Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Gaylord News

Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Gaylord News

Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Gaylord News

From Red Dirt to the runway, Oklahoma models strut their stuff

Ronnie Davis endorsing Wrangler Western Wear. Photo provided by Ronnie Davis.

NEW YORK – A cowboy, a Korean-American and a determined self-starter are among the Oklahoma-made models whose careers are taking them across the world.

Last month, Ronnie Davis of Oklahoma City didn’t realize he was made for modeling. The rancher, calf-roper and Pony Express Player (which is a ranch-rodeo version of a horse race) was chosen to walk in the Louis Vuitton Paris Fashion Week Show, which celebrated Western fashion. Organizers invited many working cowboys to add authenticity to the show, including Taylor Williams of Oklahoma City.

“It meant a lot to embark on this journey to Paris, for one, I had never been out of the country but I knew that it would bring you exposure to what I did here back at home as well as the cowboy world and the rodeo scene,” Davis said.

Davis was already a rodeo competitor before he decided to model, which allowed him to endorse Western brands such as Wrangler. But Louis Vitton was not on his radar for 2024.

“It showed us in the cowboy world that we weren’t necessarily being taken lightly, they wanted to give us that credit as well,” Davis said.

“I was like, I have to do this…not only for me, but I need to do this for the fellow Oklahomans, their fellow cowboys out of Oklahoma, just to show them no matter what, never settle.”

Honored to work with Louis Vuitton, Davis said he wants to continue exploring the world of fashion. He was unable to attend New York Fashion Week because of his ranch duties back home, but Western designs were well-represented on the runway this year.

“Now I say I am interested in doing something like this again, but Louis Vuitton set the bar pretty high,” Davis said.

Lara Park, who grew up in Edmond, said she was scouted while in high school by Brink Models of Oklahoma City, and is now walking for top fashion designers.

“I got lucky with the timing where I got signed with the local agency in my hometown, and then a New York agent happened to be in town scouting,” Park said.

“After I got signed, I didn’t have an opportunity to even get myself involved with the Oklahoma community, just like, get connected and go the right path and then I was out of there.”

Lara Park, in photos left to right, models for Son Jung Wan during Fashion Week 2023, Claudia Li in Fashion Week 2022 and Vivienne Tam during Fashion Week 2023. Photos by Chad Thomson and Edward Kim. Image provided by Lara Park.

Shortly after graduating from high school, Park moved to New York to pursue her career in modeling. Believing in herself and her capabilities, she was determined to achieve her dreams.

“The collective things that I’m super proud of, is being able to work with incredible designers here in New York, such as Chanel, and working with brands that I never thought I’d be able to work with,” Park said.

“I can look back on this moment (New York Fashion Week)  like, Wow, I’ve really just had my mind expanded onto what makes fashion possible, what makes art art.”

Park will graduate in the spring from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and will continue to model. Celebrating both her family heritage, from Korea, and her childhood in Oklahoma, Park is ready to venture out and see the world.

“It took me to this point in my life to find what home means to me, and it’s more in people and also in myself,” she said.

Park said she is excited about the rise of diversity in the modeling industry, with more designers featuring a variety of races and body types in their shows.

Claira Grace Kraft, another Oklahoman, had dreamed of walking the runway since she was a little girl. Growing up with a photographer as a sister, she was no stranger to the camera.

“From a very young age, I was always kind of in front of the camera,” Kraft said. “And over the years as I got super tall, I realized that I had a passion for modeling and I had a passion for creating something, something that was bigger than myself and I decided that I really wanted to pursue that.”

Claira Grace Kraft models for, from left to right, Malvine Magazine in a photo by Alejandro Panesso, Shantalllacayo, photo by Vera Melissa, and Flying Solo in Fashion Week 2023, photo by Randy Brooke. Image provided by Claira Grace Kraft.

Beginning her childhood in California, it felt like her options were endless. But when she was 10 years old her family moved to Oklahoma.  Kraft started to feel helpless in achieving her dream career, although she was determined to find her way into the spotlight.

Kraft realized she needed to pave her own way if she was going to become a model. Using social media as her main networking tool, she found other Oklahoma creatives.

Through her time spent in Oklahoma, she realized there is a lot of talent in the state.

Reaching out and collaborating with other creatives, Kraft built up her portfolio. With  determination and willingness, she was able to conquer what felt like hopelessness.

“As long as you keep going and you keep trying, you’re going to make it in one way or another.”

Kraft said she understands the importance of self-confidence and support in this field. Modeling for New York Fashion Week in September, she received a taste of the big city and would love the opportunity to live there, although for now she’s trying the scene in California.

“I think it’s very important not to be intimidated and to know that we can support each other. And everybody is different and unique and beautiful in their own way,” Kraft said.


Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma College of Journalism and Mass Communication. For more articles by Gaylord News go to

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