Sunday, August 16, 2009

Mannequins, Maquillage, and MAC

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I used to be a model and some of you requested that I delve into my own theories as to why I knew/know so little about makeup. While I had makeup put on me most days, I lacked the skills to replicate any of the looks that were created. Multiple theories run through my head as I am now 'into' the makeup as a late bloomer of sorts. I've pulled out a magazine of one of the first 'big' jobs I did: an editorial layout in a French bridal magazine. You see, it started out a bit funky or ironic depending on how you look at it. I had just turned 15 years old in these pics but had been modeling for a few months. Strange huh to use a 15 yr. old in a bridal spread, which seemed to be an off beat approach to wedding dresses for the artistic minded bride?

I know that there are models who do know how to do makeup, I can only speak from my own experiences. Tyra Banks is a prime example. Backstage at the fashion shows (which is reminiscent of a high school cafeteria because of all of various cliques and groups) Tyra, who was in the 'super model' clique, always seemed to be one of the only ones with her own makeup bag tinkering, reapplying, taking away, and generally creating her own individual take on the show's theme. The lead makeup artist could sometimes be seen glaring in her direction, and she would usually reply that something had smudged and she was merely fixing it. Usually, to me, this didn't seem to be the case., but she was/is a master of knowing what really worked for her face. My face was usually buried in a book and too petrified to even attempt to change anything done to my face.

Onto the theories:

1). Eyes wide shut - The most obvious theory is that my eyes were closed most of the time, so it was difficult to gauge what was being put on me in the one to three hours of sitting for hair and makeup to be applied.

2). Tools and Pallettes: All of the brushes, MUFE pallettes, MAC pallettes, Christian Dior, Givenchy, etc., splayed out on the makeup table or production RV was always very intimidating to me. All of the various colors that came out of enormous train cases looked very technical and who knew where to get the stuff anyway? I was clueless for sure. The Bourjois section at Prisunic was my go to place for lip pencils and lip gloss. The one item I would always buy (strange that I don't have one now) was YSL's ToucheEclat because it was the one item that the makeup artists used consistently. It didn't matter if it was a campaign, a show, a catalog, or a magazine. So, I did use that one item daily usually bought at the airport.

3). The third person effect - A model's job is to be a blank canvas. On any particular job, a model is often referred to in the third person. Most people do not have this kind of experience in their lives. The conversation goes something like this:

  • Stylist/Editor/Creative Director/Client: "Maybe we should have her tilt her head to the side"
  • Me: Stands, looks side to side as in the viewing of a Wimbledon match, but waits for direction and then acts accordingly.
  • Stylist/Editor/CD/Client: Stands behind the photog for better viewing. "Hmm I think that will work."
  • Photographer: "Could you tilt your head to the side and then down a notch."
  • Me: Calculating the money I make in my head and thinking to self - Why is this still so strange to hear? Couldn't they just tell me, to my face, what they would like the picture to look like? Jeez! I'm standing two feet in front of them. Then interjects: "So perhaps you would like me to do this" *moves head/turns body/rearranges leg/arm/torso position* My attempt to deobjectify myself and have some input. lol

4). The Daily Grind: When a model is not working she has to do castings, which I'm sure that we are all familiar with thanks to America's Next Top Model (a Tyra original). Now, again, I can only speak from my own experience, but when a model has to do anywhere from ten to fourteen castings/appointments a day (if one isn't booked for a job), one really has to hoof it. Appointments take one all over a city from the 10th Arrondissement to the 16th to the 8th, from Knightsbridge to Chelsea to Notting Hill and back to Covent Garden, from 65th and Lexington to Madison Avenue to Alphabet get the picture. One is always on the move all day in all parts of the any given city. No time to reapply and it would probably have melted off anyway.

The agency, in the beginning, wants the models come in at the start of the day for their appointments, which I always suspected that it was to check to see what we were wearing. I learned very fast to hide my skateboard. One always had to have some kind of skirt or tight jeans on though skirts were preferred as the clients needed to "see your legs." I remember girls showing up in the morning - with makeup - and being told to go the bathroom (usually they were given MU remover) and take it off. Lip gloss, concealer, and maybe mascara seemed, to me, the only appropriate items to be worn on the face. My booker told me that it was important for the client/editor/photograher to be able to see your face, skin, and lip pigmentation. A full on face of makeup prevents this.

Fashion show casting was a bit different. We had a driver! Yay. Too may designers to see to hoof it around the city.

5) Break: If one is working day in and day out for weeks then the skin needs a break from the makeup. I doubt this needs any explanation.

6) A Lack of Bonding: Often times, women learn about makeup from their friends and other women. Yay YouTube and Blogs! A model's life is an extremely lonely life. While it seems very glamorous (some of it really is), it is hyper competitive but not in an overt way. That competitiveness comes at a great cost. Friendships are and were made yet a silence exists as well. Imagine battle of the homecoming queens on a daily basis. It's the silence about the work one does and which jobs one is on option for at any given time (a model can have any number of options on her chart, which means that different clients may want to book a model but nothing is confirmed or 'booked'). I'm not sure if I've explained it to you. Just let me know if it isn't clear.

Again, these are just my opinions on the subject...
I hope you enjoyed this post and have a great Sunday!


  1. Thank you so much for sharing this. I really enjoyed reading it. Hope you're having a great Sunday too!

  2. Forgot to say...thanks for the tag! I'll be doing this soon:)

  3. I appreciate your support as it seemed like a strange post for me to do. I look forward to reading your random facts!

  4. Thanks for taking the time to write this post. It does sound like you led a very fascinating life from such a young age!

    Although I learnt quite a lot from watching Tyra's ANTM, you've indeed shed more light on what it's like being in the cutthroat modelling world! :)

  5. @witoxicity - Yes, it was quite a whirlwind life at a very young age!
    Tyra's ANTM isn't always true to form, but they have to keep folks entertained. It's funny seeing Jay Alexander on the show as he was the person the agencies in Paris hired to show all of the girls how to walk. He is exactly the same in 'real' life as he is on the show:) lol

  6. how interesting! And might I add, what beautiful wedding dresses!!! xx

  7. @Gail - Thanks, I tried to make it engaging. I didn't include all of the pics (it seemed excessive), but all of the dresses were really unique and delicate.

  8. Hi Lorla! You posted beautiful pics. I really liked this blog, very informative and I learned a few things as well.

    Wanted to tell you I enjoyed reading your 6 things in the tag and thanks for doing it.

    Thank you so much for the kind words about my blog, I really appreciate it, more than you know.


  9. @Erica - Thanks for giving me this opportunity. It was fun to do!

  10. Your modeling pictures are gorgeous!

  11. @Jaime - Thank you. That is very kind.

  12. Hi,

    Very nice pictures! You look stunning! I hope you will show us more pics :-)

  13. Hi again, I've just tag you for an award on my blog!! :-)