Going to the beach with a bunch of gays, who make a living on ranking women is not for the weak of heart. Thank the lord I was snatched to the gods and could handle it. These were model agents after all, women are merited based on aesthetics, which can sometimes spill over into real life. More than a time, or two I had to get them together. You aren’t in front of the camera for a reason, lest you forget.
Elite’s Manhattan office after hours, it was a special occasion. We drank remnants of an opened bottle of champagne from clear plastic cups, against a jaw dropping view of the skyline. Givenchy was debuting at New York Fashion Week, Riccardo Tisci at the helm. Three agents (DNA, Ford, Elite) and I sat encased in a glass box staring at the big screen. I’ve had an affinity for models since elementary school. Being the tallest girl in class most of my life, it was a relief to see people as gigantic as me. I was casted as a young girl, but my mom would never take me. Glory be, the industry is brutal, kudos to those who traverse it successfully, self-esteem still in tact. While I watched the show for the theatrics and artistry, they watched to see how the girls performed, the clothes completely escaping their minds.
Pat McGrath make-up and masks couldn’t conceal whose who. They recognized a model based on legit her ears! EARS for christ sake! In light of fashion week coming to a close, here are some things I’ve learned based on the insights of agents:
- Agencies Are Ranked: If you don’t work for a top ten agency, you’re considered a joke. They will cackle and drag you to the catacombs, especially if you’re not in the top three. Forget about it.
- Rankings Change: All the time, depending on who is traded where, earnings and how many supermodels are on the roster. One month it’s IMG, the next it’s The Society.
- Weekend Of Tears: Is a thing, girls cry when they don’t make the cut for the big shows. You can find models in and out of various offices, faces stained, because they didn’t book Alexander Wang or Chanel.
- Broke Until You’re Not: A lot of girls come as, well girls, teenagers who are placed in a model house. If you aren’t booked and making money, you’re going home broke and in debt (rent, transportation, food…). That’s why getting the big shows and campaigns matter, it means visibility and big bucks. Especially if you’re supporting a family overseas. No one wants to be dropped and owing the agency what they didn’t make back.
- Male Models: Struggle more than anyone. Unless you’re a top male model, you’re nobody.
To be a success in this industry takes skill, tenacity and a thick skin. They make it look easy, because that’s their job. Whose your favorite mannequin? Photo: Riccardo Tisci Instagram