Hot Couture Chronicles: The Making of a Model

Fit Chick Nasha Smith (front right) looks apprehensive before her first foray  down the rehearsal runway of HOT Couture.

Fit Chick Nasha Smith (front right) looks apprehensive before her first foray
down the rehearsal runway of HOT Couture.

Seventies model, Janice Dickinson, claims to not only be the world’s first supermodel, but also to have coined the term. However there is evidence that the phrase has been in existence since the late 1800’s. Which come to think of it may lend credence to Dickinson’s claim. She has been looking the worse for wear.

To be honest, there are several women who have been worthy of the title over the years. Think Twiggy, Cheryl Tiegs and another Dickinson contemporary, Gia Carangi. But my first foray into the fabulous world of fashion came via the nineties vixens. Cindy Crawford. Claudia Schiffer. Kathy Ireland. Naomi Campbell. Linda Evangelista. Christy Turlington. Helena Christensen. Eva Herzigova. These were the women who graced the cover of every magazine, appeared in every commercial, and even starred in some of my favourite music videos. To this day when I go to the beach I envision writhing around in the surf with Chris Isaak a la Christensen in Wicked Games.

On this island, my view of modelling was vastly different. The women never seemed as lithe, statuesque, or striking as expected. And there was a popular misconception that the craft involved strutting down the catwalk looking as enraged as possible. It’s all about attitude. Right?

But this would never be my issue since I had neither the desire nor physical attributes to aspire to the industry. My 5’2” frame would not land me on the runways of Paris, shilling for Chanel.

But alas I would finally have an opportunity to experience the life as part of rehearsals for the highly anticipated second installment of HOT Couture. And I was fully prepared to immerse myself in the role. Armed with everything I had learnt from binge watching America’s Next Top Model, I headed over to the Johnson’s Center where nightly rehearsals had commenced a week prior. Clad in a black tank top, black tights, hair pulled back, no make-up, only a little bit of gloss I sauntered in, ready to offer my best Tyra Banks ‘smize’.

As the models trickled in, each more Amazonian than the next, I wondered if they would notice that one of these things was definitely not like the other. But I quickly pushed these thoughts out of my head as I completed my first official task: getting a test shot. Whoo hoo! I was now legit.

The lady in charge was none other than our own 2Nite editor and accomplished international model, Denise Lay. The normally sweet, nurturing beauty was replaced by a stern drill sergeant, barking out orders at a clipped pace. Still a beauty though.

“How hard is it to form five lines!” she asked incredulously. Pretty hard apparently, judging by the puzzled expressions. You could almost see the thought bubbles: “Does she mean lines of five people? Should we be vertical? I wonder how many Whatsapp messages I have?”

After a solid five minutes of organization and mathematical improbability, we got down to various breathing exercises, as Lay walked through the maze, making minor corrections to form. Or in my case, attempting to stretch my chest upward. Sorry D. No amount of pulling or tugging will add another inch. With a smile she tipped my chin up and pushed my chest out. And suddenly I was a gazelle. Or delusional.

Next up: Posture. We lined up on opposite sides of the newly constructed stage and listened intently as Lay explained: Walk down the runway, head up, shoulders back, stomach in, one foot in front the other. Simple right? Oh yeah, with a book on your head. And if it falls along the way, you have to start all over again.

Creativity kicked in as the models removed hair pieces, put on beanies, and created platforms in mohawks to offer some kind of stability to the impending object. As the other ladies and gents strode confidently past, my nerves started setting in. I had notoriously bad posture, thanks to scoliosis, and coordination sometimes eluded me. My four inch heels weren’t helping my cause either.

Sensing my trepidation I’m sure, Lay came over with my book.

“Okay Smithers. You can do it. Stand tall. Head up. Walk straight down the middle.”

The moment of truth. I took a deep breath and set out. As I focused on the journey, Lay let the others in on my imposter status and the group collectively stared offering encouragement. With every successful step my confidence grew. Before I knew it, I was at the end. Eureka! I even managed to walk back.

Dragon fully slayed. That hurdle crossed, I really started to enjoy the process.

The rest of the evening passed in a blur. The group gathered for a final walkthrough which I got to watch front row with the HOT Couture orchestrator herself, Mae Wayne.

Three things I learnt: Some of our models are amazingly talented; somewhere in St Lucia strippers are missing their heels; and we have an über hot Matthew McConnaughy lookalike. Awright, awright, awright!

But my journey is not done yet. Is getting glammed up for these events as fun as it looks? I’ll let you know next week.

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