Do you think you have what it takes to be a top model …
Then you need to read this now!
Modelling is a business. Your job is to make money for your client.
This is the most important thing you need to understand from the very beginning. It’s a job. Although it can be a lot of fun walking on catwalks, posing for photographs and meeting so many creative people - it is ultimately about you selling a brand, product or event. To be successful, modelling requires discipline, dedication to perfection, really good people skills, time management, loyalty and your own vision to being the very best version of yourself. The hours are long, it can be very stressful … and mostly you bring your own sandwiches ! But - if it’s for you - you will absolutely love it. The excitement of backstage, the buzz of live TV, the opportunity to meet so many talented designers, make up, hair artists, stylists and creatives. It’s not 9-5, permanent or pensionable - but if you love fashion, are willing to work hard and can face the challenge of each new day as you find it . . . then read on!
The Basics …
Every generation has a look that is considered in fashion. Think Twiggy in the 60’s, Cindy Crawford in the 90’s and Kendall or Gigi today. However in the everyday world of real modelling here at Ground Zero, which ultimately transcends any ‘model of the moment’ trends, you need to know and understand the following …
1. You need to be PHOTOGENIC. This is essential. Being photogenic can be very different to being beautiful (and sometimes very beautiful people are strangely not at all photogenic).
2. A good , maintained look. Glowing skin, healthy hair and a nice smile.
3. Height matters . Ideally you should at least be 5’9” for women or 6’ for men. However if you are not, don’t be discouraged as Kate Moss is 5’7”.
4. Weight matters. Thankfully, the heroin chic, super skinny look is slowly leaving, and we have amazing roles models such as Ashley Graham and Irish supermodel Louise O’Reilly. What different agencies require depends on their own clients. For example, for our agency, the ideal size is 10 - 12, as we deal mostly with independent boutique labels, Irish design brands and commercial companies. If you are considering a career with most fashion based agencies In London, Paris, Milan and New York, size 6-8 would be the norm- ‘no boobs, no hips.’
5. Your shape matters. When you are young (let’s say this is aged 14 - 18 in the model world) - you have not yet fully developed your shape - which explains why many fashion models are in their mid to late teens. Once you grow up - the most desired shape is in proportion. For example if you are a pear shape - then you make take a size 12 on the bottom and a size 10 on top - this makes it difficult to fit you as a model for a one sized garment such as a dress. So ideally models are hour glass or a ruler shape - but again rules are there to be broken
6. Keep it natural. The less you do to yourself the better. Especially as a younger model, avoid the temptation to dye/ bleach your hair, over tan your skin, use any cosmetic fillers, etc. .
7. Get and Stay fit. Happily fitness is very much in fashion for both men and women. A toned body is much better than a skinny body . The only word of warning (as with everything) is to do it in moderation.
8. Eat! No one wants to represent or book an underweight model (or if they do - they should not). So maintain a healthy weight and eat a balanced diet.
9. Movement. You can be born with natural good looks, but you learn graceful and fluid movement and it is essential to being a successful model. When booking models with us, particularly for runway or shoots, clients always want to know how well a model moves (walks, turns, poses and shows the clothes). With patience and practice, good movement can be learned. A background in ballet, dancing, yoga and pilates also helps as they improve self awareness and flexibility.
10. Getting scouted. The stories of Naomi Campbell or Kate Moss scouted in supermarkets and Airports are not representative of how most models get agents! Although the bigger agencies definitely have scouts, the more traditional route of applying or attending open castings is probably a better option.
11. Selecting an Agency. If you are lucky enough to have Agencies vying to sign you, then you need to decide which one will best represent your look and has a good reputation and client base. Often it is possible for a model to have more than one Agency which operate in different markets, although this needs to be approved with your agency first.
12. Beware of scams. There are lots of bogus agencies that will take your money for portfolio shoots, courses or entry fees. So do your home work first. As an overview most agencies do not charge any sign up fee. However, as a model you still have to get a portfolio professionally produced. Normally agents recommend a photographer who they have agreed a set rate for you with, or may organise to cover the cost for you (and you pay the agency when you get your first job). A note on portfolio shoots - before you book and pay, ensure it is a good photographer who has experience in shooting model portfolios (not landscapes and weddings). Do not over style yourself and keep your make up and hair simple. You can build your ‘book’ (images from booked jobs) over time to show your versatility.
13. Getting booked and importantly Re-Booked. Remember your agent represents and promotes you - but it is the client who books and pays . So to get you over the line to getting booked - you definitely need good images and these need to show the versatility of your look. Then remember that when booked (for example here a fashion shoot) you are selling clothes not yourself (supermodels were accused of distracting from the clothes with their celebrity overshadowing the brand and this eventually led to their demise). So always be complementary and never, not ever, never say you don’t like what you are wearing ! Then a reputation for being on time, arriving with your kit, helping on site and being generally a nice human (as well as a stellar model) will get you re-booked. Ultimately it is a case of ‘No divas please’.
14. Be prepared for lots and lots of rejection and disappointment, endless castings, being optioned and not being selected and generally not knowing where your next job, or pay-check is coming from! This is a model’s life.
15. Practice, practice, practice - and learn how to be camera ready (this means know how to do your own hair, make up, apply lashes, manicure your nails, wax, etc)
16. Instagram - carefully curate your profile, stories and images, as it is so very important in the modelling world. So many of our clients now book models because of their Instagram and many of our jobs particularly from clients based outside Ireland, are booked because of images a model has, and the vibe they communicate, from Instagram. Keep your other social media (the wild nights out etc) on private !
17. Important. Do not enter modelling because you feel you need to boost your confidence. So often we have ‘moms’ call us to suggest their daughters and sons as models to ‘build their confidence’. Modelling is not a deportment class. It’s a tough, insensitive, unforgiving industry. If you have confidence or anxiety issues, it will shatter your core. To survive you need a tough skin, inner resilience to live and learn, the relentless drive to self develop and to be the very best you can be without losing sight of who you are.
Upfront Model Management specialise in representing mature (over 30) commercial and fashion models in the South West of Ireland for shoots, shows, corporate and commercial projects. We also represent new faces and fashion models. The agency has produced fashion weeks, stellar shows and our models have featured in national campaigns, publications and TV
After reading the above, if you think you have want it takes …. please get in touch using the contact form on our website or by emailing your details to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Orla Diffily, model agent, fashion consultant, fashion week producer and stylist with RTE Today.
Follow and contact her on @orladiffily