Monday, March 30, 2009

It was 1993...

Oh you smarty-pant readers you, yes indeed the year was 1993! It was the summer holidays after I'd completed 10th grade, Kurt Cobain was slugging it out with 2Unlimited, Shaggy and Meatloaf for radio airplay and I had just been dumped for the first time. By the same boy who would become my boyfriend again two years later, remain my boyfriend for twelve stormy years and then be rather swiftly dumped for the love of my life... But that's another story.

So there I was, a freshly wounded, slightly gawky fifteen-year old, playing model-model for a couple of days with my eleven year old sister and stepsister in tow. I remember two other girls who did the course with us. Paige was a pale, fine featured girl with tight brown curls and icy blue eyes, who reminded me of Nicole Kidman in Days of Thunder. I thought she was perfectly exotic with her model-perfect name and sure to become a supermodel. She was also seventeen and thereby much too mature to be nice to me and my troupe of sisters. Which only added to my admiration of her untouchable beauty.

Madeleine was even older, maybe nineteen at the time? She was a very tall, classically beautiful brunette with a funky, short haircut a la Demi Moore in Ghost and loads of attitude. She dressed like Madonna and strutted the ramp like a tiger. I was in awe. And she was nice too. One break time over a plate of chips at the Spur steakhouse next to the agency, we got talking and she listened to my whole relationship saga. I was so happy to find someone to talk to. She gave me some great girl power advice I wasn't going to get from anywhere else. "Don't call his house ('93 - no cell phones yet!) a million times a day and hang up when he answers, don't hang out in his regular places in the hopes of running into him, don't spend your nights writing tragic love poems, don't believe that he will change his mind and come running back any second. Move on."

*In 1993*
I loved Nirvana, loathed 2Unlimited. Madonna was on her Girlie tour, Days of Thunder and Ghost was out on video. Bridget Fonda was my favourite actress, Liv Tyler was just Steve Tyler's model daughter. The supermodels stripped off for Peta and a young girl called Kate shot her first Vogue cover.

So I watched Singles way too much, cried myself to sleep at night and put on a brave face during the days. I found the course quite interesting and fun, but in the dingy grey office somewhere in the middle of our overgrown suburb, I still felt far removed from the big city and the real modelling world of lights, camera, action. It seemed like a very long way to go. As if sensing my cynisism and dire need for some excitement, our agent announced that we were all going for a photo shoot with a real photographer, at his studio, in the city, the very next night!
Once again we did our own styling, hair and make-up and showed up at a tiny little studio high above the city streets. I realise now that the photographer was obviously doing the shoot as a favour to our agent, and that he was only available at night because during the day he'd rather be earning money shooting real models! Regardless, we felt glamorous, nervous and excited.
I borrowed a skimpy, body conscious LBD from a sexy young friend of my mom's, accessorised it with opaque black stockings (oh how current!) my mom's pointy patent black heels and the biggest hoops I could find. That would all have been fine, if only I'd know what to do with my hair and make-up!

Some eyeliner would've be nice? Maybe a straightener to run through those bangs? Oh wait, this was in the days before ghd! How did we live? Some powder would take care of the shine in a jiffy. Oh, and honey, you don't know this yet, but eyelash curlers are going to change your life!

Also, I thought for sure that I was giving it my all at this point, 'making love to the camera' enough to make it crack. Apparently, not so much.

I'm actually quite taken with that last picture. I look so young and unaware, isolated in the spotlight, it's poetic!

That photographer went on to become one of the most successful fashion & beauty professionals in Cape Town. I've been meaning to send him the pictures as, not surprisingly, he has no recollection of the evening that meant so much to me.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Everyone has to start somewhere...

Promise you won't laugh?

In the interest of relating my journey through the world on the wings of a madcap modelling career with complete truth and honesty (my self-sworn commandment for this blog) I will post my very first model pictures here, right now...

...Well, maybe in a little while, when I've worked up the courage and gotten to know you a little better!

I went to a tiny, amateur little modelling school in my mid-teens with big dreams and high hopes. I'd been devouring fashion magazines for a couple of years and stared in wonder at the gorgeous, glamorous girls smiling, sulking and pouting their way from cover to cover.

I was naturally thin and had suddenly grown to a respectable 1.75m (5'9") which was (and still remains) a good model height. At school I was shy and bookish, not athletic in the least, certainly not the popular cheerleader type. But my slight build, clear skin and wild imagination gave me the courage to ask my parents if I could go on the course. They spoke to the agency and thought it would be good for my self-esteem regardless, deciding to send my two younger sisters along!

The course took place over three days, covering such topics as skincare, make-up application, dressing correctly for your body-type, healthy eating, exercise and then finally posing, walking on a ramp and different types of modelling. At the end of the course we had to apply our own make-up, dress up in two different styles, walk the ramp and pose for photographs.

Which resulted in these, my very first model photographs!


The make-up, wardrobe and poses might go a long way towards giving away my current age! 
I'd love for you to guess which year these photos were taken? Vote in the right hand sidebar!

Okay, now that you've had a good chuckle, can you believe that from THAT I went on to become a supermodel? Okay, so maybe not a supermodel at all, but at least a professional, full-time, international model with agencies, bookers, shoots, shows, travel and a nice bit of income to boot.

How I managed that, stayed sane, healthy, friendly, drug free, down-to-earth and true to myself, is the story that will unfold on Model Mentality.