After devouring a series of Learn the Supermodel Walk videos on YouTube, practising my posture outside the audition room and facing three cold-faced judges at the Mass Exodus casting call, I have been selected to walk an evening wear collection at the show.
Upon receiving the email from a fourth-year fashion design student, my initial reaction went something like “oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh,” which later became “I can’t believe I actually got cast,” and ended with, “I can’t do this, I’m going to throw up.”
Putting my nerves aside, I decided to attend Toronto Fashion Week as it presented an opportunity to learn everything I could about the modelling world.
I sat in on a runway rehearsal for one of the collections being presented, where I watched models practise their walks and poses, all the while getting barked at by a rather harsh runway co-ordinator.
“You look too happy, I need you to frown more,” she said in a frustrated tone to one of the male models. Giving him strict direction, she made him re-do his walk at least four times.
I’ll admit my heart began to race thinking that this could be me, getting yelled at because I looked “too happy.” In the back of my head I thought, “Will I really have to deal with what that model went through? Will my walk be good enough? Will my expressions be suitable for the design I’ll be modelling?” I felt the pressure.
Then the time came for my fitting.
Paige King, the designer who I’ll be walking for, told me that her collection, titled “Majesty,” consisted of full-length evening gowns with a beauty direction of a casual up do, strong eyes, natural face and soft lips.
It all sounded lovely, but I haven’t worn an evening dress since prom. The added pressure quickly crept in.
You’d think that being cast as a model would boost my confidence to new heights. But no. As a first-timer, it’s actually rather nerve-racking. Especially when you don’t really know what to expect.
What happens if I don’t fit into the dress? What happens if the heels are too high? What if I can’t walk in them? Is there a possibility I could be fired from this unpaid gig?
Before my fitting I was told to arrive with my hair pulled up, a properly fitted bra and my toes in a presentable state. These requests seemed unnatural to me. I’m still wearing boots, why would I bother painting my toes?
As I let my mind race, thinking of the many ways I could screw this up, I couldn’t sleep the night before.
On the day of my fitting, King walked me into a room filled with mannequins, racks of clothing, and large tables covered with clusters of things.
She took me to the back of the design studio and I waited with bated breath as she retrieved the dress I would don. Crafted from fine silk, it reminded me of something a Disney princess would wear. I walked into the change room and slipped into the dress with great struggle — it was rather long and quite big on me.
It fit like a paper bag. I walked back out, where King helped me put on the matching silver heels, which, to my surprise, actually fit quite comfortably.
Next, King asked me to walk in the gown. I did so with great difficulty as she stared me up and down with a blank look.
Without a word, she began to pin the dress to my body until it eventually fit like a glove. I was shocked at the amount of alterations. I had no idea that alterations were even a thing during fittings for runway shows. I thought it was more of a “you fit it or you don’t” type of deal, and if you don’t fit the garment, you’re shit out of luck.
After she pinned, I got undressed and she sent me off.
And that was that.
As nervous as I am, and will continue to be until the night of the actual show, I’m proud of myself for not chickening out and actually trying something completely out of my comfort zone. I somehow managed to get through the nerve-racking audition process, made the cut and now I get the pleasure of wearing a beautiful dress and feeling like a princess for a night.
Now all I have to worry about is not falling flat on my face on the runway. Fingers crossed.
This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on April 3, 2013.