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.


ansie said...

This gown is beautiful, so do you, wish the photo was bigger!

TinyToes said...

i love the story behind the story. always knew there were more politics involved...