The lesson that I have learnt from my short stint as a model is to have patience. This seems like an oxymoron given the appearance of how quickly Fashion changes, and the speed in which tastes form and dissolve. Yet since a chance encounter in Portland last August briskly led into a modelling contract with IMG the following month, I have learnt very quickly that in order to remain stable in the ebbs and flows of fashion you need the ability to wait and appreciate.
I wasted a lot of time after I had been signed, obsessively trying to predict what lay ahead in this unexpected route into modelling. A couple of months passed with a few editorials and a variety of failed castings, I was selected to shoot the Burberry campaign with the photographer Josh Olins at the Henry Moore sculpture park in Hertfordshire. The sculptor Henry Moore is one of the most significant British artists of the 20th century, and was a key source of inspiration for Christopher Bailey’s A/W 18 collection at Burberry. The semi-abstract shapes of Moore’s work evoke the female form, with their undulating curves reclining and rolling much like the landscape of Moore’s Yorkshire birthplace.
"Time continued to elapse and only paused sporadically for magazine editorials."
Amongst a team of at least 100 people we spent four chilly December days shooting various options for the campaign. At the time having waited for something to happen quickly in modelling, but not really knowing what or when it would be, I felt abstracted from my surroundings. It wasn’t until the third early morning, when the sun waltzed across the bronze Moore sculptures that I awoke to a new appreciation for the patience of craft. Moore would use organic forms picked up from his country walks, and spend months designing and re-creating them within his vast public sculptures. I also noticed the time that the team had put into replicating every detail of Moore’s studios for the shoot. As I began to savour this, the shoot ended, as soon as it seemed to begin. I was back to my internship at Vice and fretting over the final year essays for my English degree. Time continued to elapse and only paused sporadically for magazine editorials.
Three months later, and my first encounter with the campaign was when Dad and myself came out of Soho. We were greeted by Regents street with a large image of myself smiling mischievously from the Burberry window. I felt the same sense of time pausing, as I did when I took in the scope of Moore’s sculptures. I remember Dad and I standing still for quite some time against the bustling throngs of London, caught in a stupor of tranquility. All of that time, energy and work spent on capturing this spontaneous single moment. Yet it seemed to appear in the window just as naturally as the sculptures had back on that December morning.
"The invisible stitches of the innumerable hours and efforts, that had been woven into this seamless moment of me on the catwalk."
A year after the Burberry campaign, a finished internship, degree, and a few more editorials. I’ve become more patient, but not complacent. I found myself in Paris with a confirmation for my first catwalk exclusively with Celine, and spent a few days with the brand’s team of designers as a fit model. It was then, like with Burberry, I developed a deeper appreciation of the work that happens behind the scenes. The team’s sleepless nights, drive, and ambition in materialising a vision that remained obscure to me, until I opened the show on the 1st of October. Wearing my look I could feel the invisible stitches of the innumerable hours and efforts, that were interlaced into this seamless moment of me on the catwalk.
A week later I was placed on this shoot in Frankfurt. Shot in one of the homes designed by the modernist architect Richard Neutra, who like Moore, Burberry, and Celine transmuted me away from the haste of reality. Neutra is famed for creating a domestic architecture that blended art with landscape and practical comfort, with the home’s transparent walls framing the light and transfixing the hazy skyline. I ran my hand along the contours of the house, feeling the time that must have been spent creating and envisioning the sublimity of their design. As one of Neutra’s clients once remarked of his designs: ‘their beauty, like that of any sea shell, is more than skin-deep’.
The illusion of fashion, like art, like design is that if only seen for its aesthetic quality, it can materialise visions that seem to appear just as quickly as they seem to dissolve. I am only a model and merely a representation of this surface value. It is only if you have the patience to look underneath this, that you can appreciate a craft which can transcend the rushes of reality.