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."
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 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!
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.
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.