After reading my free ebook, Modeling 101, you should have a pretty good general understanding of how the modeling world works and the places you likely fit best within it. But, that is not where your education should stop. Like in any career path, if you want to be seen as a professional and succeed in this one, you must continue to learn and grow. In all high paying jobs people are hired for the value the company believes they will bring which, is in part their knowledge, experience, and expertise in the industry they are in. This applies to you as a model too. Your knowledge of the fashion industry, from designers and fashion trends to photographers and other top working professionals will help guide you and assist you in achieving your goals.
You might be asking how knowing all of this can help.
Imagine you are going to meet with both Chanel Beauty and M.A.C makeup brands to potentially become the face of their upcoming campaigns. It would be helpful to understand that previous ads from Chanel have represented beauty in an elegant, sophisticated, and natural way with a very feminine look. Images have a softness, even ethereal quality. Models are often posed to emphasis the natural curves of a woman. M.A.C on the other hand often has bold, vibrant, or dark colors, models posed in strong, possibly even aggressive stances, rebellious energy, high contrast, and creativity often rule here. If you knew this going in, the way you present yourself and pose for any digitals taken during your interview would be altered very subtly to fit within the clients established branding giving you an advantage over the competition. If you didn’t do your homework and went in without any of this knowledge you might give the exact same presentation to both, which could feel generic, uninspired, or be just flat out wrong for the brand, and cause you to be less likely to land either job.
*If you follow these brands online you will notice that Chanel Beauty has recently been sharing images that are more bold/vibrant/“raw” feeling, though are still somewhat more refined/elegant in tone. This is why it is important to continue to follow the industry, not just rely on bit of information you collect as though it is set in stone.
The interview/casting phase is only the beginning though. Once you land the job, being familiar with a brand’s image and knowing its history helps you understand the direction they are trying to go when you are on set. It also makes taking direction much easier–or even perhaps less necessary since you are more likely to be giving them what they want without much guidance.
In some circumstances, like showroom modeling, trunk shows, and in-store events, you may be expected to talk with potential buyers about the garments you’re wearing and the brand overall so again, the more you know, the better served you will be and the more likely you’ll be to get hired by that client again.
As you follow and pay attention to publications and names you know at the tops of the industry, start to also notice and follow the people with whom they are working. Pay attention to who shot that iconic Vogue cover you are loving. Notice who styled the latest shoot your favorite model just did. Knowing who you’re talking to when you start to meet some of these people matters. You want to foster relationships with people whose work is in line with your goals for yourself and who can help you get where you want to go. Without knowing who they are that is hard to do.
You need to keep in mind, this is a multi-billion dollar industry and while many models get into it because we love fashion, beauty, creating artistic photographs, or just crave the glamour and fame; the clients are focused on making money, lots of it. Your depth of knowledge will convey a serious level of interest and professionalism that will leave an impressive impression on the people you work with.
While it is definitely possible that you can get work even while being fairly oblivious to much of this information, having it will separate you from the amateurs and hobbyists and make you stand out as a true professional which will give you a better shot at sustainability and longevity.
Additionally, looking at fashion magazines and blogs can teach you the difference between editorial, campaign, and lifestyle work while giving you inspiration for a multitude of poses and expressions. It will also keep you up to date with current trends in style and color palettes, for clothing as well as cosmetic application. Vogue, Women’s Wear Daily, and NowFashion.com are a couple of great places to start studying the current trends of the fashion world as well as the Instagram accounts of top fashion models you would like to emulate. For those with a more catalogue or commercial look, start to look at commercial print and on camera commercials of all kinds of brands from Macy’s or Toyota to see where your look seems to fit, and how those models pose/move.
This advice can also be applied to actors. Pay attention to what types of work is being filmed in your area or where the type of work you are likely to be considered for is being filmed and who’s casting those projects. Understanding the types of work you will mostly likely be considered for and which casting directors are working on those projects will help you focus your networking energy in the best places to help further your career.