Wednesday, 13 May 2015

A Day in the Life of a Hair Model

Just as I settle down to life behind the scenes of the fashion industry, I end up making my catwalk debut! Yup, as you may by now have noticed, I've gone for the chop, and hit the (ketchup?) bottle, to showcase SS15's boho/'70s/festival look, as conceived by a well-known hair brand. A few days ago, it was off to Edinburgh and Manchester for my first two shows, so I thought I'd give you a little insight into my first turn on the runway. It's not all limos and champagne, you know (unfortunately)...


Time to get up. I've had a total of 7 hours sleep over the last 2 nights combined, but, compared to yesterday, when I was up at 3.15am to get to Heathrow for 5am, this qualifies as a lie-in. Brush teeth, throw clothes on bodies/in bags as appropriate, drag Tangle Teezers through birdnest-like ruins of last night's show 'dos, slap on some tinted moisturiser and cream blush, and make our way downstairs to check out and pick up our takeaway breakfast bags. Ham and cheese sandwiches, plus yoghurts containing gelatine - since almost half our party of models and creatives are veggie, including me: epic fail. Thankfully, I manage to salvage a banana and mini pain au chocolat, to supplement my trusty Belvitas.


Coach to Edinburgh train station. Sadly, we didn't get to see much (well, any) of the city, as we were in rehearsals and/or rollers all day yesterday, and by the time the show was over, all anyone wanted to do was sleep. My roommate and I did valiantly venture into the wind and drizzle in an attempt to take in some culture, but all we managed were a couple of Galaxy Cookie Crumble McFlurrys.

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Proof that I was in Edinburgh - see, castle!


Train to Manchester Piccadilly. Having demolished my banana/pastry/Belvita breakfast combo, I finish watching some talks by Nick Knight and the Dazed team downloaded in preparation for my epic journeying (ever the dedicated fashion student), and manage half a Cary Grant/Katharine Hepburn classic before I have to allow my eyelids to submit to gravity.


Arrive in Manchester. Coach to The Monastery, our home for today. Our second breakfast of the day is waiting for us (yes, this may be a highlight of the job). I restrict myself to one of the ridiculously tempting array of pastries on offer, since we're currently eating four times a day and getting no exercise save for half an hour or so of intense strutting, but most of the other (5'11" and matchstick-thin) models scoff at least three... Honestly, nobody would have any concerns about eating disorders in the fashion industry if they spent a few hours with us!


Waiting around. With 19 models to be coloured, dried, styled and made-up, this is how we spend the vast majority of our time. Luckily, I managed to pick up the latest issues of Wonderland and Dazed at Heathrow (after security, so they wouldn't monopolise my entire hand baggage allowance!), which are keeping me occupied over the long days...


Have my hair washed, dried and set in pincurls. Washed, bent over a kitchen sink with remnants of food still stuck in the plughole... which was a blessed relief, after yesterday's DIY "hands and knees in the shower" job - cold blood-tinted water from my newly-touched-up colour running down neck and arms and seeping into clothes (for some reason, no one thought to put salon basins in any of these 19th century churches or friaries). Back in the 21st century, and no one thought to bring towels on tour either, so we're mopped up with (admittedly rather luxe) napkins.


More waiting around. Some of the other girls are feeling a bit stir crazy, so, since the cold drizzle which seemingly tails us everywhere we go has at least temporarily eased off, go for a walk, or to sit outside in the picturesque courtyard. I attempt to join them, but, miraculously sunny though it may be, the wind is whipping up a frenzy and tugging my curls out of my pins, so I'm banished back inside. Oh well, only a few minutes to kill 'til lunch at 1.30...


Called in for rehearsals. We troop in, bedecked with foils, rollers and/or pins (an attempt to lighten one girl's blue fringe has turned it green - oops), to find that the show finale is being changed. And we're going to miss lunch. Despite my background as a dancer, I'm terrified of messing up the (remarkably involved) choreography - one step out of turn could ruin the show's sharp, polished feel. Several slip-ups from various people during this rehearsal, including a micro "brain freeze" on my part, which results in me attempting to march offstage at the wrong time (wishful thinking?) but it'll be alright on the night... won't it?

Schwarzkopf Essential Looks Tour Manchester 2
The runway is waiting...


Lunch (finally). The kitchen has whipped up some extra food for us - veggie pasta and pizza, plus the ubiquitous chips which seem to pop up at every meal and which I (unlike most of the others - seriously, where does it go?) studiously avoid, in the hopes that the only pounds I gain from this job will be monetary. 


Waiting around.


Make-up. Try desperately to avoid blinking/crying whilst having my eyeliner done.


Waiting around. The air is now ringing with the cries of harrassed stylists declaring "There's no point in her going on if there's no green in her hair!" and suchlike, and perfumed with the scent of burning locks.


Time for my hair to be "dressed" (yes, that term is actually still used in the upper echelons of the salon world!). This involves being "zhuzhed" so furiously that I fear I am in danger of ending up with concussion, misted with about a litre of hairspray, and backcombed until I resemble a cross between a candyfloss and Ronald McDonald, which, admittedly, does appeal to my inner drama queen - it feels as though I've wandered off the pages of some fantastical fairytale-style editorial... or a McQueen runway!

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Show Looks...


Time to get dressed. I pull on my "cold-shoulder" tassel-trim mini dress and to-die nude tasselled Steve Madden heels, whilst the (fashion) stylist sneakily slips an orange/pink-tasselled necklace (yes, to match my hair!) over my now-significantly-expanded head, away from the watchful eye of my (hair) stylist.


Waiting around.


I am simultaneously touched up by make-up, sprayed and tweaked by my hair stylist, and adjusted and steamed by the fashion stylist (this happens several times in the run-up to, and even during, showtime - honestly? I thought they were all a little bit nuts, but, having now spent 20 minutes attuned like a hawk to the slightest sign of cravat/necklace displacement whilst styling my first editorial shoot, I think I get it...). I am now banned from sitting down until after the show.


We go "backstage". 


Nerves kick in. Repeat various crucial elements of choreography to myself, in manner of mantra.


Showtime! Now, I've danced live on Channel 4, been nearly naked on film with Chris Hemsworth and played Brecht onstage, but, with no dance moves to focus on or characters to hide behind, I think this is more nerve wracking than any of the above... I even have to smile, since I'm one of the show's "happy hippies", so I can't style it out, diva-like. Maybe it'll get easier as I (hopefully) gain experience, but, right now, I'm just praying no-one sees my legs trembling whilst we're frozen for "inspection" and re-styling onstage. 



It's all over! No noticeable hitches, and our lovely agent/choreographer reassures me that I was "brilliant". Time for dinner...


The options are... meat... meat... or chips. Doh. The chef has gone home, but the apologetic serving staff whip us up a salad. For dessert, I delve into my magic lunchbox for a Trek bar.


Coach to the train station. In contrast to last night, most of the girls are high on triumph and/or relief, and some club together for Prosecco/G&T for the journey back to London, but my head is throbbing and I'm craving sleep. I finish Bringing Up Baby before putting Lorde on repeat to insulate my achy head from the sounds of excited girlish chatter. I manage a few winks, although my neck and shoulders are killing me after two days of being yanked about by stylists and lugging all my essentials (not least those tome-like magazines!) around over my shoulder a la Dick Whittington. Apparently, with nicer scheduling, which allows a bit of additional time for sleep and/or alcohol, these jobs can be a lot more fun, so fingers crossed for next time!


Finally home. Debrief mum, drink two mugs of tea and catch up on Made in Chelsea before crawling into bed (well, you know, priorities).

So... categorically not glamorous and not for the faint-hearted (at least where your alarm clock and hair are concerned - you're at your stylists' mercy and never really know what you're going to end up with... if they end up damaging your hair beyond repair, or don't like the results, they could well cancel any future bookings - and I'm reliably informed by my fellow models that this applies to all runway work, since catwalk is crazy hair a-go-go). And not a way to see the world. But if you get the opportunity, you're feeling daring and you have strands of steel (and some reading to catch up on), hey, why not? I love my new hair now it's had its final tweaks (although I won't be emulating the "Ronald" look for day-to-day purposes), I've met some lovely people, I've worn some fabulous shoes... and I got two free hairsprays.

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