When fashion shows come to an end there are few who breathe a bigger sigh of relief who else can be rather than the army of models who flit from city to city over the four weeks, attending a seemingly endless stream of castings, call-backs, fittings and often walking in dozens of shows. While there’s glamour in spades- how could there not be when you’re showcasing clothes which are destined to cost thousands the moment they hit the shops? There are also plenty of strange realities/truths which come with a job that is like no other of being a model.
The topic of model wellbeing was high on the list of flashpoints ahead of this fashion month, after two of the world’s biggest luxury conglomerates, Kering and LVMH, drew up a charter to protect the health and work conditions of women/men who model for their labels which include Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Dior and Celine. And just this weekend, model Louise Parker made a stand on Instagram and attracted hundreds of comments after she had her hair cut and took a long haul flight to Paris to walk for Balenciaga, only to be informed at the last moment that she wouldn’t be cast in the show, after all.
And as for what happens? “You put your high heels on, line up, you hand the director a card, you normally do a walk for them, they take photos of you, sometimes if they like you, you try stuff on from the collection, sometimes they’ll take your measurements and talk to you and try to get to know you a little better like where you’re from, your age, what you’re like as a person,” says Arruda. “Each casting could take anywhere between 5 minutes and 5 hours depending on the client.”
“Castings can be numerous and long but, the longer you’ve been doing them, the fewer you actually need to go to, as the designers and casting directors already have an idea of whether they want you or not,” explains Mullen. “Also, now I do the castings that fit into the strategy that I’ve created with my agents, as well as walking in certain shows for designer friends.”
“I remember panicking that I’d never worn heels before, but the adrenaline and excitement powered me through it all,” recalls Mullen of her first ever show for Alexander Wang in New York. It was 2011 and she had only been scouted four weeks before.
With so many shows under their belts, Mullen and Arruda are now more comfortable with the feeling of walking down a catwalk with the eyes of hundreds upon them but certain jobs still stand out. “The best memories are always when the show you’re walking is super fun or something unexpected happens,” says Arruda. “Sometimes you’ll get to the venue and they’ll say, ‘Okay everyone hops on that bus’s and they take you to some far away or beautiful location. Sometimes they’ll turn the runway set for a themed party or have some sort of stunt going on. I always think to myself how lucky I am when I get to experience something so out of the ordinary like that.”
Of course, not every casting can result in a booking so it takes a stony resolve for models not to take rejections personally, especially when they can happen at the last moment.
“Some of the worst moments would be getting canceled from a show you were really excited about scoring. I just remember that it might not necessarily be anything wrong with me as a model, it could just be that the outfit got cut from the show or that I did not fit with the theme this year,” reasons Arruda.
Models of course, as the name says and by their very nature, will look fabulous in even the baggiest, comfiest hoodie and given that they’re usually running across cities or catching flights often for the castings, fittings, and shows one after the other in different countries, it’s the most relaxed look that win when it comes to their off-catwalk wardrobes.
“I always have my comfy outfits for the plane (Adidas pants, a hoodie, and sneakers) and I always carry heels, a simple t-shirt, and jeans for castings,” says Arruda of her approach to packing for show season. “I always throw in pops of color for the street style photographers since it catches the eye. Last season I remember girls were calling me ‘the girl with the cool pants ‘because every day I would show up with different vintage sweatpants and shorts that nobody could find.”
“Jeans, shirts and a nice jacket and a statement bag and you’re pretty much sorted,” is Mullen’s simple philosophy. “My yellow Louis Vuitton bag always brightens up a look and I never go anywhere without my patent leather boots. I always over pack and pick up so much on the way through the fashion week circuit that I need 3 pairs of hands getting me home from Paris on the Eurostar.”
She has also found an ingenious strategy for getting all possessions from a to b. “When my suitcase is overflowing sometimes I double up on hoodies and socks on the plane.” Ahh, now that’s something I call intelligence.
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