dana Point, CA. Her model can also be viewed on request at the UCLA Visualization Portal.
For almost two decades, Natalie booked out one month each year to give a preteen boy or girl a trip to France, Italy and Greece, inspiring them to be adventurous and open to cultural diversity. She has also traveled alone and with friends to North Africa, China, the interior of the Amazon, and Indonesia.
Natalie lives in Pacific Palisades, CA. She is currently writing about her multi-faceted life (working title, Belle Phoenix) as well as doing motivational speaking, VR modeling, research, and digital design. She is multilingual (French, Italian, and Greek) and has been written about in many European magazines as well as Time (1989) and in a story about Galanos in April 2007 Vanity Fair. Natalie is actively supportive of women's and equal rights issues, she is a Disaster Relief Volunteer for the Red Cross, and she has worked on Habitat for Humanity builds. She especially enjoys cooking, painting, writing, sailing, and traveling.
*Click to view Galanos Original Samples (for sale)