London Fashion Week A/W 2018: The Perks & Perils Of A Catwalk Career:

IMG_1596Have you ever thought about becoming a model? Do you dream of emulating high-profile fashion super-stars such as Britain’s Cara Delevingne, Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Ben Allen and Germany’s Benno Bulang? Do you wonder how you could get a job exhibiting the latest creations by designers such as Jasper Conran, Emilia Wickstead, Margaret Howell and Erdem at key events such as the recent London Fashion Week (LFW:16 – 20 February), how much you’d get paid and what the working conditions would be like?

The first and perhaps hardest step is to be somehow “discovered”. That was how it all started for Naomi Campbell: she was apparently shopping in London’s Covent Garden when she attracted the attention of Beth Boldt, the head of Synchro Model Agency. Within just a few months – still only 15 year’s old – she featured on the front cover of the British version of “Elle” magazine. Similarly, Kate Moss, was spotted at the age of 14 by Sarah Doukas, the founder of Storm Model Management,at New York’s JFK Airport. As Storm told the Huffington Post journalist, Rosy Cherrington, they “just never know”when or where they’ll pick out potential new talent: It could be in supermarket queues, at festivals or on any high street across the UK.

So how, asked Cherrrington, does a model agency decide who to approach? Surprisingly, she observes, there’s no minimum height specified on Storm’s website. However, in addition to the “obvious physical requirements like bone structure plus that essential ingredient of being photogenic” they are looking particularly for people with “personality, charm, style, with something to say for themselves and a good work ethic”. This contrasts somewhat with the job description posted online by the luxury lifestyle brand, Nina Naustdal Couture Ltd, who have been looking for models for a future TV project. They emphasize that they “need girls who are at least 1.80m and guys at least 1.85m. They should also be charismatic people between 18 and 30 years old who are not afraid to be in the spotlight, are in good shape and have walking experience”.

IMG_1585If you don’t want to wait until an agency “scout” notices you while you are choosing your yoghurt in Tescos or Sainsburys, how else can you break into the fashion world? The traditional route is to apply to join a model agency – but you should check first whether they are genuine and legitimate. The best-known ones, such as Elite, Storm, Premier and Model 1, would seem to meet this criteria, but many others do not. On 16th February, coinciding with the first day of LFW, the head of the British Fashion Council (BFC), Caroline Rush, (as reported by the London Evening Standard columnist Lizzie Edmonds) highlighted the fact that the British Fashion Model Agency Association (BFMAA) was established at the end of 2017 “ to promote diversity in the industry and to help support and protect all models, ensure that they are treated appropriately and feel safe throughout any job”. Carolyn Franklin MBE, Professor of Diversity at the Kingston School of Art, acknowledged in her introduction in the LFW Handbook that “In 2018, it is simply not enough to ‘create” without accountability or ethics”.

The BFMAA replaced the Association of Model Agents (AMA) set up in 1974. Its website warns that “there are plenty of scam artists trying to deceive young impressionable people who are interested in modelling”. It is not common practice, advises the BFMAA, for legitimate agencies to ask for a fee when you sign up with them or even at a later stage. None of their income should come from their models, only from clients who want to book them. The US Federal Trade Commission’s list of “indications that you may be dealing with a scam” is equally applicable in the UK. For example, be careful if you are told you have to use a specific photographer (so can’t choose your own), if they promise big salaries and they assure you that they’ll get you lots of work (no modelling or acting job is ever a certainty). Moreover, modelling agencies aren’t the same as modelling and acting schools: “ These claim to provide instruction (for a fee) in poise, diction, skin care, make-up application and the proper walk” – all of which will supposedly guarantee you a successful career in modelling thereafter.

IMG_1632Both the BFMAA and Model Management Ltd (MM) offer practical suggestions for aspiring models: “Maintain a healthy life-style, work-out regularly, apply a nutritious diet, get sufficient sleep and avoid smoking and alcohol. Drink lots of water and avoid too many late nights. A tired model is not a working model – and it shows”. It’s fundamental, they say, to look after your skin and hair, use quality skin and hair care products, keep make-up to a minimum and make sure you take it off before you go to bed. Never get your hair cut or dyed without first consulting your agency. You should be available for as many model castings as possible: These are effectively job interviews and should be regarded as such. If a model agency does offer you a contract, declares MM, “make sure that it’s reliable and includes the standard conditions of the industry. Keep an eye on the following points: percentage of commission, duration of contract, cancellation terms, exclusiveness and any hidden costs or fees”.

IMG_1588 IMG_1589 IMG_1606 IMG_1610 IMG_1618 IMG_1626 IMG_1633 IMG_1638So if you are finally booked for a fashion show, how much will you get paid? The Netflix Social Media Manager, Lexi Nisita, has suggested on Refinery29.inc that the figure could be around £775, though of course models who have become well-known and hence are sought-after earn a great deal more. But if you’re determined nonetheless to make it as a model, then, with a bit of luck, we’ll see you one day on the catwalks at LFW.

Filed under: Society | Posted on February 20th, 2018 by Colin D Gordon

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