RUNWAY MODELS AND FASHION-SHOW WORK
In the past few years, there has been an unbelievable phenomenon on the fashion runway. It has become a social event of the highest order. The queens of the runway shows include about a dozen high-fashion divas who work every big name designer's presentation in Paris and Italy. The United States does not have the old-name fashion houses at this level, and haute couture is the real showstopper of the fashion world. When these shows are given, they are such social happenings that hotels are booked a year in advance. It is no wonder that the supermodels can command such high salaries when the shows that they work draw masses of millionaires just dying to buy these garments before someone else does. It's a little like Evita. She knew enough to want the very best. And when the gowns are selling for $350,000 each, you can understand the model who says that she is what made the gown look so desirable and, thus, demands her share, too.
One fashion supermodel also received the salary of $60,000 for seventy-two hours of work on the runway. The women need tremendous stamina, even though they look like they would blow over in a wind. They appear in endless shows during a few insanely hectic weeks.
The haute couture clothing is the really fabulous costume of which dreams are made. There is no limit to cost of fabric, dramatic presentation, or talent. The runway at this level has replicated show business wherein the "actresses" need do nothing but walk and turn, and rarely smile. Experience does count for something here, as you see the same models over and over, year after year. Partially because the recognizable model becomes like the recognized designers she represents does all this add up to a form of social status.
The public has always wanted to emulate the rich and the famous, and fashion makes them feel that this is attainable by copying these runway clothes. The really great costumes that ensure the designer's creative recognition are rarely worn by anyone except the models, but the street gear is simply not as fantastic, stunning, or, frankly, as much fun to wear. It is not by accident that the couture designer presents the piece de resistance in the form of a breathtaking, celestial wedding gown as the last statement in his or her collection. It is what fashion and modeling is all about, illusion at its most mystical level.
The fashion model who is invited to do the runway is certainly already a supermodel or nearing that status. These shows are patronized by not only those who can afford to buy the creations (though they are the most necessary) but by the fashion industry, its editors, its manufacturers, and its thousands of links in the chain: hair stylists, accessory makers, makeup artists, and armies of others who are attached to this area of chic.
The runway model usually is not a young teenage girl, but a late teens to late twenties woman with some serious experience. The casual strut dominating the runway comes from years of working what is familiarly referred to as the catwalk. The near-bored-to-death glances from the models probably are more real than theatrical, but it's all part of the portrayal of the semi-jaded attitude so popular in status culture.
Different parts of the world offer different levels of runway work. You will be able to find these jobs in areas as small as your local mall, in small cities at business lunches, for charities on hotel stages, in Seventh Avenue houses, and worldwide wherever fashion exists.
There are also men models on the runways, though rarely is there anywhere near the same hoopla for them. They are, however, beginning to be seen annually on the runways of Paris, Milan, and New York in innovative clothing at big designer's shows. There are simply no comparisons between the celebrity models who are all women and any of the men models. The public can name many of these lady divas, but the male model neither commands the runway nor the gigantic celebrity and its accompanying salaries. Image leads to income, and this is very much a female-beauty dominated world. According to one modeling association, the women model's income outranks the men's by fifty to one hundred times per annum!
One of the biggest modeling agencies in the world is said to represent nearly four times as many women as men. Products and fashion are more often purchased by or for women than men, so the models for these products are the likely persons to be seen with them. The fashion world since Louis XVI has been pretty much one of interest to the female, though that is changing somewhat with the attempts to clothe successful men in something other than blue pinstriped suits.
The runway model is the greatest beauty that the industry can find. These women are tall, leggy, lean, pretty, and have a bit of a bosom. The male runway model must be slender, have nicely developed chest muscles, and be that near classic size 40. He must exude a sexy quality, whatever that is defined as at the moment. Currently it is the unshaven, or clean-cut, or movie star look-alike looks. Statistics show that American men purchase what they need and that fashion per se is only considered by one-fourth of them. With those numbers is it any wonder that men's fashions are still primarily dress suits and casual attire like jeans? There simply aren't as many opportunities for the male model as there are for the females.
The male model is still climbing the ladder and making inroads into the female-dominated trade. There is more work now than ever for male models. With the advent of fashion shows and runway work, men are starting to be more visible, and they are beginning to want the big salaries that women models have enjoyed for many years.
The male market appeals to fashion-conscious men, and as such it must be innovative. Recently a new style of men's suit was introduced. Whether it catches on in the conservative world of men's classic needs will remain to be seen. It would appear that the exact proportion of men interested in the fashion world of clothing at the buyer's level equals the number of models hired. The current proportion is 25 percent of men to women models and that same number at the polls are current fashion trend buyers!
While the female model is exaggerated in height, weight, and exotic look, the male model is usually about six feet tall and weighs around 170 pounds. He and the size 40 suit seem eternal. The truth is that no matter how much the retail business and the designers for men would like to entice a new buying market, it's very small in catching on. Men purchase the uniform requested by their place of work and some casual clothing for days off, but unless they need specialized clothing for, say, horseback riding or soccer, they are very unlikely to buy clothing. Just getting a tuxedo for a formal occasion can cause near apoplexy in most men!
If you are interested in working as a male model, I would offer you the same advice as I do for women. Avoid putting any money up front. Go directly to the largest city within your budget and have an interview at several agencies that you already have contacted. Open calls are great, too; only the competition scares some potential models off. There are scores of model competitors out there anyway, so the sooner you learn to deal with it all, the better for you.
You must have a look that the agent believes he or she can sell. Most of the larger agencies have their own men's models division, and if you just peruse the men's fashion magazines, you will quickly assess the looks currently in vogue. The want ads in large city newspapers as well as the Seventh Avenue papers to the trade will advertise for male models and will have job listings for fit models and some show and runway work. An agent is surely the best avenue to work in all the areas: catalog, photograph, print, TV, video, and even work for illustrators.
Anywhere that you find the astronomical salaries paid for commercials, you'll find actors and models battling it out. If the role does not call for speaking on the air, a model is usually acceptable, and a lot less expensive, to the client. Once an actor with a union affiliation is used, you are usually talking about a $20,000 payment. Last year alone, $1.4 billion were earned by Screen Actors' Guild (SAG) holding contracts. It is no mystery why any model would love to have one of these union cards. Anyone could be a television model from the baby just able to sit to the aged who could do ads for elderly products. Many famous people like sports figures and movie stars also do TV commercials, so the competition is the most frenzied here. Jobs are to be found in any trade paper or periodical, at modeling agencies, or through personal agents.
Sometimes it is simply the ability to do something that few people are capable of or afraid of trying that will land the job. For a while there was a call for bungee jumpers, rock climbers, and hang gliders. As these extreme sports gain in popularity, so will the jobs in commercials for these unique individuals. A voice-over is used in nearly all of these commercials, and the model is merely seen, not heard.
The television commercial is so widely known for making big money that many liken it to winning the lottery. Television casting directors are inundated with thousands of applicants for every commercial. Auditions weed out the masses, and if you are lucky enough to get a callback, it's nearly a miracle. But someone will be chosen, and it could be you. There are ways to improve these odds, and the first step nowadays is to go to acting classes geared toward commercials and learn how to present yourself, as well as make it through the cattle-call auditions that can be devastating.
There are tricks to every trade, and modeling for TV commercials is no different. One believable bottle-blond has done nothing but shampoo commercials for years, and she is still typecast. It often happens that you'll click in a particular area and the money is so stupendous, that you can live on one or two commercials' income for a year. The acting classes that I mentioned above are for children as well as adults and are given in most big cities. There are many supermodels doing TV commercials for huge sums of money as well as little cherubs spitting out baby food for tidy double-digit thousands of dollars. Being a TV model could bring you that union card and the doubled salary for simply being seen and not heard.
There are millions of videos made annually, and many of them entail professional modeling. You can see dozens of video machines rolling in boutiques and department stores. The demonstrations could be anything from blowing up a mattress to cooking with innovative pots and pans.
Models are often employed to discuss deployment of safety gear for airplanes, describe how to sell a particular product to a sales staff, and even do visual inventories like jewelry in a boutique. The possibilities are endless, and though pretty faces and hands are usually enough of a prerequisite to endorse these products, sometimes type characters are employed as well. Many men's products, such as men's perfumes, luggage, and clothing, are sold using male models. Although the runway shows that are presented live in Italy, Paris, and the United States are videotaped and shown to the masses, models are paid once and there are no residuals like in TV.
Children demonstrating toys, high fashion models wearing full makeup for the client's company, and all the articles that you have ever seen or heard of could potentially be on video. The video camera is so popular now that we see television shows based solely on its use.
Depending on what the client has in mind, the model may or may not have to speak. Acting always looks easy to those who have never tried it as they assume models are simply being themselves. In truth, most individuals will overact in this situation. A camera that captures you in an instant shot will surely give away all your insecure motions in a video. Just watch the nervous eye motion or twitching hands of a person being videotaped. Calmness must be acquired. It is a dead giveaway that you don't exude confidence in yourself or the product if your exclamations are punctuated with your hands moving faster than your mouth!
Video could work tremendously to your advantage as your resume or as an example of your look as a model. Videos taken of you doing the unique things that you are qualified to incorporate into your modeling work could also be door openers. Agents and casting directors are bored to tears with the same old presentations, so that little extra eye-catching possible from a video may land you the job, and that's what this is all about-selling yourself first to the agent, then to the client.
The pay scale for video work depends solely on how big the client is and what he or she intends to do with the tape. It could mean as little as a few hundred dollars to double-digits in the thousands.