Before the beautiful makeup and glossy runway pictures, no rx there is a relatively overlooked aspect that comes with fashion week for models. Before you walk the runway, treat you must pound the pavements of each city and rush around to castings with new face models receiving up to 18 a day with the expectation of completing most, doctor if not all of those appointments (whilst still looking amazing).
You receive your schedule the night before, sometimes as late as midnight, with notes from your bookers to “look amazing, this ones important” and “CANT MISS THIS” and I remember how overwhelming and exhausting it can all be, especially when you’re just starting out. You are so focused on getting those shows that it is easy to neglect your own wellbeing but trust me, this will only make you sick! I have compiled a guide on how to survive fashion week and stay sane- remember that the only person who knows when you’re reaching your limits is you and it’s okay to listen to your body.
A rookie mistake that a lot of models do is forget to drink a ton of water whilst they are out casting. I know you’re in a rush and think to yourself “after this one I’ll stop and get a drink and something to eat” but you’ll look down at your iPhone when searching for directions and realise it’s now 5pm and you haven’t had any fluids since the morning- this is bad. It’s the same thing with eating, it’s important to carry at least a cereal bar with you, especially when you’re a new face and have a lot of castings to make. It will keep your energy up and tide you over until you can get a proper lunch.
Trust me, I know that creeping anxiety you feel when you’re emailed yet another casting on top of your 10 and it’s all the way on the other side of town with a note “MUST MAKE. LOOK AMAZING” next to it. You’re already so exhausted and just want to go home and that’s saying something because “home” is a shitty models apartment with 11 other girls. I know my bookers will hate me for saying this but they don’t always know what’s best for you in that very moment because they’re just not there. If you need to take a 15 break in Starbucks then do it. If the casting says it’s finishing at 6pm and you’re rushing to get there, relax. Call your agency and ask them to check if the casting director is still going to be there at 6:15 or 6:30 as you’re stuck at another casting- the answer is usually yes it’s fine. I swear to you, when I realised that rushing all over the place doesn’t actually make your day go that much faster, I learned to breathe again.
It’s easy to see any girl that even looks remotely like you as competition but remember we are all here for the same reason and going through the same shit- smile at each other. A smile can turn into a “yo, this line is long can you put my name down whilst I go to this other casting?” And that friendly small talk can turn into a helping hand when things get too much. We are all young women going through a very unique experience, one that not many people cannot understand; be nice to one another.
Casting directors can be a tricky one. Of course your main aim is to impress them so when they nonchalantly flick over your book and send you on your way knowing that they didn’t even get a card or image of you, don’t take it to heart. It doesn’t mean they don’t like you, it doesn’t even mean you’re not good enough, it kind of doesn’t mean anything. Because that same unbothered casting director can book you for the biggest show of your life the following day. Or they may not book you for a single show but book you on big money jobs that they cast for throughout the year- you cannot predict what they are thinking so don’t stress yourself trying!
Living in a model apartment has it’s pros and cons but one thing we all do that can be detrimental is obsess over each others schedules. “Do you have a callback for xyz?” “Did you try something on for so and so?” “You have fittings already?!” I know the feeling and it is easy to see yourself as inferior to others who may appear to be getting more work than you. As much as people make fashion week out to be this bigger than life thing, it’s not. Doing a million shows doesn’t guarantee you’ll be successful in the future and not doing many doesn’t mean you’ve failed as a model- different people, different journeys, different paths.
In my first show season I remember all the other girls having several shows a day and I only had dead presentations and of course I started panicking thinking I wasn’t good enough. Then I got one call back and that call back lead to one fitting and that one fitting lead to the one and only show I did that season- Marc by Marc Jacobs. All of a sudden it didn’t matter that I didn’t have as many jobs under my belt, I just walked for the biggest designer at NYFW! In the same breath, my following show season in New York was pretty shit honestly but it didn’t change the fact that I am where I am today.
Fashion Week is not make or break when it comes to a models career, especially not in the age of social media super stardom and a thirst for the next it girl. Every season is an opportunity to kill it at shows but it’s also important to note that some of the most successful models hardly walk shows or do well during fashion week. No two models journeys are alike, just remember to stay hydrated, healthy and as happy as you can during this time and remember that you are never alone!
Written by Leomie Anderson
This was really helpful. I’m striving for greatness in this industry any welcome any good advice from a current model. Thank you