Monday, 11 June 2012

1950s Modelling

In this key post-war decade, fashion, glamour and modelling were becoming key industries. The London College of Fashion was built towards the end of the 1950s, signalling that this was an industry that people wanted to work in, and one that would create many new jobs for men and women alike. To find out more visit

More Fabric, New Fashions

The 1950s was the first decade where children, particularly teenagers, wanted to have their own look, and not dress like their mothers and fathers. The bridge decade between the troubles of the 1940s and the indulgent 1960s, the 1950s was a key turning point in global fashion. British, French and American designers could now use the best materials and brighter colours for their fashions, which gave them much more creative scope.

The silhouette for women returned to the narrow waisted fashions of the start of the century, although there were two ways of accentuating this; the tight-waisted full skirt, and the pencil-skirt, which was form fitting to the hips and legs as well as the waist. People were desperate to wear clothes with new shapes and using lots of fabric, and eagerly awaited the new offerings from design houses. This was also the decade where the less well-off could buy cheaper versions of the latest fashions; Marks and Spencer made their reputation from mass-producing quality versions of new styles.

Active Modelling

Modelling was also going through a mini-revolution. The static, indoor shots of the previous 20 years were being replaced by movement shots, where the clothing and the model were shot in action, engaging the audience with the clothing that she was promoting. The model was viewed as a single, independent woman, so that all types of customers could relate to her.

Photographers like Richard Avedon, whose photograph of the model Dovima, wearing Christian Dior was sold at auction for $19,800, were instrumental in creating this new modelling style; both glamorous and spontaneous, which has influenced every generation of fashion photographer since.

These changes in fashion, modelling and photography all contributed to the huge growth of the industry in the 1960s and beyond, when models, photographers and designers became as famous as the clothes they created and promoted.

Behaviour Tips for Modelling

How you behave during your modelling career will have a direct influence on how you are perceived by agents and clients. Showing an interest in fashion and accessories can go a long way. Many models dabble with making their own jewellery with a jewellery starter kit or fashioning their own clothes to suit the tastes of the agents or clients they are meeting.

There are some notorious examples of bad behaviour in the modelling industry. Some models are as famous for their tantrums as their beauty. In the long run, it’s safest not to let your ego get in the way of your profession, but the modelling industry is tough, and you’re bound to feel angry, insulted or maligned at some stage.

That’s why agents say that you need to have plenty of self-confidence to succeed as a model. Photographers, directors and clients are already busy and often stressed, and they don’t need you adding extra hassle to their day. On the other hand, the stresses involved often mean that the very same people can create an atmosphere that’s very hard for a model to work in, and you need to be able to approach such situations in a calm manner so that the job gets done.

It can help to learn some ways to deal with the stresses that you may encounter. Yoga encourages calm and inner strength, and teaches techniques to control your breathing, which in turn can diffuse your temper in a difficult situation. It can also help you relax.

Keep a sense of perspective. Even if everyone around you is having trouble, if you can focus on the job and keep your professionalism intact, you will have contributed to the success of the shoot, and the people involved will remember that you stayed calm under pressure.

If you do lose your temper, or have a problem, always explain and apologise if necessary. Most workplace strains and stresses are down to a lack of communication, and people are always receptive to an explanation of your circumstances.

If there is a recurring problem, speak to your agent. It’s better to find a reasonable way of sorting things out that losing your temper and walking out. That just reflects badly on you and could have a disastrous effect on your modelling career.

1940s Modelling

The 1940s was a decade of turmoil across the world, and the modelling and fashion industry was no different. Non-essential business came to a stand-still during the Second World War, as everyone’s talents were ploughed into the war effort. To find out more visit

Changes in Fashion

Photographers couldn’t pursue fashion photography and many, especially women, went to the front to record battles, manoeuvres, the aftermath of bombings and the lives of ordinary people. Many photographers used these influences in their fashion photography once the war had finished, although others remained as photo-journalists.

The fashion houses remained open for as long as possible, until Paris was invaded by Germany. Several houses relocated to America and Britain, whilst others stayed open in Paris. But fabric was less easy to come by, as most of it was used for military purposes, as were the factories where mass-clothing was made. When rationing was brought in, most people could only buy certain amounts or types of clothing, and this restricted fashion for most of the decade.

New Faces

Models were still being photographed, though, and some of fashion’s most iconic pictures were taken during the 1940s. Louise Dahl-Wolfe, working for Harpers Bazaar discovered Lauren Bacall at the beginning of the decade and took pictures of women in more natural settings, and not necessarily wearing high fashion. Her photographs were seen as being essentially American, and it was during the 1940s that the USA began to rival Paris in the fashion world.

Modelling became all the rage again once the war was over, as people reacted to their years of deprivation by focusing on all things beautiful. The Paris fashion houses re-instated their collections as soon as the German occupation was over, and photographers once again began work on fashion shoots. The models were still the aristocratic and well-known; Princess Margaret, Marlene Dietrich and Margot Fonteyne, but by the end of the decade, glamour was back in, and modelling was to cease to be the preserve of the rich and famous.

Runway Modelling

Runway modelling is seen as the most glamorous side of the industry – beautiful women and men showing off the collections of the world’s most famous designers. From Simply Ties accessories to footwear and high end fashion, there are a number of things runway models need to help promote. Becoming a runway model is hard work, and you will have to meet a very stringent set of criteria to be in with a chance.

Runway models have to meet specific height, body shape and health guideline:

Runway Modelling – Female

-          5’9” to 6’ tall
-          16-21 years old
-          dress size 6 (UK) or 4(USA) maximum
-          Straight, white teeth
-          Good hair
-          Symmetrical facial features
-          Good body tone
-          Clear Skin
-          Personality, ambition and dedication

Runway Modelling – Male

-          5’11” to 6’2” tall
-          18-25 years old
-          140-165lbs weight
-          Good teeth, hair and skin
-          Good body and muscle tone
-          Confident, responsible and organised

It may sound obvious, but runway models have to be able to wear the clothes in the designer’s collection. They must have a feel for how the fabric moves, and be able to walk and turn to make the clothes the star, not the model. Most runway models will have the classic high cheekbones, wide eyes and full lips, but they shouldn’t distract attention from the clothes.

Patience and confidence are key attributes for a runway model. Backstage at a fashion show is a chaotic place, and models are usually straight out of one outfit and into another. This can also involve changes in hair and make-up, which will mean you are pulled about by a number of people in order to get you back on the runway as fast as possible. You need to be able to keep calm in hectic situations, and walk down the runway professionally, no matter what has happened backstage 30 seconds beforehand.

Most runway models also do a lot of print and promotional work, but it is the runway that kick-starts their modelling fame and that’s why it’s the holy grail of the modelling industry.