Wednesday, December 1, 2010

elle new talent fresh face competition

I'm excited to attend the Elle & Woolworths model search finals tomorrow night! 
You can see all the models on the Elle website and still vote for your favourite.
I think Sonja Wronski has major potential, such a strong and classy look, but what a loss for the medical world?
She's a second year medical student in Pretoria. 
Tough choices lie ahead!

Update: fresh faced Alexandra Robertshaw, 17, from Johannesburg was announced as the winner.
Congratulations Alexandra!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sarie Swimwear Shoot Sept 1998

I was very excited when Debbie called one day, to say that I'd booked a local women's glossy magazine!  Sarie magazine was shooting their summer 1998/99 swimwear story and I was to be one of three models.

I arrived for the shoot, eager to get into the hair & make-up chair... Finally I'd be in a cool magazine shoot! My mom, my little sis, my grandmother, they'd all get to see me in a real publication. The editor, Anneke Blaise, was so nice, chatting away as if we were old friends. When 20 minutes had gone by and there was still no make-up artist to be seen, I got a little worried. The photographer and his assistant were almost done setting up and Anneke pulled the swimwear rail closer. When she handed me the first suit and pointed out the change room I thought okay, change first, then make-up! But it was not to be. Anneke merely asked me to put up my hair in a ponytail, and escorted me onto set.

When the publication hit the stands a few weeks later, my little sister called me and said with great pride: "I can recognise you! By your funny belly button!" My grand debut in editorials...

Friday, August 27, 2010

Studio 22 Test end 1998

With my new hairdo, courtesy of Lucilla Booyzen, I needed new pictures. Storm told me that there were two industrial photographers who were trying to move into fashion photography and that they'd be interested in shooting me for free.
Now remember, this was the tail-end of the 90's. Kate Moss was the quintessential supermodel, the words 'heroin chic' were tossed around without irony and the London look had convincingly replaced  conventional beauty on covers all over the world. Pretty was not hot, feminine and sweet was not cool at all. And while commercial and catalogue clients usually remain a bit more true to classic good looks, even they expect a model's portfolio to be current, they want to be assured that the model is comfortable and suitable accross types and remains in fashion, as it were... So our aim was to make me look edgy, grungy, raw.

I roped in my lovely model friend Michelle du Toit to help me with styling, hair and make-up. While she has classically stunning bone structure and features, at that time her hair was fiery red, highlighting her freckles and when they'd shoot her with little or no make-up, she was your perfect 90's model!
I threw a bunch of odd stuff into a bag and set off to the studios in Goodwood. The guys had a big space and quite a bit of lighting at their disposal. Michelle and I went through my bag of crazy stuff and settled on a few looks.

When you do a test shoot for the model's portfolio, you want to get at least three completely different moods. This helps to show off the model's versatility, makes it look like he/she has a bit more experience and besides, it's more fun! We started off with minimal make-up, or in fact some anti-make-up. A bit of vaseline and we were done... Look, no photoshop!

The actress in me just responded to the next outfit's quirky 50's vibe and we got some silly, expressive pictures.

Pull back the hair and move in for a quick close-up. I remember feeling really comfortable and confident working with this team. With Michelle also there, urging me on, I managed to finally get some different emotions on camera.

 My Grandmother's Kimono came in very handy! Wet hair and stark Geisha make-up go well with screamy pictures. The longer I look at these the stranger they appear, but I promise you at that time, this was cool, arty fashion! Well we thought so anyway...

I must find a few archetypal late 90's tearsheets to prove to you guys how cool these were...
That was the first shoot where I took over the direction of styling, hair & make-up. It was the most fun I'd had in front of the camera yet and when Debbie from Storm was excited to get the pictures into my book, I was pleased as pie.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

*Gossard Show 11 August 1998*

I wrote the following article for Stage magazine, covering a Gossard lingerie show I did. But the article doesn't even begin to tell the whole story...
*On 11 August 1998 Gossard celebrated their 50th birthday with a fashion show held at the Natural Cafe. The aim of the show was to present a view of Gossard lingerie through the decades. But this wasn't your average lingerie show, with model after model wearing very little, walking self-consciously up and down the ramp and then scurrying off gratefully.

The show started with only one girl in six different scenes, representing each decade from the 20's to the 80's. The lingerie worn was consistent with the actual styles worn at the time. Each scene was musically accompanied and choreographed to portray the area beautifully. Props and costumes were generously added and even the make-up was designed to suit each girl's scene.

After this nostalgic trip through the years, different themes were portrayed. There was a beautiful dream-like combination of turquoise lingerie with soft white chiffon, with the models blowing bubbles as they walked down the ramp. The "China Girl" scene was fun and flirty with floral pinks, browns and maroons where models played coyly with fans and parasols. The finale garments were intricately embroidered corsets, complimented by huge tulle skirts, which created the most beautiful wedding gowns.

What I appreciated most about the show was the originality employed by the organisers and choreographer. The emphasis was completely removed from the models and their bodies through the abundance of stimulation presented by the costumes, hair, make-up and music. It was obvious that the models were comfortable and confident on the ramp because each scene was delivered with either grace and poise or a sense of humour. I can only congratulate the people involved on a job elegantly done.

*As published in Stage Magazine, Fourth Edition, 1998/99

You might notice a strange tone in my reporting voice? And see the blue picture on the right of the page? That's me, in negative. Because, well, I was trying to pretend that I'd only attended the show, not modelled in it. Yeah, very clever right?

See my boyfriend at the time (eish, and now it gets complicated, cause he was not the Bad Boyfriend of this blog so far... he's the original Boyfriend and eventual Ex of my other blog!) didn't exactly love the fact that he was dating a model. In fact, he hated it. So I kind of kept it to myself, never sharing the stories and my fears and the excitement and my joy and all the craziness of this half-life I was leading. With him, and even amongst my friends, I was just another drama student, dressing in weird outfits, running around on and behind stage, worrying over exams, going out often, getting a little drunk at times, sleeping a lot,  studying seldom, skipping class regularly, writing tests ignorantly, going out and getting more than a little drunk, dancing wildly to grunge and metal at the Garage etc etc etc. 

Which is probably part of the reason why writing this blog is so important to me. Giving that giddy time in my life the proper attention and appreciation.

So while I never actually lied about what I was doing, I might have omitted more than a few things. Like going for a casting for Gossard and having to strip down to underwear and being so grateful for that one, pretty, matching set of lingerie my mom once bought me... And standing between so many naked little ladies waiting for the clients to take their pick and obviously, quietly feeling super complimented and lucky and special for being chosen to be in this lingerie show.

Even while I was naturally shy and reserved and a good 'boere-meisie' (translates as farm-girl, though I never lived on a farm but I hope you know what I mean; old school values, slightly conservative) who knew her Grandmother wouldn't approve, I can't deny that I enjoyed stepping into this glamorous character of model. I'd done some growing up since the Fair Lady days where near-nudity sent me running for the hills and I had an inkling that getting cast for lingerie and swimwear jobs was a way to get ahead in this game I was playing at for a little while.

We had fittings and rehearsals a few days before the show, where we were assigned our various eras. I was given the 30's, a CD recording of Billie Holiday singing 'They can't take that away from me' and told to learn the lyrics by showtime. For my scene I would mime the words of the song, dressed in proper suspenders, girdle, pinstripe stockings, little cloche hat on my head and a fur shrug round my shoulders... it was beautiful.

After my 30's mime, I was in a pretty chemise for David Bowie's 'China Girl' (hearing it takes me back there instantly!). There was a dramatic black mantilla over red lace for Sexy Senorita (the picture of me that's in negative) and then I closed the show in the white bodice and tulle skirt pictured, to 'Time To Say Goodbye' by Andrea Bocelli. Walking down the ramp to that song, tulle floating over the ramp as I swished this way and that... I was on such a high after the show, I felt like I could fly.

And fly I had to. Back to Stellenbosch, back to rehearsals, back to my other life, back to the boyfriend. When I sat down to report on the show, I automatically began writing it as a spectator. I can't remember anymore if the boyfriend's disapproval of my modelling was overt or just implied, but I sure remember pleading with my editor at Stage not to publish any pictures of me in lingerie. 

This struggle between propriety and professionalism has still not been settled in my career. My opinion on nudity, lingerie and swimsuit shoots and the way so-called sports magazines depict women wavers all the time. Personally I adopted the mantra that if I couldn't show a picture to my grandmother, I shouldn't do it, but there were many times when the lure of a good paycheck or getting to work with a great photographer compromised that rule.

At the end of the day my message with this post is this: it is fine if you as a young model are unsure, if you change your mind, if you grow to see things differently, if you ask advice from reliable adults, but please, let the choice ultimately be yours. Not your agent's, not your friends' and certainly not some possessive boyfriend's.

Friday, August 13, 2010


I've been a busy little blogger, though you probably couldn't tell?

Please come visit me here if you like:

But I do plan to come back and continue the model tales sometime, very soon.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

*Audi SA Fashion Week 18-22 August 1998*

I wrote about my first South African Fashion Week as a model in Stage Magazine in 1998. Twelve years later I attended Cape Town Fashion Week as a writer, you can read more here.

*One of the most important events for the future of South African fashion is the Audi South African Fashion Week. This year it all happened in Sandton from 18 to 22 August. This is the meeting ground for designers, clients, models, hair dressers, make-up artists, fashion editors, reporters, photographers and everyone else you can think of who's even remotely connected with the fashion industry. It is where all the best professionals come together and display their work, willingly sharing the limelight with their peers. It is a week during which we pretend that we aren't living in a third world country and that being well dressed is just as important as feeding the hungry. It is a couple of days of glamour and enchantment before everyone returns to the grindstone. It is work, but it is the most thrilling and pleasurable part of our work.

Fashion Week is a relatively new concept in South Africa, but all it means is that for a few days in a row you can actually go and see the new collections of our best designers presented in a professional fashion show. I was very excited to be participating, especially since it was held in Johannesburg, which meant that I would have to fly up there, work for a few days and then fly back to Cape Town. Doesn't that sound so sophisticated? "Daahling, I'm flying up to Jo'burg for a few days to do this little show. Yes, I'll be staying in the model house on the company's expense." Sounds divine, doesn't it? Little did I know what was in store.

So I arrived in JHB and went for my first fitting. The address I had was Sandton Towers, Sandton. Sounded easy enough. Looking in the map book, I found a hotel by that name and thought I was on the right track. But the rpoblem is that people up there in Sandton aren't very original. When the hotel concierge had no idea what I was talking about, he pointed out to me that there are three other buildings and parts of buildings within a kilometre of the hotel, also called Towers. There was a North, East, South and West Tower in Sandton City. Then some office towers and I don't know what else. So I went from Tower to Tower looking for the fitting. No luck.

Eventually I came upon the square where the shows were being held. A model I saw there sent me on another wild goose chase, thinking that the fitting was being held in the Michaelangelo Hotel. (I noticed a billboard saying 'Michaelangelo Towers opening soon'?!) When I'd been running around for more than an hour I decided to go back to the first hotel. Eventually I found that the fitting was held there, but everyone had left already. Great.
I'd been running around for an hour, I wasn't feeling very glamorous anymore and I'd missed my fitting. What a wonderful start.

After that fiasco I was off in search of the model house. I eventually found it in a suburb called Orange Grove. In spite of my optimistic expectations, a model house is no different from a normal house, except that it contains far less furniture. This particular house had three bedrooms with two single mattresses in each and then another five mattresses in the living room. There was a pool and a television so I suppose quite luxurious, but it was winter and the television only had SABC so I guess it wasn't fantastic either. Just normal, I was so disappointed. I was also tired and frustrated so I took a nap on my little mattress on the floor.

That night I went to Sandton Square to watch one of the shows. It was amazing! I've never actually been at a professional fashion show merely to watch and I loved it. It was also an informative occasion, because for the first time I could see what works on the ramp and what does not. The footage we see on television is obviously the best of the show so we never get to see the girl who walks too stiffly or the one who's eyes kept roving around. These are the mistakes that can make you and the outfit you're wearing look horrible on the ramp and I paid close attention, making mental notes all the time.
I must also add though, that most of the models looked absolutely perfect. I remember feeling more than a bit jealous when these amazingly tall, stunningly black models swayed onto the ramp in all their glory. You can say what you want, but the most beautiful, poised white model disappears from the ramp the minute a black woman who knows what she's doing gets up there.

The next day was my first and busiest working day. I had a fitting at 7:30 am which meant that the driver had to pick me up at 6:30. These drivers are unlike anything I've experienced before. Johannesburg traffic is unbelievably scary, but these guys don't seem to notice. They run a shuttle service especially for models, taking them all around the city, picking up and dropping off portfolios, prints and just about everything else. So they are quite used to being on the road. I am not. I was scared out of my wits before seven in the morning and that can be dangerous. All I can say about these trips is that they went by very fast, way over the speed limit fast; a quick adrenaline rush before the day starts? The rest of that day, and the next one was a mad rush from fitting to casting to rehearsal to fitting, but I survived.

The first show I did was my old favorite, a young designers' competition. This one was enjoyable though, because I really loved the clothes. It wasn't exactly wearable or particularly easy to get into at all, but it looked good. So I took a deep breath and went onto the stage. The tent was full, the music cool and the make-up very funky. Before I knew it, it was over. We were all back stage getting ready to leave when someone started yelling: "Clinton Lotter's girls, get back into your garments!" We obediently did this, grumbling because it just so happened that Clinton's garments were the most difficult to get into. Then the happy announcement was made and we were all shoved onto the stage, along with Clinton. He had won the Vodac/Cosmopolitan Young Designers' Award. The prize? Three months in Paris working for Stella McCartney's label, Chloe. Not too shabby hey?
While Clinton was overjoyed, we were just eager to get back into our own clothes and leave. That is, until Videofashion from New York started looking for one of Clinton's models. I was still dressed in his garment and lucky me had to stand next to him while he was interviewed. Needless to say, this was one of the highlights of my stay in JHB.

Straight after the Videofashion interview, it was time for hair and make-up for the next show at 21:00. This show included the collections of Rosenworth, Andre Croukamp and Jenni Button: elegant and stylish rather than funky. So I had to remove all the make-up from the previous show, just to have some more slapped on. But I've always like people patting, wiping and brushing on my face, so I won't complain. The show went very smoothly with nice, relaxing music and a calm atmosphere, simply beautiful, like the clothes. After the show I went straight home, I had to be back there at 8:00 the next morning.

My last day was very much like the previous one. Rehearse, fit, rehearse, hair and make-up, show, etc. The first show was for Paul Munroe and Natalie for Juniper. Natalie had designed a range of which I desire and absolutely need every single item. It's all very romantic in white and soft grey and peachy chiffon and organza and stretchy pants and the simplest little day dresses which could double up for the evening and embroidery and lace and everything little (and not-so-little) girls dream of. The best part about the range is that even with all this romance and femininity, each item of clothing has a sharply innovative edge to it, which I adore. And even better is the wearability of it all. It's young and funky and new but I could wear it and still please my Grandmother at the same time. I could go on about it for six pages but I'll force myself to stop now.

Naturally, doing Natalie's show was easy and nothing but a pleasure. If you actually like what you're wearing, it does show and you feel confident and pretty and everything you should. But all good things come to an end and so did Natalie's show. To great applause, I might add.

The last show I did was for Gavin Rajah and then Errol Arendz. It was during this show that I realized for the first time that I actually like being on the catwalk. I wore the most visually stunning outfit by Errol Arendz; a long silk skirt in cerise and burnt orange which fit perfectly from the hips and then flare out just a little at the bottom. The top was patterned in matching bright colours with thin gold straps. To crown it all, I had to maneuver a huge pink shawl while slinking down the ramp.
Earlier in the day, Mr Arendz had been teaching us how to control the shawls. It seemed very silly at the time, but afterwards I really appreciated the lesson. When I walked down the ramp in that outfit, swishing the shawl this way and that, I experienced one of the greatest moments in my life. I just thought to myself: "Everyone in this huge tent is looking at me because I'm wearing something extraordinary. I feel wonderful and I know I'm making this outfit look good!"

It might sound vain, but few people ever understand how incredibly insecure most models are. Until that moment I'd always thought that I'm just lucky to be chosen for the fashion shows, thinking every show that it might be my last, that I might not be so lucky again. But since that moment, I know that modeling does require a very specific skill which cannot be taught. It's all about the way you must feel and think when you're on the ramp. You transcend yourself, become someone else. Someone glamorous and mysterious and and interesting and definitely very lucky.

Audi Fashion Week was an amazing learning experience for me. I discovered many things about the industry and Johannesburg and also about myself. But eventually, when the plane swerved in past Table Mountain, I was so glad to be back. No experience I've had in my life, beats coming home to the mountain.

*As published in Stage Magazine, Fourth Edition, 1998/99

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Return of the angry little red-head * Aug 1998

Another week, another casting and another foray into the big bad city... That's all I remember thinking when Storm told me to attend a casting for SA Fashion Week at designer Jenni Button's studios. I recall being boggled by the one-ways around Glynn street and weary of the warehouse type building where I seemed to be headed. This couldn't be right? But I found a parking spot somewhere and followed other gangly-looking girls into the industrial building and up the narrow staircase.

At the top, I walked smack-bang into my old friend, the 'angry little lady with a villainous red severe bob' also known as Lucilla Booysen, show director extraodinaire. She gave me a half-smile that made me wonder whether she could possibly remember me from five years before, when I'd last appeared in one of her fashion shows. But the smile disappeared as suddenly as it had arrived and she shoo'ed all the models from the entrance to the other side of the big loft.

As usual, we had to line up before strutting from one end to the other. The collection of girls present was as varied as ever and I felt a twinge of the old nerves and uncertainty as the first tall blonde sashayed her way down the make-shift runway. But by this time I'd been around the block once or twice and I suppose I'd started realising that it's nothing personal. You either have the look they're going for or you don't, so I felt slightly less intimidated than before.

When my turn came, I tried to ignore all the high-stepping pony walks I'd seen and just walked from one end to the other. Well, I walked as normally as is possible in six inch high, chunky heeled platforms! My friend Nightingale and I had found these most incredible black, strapped and buckled shoes and we both wore them non-stop, but listen, they were high! Added to my healthy 1.75m (5'9") frame, I am sure I must've looked quite more than less like a giraffe.

Lucilla frowned, Jenni Button frowned. Lucilla stared at me in confusion and then said, "dear girl, please remove those ridiculous shoes, I can't fathom how tall you really are!" I dutifully removed them, and took my place next to the other girls who hadn't been let go yet, in my stockinged feet. Their frowns lessened somewhat. They made us all walk up and down a few times more, all the while whispering and gesturing to each other. A few more girls were sent home with regretful smiles and then we were ten.

The ten of us then had to try on Jenni Button's show samples, roughly finished dresses in beautiful, softly patterned silks... I loved them. Stepping back onto our pretend catwalk in a Jenni Button gown, I felt like I was floating and by Lucilla's growing smile, I knew I'd cracked the nod.

Before we were dismissed, Lucilla gave us a list of venues and times when we had to meet with other designers being showcased at fashion week. Lucilla and Jenni chose the biggest group, then the other designers could choose however many girls they needed from the original group. I was excited to find Michelle and Lisa-Marie had made the cut too.

On my way out the door, ridiculous heels back on my feet, Lucilla glowered at me. "Throw those damn shoes in the river my girl, and that lipstick too, while you're at it!" I was a little bit shocked and offended, but managed an unsure smile with my Vixen-dark lips. Lucilla stepped closer and took a good look at me. "Also, you need a haircut. Make an appointment at Carlton Hair and tell them I sent you." I mumbled thanks and made for the door.

A few days later I showed up at the further castings with a gorgeous shiny new head of hair. A sweet soul at Carlton had given me a colour treatment in a warm, solid chocolate shade and chopped a half fringe across my brow. I felt super confident with the edgy new cut, sans ridiculous heels and even forgoing my standard dark berry lip. I got picked for every show I cast for, and a darling young designer, Natalie for Juniper, said I had just the look that she'd hoped for: a vintage, porcelain doll. I didn't quite know what to make of the compliment, but felt super excited to be a part of only the second ever South African Fashion Week.

Fashion Week '98 Casting

Monday, February 15, 2010

Spier Advertorial Winter 1998

Once again it was purely the power of Storm agency's recommendation that secured me a shoot. Men's Health magazine was shooting an advertorial for Spier wine estate in Stellenbosch, my university town. Advertorials are promotions or reviews presented in an editorial style, paid for by the client. Advertisers pay a lot less than they would for a normal ad and still have content approval. The magazine passes it off as editorial content and the consumer puts more faith in the "objective" article than they would in a normal advertisement.
The point is, while doing a full-on advertising campaign for a wine farm might earn a model a nice, fat paycheck, an advertorial would not. So when Storm was asked to put forward models available for the shoot, Debbie suggested me, the local, as a girl who would've had to drive all the way from Cape Town and back would hardly earn enough to cover her petrol expense.

When I arrived at Spier, I discovered that this was to be my first shoot working with a male model. His name was Rory, he was a surfer and he'd been modelling for years already, an old hand. I never really had an eye for blondes, was very caught up in my relationship with my boyfriend at the time and still felt a bit uncomfortable in front of the camera, so I found the whole exercise rather unsettling.

We had to look really intimate and comfortable and I'm grateful that Rory's experience meant he launched straight into puppy dog eyes as soon as the camera started clicking. This man could turn it on and off like a tap. I secretly wondered how any girlfriend of his could ever be sure whether he meant it not? For my purposes it was perfect though, he'd turn on the charm and the starry eyes while we were shooting and the rest of the time we were perfectly civil, Rory doing his best to make me feel more comfortable by chatting to me about modeling, my studies and my boyfriend.

I can tell by my posture how uncomfortable I am in these pictures, can you? Just a little bit too much space between Rory and I, a slight leaning away from him, avoiding actually looking into his eyes. By the time we took the final shot (the top one on the second page, standing at the bar) I think it looks a lot more casual and believable.

Another shoot under my belt, watching a pro turn the love-looks on and off, it had been a most productive day!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

*Smirnoff International Fashion Awards July 1998*

I wrote this article as fashion correspondent for Stage Magazine:

The first thing anyone ever told me about the SMIRNOFF INTERNATIONAL FASHION AWARDS is: Don't do it! Don't even go to the casting, tell your agency you'll be out of town. Just don't go! So you can imagine my apprehension when I got the call saying I will in fact be modeling in the show and no, there is no getting out of it. I could gain some valuable experience working on such an (in)famous show and the money was better than average. Apart from that, I must admit I was a little curious to see if it really could be all that bad.

It was Chia, a Japanese model, who gave me the grave warning about the show. When I looked for her at the first fitting for the show, a friend of hers told me she had left for London just a week earlier. I wondered if she had seriously skipped the country just to miss the Smirnoff show? Alarm bells were going off in my head.

Chia had told me that her problems with the show are all related to the fact that it is a competition for young designers. The words 'young' and 'designers' next to each other is enough to make any model run ten kilometres the other way. This is not because there is anything wrong with young designers as such, it's just that, whenever they are put into competition with each other, they generally seem to believe that the more difficult it is to get into the garment and the less flesh it actually covers, the better the chance that it will impress the judges. I'm sure I don't have to tell you why impossibly complicated yet extremely revealing outfits are any model's worst nightmare.

Apart from this imminent nudity and discomfort, models also have to cope with the designers' extreme anxiety and sky-high stress levels. Because the rewards of winning such a competition are enormous, every entrant wants their garments to be absolutely perfect, as they imagined it. So, if a model has it on the wrong way (and it is often impossible to tell which is the right way of something that looks more like a garbage bag than a dress) or an arm is poking through an opening that wasn't there before, they are likely to start ranting and raving and shouting all sorts of obscenities at the poor girl.

As if this information wasn't enough to keep me away from young designer shows, another girl then told me about the model who fell off the ramp at the 1997 Smirnoff awards. She was wearing a finale garment, which meant that she didn't have to attend rehearsals. She arrived on the night of the show, struggled and squirmed into her dress and was ready to go. This particular designer number consisted only of an enormous wire hoop skirt. But she bravely strolled onto the catwalk, holding her head high in an attempt to carry off the topless garment in style. Even if she did look down, it wouldn't have helped her much. The skirt was so wide that she couldn't see her feet or a meter in front of them. And so she never noticed the gaping hole in the middle of the ramp. Suddenly she disappeared, not by magic, but through gravity. Apparently she landed in the middle of some lighting equipment (about two meters beneath the stage) and was left there for half an hour: the show must go on!

With all of this rushing through my mind, I went to the first fitting. While we were waiting for the choreographer, a few of us casually strolled around, taking a peek at the garments and making sure our names weren't on the ones that seemed the strangest. So far I was in luck. My garment consisted of a crocheted top and pants, with silkworm cocoons stitched onto the pants. It might sound a bit out of the ordinary, but at least it was easy to get into and it involved no nudity, so I was happy. As I spoke to the other models, we realised that there were only one or two revealing items, and they were tame in comparison to what we'd expected. Could it be possible that young designers were actually considering practicality? We should be so lucky! While everything necessary was covered up, the designers had used the strangest materials. There were dresses made out of glass tiles, bamboo, wood, metal, hair and just about anything else you can think of.

Still, it was a surprisingly easy and fun show and no one was hurt in the process. Afterwards, the music was pumped up and it turned into a huge party with everything necessary for enjoyment: interesting people, funky sounds and cheap drinks. A few hours later a certain magazine editor left to continue the party in Cape Town while a certain model went home to get some well deserved sleep. All that worrying about the horrors of a young designers' show can be hellishly tiring!

*As published in Stage Magazine, Fourth Edition, 1998/99

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Edgars Swimwear Catalogue Mid 1998

Somewhere in the middle of 1998, I booked my first professional photo shoot. There hadn't even been a casting, the department store client (Edgars) had chosen from our Z-cards and on the strength of agency recommendations. So it happened that I was one of a bunch of models, a photographer, stylist and a hair and make-up artist who set off for the coastal town of Langebaan on a cold, rainy day in the middle of winter.

We were off to shoot the Edgars summer catalogue, swimwear edition. I remember being shy and quiet on the trip out there, even though I was very pleased to meet an acquaintance, Chia, there too. I was excited to be working on something that was going to be seen by thousands of people, physical proof that I was finally getting closer to being a real working model. I was also quite scared. What if they weren't happy with my posing? What if the bikini's didn't fit? What if they thought I was too skinny or that my breasts were too small? I tried to blink away my fears and keep smiling, trying to appear confident and nonchalant.

We were shooting on a houseboat in Langebaan, and although it was not as wet as it had been in Cape Town when we left, the day was still cool and cloudy. We all cramped into the small space, trying to stay out of the way while it was someone else's turn in the make-up chair. Eventually we were all ready and the shoot got under way.

My first shot was me on my own, and the photographer (the brilliant Gerda Genis) told me to just relax against the rails, looking comfortable and dreamy. This seemed impossible to me, as I was shivering with goosebumps from the cold, the rails were too far apart to lie against and covered in splinters. I could feel the team's frustration rise as we struggled to get the shot, wind blowing hair all over my face and my pose just not relaxed and dreamy-looking enough. Eventually Gerda called it quits, moving on to the next shot. Urgh, I could only hope the next shot would be easier.

The rest of my shots were all in groups and as Gerda wanted us to be really natural and unposed, it was much easier to just hang out, chat and smile. The clothes all fit and I felt much better, confidence growing as the day wore on.

Just when I thought I had it all under control, Gerda told us to jump in. We stared at her in disbelief. At the best of times, in the middle of the long hot summer, the temperature of Langebaan's Atlantic water doesn't get anywhere near a pleasant swimming degree. Now it was cool, mostly overcast, the middle of winter and the water was freezing. While we remained shocked into silence, the rest of the behind-the-scenes team started yelling "Go on, jump, for goodness sakes, just do it already! You won't melt!" And so we jumped, into the icy cold, coming up gasping for breath, teeth chattering.

None of the jumping or swimming shots made it into the catalogue - we were probably looking far too blue and outraged! But as the sun was setting, peeking out from behind the clouds for a minute or two every now and then, Gerda captured some sun-soaked images.

I can hardly explain to you just how cold we were in the picture above, but with a bit of photographic magic and some seriously strained smiling skills, you'd never guess!

A few days after the shoot, my agency called me to say they'd missed one crucial shot and that I'd been booked to re-do it. I made my way into the city to meet the team at Gerda's studio. They'd been shooting all morning and were just ordering lunch as I got there, so they offered some to me. I was given a menu from a place I'd never heard of, Kauai. I ordered the first sandwich on the menu, the Healer. This is significant because twelve years later it's still my favourite take-out in the whole wide world. Healthy and tasty and filling and scrumptious, yum. After lunch, hair and make-up we drove out to the nearest beach and spent about twenty minutes taking this picture:

Not really mind-blowing or obviously important, and who could tell that I'm even on a beach? It's a strange industry for sure, I got paid half as much for this one easy shot as for the whole trip to Langebaan and the icy experience that proved to be!