Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Modelling Advice from the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 2013

Jean Shrimpton, photographed for French Vogue, May 1970. Via

I've written a fair bit about modelling on this blog over the years, whether it's the Ford Agency, opening its doors in the 1940s, or three of my Last-Year Girls - Dorian Leigh in the 1950s, Jean Shrimpton in the 60s and Marisa Berenson in the 70s. But my knowledge of the contemporary modelling industry is probably gleaned from a slightly toxic combination of Vogue, Top Model and Daily Mail-style shock headlines.

I was intrigued by the promise of a new book The Model's Guide. Promising "Everything you need to know about the world of professional modelling", the book was put together by working model Rachel Woods. I also thought it would be interesting to compare her advice to that offered by Cherry Marshall in The Cat-Walk, published in 1978 but reflecting on her period as a model and an agent in the 1950s and 60s, and Charles Castle's Model Girl which includes advice for people wanting to enter the industry in 1977.

As ever, as much as things change, things stay the same. While standards of what consists acceptable presentation may have shifted, all three books put the same emphasis on having a good attitude and a sparkling personality to go alongside the good looks. It's also interesting to note what the potential pitfalls for aspiring models are in each book. Cherry Marshall gives none, unless you count unscrupulous men, Charles Castle counsels against drink and smoking, Rachel Woods against drink and smoking and drugs. It's also only in Rachel's book do you get enter mention of eating disorders, and unnecessary pressure to lose weight.

For all the supposed glamour, I don't think any of the accounts convince me this is a career I would like to have (well, I'm at least 3 to 5 inches too short - depending on which book you follow - to start with, and that's the very least of it). I would be interested to know if you find any of their advice surprising - or useful!

No ordinary girl ever thought she could look like a model – it was for the exquisitely out-of-the-ordinary creature who looked too good for the clothes she was showing.
Cherry Marshall, The Cat-Walk, on modelling in the mid-1950s

They need to have strong looks to go with the clothes and the multi-million empires they advertise; to go with the tough times the seventies have brought us.
Charles Castle, Model Girl

Being a model is not about having stunning good looks, most models can actually look very plain in person, but what is essential is looking good on camera and being photogenic. The ideal model look simply depends upon current trends and the look the designer, client or casting director is going for; if a model does not get a job, it is simply because their look did not fit the brief.
Rachel Woods, The Model's Guide

The ideal model’s measurements are 116lb in weight, 34in bust, 22in waist, 34 inch hips and a preferred height of between 5ft 7in and 5ft 9in.
Charles Castle, Model Girl

High Fashion, Ideal Details: Editorial look; Age: 16–24 years old; Height: 5’9– 6’; Chest: 32–4 inches, Waist: 23–5 inches; Hips: 33–6 inches; Dress 6–8 UK, 0–4 US
Rachel Woods, The Model’s Guide

Pattie Boyd, via

We knew that superficially Patti had certain drawbacks. She was un-modelly in the accepted sense, her face was too round and she had a gap in her front teeth. But she had a quality that we were always being asked for – a young exuberance and lack of self-consciousness that illuminated all her pictures.
Cherry Marshall, The Cat-Walk

There are so many models with the right look to work in this business, so having a great attitude and personality is everything.
Cynthia Saldana, founder of Ikon New York Model Management, quoted in Rachel Woods, The Model’s Guide

A model not only learned how to walk but how to site, stand, enter and leave a room, carry an umbrella and put on and take off gloves correctly … She was expected to be elegant on and off duty.
Cherry Marshall, The Cat-Walk

With pictures of Shrimp appearing all round the world, hatless, hair untidy, minus gloves and with little make-up, she set a standard we fought to resist. Every day complaints poured into the agency about the model girls: untidy, unpunctual, ungroomed – even girls thrown out of fashion shows for looking grotty. Jean Shrimpton was an original, and so was Bailey, but their imitators fell far short of their standards.
Cherry Marshall, The Cat-Walk

As a rule of thumb always get prepared before walking into the building. Do not get caught by surprise. Do not walk in with your hair a mess, change your footwear if need be before walking in, take your coat off, get your portfolio out your bag and do anything else you need to. It could be the case that you will go straight into the casting, or you could have a long wait. Either way, you don’t know who will be there at the other side of the door when you walk in, so make sure you have a good entrance.
Rachel Woods, The Model’s Guide

Models at a Manchester modelling school, before a show, 1954. Via 

They’d turn up for interviews in their jeans, chewing gum, hair uncombed, quite unimpressed by the glossy pictures on the walls of our successful girls. Cherry Marshall, The Cat-Walk

Clients usually prefer to see your shape as best as possible, so either wear skinny jeans and tight tops or ideally (weather depending) show your legs by wearing a skirt, shorts or dress.
Rachel Woods, The Model’s Guide

For good health, you need enough sleep. Six to eight hours seems adequate for many, but you yourself may need more in order to feel fresh and energetic. Lack of sleep reveals itself in the loss of skin tone and colour, loss of hair luster, and eyes without that bright, lively glint.
Charles Castle, Model Girl

Finally, MUAs [Makeup Artists] appreciate having to do less work, because time is always of the essence. So the model can cut down a lot of time by showing up with good skin. This can be achieved by having proper rest and hydration (drinking lots of water), avoiding diuretics like alcohol and caffeine and getting regular facials if you're prone to breakouts. The more work you do to keep yourself looking fresh and rested, the less work the makeup artist will have to do, the day will go faster and everyone will thank you!
Anni Bruno, Makeup Artist (MUA), quoted in Rachel Woods, The Model’s Guide

Too much smoking and drinking leaves its marks on your looks. Cut it out, or reduce your intake.
Charles Castle, Model Girl

It is also advisable to keep alcohol intake to a minimum or ideally none at all (especially before a shoot), not to smoke or take drugs, all of which will age your skin prematurely and be potentially damaging to your career not to mention your overall health. There can be a lot of peer pressure in the industry to smoke or drink, but you just need to remember that it is your career and yours alone that you need to think of. Your look and body is your career, so you should look after it and treat it with respect.
Rachel Woods, The Model’s Guide

There are many pre-conceived notions that you must be extremely skinny in order to be a good model, this notion encourages many models, new and experienced to want to lose weight. This desire to lose the pounds quickly can lead to eating disorders such as Anorexia or Bulimia. This is not a good lifestyle to have. Any job that compromises your health is not the right job for you. Do not let anyone entice you to lose weight; not your agent, photographers, or other models.
Rachel Woods, The Model’s Guide

Mary Jane Russell. Via

Every face had to be made up to perfection … no model girl would dream of being seen without her ‘face’ on no matter how young or beautiful she was.
Cherry Marshall, The Cat-Walk

Models in Paris, however, are spoiled because highly-paid make-up artists and hairdressers visit Vogue and Elle and many of the top photographic studios to apply the models’ make-up and style their hair. In New York and London, however, the models are more self-sufficient and this helps them immensely with assignments on location throughout the world.
Charles Castle, Model Girl

The number one piece of advice I can give to a model hoping to gain favour with their makeup artist is to show up with a clean face. If the model shows up to the photo shoot with her makeup already done, that's a BIG no-no and a sure-fire way to tell the makeup artist that you don't trust them to do great work!
Anni Bruno, Makeup Artist (MUA), quoted in Rachel Woods, The Model’s Guide

A model today has to be tough about everything – fees, work and opportunities – and she can afford to be very demanding when she’s on top. But if she’s not doing much she’ll get short shrift from her agent who is mainly interested in success.
Cherry Marshall, The Cat-Walk

An agent can only do so much for a girl. IF the ambition is lacking, either through laziness or lack of confidence, you’re on a losing wicket.
Cherry Marshall, The Cat-Walk

There is one aspect that agents don’t always make known (or it may simply be an unconscious thing) is the fact that they often have ‘favourite’ models. The handful of ‘elite’ models are deemed by the agency as being particularly special and more unique than the hundreds of other models on their books and are consequently nurtured more, pushed forward more, supported more and are therefore more likely to reach the ‘supermodel’ status. It is often a catch 22 situation, in the sense that if a model is ‘in demand’ (meaning highly sought after for work) they will become a ‘favourite’ model amongst the agency and be pushed forward more. However, it is only after being pushed forward by the agency in the first place, because they felt there was potential with the model, that they became ‘in demand’.
Rachel Woods, The Model’s Guide

Girls are expected to put in an appearance at the right kind of party and meet at the smartest places. It’s all very friendly to start with – until bookings start to drop off and then invitations do as well.
Cherry Marshall, The Cat-Walk

In order to network, you should also aim to attend as many events as possible that you are invited to. If you receive any invite where there will be other industry professionals attending, you should always try and go, as events are a great way of building up more contacts in a relaxed, sociable setting. Just remember, don’t over-do the partying too much, models still need to have a decent amount of sleep, as they need to stay looking refreshed for work the next day!
Rachel Woods, The Model’s Guide

Ford Models, 1966. Via

They didn’t care that only a few girls reached the top and only a few girls reached the top and that most models ended up at a fashion house, rarely seeing the outside world at all and usually earning far less than before. It was the most glamorous career open to a girl, and they wanted to be part of it.
Cherry Marshall, The Cat-Walk

Memories and scrap-books of fashion covers and breathtaking photographs when their youth, health, beauty and earning powers were at their peak are satisfying reminders of their abilities and a determination to succeed in their chosen field; the most highly paid and glamorous a young girl can enter.
Charles Castle, Model Girl

The one thing however that I have never forgotten from my lesson, was when I was told that ‘less than 1% of all models make it to supermodel status’. This book therefore focuses on the hard working, average models that form the backbone and other 99% of the industry … the key to succeeding and ultimately staying in the industry is stay positive and develop a very thick-skin! Rachel Woods, The Model’s Guide

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...