FORM OF GENEVIÈVE
Why One Model Makes it Big When Others Don't
IN SOME ways the fashion world is like high school... if certain people like you, you're alright. If Wintour, Leon Talley, Meisel, Coddington, Leibowitz, Demarchelier, Testino and Gaultier really like you? Done deal.
I THINK the real question is not "How are these supermodels chosen?", but "Why do such vast numbers of girls want desperately, more than anything else, to be chosen?"
I'VE WORKED in the business a bit, though mostly not as a model. It's 99% luck. The luck to have the right genetics, the luck to be seen by the right person, the luck to the one time it matters walk perfectly and take a good photo.
There are skills involved; it's not as easy as it looks. There are also requirements like watching your weight and being able to constantly wear heels. But luck matter more than anything else. When it comes to photos and runway walking, some people are better than others but in my experience most models are sometimes good, and sometimes not-so-good and what's important is managing to be good when it matters.
If you look at a full portfolio from your average well-paid model you'll find only about 5% of her photos are super-amazing magazine cover worthy, and about 25-40% are usable. There are exceptions; some models almost always photograph well but don't make it because of the luck factor.
I know when it comes to celebrities they will be shot for hours and thousands of photos will be taken just to get the five or six that appear in the magazine. And even those need significant photoshopping to look the way they do in the final product.
Models are better in that more of the photos they take will be good, but it's very rare to find someone who always photographs well.
EVEN IN the business world, the people who "make it" usually are getting jobs for reasons that aren't directly related to their experience and qualifications. I observed several interviews that my boss conducted in hiring someone to replace me. He filtered out most of the lowest-qualified people by their resumes, so most of the job candidates were fairly interchangeable until the interview. Still, he hired a lower-qualified person basically because he talked the loudest during the interview, thus exuding confidence and amiability.
I HAVE a friend who was with the same agency as Daria just before Daria was getting all the major shows and campaigns. My friend is also beautiful, has a fantastic model body and looked great on film. But Daria made it big and my friend worked some smaller markets and did some jobs but gave it up when she realized that no matter what, she would never get as much work as Daria. She just could never really understand the why of it though.
GIVEN what Jenna says about subjectivity in determining a model's "x factor", I'd guess that gaining the backing of a fashion industry tastemaker, someone who has successfully driven trends in the past or who consistently sets industry standards, is crucial to making it big. And when I say support, I don't mean just one show or magazine cover, but full-on 'campaigning' for this model. Even if the designer or agent or editor is only going by a subjective gut instinct, their past track record lends weight to their choices. People pay attention and, as Jenna said, clamber aboard the bandwagon, which just adds momentum to a career.
MODELS are human commodities. I think the casting director really says it all when he compares casting models to choosing a chair.
AS someone who is in finance, I can totally attest to the "herd" mentality. Warren Buffett buys into a company? pile on in! (hey, please overlook that he gets a 9% coupon convertible bond and makes money in any case, and you just get plain old stock that goes up or down). Or the other way - IBM misses its earnings estimates by two pennies? DUMP DUMP DUMP!
There are tons of studies showing that when the crowds love something, it's topped out.
"TO HAVE 'It,' the fortunate possessor must have that strange magnetism which attracts both sexes. He or she must be entirely unselfconscious and full of self-confidence, indifferent to the effect he or she is producing, and uninfluenced by others. There must be physical attraction, but beauty is unnecessary." - Elinor Glyn, 1927
This is all I could think of while reading Marsh's quote about his choices being "an internal thing."
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