When Lior Cole decided to meet a friend in Washington Square Park in New York in the summer of 2021, she had no idea that her life would change that day.
The striking six-foot (1.83-meter) Cole was noticed by the designer Hay Batsheva, who was on hand for a photoshoot for her latest collection. Hay asked Cole to model for her on location, then put her in touch with a major international modeling agency. IMG-Models. IMG signed with Cole immediately.
Since then, Cole has walked the catwalks in New York, Paris and Milan for top designers Proenza SchoulerHugo Boss, Marni, Loeweand Ludovic de Saint-Sernin. She has also produced campaigns for brands such as Zara and Aztec mountain, and modeled clothes in designer studios as they developed looks. Some of her runway photos have already appeared in the print edition of Vogue magazine.
Cole, 21, is currently in France for Paris Fashion Week – Fall/Winter 2022-2023.
Cole may have fallen in love with modeling, but she hasn’t given up on her other passion: computers. A student at Cornell University, Cole is excited about artificial intelligence (AI) and its use for prosocial purposes.
His first major project is Robo Rabbian artificial intelligence that reads and interprets the weekly Torah parsha (part), then generates a related challenge aimed at defending and promoting Jewish values.
“Robo Rabbi started as a side project last year. Rosh Hashanah was approaching, and I had just been exposed to GPT-3 technology. It’s a natural language processor that allows AI to learn huge amounts of text on the Internet,” Cole explained in an interview with The Times of Israel as she prepared to fly to Paris.
“Then in the end, I primed the AI with a Jewish lens to watch the weekly parsha”, she says.
Cole released Robo Rabbi as a pilot for the Ten Days of Repentance between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur 2021. She launched the full version in February 2022. Robo Rabbi caught the world’s attention when a BBC news video titled “God and Robots: Will AI Transform Religion?” highlighted Cole and his ideas behind his AI-powered website. The BBC reporter interviewed Cole as she showed Robo Rabbi to Rabbi Moshe Lewin at the Great Synagogue of Pariswhen she was in the French capital in the fall of 2021 for Spring-Summer 2022 Fashion Week.
“I anticipate that this project will evolve into a larger concept. But I’m also working on other things, including a digital art and NFT project using AI and blockchain to amplify philanthropic goals,” Cole said.
When he arrived at Cornell in the fall of 2019, the arts-oriented Cole had no interest in computing. However, she got hooked when she took a class in which she learned how a computer works and what it can do.
“A computer is modeled from a brain, so you have to deconstruct the human experience to program it. I was really drawn to the philosophical, artistic and creative aspect of it,” said Cole, who specializes in information science with a triple concentration in data science, networks and user experience.
She realized there was a place for diverse voices in the tech world.
“Technology is not just for mathematicians,” she insisted.
Cole particularly wants to focus on applying AI for positive and ethical ends, rather than nefarious ones that grab headlines, like influencing voting behaviors or scamming individuals out of their savings.
Although extremely tall and naturally lithe, hazel-eyed Cole never thought about modeling while growing up in Great Neck, Long Island, with her Israeli-born mother, Jewish-American father and older sister.
“I always liked being tall, but it was weird in middle school when my shoulders were higher than my friends’ heads. Sharing clothes was tough,” Cole said.
Predictably, she played basketball and volleyball in school and for many summers at Jewish summer camp.
“But I was only good because I was tall,” she said.
Although she was never a fashionista, Cole had an interest in clothes as a girl. She had a sewing machine and often made her own clothes from recycled materials. Professional modeling, however, took her to a whole different world.
“Lior has an urban, edgy aesthetic and learns very quickly,” said Dean Rodgers, Cole’s director at IMG.
It was Rodgers who taught Cole how to walk a fashion catwalk, and she basically picked up the rest as she went.
As an extremely tall girl, Cole had never worn high-heeled shoes. It was something she had to get comfortable with quickly.
“I worked out wearing stilettos at the grocery store,” she said.
According to Rodgers, Cole is the kind of role model IMG is looking for — and it’s not just about physical attractiveness.
“IMG is known for having talent whose qualities, ambitions and voices extend far beyond their campaigns and editorials. Lior’s interest in AI is quite unique – she’s the first model I know to combine her personal interests with coding and building AI-driven apps, and also the first to me. have ever offered a Ray Kurzweil coffee cup,” Rodgers said, referring to the famed inventor and futurist.
Cole said she loves modeling for top designers because it allows her to be “a muse for crazy, creative geniuses.”
She likes to travel, meet new people and go behind the scenes of the fashion world.
Cole wore revealing clothes, like the barely there number by Ludovic de Saint Sernin she featured on the runway last season.
“I’m super comfortable in my own skin, and so I’m ready for the riskier designs — as long as it’s kosher with my agency,” Cole said.
So far, she hasn’t encountered the much-hyped underbelly of modeling, which includes drug use, eating disorders, sexual harassment and abuse, and even human trafficking.
“Luckily I haven’t had a bad experience with modeling, but I don’t respond to random guys who invite me to parties by DMing me on Instagram,” she said.
Cole wants to take her modeling as far as it can go, and Rodgers said he plans a “long-term career in fashion” for her.
Cole is on leave from Cornell this year to balance getting her degree and modeling and the various freelance AI projects she is working on. She even wrote a children’s book about AI and submitted it to literary agents.
Cole is convinced she will find the right balance. She discovered that modeling and computer science complement each other well.
“There is a lot of dead time in modeling. So when I have free time, I just open my laptop and do some coding,” she said.