TEN MINUTES: As An Accidental Model
Backstage at London-based design duo Agi & Sam’s Autumn/ Winter 17 Menswear show. It’s my first time assisting and I’m in at the deep end. It’s pandemonium. I feel like Florence Nightingale in her field hospital, but this isn’t Crimea, it’s a disused church on Shaftesbury Avenue. Full looks missing, boots the wrong size, dust everywhere, fashion assistants battling against a swathe of photographers armed only with lint rollers. I’ve got my head down, pretending to lace up some Doc Martins while tearing dust bags off hangers and generally trying to remain invisible amid a growing and very palpable sense of panic.
Boss appears. “Finn, there’s been some last minute changes, can you walk in the show? Your face will be pretty much covered”. Palpitations and sweaty palms ensue. Is he joking? Because if so – very good, you got me. He’s not. I’m in hair and make up and somebody is adding layers of black and red eye make up that will take me two days to remove. “Look up…stay still!” she snaps, while prodding my eyeball with her instruments. Should it be this painful? I can feel my eyes watering and I’m fighting the temptation to rub them and run away.
Only moments to go now. Why the fuck did I agree to this? I have to change on a strip of tarpaulin in the corner like a reprobate because of the dust. The other models are already in line-up and have had their rehearsal walk. I’ve never walked in a show before and I haven’t even seen the space. More palm sweating. I’m thrashing about on this tarpaulin trying to get into my look, but these fucking trousers feel like they were made for an eight year old. One of the designers appears. His face is flushed with colour and his neat blond crop all dishevelled. He’s obviously not used to dealing with my level of incompetence. We both grab a section of waistband and heave. I feel like Bridget Jones. There’s a little whimper as things are forced into spaces that don’t exist, but I’m in. A t-shirt is wrapped around my head, my boots are laced and I’m into line-up, flashes go off and people ask for my picture. I’m looking through the other end of the telescope.
Music starts. I’m sixth look and I still don’t know what to do or where to walk. I grab my boss who tells me to walk in a slow square. This doesn’t exactly settle any nerves. I’m having visions of tripping over, or taking a wrong turn and having to be shepherded back like a confused sheep. A woman with a headset gives me a sign and I’m off, turning the corner to be met by a barrage of camera flashes. I’m Diana stepping out of the Hôtel Ritz Paris, I’m Björk shuffling through the airport…I’m…I’m loving it! Before I know what’s happened it’s over. I’m meant to be first for the finale, but my boss thinks better of it and switches me to second and I’m told to follow the model in front. Applause, more flashes, and I’m out. Have I just found my calling in life? As long as my face remains covered I might have a chance.