Non-fashion people often shrug off the fashion industry as being stylish yet easy – a breeze of a career. I can tell you a million times that’s far from true, but until you actually step inside someone else’s stilettos you probably won’t fully believe me. One of my friends, Laurissa, had a chance to experience what I’m talking about by modelling in a photo shoot for downtown Vancouver fashion institute, John Casablancas. Was it easy, breezy, beautiful? She was definitely a cover girl but you’ll have to read on to find out more.
A day in the life of an (almost) fashion model
I am not a fashionable girl by any means. For every pair of high heels I own, I have a baggy hoody, hand-me-down tank or pair of old, well-worn denim to counteract. To me, fashion was a bunch of tall, skinny girls that woke up with perfect hair and perfect make-up, prowled up runways and stared down from billboards – only to do it all again the following morning.
That’s why finding all 5’4” of myself in the makeup chair getting prepped for my first shoot (of 3 separate looks) had me in for quite the experience. That is also why I decided to share it here with you, courtesy of the goddess who is The Lady-like Leopard. So here we have it, the diary of an undergrad student gone first-time model.
October 26th, 2014
It’s too early to be up given my night spent studying followed by a trek downtown Vancouver for a quick drink. But today was the day. I checked the bags under my eyes during my first mug of coffee, sighed and headed to where my friend studies fashion at the John Casablancas Institute in downtown Vancouver.
With a grande Starbucks Americano (add vanilla, skip the sugar, half sweet with skim milk, please and thanks) in hand, I wandered into the building of the school and immediately fell in love. Brick walls ensconced with lines of mirrors and dressing room light bulbs greeted me. Rows of dresses, skirts, unbelievably cute jackets, headpieces, shoes, brushes, curling irons and a multitude of equipment I couldn’t name for you – never mind explain what they are used for – littered the room.
It was a beautiful form of organized chaos in which the untrained eye could not spot the organization.
My friend ushered me into a chair and introduced the girls that continuously flitted past me on their way to run errands. “Remember look one? Yeah? Alright, make-up first. Lemme know if you want me to feed you coffee.”
“Open, close, look up, at me. Good.” I listened to the chatter around the room and before I knew it, I was ready for look one – Granny Chic. That wasn’t too bad, I thought to myself as we headed to the location for the shoot.
“Wait, we’re going outside? There are real people out there. They’re going to watch?!” Channel your inner granny. I grew up in a Ukrainian household surrounded by old babas and borscht – far from glamorous – and I felt far out of my league.
However, it was over in what felt like seconds – a clean pull of the Band-Aid from a torn knee. Back inside off the streets, it was time for makeup and hair, round two.
This time I paid more attention. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to the textbook that lay abandoned in my purse on which my midterm two days from now encompassed. I watched the beautiful blonde across the room from me transform from Plain Jane to Vampire Seductress and back again amongst the rows of lights. Hair and makeup were far from a breeze, and did this chair get harder?
I was handed a sippy cup of water and tried to sneak a few carrots into my mouth between brush strokes. Both hair and make up were being done simultaneously and I was feeling like a human voodoo doll. Curling it up, pin it, brush it out, roll it up, pin it again. No wonder victory curls include a victory in the title.
Finally, I was channeling the 50’s era accompanied by a fake beauty mark and all, fully ready to ham it up. Inside, outdoors, as an office gal, a seductress with a fur scarf, beautiful red jacket and glowing cigarette amongst the shops and streetlamps of Gastown. I nailed every look (at least in my opinion…).
Back in the chair for the grand finale. This time make-up was the time consumer and I wasn’t able to sneak any carrots in despite the offered “anything you need honey.” Studio doors closed at four and we were pushing the boundaries.
Biggie Smalls blasted in the background as we danced, chatted and sang along, trying to keep the energy up to finish off the day. My hair was straightened out of the curls and pulled back, contours put on my cheekbones and big, Angelina Jolie lips were on the menu for the last but not least – Maleficient horns were to take the gold ribbon.
With less than ten minutes to get the shot, I had to be both fierce and efficient. It was definitely my favorite look – it felt as though modeling had become a little like acting. Perhaps though, I should have watched the movie first…
Racing to get the makeup off and out of the clothes, the fake eyelashes were peeled off my lids none too gently. At long last, I was in my own tight Mavi jeans, baggy cutoff Stüssy tank top and back to my makeup-free, albeit straight-haired self. We flipped the mirror lights off and I watched each mirror darken one by one over my shoulder.
Finally, sitting at Warehouse enjoying post-shoot steak dinners and pints of GIB Winter Ale, I mulled over the day. I found a brand new appreciation for what truly goes into fashion.
This was only a school-based project as a mini “real-life job scenario” but we all put everything we had into it. I never would have expected it, but everything in the fashion world truly is a lot. I don’t know how girls do what I experienced every day for a living. That poor makeup chair has a permanent indent from my butt.
Personally, I will stick to the post-shoot pints but all-in-all, I truly did love and learn from the experience.
This post was written by Laurissa Cebryk for The Lady-like Leopard. All photos by Gabriela Jin.