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Models Gone... Classy?

Jessica Denomme, Associate Editor

Classy: adjective, class·i·er, class·i·est. Of high class, rank, or grade; stylish; admirably smart; elegant.


Classy, by Derek Blasberg
The world of fashion modelling has long been known as a society of "The Beautiful People". Clans of tall, leggy beauties are currently staples on the entertainment circuit and in past years, the world's top fashion models have been snapped by Paparazzi at some of the world's best (and wildest!) parties. Not only have today's top models dated some of Hollywood's biggest stars and starlets (Hello Orlando Bloom and Miranda Kerr!) they have boosted their careers into worldwide superstardom.

It's important however, to know the difference between famous and infamous. While it's definitely possible to be both - think Kate Moss in all her Versace glory vs. Kate Moss a la cocaine scandal of 2005 - it's important for a model to understand the importance of class and the consequence of shock. Not all models can undergo so much scrutiny and return to the fashion circuit a year later only to book 18 top modelling contracts for the Winter/Spring 2006 season. Honestly, how did she do that? To be a successful model (or person for that matter) it is essential to be respectful of one's self and their art form, in this instance modelling. Recently, a friend introduced me to my new favourite work of "fashion-lit" Classy: Exceptional Advice for the Extremely Modern Lady by Derek Blasberg, Editor-at-Large of Style.com. An excellent guide for any woman, this book is truly even more so a crucial how-to for women in the fashion industry.

Branding yourself is one of the most important steps in developing as a model. Knowing your boundaries, your strengths, your weaknesses and acknowledging the market in which you fit best is all part of your evolution. To ensure that you are not put in a situation where you feel uncomfortable, it is important to be open with your agency about what you will and will not do. Nothing is worse than discovering you are going to be doing a "semi- nude" photo shoot when you have a strict moral code that disagrees with this behaviour. In Blasberg's book he writes, "I can categorize young women I've met through my trials and travails in two categories: ladies and tramps." Okay... so it's a bit harsh, but it's true! Think about a go-see for example: You have a short time to impress the casting agent with your portfolio, your look and your attitude. If you're dressed like Britney Spears circa 1998 in the "Baby One More Time" video, chances are that no one is paying attention to the ferociousness of your walk. As Derek says, "Unless you're a cheerleader or a prepubescent little girl, there is no need to run around town in a half tee." Make sure when you attend a casting you're look is natural, pure and your clothing is not distracting - unless otherwise specified of course.

While the way a model looks is an extremely important part of her brand, her attitude, professionalism and personality are equally important. Again, take Kate Moss for example - she really has had her ups and downs, hasn't she? - Kate is 5'6", with semi-crooked teeth and is remarkably bowl legged. The reason for her success isn't her long legs or perfect skin. Perhaps that's why her comeback was so quick? People were rooting for the underdog. Kate's success is predominantly due to her personality, confidence and ability to win over a crowd. She is extremely professional on set and consistently brings her "A" game to every job she books. When an agent books her for a job, they know they will receive perfection. I definitely don't mean to make a role-model out of Kate - on the contrary, I beg you to NOT follow in any of her personal footsteps (especially dating Pete Doherty... Yuck!) and I also urge you to read chapter 5 of Blasberg's book: A Lady Faces Temptation. Let's face it, I wouldn't even wish her vices upon even my biggest enemy, but what Kate does have is a personality that has allowed her to break through many of the constraints that stop want to-be models from achieving a successful place in the industry. Some of the most beautiful models in the world are torture to work with and it has inhibited them from reaching their full potential. Being classy, polite, friendly and vocal before, after and on the job is the best way to be remembered and respected in the industry.

So you've made it... you're a working model! Now what? You totally get to party with the cast of The Hills and Paris Hilton every night, right? WRONG! Well unless you want to develop the reputation of a party girl and/or want to find yourself in some less than ideal situations. Nobody looks good in a mug shot, ladies! Bad girls aren't born over night and it's important to remain classy in all situations. Lindsay Lohan was once just a freckly kid in The Parent Trap, remember? When you're a part of the industry, chances are you are going to be invited to some very cool events and parties. Just last month our very own contributor, Ksenia, was invited to Karl Lagerfeld's muse, Baptiste Giabiconi's, birthday party! It used to be that we only had to worry about being snapped and published in compromising situations when paparazzi were at an event. Today with social media like Twitter and Facebook, you're name can be tarnished in a red-eyed flash of any Joe-blows disposable camera. Remember, when you're in the public eye anything you do will get back to someone so always be on your best behaviour. As Blasberg states, "The internet, in combination with digital pictures and sex tapes, make for a scary and explosive situation: a network where mistakes can not only be immediately broadcast, but broadcast to literally millions of people making them nearly impossible to control or erase." Would you really want your Mom to see that picture of you doing a keg stand in a mini-dress? He continues "We've all hear about beauty queens who lose their crowns because some sordid [pictures] turn up - and several model girlfriends of mine have lost giant campaigns and contracts because they have a reputation, f or making decisions unbecoming of a role model." Remember to always be weary of the repercussions on your actions and in moments of temptation consider this question: What Would Kate Do? Then do exactly the opposite, because it's probably not classy!

Yours in fashion,
Jessica Denomme

Derek Blasberg's book Classy: Exceptional Advice for the Extremely Modern Lady is available in Canada at Chapters & Indigo and online at chapters.indigo.ca. It's a must read!

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