Life As A Model

It’s mid-March in Los Angeles, which means the days are warm and sunny and at night the air grows just crisp enough that you need a light jacket or sweater. Perfect weather for an east coast transplant like myself. It also means that it’s once again time for Fashion Week in Los Angeles. It happens twice a year here, as it does in other markets. And while designers, models and agents are all working at a frantic pace this time of year, the reality is most of the industry looks at LAFW as the forgotten step-kid of the fashion world. You never hear about LAFW in the news, and there’s never any big models walking in the shows. Occasionally you’ll get a somewhat big name designer to grace the stage or a Clippers player will show up in the audience and take a few pictures for the press, but that’s about as big of a celebrity as you get here. I’m not trying to take away anything from the organizers who work around the clock to put the events together or the designers who pour their souls into hours and hours of hard work, but the fact is unless you’re in New York, London, Paris, or Milan the fashion world, or the general public for that matter, really doesn’t pay attention. With that said, I’m sure I’ll still be out hitting different events (I can’t pass up an open bar, can I?) and saying hi to friends, but I thought I would take this time to fill people in on what it’s really like to be a working model.

First off, you need to realize that there are thousands of other pretty people out there who are trying to do the same thing as you. You may be the prettiest person in your hometown, but come to a major market, and you’re just another name and face getting lost in the concrete jungle. The competition is stiff, and rejection looms around every corner. Being a model, I face rejection every single day. Even the biggest models in the world don’t book every job they go out for (except maybe Gisele). If you want to become a model, you need to learn how to handle rejection. And unless your parents are loaded, you need to have another job. I have about six other jobs. Modeling gigs are so sporadic that you need some sort of consistent income coming in to survive. I’m constantly chasing down money from all over the place, but that’s the life of freelance work. Things can get very hectic so you need to learn how to properly manage your time. I try to plan out my days as best as possible, but my schedule changes by the hour sometimes. It’s a constant juggling act, and it can be a little overwhelming at times, but you work your way through it like anything else. The last thing I’ll say is that you need to realize that this is a completely subjective industry, and you can’t take things personally. Your job is to be a vessel or canvas for the clothing that you’re wearing and when someone tells you to lose weight or change your hair, it has nothing to do with you as a person, that’s just the canvas that they’re looking for. Sometimes people can be cruel and harsh, but that’s part of the gig. Learn to be comfortable in your own skin and learn to handle sexuality. The fashion world is driven by sex. As a model, you have to make people want to be you, or make them want to fuck you. If you can grasp all of that, then you’ll be just fine.

I think any time someone tries to pursue a dream; they do it because of a genuine passion that they have. Fashion is art, and like any good art, it connects with us on a deep level. The harsh reality comes when you try and take your passion and make a living off it. The business of fashion, and the business of entertainment aren’t driven by the pursuit of passion; they’re driven by money and the bottom line. I grew up in the music business, which is a pretty shallow, cruel, backstabbing world, so even though the world of modeling is still relatively new to me, it’s the same sort of bullshit that thrives in the music space, and that helped me as I ventured into the world of fashion. The public perception that life as a model is all glitz and glamour and parties with pretty people is very much a mirage. I think most people who get into the fashion world and want to be models aren’t prepared for the realities of what it’s really like. And despite that, at the end of the day, I get to be creative and have fun with what I’m doing, and that’s what’s important to me.

 Mike