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How to: Becoming a Top-Model

What You Need To Have or Who You Need to Be In Becoming a Future Top-Model?

Every girl starting from 10-years-old is dreaming about being a model. Every girl of, at least, attractive, catchy or extraordinary appearance, of perfect (according to modelling standards) physique – read – slim or skinny, and of height above the average, has a lot of chances to get noticed by a model scout, sign a contract with a modelling agency and go conquer the fashion world by her beauty and alluring personality. Such sweet dreams and exalted expectations of the sparkling glamorous life of top-models is desirable and charming for everyone who is wishing to be famous and earn millions of dollars just by their faces and bodies, the way contemporary supermodels such Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Candice Swanepoel, Irina Shayk and many others do it. Litres of campaigns, never-ending parties and glitzy events alongside with the Hollywood stars and A-list celebrities, expensive brand-new clothes of the most eminent designers that are given for free just to get promoted by you, constant travels around the world by a private jet, new meetings every day, global adoration and millions of fans on social media – that’s how modelling career seems to be expected, however few understand that a major number of ordinary girls who signed a precious contract bump into a disappointing reality of what the actual state of affairs is.

Nowadays, with a domination of social media, and especially Instagram that had a significant impact on our lives and turned upside down the way we perceive the reality, and is the principal approach of promoting your own personality, appearance and body, aspirations and desires, every girl got even more possibilities to become a model. And I don’t take into account that kind of beauties portraying themselves on the profile description as a versatile person that can simultaneously be a model, a blogger, a DJ, and a fashion designer of clothes we haven’t even heard about and – highly likely – will never do just because this an image of the empty content that doesn’t even carry any compelling meaning or, at least, benefit. This picture – I mean, girl – gathers likes and engages thousands of followers thanks to an accurately enclosed artificial bust within the shot posted. Or a booty. Or bust and booty altogether – sometimes flexibility and ability of some girls to curve and buckle at unnatural angles really capture the imagination and occasionally cause admiration and yearning to take stretching classes.

By the constant development of Instagram it’s already unessentially to dream about Natalia Vodianova’s destiny as she was discovered on the local market in the Russian hinterland selling fruits and vegetables, or Kate Moss’s whose lean shape and atypical for classic model type of beauty was scouted at the Heathrow airport holding a cigarette on the hand. Not a major part, but an essential part of modelling scouts now abide on social media and are in active search within a digital environment in attempts to find ordinary girls with an unconventional, eye-catching appearance willing to present clothes, boost sales and become a face of the new generation of models. In 2014, Marc Jacobs launched an official campaign via Instagram in searching of the fresh faces for an advertising campaign of his second line brand Marc by Marc Jacobs AW14, inviting users all around the world to promote their candidature by submitting photos and videos using the hashtag #CastMeMarc. Potential models-to-be darted to take and post pictures of selfies, full height shots, portraits with and without make-up on, in different poses and angles in order to somehow attract casting-directors’ attention. By the end of the campaign, over 70,000 (!) people rose to the challenge, only nine of them were picked to take part in the ad shot by a legendary photographer, David Sims.

The same story found its continuation in 2016, but this time the most popular social media campaign was brought back in order to attract beauty-bloggers for an upcoming ad of the cosmetic line of the brand. He announced the news via Instagram in a short video starring artistic drag queen Milk, from Season 6 of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

“Casting call!” says Milk. “#CastMeMarc is back! This time, we’re looking for the next Marc Jacobs beauty social media sensation – could it be you? Post a video on Instagram telling Marc what inspires you in beauty and fashion, and why he should pick you.”

Instagram globalisation allows to expand boundaries and go beyond a determinate country without spending a single cent…

Jacobs isn’t the only one who uses a whole potential of social media to seek fresh faces globally. If earlier – that already seems too distant and irretrievable – at the beginning of the ‘10s, a brand-new approach of recruiting models – or, bloggers – from social media were relatively novel and even outlandish that never happened in rapidly evolving and steadily applying unusual ways of communication and influence fashion industry; now, suchlike practice has become a commonplace that shattered an accustomed background of the modelling business defining its own standards and rules. From the emergent and young brands for whom an engagement of models from social media substantially reduce payroll expenses and modelling agency commission; to giants as IMG Models – the search of the fresh and young faces via social media effectively makes business easier and allows to discover truly unique individuals – after all, by scrolling down an Instagram profile of any person, scouts may learn her or his passions, hobbies, character, consider from different sides and angles both externally and internally (by meaning of «internal» – model-to-be personality), and decided whether this girl is suitable for a modelling industry, or she better remain within a status of «Insta-model-blogger-designer». Besides, Instagram globalisation allows to expand boundaries and go beyond a determinate country without spending a single cent on all around the world travelling in attempts to diligently seeking out of the crowd of millions of people the very, industry-required face.

In 2019, a similar practice of the model recruiting doesn’t already seem progressive and innovative. Fell under the scope of condemnation and subjected to accusations of paedophilia, Gosha Rubchnskiy approached Instagram for constant research of infantile-looking models for his fashion shows and lookbook shots in all that time he has been hitting the top of the fashion Olympus. Kanye West launched a casting-campaign of the street-models search for the running Yeezy Season 4 collection show which, however, became a reason of the community piss off – in particular – the forever dissatisfied Twitter users complaining the «multiracial» issued as the principal criterion of the casting participation, is just an excuse of eliminating models of colour out of casting process. This is ridiculous itself, considering the fact His Holiness Kanye being a «representative» of the not-quite-alabaster skin tone. For spring-summer 2016 Saint Laurent show Hedi Slimane announced a street-casting after which not less tall and slim unprofessional models walked down the catwalk appeared to be caught at the right time in the right place. Designer and founder of Chromat, Becca McCharent by means of online-casting found models of diverse body types, skin colours and age which became an embodiment of the idea of the empowered, strong women standing for their rights and equality, not obeying taboos and frames, free from standard beauty concepts and modelling parameters.

And I might continue the list indefinitely because the Instagram influence on many – if not all – aspects of modelling – and fashion, in general – business, all in all, becomes boundless and fundamental, disrupting conventional, long-ago established rules and strategies.

Nevertheless, alongside with impetuously evolving trends on inclusivity and diversity not only within a size range of the produced and collections, but also on models walking down the catwalk which are examples of the new generation, a light gust of breeze of changes, and symbols of the conceivable revolution against longstanding and gradually rotting beauty ideals; becoming a model, especially a model with prefix «top» that will turn into the next Naomi Campbell appeared to be an uneasy task. Rules that are dictated by brand-new trends and diversity longing become much harsher and exacting – there will be fewer chances to be chosen for the charming doll-eyes and naturally blonde curls owners or elvish appearance miracle that seemed to be got out of the «Lord of The Rings» trilogy. Personality and individuality that were reclaimed as crucial hallmarks of the ‘90s supermodels for whose sake the whole collections were created and who the eminent designers prayed for, changed their directions. The Barbie-doll face, elvish features, long mermaid locks, Slavic roots and adorable chink between teeth aren’t already enough to possess of in order to stand out among other potential models and impress modelling agencies along with beauty connoisseurs on the same level it was possible to do in the ‘00s. If earlier, everybody tried to retrieve their best distinguishing qualities and characteristics because Tyra Banks said so, now everybody strives to drawn attention to their external traits which recently were destined to perceived as ugly and inappropriate to hit the runways.

Furthermore, no one refused to abolish the level of your popularity – the more followers and adorers on social media you have, the more chances you have to get noticed with a desired contract and list of brands, works and campaigns inside your portfolio – the modern realities can’t stay aside. The probability of the brand hiring model with, approximately, more than 500,000 of followers is significantly higher than hiring models with pitiful 10,000 ones.

So, who are the rulers of the fashion industry and who is willing to reach the top of the fashion Olympus? Which criteria all the young talents need to wield and what is capable to make them flare up the industry? Let’s figure it out.

#1. Descendants of famous and wealthy parents

No matter how Gigi Hadid pledged in hard-work, and how long we all have been ascertaining it for several years Gigi steps out the runway, highlighting her professional development and rapid career growth, rudiments of her modelling career are referring to her influential parents. Kendall Jenner who got inside the industry thanks to her genius mother, Kris, to a questionable reputation of her older sister Kim and to feeding them up running TV-show «Keeping Up With The Kardashians». Hailey Baldwin (sorry, Bieber) – the youngest daughter of Steven Baldwin and a niece of Alec Baldwin didn’t want to stay aside and not to shine alongside with her starry friends as Hadid sisters and Kendall. Kaia Gerber – the heiress of the ‘90s supermodel Cindy Crawford couldn’t find another way except prove herself on the runway following in mother’s footsteps, instantly gaining wild popularity among designers and fashion fans (no, there’s no any Cindy’s influence, no way). Lily-Rose Depp didn’t become a runway top-model, instead, she turned into a muse of passed away Karl Lagerfeld, starred as an official Chanel ambassador in advertising campaigns, became a sought-after actress and the person being discussed. And there’s nothing to blame her for, but for genes of Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis.

Many of them don’t even need to be talented, charismatic and have eye-catchy, unconventional features – the loud surname and parent’s influence will play a significant role in developing their child’s career. And we may be entirely sure that they an upcoming celebrities-to-be are not far off from contracts with well-known brands, from fame, separate pillow on the Olympus, parties, champaign, and attractive pop-star in a boyfriend status

#2. Social influence

If you have more than 10,000 followers on Instagram – brands are going to provide you with advertising because you’re an interesting person and you have some kind of influence on people following you – 10,000 is a quite compelling indicator. If you’re interesting enough but madly beautiful that is proved by hundreds of thousands of people keeping an eye on your life – probably, a modelling contract is almost inside your pocket. As it was mentioned before: the more involvement you got – the more possibilities to reach the top. No one has ever cancelled love of social media community, and if you’re already famous within Instagram realities, there’s a chance rising up to gain popularity outside of your own profile with a vast number of selfies and pictures of goodies from newfangled cafés. If the success of Sonia Ben Ammar and Alexis Ren doesn’t give any clue, I bet you should take your phone in the hands and learn what kind of beast it is Instagram.

#3. Models of colour

The fashion industry is turning apart – people demand equality and diversity at the same time. First and foremost criteria which new faces of «here and now» have to possess is dark skin colour – starting from a light shade of an intense tan to a saturated dark pigment which is owned by one of the most demanded top-model, Duckie Thot, who earned her status by a remarkable skin tone almost related to a noble black shade. Recently passed Fashion weeks of the autumn-winter shows have already demonstrated a gradually increasing diversity of models of colour, meanwhile, Zendaya in her collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger brought only black models on the catwalk with a variety of body types, age and status, having made a real manifestation in support of inclusivity and diversity among models.

But not everyone is ready to accept game rules. In example, Victoria’s Secret recently announced its two new angels: Hungarian top-model, Barbara Palvin, whose curvaceous distinguishes her amid much skinnier Victoria’s Secret angels, and stinging redhead British, Alexina Graham (by the end of writing this article another one model was announced as an official angel, American Grace Elisabeth), that caused outraged reaction on social media and lots of critics towards the company which isn’t ready to conform with updating beauty standards yet. The famous underwear brand is swiftly losing its significance and influence after complains of the latest traditional fashion show placed in New York on November 2018, and continuously digs out for itself some kind of the burial pit allowing its competitors to conquer the market by a concept of inclusivity and accessibility. Rihanna’s spring-summer show of her Savage X Fenty that gathered models of different types, bodies, skin colours, ages, and brought even some pregnant ones (one gave birth straight after the show), is a clear proof to it.

#4. Plus-size models

The same concept applies to models who go beyond of conventional for a modelling industry sizes S and XS. Real women wish to see runway full of same real models as they are with an ordinary, «human-like» body shapes instead of frazzled ones by permanent diets, malnutrition and restrictions. However, plus-size models issues are still causing many of controversial disputes on whether they really need to be allowed to high-end fashion, misunderstanding, and denial yet confidently retaining its steady position from fashion brands resulting their own arguments in favour of hiring skinny models as new collections hangers representatives.

Plus-size models earn popularity and the number of them is exponentially growing, though, the most requested one still remains Ashley Graham who demonstrates swimsuits and underwear with no shame, is photographed for covers of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and other mastodons of printed fashion magazines, but also appeared to be a permanent guest of the catwalks walking down the shows for Dolce & Gabbana, Michael Kors, Christian Siriano, Prabal Gurung, Chromat and Tracey Reese – one of few high-end brands ready to let out on runways models of shapes. There are also not so popular but already quite famous Iskra Lawrence, Precious Lee, Marquita Pring, Candice Huffine, and new-comers Georgia Pratt and Roslyn Corona. Not much, right? However, alongside with a gradually evolving tendency on the real body of the real woman, the number of such kind of models will become exponentially vast, and, surely, with a prefix «top».

#5. Physical disabilities

If someone ever made jokes on your strabismus, lips on half of the face, albinism, heterochromia, skin pigmentation problems, protruding ears, deep-set eyes, resembling-to-the-alien appearance, and many other features that you always were ashamed for, feel offended and what made you consider an inferior member of society, now you may easily outdo all the past insulters and showcase that their irrelevant opinion never costed a thing. Queerness is the most popular trend in fashion at this moment – quite natural human-being imperfections that bring models closer to real people types – to women and girls that ever felt bad on being too tall or having an aquiline nose.

Winnie Harlow, being one of the most highly demanded top-models today, is a carrier of quite rare yet occurring decease – vitiligo – a violation of skin pigmentation that made her famous all around the world. Winnie came to the casting to Tyra Banks into the globally famous tv-show «America’s Next Top-Model» and won the heart not only of the supermodel herself, but of the judges overall, becoming a favourite of the show, and gained the love of the audience all around the world. Now she’s friends only with the most «top» models, collaborates with high-end brands and eminent designers, shows up at the biggest and glamorous parties, meanwhile, number of her fans has already exceeded five million.

So that, when the next time you will be complaining about an unattractive birthmark on your cheek – think, maybe it’s a key to future success?

Winnie Harlow

#6. Background

If you got something to tell to this world and openly speak about the most burning global issues –you’re destined to start up a top-model career. 21-year-old Somali-American model, Halima Aden, sparked fervent chatter by walking down the runway in a hijab debuting in Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 5 fashion show, and in Alberta Ferretti soon after. She became the first ever model wearing burkini and hijab participating in a Miss Minnesota USA pageant contest and being a former semi-finalist. She was born in the refugee camp in Kenya, at the age of 6 she moved to America with her parents, where she got an opportunity to get educated and have more decent life many of refugees can’t even dream about.

Adut Akech – another one highly demanded top-model nowadays having a refugee status from disadvantaged countries. Born in the South Sudan and grown up in Kenya, Adut turned into a symbol of the new generation of models proved no matter how hard the fate they had to go through in the childhood, there always will be a chance to find in order to prove their significance to this world and appeared to be an example for beginner models who have enough to say against stagnant realities of the modelling business.

The model that tells her own story, sometimes sad, sometimes frightening, seems to be dearer and closer to an ordinary audience who aren’t indifferent to what is happening on the runway. Refugee that, seemingly, has no chance to have a promising future, a victim of parent violence, school bully victim – depressed and broken – which turned into a strong person and is willing to demonstrate by example that life still goes on and it’s important to be forceful. This kind of model is much more thought-provoking than those who buy tidbits positions from brands or obtain it by inheritance. At least, human factor and empathy have never been out.

#7. Transgenders

While we feel sorry to a hard background of the models of future, special attention deserves those who decided to turn their life from head to toe by means of gender switching. Androgyne models that were popular at the beginning of the ‘10s step aside little by little allowing the transgender model to take over the industry who weren’t afraid to declare themselves and their life-changing transformation to the entire world.

The first androgynous model became an Australian of Serbian-Croatian origin, Andrej Pejic, subsequently transformed into Andreja after series of gender-change surgery manipulations. Unlike plus-size models, the popularity of transgender models is rapidly gaining momentum, and the amount of them is constantly increasing already not with arithmetic, but with a geometric progression.

Canadian based model Krow Kian became the first women (for that period) who appeared on the cover of L’Uomo Vogue, and on Dazed soon after already as an official male model. Gradually gaining popularity Krow starred as an official ambassador of Louis Vuitton men’s collections, while during Paris Fashion Week held in early March, Krow walks down the catwalk as the first transgender closing the label’s show.

American model Nathan Westling, once famous under the name of Natalie and built an astonishingly successful modelling career, made a coming out and appeared in front of the whole world within his new – already morally and emotionally accepted bu Nathan himself – image which was supported by all fashion community, whereas contracts from famous companies showered like from a horn of plenty.

But, honestly, I wouldn’t advise pursuing such a radical way in the attainment of aspiration to become a top model. Though, only if you crave for it too much, but life didn’t gift you with famous relatives, and the childhood spent in the Bronx doesn’t reach the level of the bringing to tears story.

#8. A little bit over 30

To be more precisely, above 50 and 60-years-old, and if you are stuck in the middle of determinate age category, you got all the possibilities to catch luck by the tail and debut on the catwalk. Repetition is the mother of learning, therefore I remind again – inclusivity and diversity are two principal hallmarks ruling current trends in the new generation of models. In this case – new old models which are, by the way, might give odds to many young and beautiful girls.

Dries van Noten, Simone Rocha, Dolce & Gabbana and J.Crew don’t feel ashamed to cast 70-year-old Jan de Villeneuve, 73-year-old Benedetta Barzini and  67-year-old Barbara Math to wear their collections. In 2015, Céline hit the whole world outright by presenting its advertising campaign starring – on that moment – 80-year-old Joan Didion that looked even more than organic on a par with younger muses of the brand. The first modelling agency hiring models above 45 appeared in Russia, named Oldushka, and, surprisingly, it is very popular all over the world.

It isn’t so much frightening to get older anymore especially within a modelling business. If some years ago the modelling career could have come to its end after 25 «reasoned» that fashion loves youth, fresh faces, innocent glances and inexperienced souls, now the fear of losing work simultaneously with a loss of «marketable state» doesn’t scare too much. So that, if the retirement age is already breathing in the back, meanwhile spending time at home and baking goodies to your grandchildren aren’t the priority things to be occupied with – you what to do.