Fashion Weak

2.14.2017

Fashion week: a seemingly glamorous, relaxed time in which cool parties, private taxis and backstage areas filled with bottomless champagne are on the agenda. A time where models stay in luxurious 5* hotels and indulge in chocolate dipped strawberries from room service whilst waiting for their stylist to come and drop off an outfit for them to wear to their shows and castings, all whilst admiring the finest views of London from their generously gifted penthouse suite. All of the above may be true if you are Kendall Jenner or one of the Hadid sisters (no hate girls), but for the rest of us, a cramped model apartment costing way over what it should for a bunkbed in a flat with no true sunlight - and a roommate who talks in Russian on the phone till 4am. No private taxi, and parties aren't an option unless you're a model skipping fashion week this season. Chocolate dipped strawberries turn into a snack pot of fruit from Pret and bottomless champagne? A mere dream. And yet we continuously manage to make it look so effortless and the epitome of beguiling. 

Schedules for the day being text or emailed the night before was just another enticing perk that came with being a model during Fashion Week. Sometimes, you get called in to the agency at 8am and given your list of castings. Swapping papers with your fellow agency friends to see if you had similar timetables was a mandatory part of the morning. Fashion week goes by a lot smoother and less breakdowns occur if you have a friend to share it with. Luckily for me, I was given 25 castings for one day. You may or may not be able to tell, but the use of the word 'luckily' was riddled with sarcasm. Imagine going to 25 job interviews in one day. You don't want to - its exactly how you imagine it.

Castings are usually a sea of tall, beautiful, skinny women and girls all clad in black skinny jeans, a crop top or a 'cool band t-shirt' (that their bookers probably picked out for them), and heels. Add a touch of leather and some Soft Goth Glam if it's a Wang casting. The black skinny [jeans] is something that is so much of a necessity in a models wardrobe, I think you can claim tax back on it. Unlike the ephemerality of fashion trends, the casting outfits don't change massively over time. It was the same the whole 3 years I was working. You can usually spot a model on the street a mile away. Probably looking at CityMapper and clutching a portfolio or a pair of heels. Its quite comical sometimes, you just know when someones casting for Fashion Week, and you both give off an awkward smile and usually engage in small talk about how to get to the location.

Food is not rare during fashion week, and you are in no way encouraged to starve yourself, but majority of the time, that's exactly what you're lacking - time. You have some breakfast before you set off on your day, but have no real hours in between castings to grab something to eat. Even stopping at a Tesco you feel like you're wasting valuable travelling time. Its always later on when you're sitting at a 4 hour long casting wondering why you didn't just stop to grab a *healthy* meal deal. You just have to pray they provide snacks and rinse the vegetable crisps on offer. Thanks Burberry.

The late nights and early mornings are probably the least ideal schedules for models as no one wants to see a model walking down the runway with bags under their eyes. Preferably the only bags people want are designer and carried, rather than worn as a very un-cute facial accessory. Alas, sleeping is not a luxury you experience much during FW, so often you will find girls napping in long castings, on tubes and probably in some sort of organic vegan coffee shop, before waking up to 13 missed calls from their bookers frantically asking their whereabouts. I've known fittings to go on till 3am. I once was called at 1am to go to a last minute casting as they were 'ready to book me'. Despite being in my pyjamas, I obliged and dragged my tired self to a warehouse in Hackney to be fitted for the show the next day. No wonder it was dubbed 'Fashion Weak'.

Castings can either be surprisingly quick or painfully long. A portable charger is an absolute must. Usually, you will be waiting in a corridor or a room full of other models sitting on the floor, probably eating or conversing. Despite the majority being over 5'9 in height and way over 6'2 in heels, there is barely ever any room for all of us to sit or stand, so typically, you have to clamber your way over mounds of long legs, whilst trying not to fall over or stab anyone with your high heel. Entering the room where the casting director and/or designer is waiting is quite possibly one of the most daunting experiences, particularly if you're casting for a brand that could launch your career into model-stardom and wealth. First impressions are everything and it is usually decided within the first few seconds of entering the room whether they like you or not. You walk over to the table in which they are sitting down at, place your card down and try to cram in as much smiling and chatty behaviour as possible before they stop you in your tracks and make you walk for them to judge. Some casting directors don't even pretend to watch you walk. They don't even do it for decoration. They just say thank you after you've awkwardly stood there for 10 seconds because they didn't realise you were finished as they weren't watching. And then off you go to the next one. Repeat x25. 

Shows, for models, are pretty relaxed. I guess that's the only chance you have during Fashion Week to actually just sit down and eat a complimentary croissant and drink a pressed juice. There is a lot of waiting around and posing, before and after getting your makeup done and hair pulled, burnt, ripped out, poked and gelled. However, compared to the manic outside, at least you have 3 hours to enjoy doing very little. There is usually a rehearsal in which they will go over the runway once (and expect you to remember the complicated maze-like route in which they want you to take), then when guests viewing the show start to arrive, you begin to get dressed and face the backstage paparazzi. Whilst getting changed, you notice the heard of black jeans clad women have now all changed and are donning nude seamless thongs and a no bra look before putting on their expensive garments, ready to stride down the runway. 
Walking a runway is probably one of the most adrenaline fuelled, nerve wracking, insanely scary but also empowering thing I've ever done. There is no rush that compares to the feeling of striding down a catwalk with all eyes on you, trying desperately not to fall over in the 7 inch heels that are 3 sizes too big, all whilst trying to serve the most model-like face you can. Its exhilarating, yes. But would I trade it all in for a Big Mac and a nap? Probably. 

Despite the deep dark warehouses in Hackney, the cramped conditions, the walking in the below freezing snow and rain - to the unbearable heat and sunshine, getting blisters from your high heels, breaking your back trying to carry everything you need for the day, not eating much, barely sleeping, having several break downs due to sleep deprivation, having your hair fried and ripped from your skull, face red from removing and re applying so much harsh makeup, constant rejection, criticism, dead phone batteries and the fear of falling on the runway, I always missed fashion week once it was over and I'd caught up on sleep.

To all the girls powering on through this season: you can do it. Bring plasters, grab some food to put in your bag even if you're not hungry and don't forget your portable charger. Sleep is just around the corner.




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