Model Diary: A Thanksgiving Update

Happy Thanksgiving, dear reader. I’m Canadian myself, so I have no real sentiments about the holiday, but I am currently with my parents in Connecticut to eat and drink with our American cousins. I just finished several long days of shooting, so I am very much looking forward to five days free from heavy makeup, teased hair, tights, heels, contact lenses…the oppressive elements of “beauty” that become quite burdensome when doing them every day. Here’s an update in the meantime, while I’m eating turkey.

Remember the other day when I gushed about my awesome casting with Steven Sebring? Well I guess he liked my enthusiasm because we shot together this past Sunday. It was just a spec, but it was the craziest, most innovative spec I’ve ever done (and one which he seems to have plans for–it’s all very hush-hush). It was a very long day, but my favorite shot was the last one we did: six models (four girls, two guys), partially naked, draped in fur, intertwining limbs in some orgiastic fashion statement.

On Monday I shot for Joy Magazine (based out of Germany) with Dirk Bader at the Standard Hotel. It was my first time at the hotel, and I was very excited to witness the space in all of its trendy glory. Call time, however, was 7 am, which was a little too early for me to appreciate the Standard’s postmodern aesthetic. I did enjoy the Stay-Puft marshmallow man’s cameo in the elevator. We shot all the photos in the hotel room, with clear views of the city in the background (the room had floor-to-ceiling windows). Bader remarked that the magazine really insisted on having prominent representations of the city, as New York provides a specific, romantic narrative that appeals to European readers (sort of how American magazines often use Paris as a narrative). The cityscape doesn’t reveal the details of New York life, but it does have the skyscraper visual that isn’t common in European cities.

We finished shooting at 2:30, and then I ran across town to a casting for the Hysteric Glamour campaign, which was being shot the next day by Ellen Von Unwerth. I was a bit nervous (I’m a big fan of hers), but I put on my heels, and when she took my photo I didn’t just stand there like a bug-eyed child, but actually posed and performed. I left the casting feeling pretty good (while I was there, I was the only girl who tried on clothes), and tried to come down from the adrenaline of having met Von Unwerth by posting our meeting to Twitter (I got an account a few days ago to engage in minimal communication with friends back home, and hell, to feel cool). Despite my positive feeling about the casting, I refused to get my hopes up, so I went home and focused on my Crystal Renn post. Two hours later I got a call from my booker telling me I got the job!

But that story is for my next post, because it stands on its own, and I have to start getting ready for my first ever American Thanksgiving. Pumpkin pie is for dessert. YES!

Model Diary: Dare I Tackle the Weight Debate? Part II: Leave Crystal Renn Alone!

Yesterday’s post, in which I expressed my relationship with the fashion industry’s extreme standards for thinness, was motivated by the buzz going around about Crystal Renn’s new photos in the December issue of Harper’s Bazaar. Renn is noticeably thinner in the photos, and everyone—from Facebook nobodies to fashion blogs to New York Magazine—seems intent on voicing their opinion about it. Renn summed it up best herself when she said, “I think that no matter what weight I am, I will be criticized.” Yes, she’s lost some weight. Concerns for her well-being aside (Renn’s booker has stated that she is very happy and healthy, and that she had lost the weight in a healthy, self-loving way): Big fucking deal. Just because she’s not a size 14 anymore does not mean she’s a sell-out or a hypocrite. Her success as a plus-size model was revolutionary and will never be forgotten. There will forever be photos of her on the Internet in her lovely largess, and her Terry Richardson spread (and all its controversy) is seared into our collective fashion consciousness.

The implied modus operandi of Renn’s career, both in terms of the fashion industry and cultural standards of beauty, has never simply been “plus-size models are beautiful too,” but rather, that women can be beautiful at any size, regardless of numbers. She has exemplified that as a size 14, 10, and now as a size 8; in full-length and portrait shots; in photos and on the runway. She might no longer be a plus-size model, but she has still achieved the RARE accomplishment of being a high-fashion supermodel without being a size 0. And that is a huge feat.

Renn, in losing weight, should therefore not be considered as “turning on” her admirers. It is them, rather, who are turning on her. In being upset with her weight loss, they counter her mission of showing the world that women—models or not—should be accepted at any size. Why must she be at the extreme of the body spectrum? The woman has already experienced so much—good and bad—at both extremes. Shouldn’t “medium” or “average”—or “full-bodied” or “zaftig” (in the juiciest sense of the word)—be the next body type we see (at least once) in the fashion world? I think so, and there’s no one better than Renn to usher it in.

Holiday Travel Tips From Today’s Fashion Globetrotters

Thanksgiving is mere days away, which means that this week marks the beginning of holiday travel anxiety and airport insanity. And while you may think you have the drill down pat, there’s always room for improvement—especially if it means getting to your destination without any drama. Whether you’re looking to update your packing plan or just need some motivation to get started, we’ve compiled a few useful tips from some fashion pros after the jump.

Starting with an upright roller suitcase, Rachel Zoe suggests packing methodically by “layering your belongings inside in the following order: shoes on the bottom (put socks in them to keep their shape and place them within a drawstring bag), folded jeans in the middle, and everything else—blouses, dresses, blazers—on top. Make sure these items are laid neatly flat with as few folds as possible.” Zoe also notes that over-packing is a waste of time and ultimately counter-productive: “Nothing is as un-chic as an overstuffed suitcase. Not only will it potentially cost you extra money at the airport, but it will also damage the suitcase and contents inside. If you are planning to go on a somewhat lengthy trip, I recommend shipping some of your belongings via FedEx in advance.”

Models practically live out of suitcases, so you know they have a pretty good system in place. Over at Modelinia a few of them revealed their spring backpacking tips that can also be applied year-round. “Roll up everything and you will have half a suitcase free that you didn’t have before,” notes recent Chanel catwalker Crystal Renn. Filippa Hamilton has a good tip for spontaneous purchases before a flight (because you know it happens): “I always put an extra bag inside my big bag in case I go shopping or I need to take out stuff so I don’t pay the overweight fee.” And to avoid hunger without sacrificing your diet, model and actress Mini Anden suggests, “When flying, bring your own food! I always pack a nice homemade meal with fruit and veggies. That way your stomach feels sooo much better! Airplane food is the worst!”

We all know how long the airport security check can take, so it’s great to hear that Tory Burch made a sock specifically for that moment when you have to quickly take off your shoes but want to avoid bare feet. She tells Vogue: “After walking barefoot through airport security earlier this year, I tweeted about whether to design a travel sock.” With a resounding “Yes!” from her followers, she designed a Merino-wool sock with non-slip rubber that comes with a cute pouch and clip for your luggage so you can pull the socks on during security check (or if you need to sprint across the airport to catch your flight).

If you think we missed anything or have some tried-and-true travel tips of your own, hook us up in the comments section below!

French ‘Vogue’ Turns 90: Gluttony, Cross-dressing, & Carine Roitfeld’s Karaoke

French Vogue is ringing in its 90th birthday with an issue that includes cross-dressing, gluttony, and no shortage of Lara Stone’s breasts. In light of the occasion, the New York Times‘ Eric Wilson sat down with the magazine’s iconic EOC, Carine Roitfeld. “Ms. Roitfeld’s new issue set a record for the publication with 620 pages, many of them advertisements created specially for the anniversary,” he said of the editrix’s latest handiwork, noting that the Terry Richardson-shot spread of plus size poster-child Crystal Renn gorging herself on pasta, squid, and various semi-cooked meats, is bound to be the issue’s most controversial chapter. Roitfeld must be relishing the attention.

That’s not to say, however, that Roitfeld feels at liberty to publish whatever she wants. She says in the interview, “Now, the censoring is bigger than it was 20, 30 or 40 years ago. I think we have less freedom. Today some pictures would not even be publishable. It’s not just about the nudity, but when you talk about things politically, the military, kids, it would all be politically incorrect and not publishable today.” Roitfeld is also uncharacteristically glowing about Anna Wintour, who she calls a revolutionary. “It’s good that Anna Wintour was the one who needed to kick our butt, in a way, to do something. She did a lot in America, but in Paris, we were a bit slow. Now we understand, and we’ve seen so much return that we are going to be more and more aware to help.” Whether her editing career continues unabated, Roitfeld is looking forward to a few, rather unexpected side projects: “I have a new job now: bartender. That is my dream, and also to open a karaoke.”

An End To The Crystal Renn Saga

Few contemporary fashion models have sparked as much controversy as Crystal Renn (save for Naomi Campbell and her never-ending brushes with the law). Renn is in the spotlight because of the dozens upon dozens of headlines referencing her weight—thanks to her memoir Hungry, and to being the first plus-size model to grace the pages of nearly every major fashion magazine. Now, Renn is sitting dead center in a press storm after a photo surfaced in which she appeared to have shed quite a few dress sizes since her last major public appearance on Chanel’s Resort Runway. Using press to fight press, Renn has put rumors to rest in an interview with Glamour and clarified why she suddenly looked so svelte. The culprit: Photoshop.

“I was shocked,” Renn says of coming face-to-face with the shots by photographer Nicholas Routzen. “When I saw the pictures, I think I was silent for a good five minutes, staring with my mouth open. I don’t know what was done to those photos or who did it, but they look retouched to me.” One look at each of the photos and it’s impossible to think otherwise. Considering the backlash various news outlets perpetuated by reporting that Renn had shed an unhealthy number of pounds, there’s no ignoring the fact that champions of a well-rounded beauty ideal have set their hopes on Renn. She has without a doubt become the poster child for a healthier vision of female beauty, and what ever your take on the issue, it’s comforting to know that Renn hasn’t fallen victim to what are surely immense pressures from an industry still struggling with its own self image.

The Crystal Renn Weight Debate

Crystal Renn, the model at the center of fashion’s weight-debate—and the posterchild of the plus-sized movement—might be struggling with her own weight yet again. After openly discussing her struggle to stay model-thin, and her eventual acceptance of her natural weight, in her memoir, Hungry, Renn’s career skyrocketed, earning her the adoration of major fashion photographers and a place in Karl Lagerfeld’s most recent show for Chanel. But it seems all of the exposure may be taking its toll. Pictures of Renn have just surfaced where the plus-size model appears drastically thinner than any period in time since her plus-size modeling career took off. The just-released photos feature Renn in a tank top that supports Nicholas Routzen’s “Fashion For Passion” campaign, which goes to benefit children and the arts.

Fashion blogs are a-buzz, with bloggers calling for a ‘Feed Crystal Renn’ campaign. Many are asking if Renn even ranks as plus-size at her current weight. No official statement has of yet been released by her agency, but rest assured, if Renn truly has lost as much weight as it appears (and isn’t the victim of a trigger-happy photoshopper), it’s likely to cause quite a press storm. What does this say about the plus-size industry as a whole? For one, it implies that even if a model can reach career heights while not conforming to near-skeletal standards, there’s still crippling pressure for her to fall back into a very thin line.

The Man Behind Fashion’s Plus-Size Model Frenzy

Yes, plus-size models are a current fashion fixation. From V and Glamour to Marc Jacobs and Prada, magazine editorials and runway shows have been saying the same thing for months: curves are in. But until now, the man who might as well be the brains behind the whole operation has eluded the spotlight. Meet Gary Dakin, the face of Ford Models’ plus-size division. His clients include Hunger scribe Crystal Renn and newbie to the plus-size mannequin world, Tara Lynn. “A lot of people in the industry didn’t like these kinds of images,” he tells the Times of London, adding, “this is bullshit. These girls look amazing.”

The article proves interesting for various reasons but primarily for shedding light on an often discussed but infrequently investigated side of the industry. For instance, Lynn gives some explanation as to why plus-size models might consistently be photographed in the nude: “all these gorgeous clothes and nothing fits me. No wonder they always shoot me naked.” On another note, Dakin indirectly raises the point that while these women may be larger, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re less healthy. “I also know a friend of mine who is a size 24 and runs marathons. Health and size are not completely related,” Dakin says. There’s surely no denying the fact that Renn, for one, is leaps and bounds healthier than many of the emaciated models that skitter across catwalks and fashion spreads alike.

Dakin also divulges his own personal parallel to the plus-size plight: “it’s the underdog mentality. As a gay man I felt I understood what these girls had been through in the industry.” Don’t expect Dakin to hang up his hat anytime soon. “His latest find is a 14-year-old from Chicago. She’s a size 18. In a reversal of what most agents do, he’s waiting to see if she manages to keep hold of her puppy fat.” Not to mention, as the Times points out, day rates for plus-size models are reaching “the kind of money that used to be unheard of.” And, given the fact that “Crystal Renn will be on the cover of [Glamour’s] June issue,” it looks like the more time that passes the less the plus-size trend may be seen as a novelty and more as one aspect of an increasingly diversified landscape of female beauty.

‘Vogue’ Editor Can’t Stop Anorexic Models from Showing Up, After All

“They have to be a little thinner than you and I because you always photograph a little fatter.” Words of wisdom from Vogue fave Grace Coddington just as the holidays near. But this isn’t a reminder from Coddington to put down the fork and do the head-tilt-turned-body-pose for holiday event pics taken by Patrick McMullan; this is Coddington’s way of explaining how model anorexia comes to be. “Because they’re kids, they take it too far, and they can’t regulate their lives, and next thing you know they’re anorexic, and it is tragic.” Her remarks come off the ripple-wave that the firing at Ralph Lauren created, a situation Coddington does not chide Lauren for. Instead, she thinks Ralph Lauren is getting too much bad publicity because most models at Ralph Lauren are not super skinny, and this is an isolated incident.

In a conversation at an event at the New York Public Library. she shares her often levelheaded views with ex-Men’s Vogue editor Jay Fielden. “Personally we’re not allowed, at Vogue, to work with girls who are very thin, but you never know, because you could book them and think they’re a certain size, and they turn up on the shoot and suddenly they’ve spun into this anorexic situation. And you’re on the spot and you have to get the job done and you have one day to do it, and what do you do? But you try to be responsible, as Anna [Wintour] is.”

I believe her, but with all that we know about Crystal Renn’s experience with gaining a bit of weight on shoots, especially in instances where her size 4 frame did not gain in inches, but just looked a bit “squat,” one has to wonder why the too-thin model wouldn’t be sent away from the photo shoot just as one who looked overweight. In her memoir, Hungry, Renn arrived in Chicago to shoot, but was turned away by the photographer who claimed she looked “huge.” Shocked, Renn reminded him, “You loved me at the casting four days ago.” The producer of the commercial shoot asked, “Did you gain 20 pounds in four days? You have to leave.”

What if she showed up looking sickly gaunt and frail instead? Famous plus-sized model Emme says the anorexic model would not be turned away, and it’s the consumers’ responsibility — not the responsibility of fashion editors like Wintour and Coddington — to change the trend. “It’s time for women to start uniting online and communicating about this, to really put their foot down. They are in the driver’s seat, because they are the ones spending the money!”

Ralph Lauren Photoshops, Fires Filippa Hamilton

I once saw Fillippa Hamilton waltzing through Union Square, willowy, lithe, and much thinner than I assumed she’d be. Seeing a model for the first time is much like seeing a giraffe; you know this leaf-eater was going to look impossibly exotic and beautiful from what you’ve seen in National Geographic or Vogue, but in real life, their build seems even more improbable. Lucky for the giraffes, they never get airbrushed within an inch of their lives or lose contracts because they’ve eaten one too many apricot leaves. Unless the giraffe happens to work for Ralph Lauren. That’s what happened to Hamilton, whose 5’10” 120-pound frame was airbrushed to look as if the Cindy Crawford-esque girl was suddenly a bobble-head Bratz doll, before she later got the boot for being “too fat.”

Hamilton went on Today to discuss her outrage about the cartoonish picture, and maintains that she has not gained any weight during her eight-year stint with the all-American brand. “I think they owe American women an apology, a big apology,” she said. “I’m very proud of what I look like, and I think a role model should look healthy.”

Ralph Lauren says her contract was terminated “as a result of her inability to meet the obligations under her contract with us.” Inability to travel? No, she put the label first — she’s been loyal since the age of 15. Kate Mossian drug problem? Not that the world knows about. “They fired me because they said I was overweight and I couldn’t fit in their clothes anymore,” claims Hamilton.

Everyone has heard the story of the model who struggles with weight, judgmental directors, and chiding bookers until she finally breaks — Crystal Renn turned her frustration into a successful career as a plus-sized model, and Glamour magazine has been making their pages a safe haven for plus-sized and “real” looking women, for models and their readers. But this isn’t the case for the size 4 Hamilton. One examiner suggests that Ralph Lauren works in a man’s world, and simply lost interest, leaving Hamilton because “she got lazy, gained weight or just doesn’t take care of herself,” and the manly company started looking at other women. A disillusioned collusion for which the author quotes Steve Santagati, author of The Manual: A True Bad Boy Explains How Men Think, Date and Mate – and What Women Can Do to Come Out on Top, in order to tie in why Hamilton was dropped from her contract: “She ain’t what she used to be.”