When you interview a model, you can expect a few things to happen. Yes, you know she’ll be beautiful. But you won’t expect to be literally stunned at every angle she turns her head. It’ll make you dizzy. It’ll default you into trying to find some kind of imperfection. Good luck, because these girls make zits look pretty.
Models aren’t expected to talk, but when they do it’s exciting. When they joke, it’s even better. Where would our collective understanding of the fashion industry be if we’d never heard Kate Moss say “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels,” or Linda Evangelista utter “We don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day.”
Seasoned models know all the right moves. They’re business women at this point. Their taste and eye have developed, and they’ve been socialized to give charming interviews. You can almost predict their answers. They’ll say something like, “I’m inspired by Woody Allen movies, I love to eat at The Smile, Mary Katranzou was my favorite this season — she’s such a genius. But I usually just wear vintage and this jacket my friend Alex made that he gave me. It would be my dream to do a beauty campaign so other girls who look like me can have someone to look up to.” In this case, dreams equal $$$.
It’s a real treat to interview a model just as she’s getting her break. You don’t know what the hell is going to come out of her mouth. I find it fascinating a girl can be so sought after by an industry and not fully understand what is going on around her. To have your face be responsible for selling a million-dollar brand — it is the most extreme version of a girl growing up.
You know when you meet someone off the internet and their voice and mannerisms are usually 75% what you expect it to be, and 25% wildcard? It’s like that with models, except it’s a 100% gamble. They will almost never sound how they look.
She can come off as really, really young. She’ll talk about going through a bad break up while you’ll think, “I am talking to a legitimate child.” You’ll ask about school and she’ll wrinkle her nose, look out of the corner of her eye, smile and say “I don’t like school!” You’ll ask about books and she’ll make the same face and say “I don’t like reading!” You very well know that reading and school are very important, but you’re totally siding with her. You’re laughing and you’re being sympathetic, though you’re not sure how she got away with it. If she can sell a hot fashion brand, you should expect a badass beautiful teenager to almost sell illiteracy.
Or, she can have a thick foreign accent, and barely understand what you’re saying. She’ll smile big and say things that don’t make sense but come off as so earnest and so sweet. You’ll ask about a beauty tip and she’ll stick out her tongue and make a cross-eyed face. And again, you’re laughing. Even though girls all around her are whispering how beautiful she is, she’s a total slapstick and making it seem like she’s the last person you should ask for beauty advice from. You’ll ask how she keeps her energy up and she’ll stop to think, and say proudly, “To keep your heart is young, don’t be so sad.” You can’t use it but it’ll be one of your most favorite quotes ever.
Or, she can surprise you with how actually cool, humble and normal she is. This is the best. When you ask her about her favorite clothes, she just talks about mall brands. She has yet to be seduced by the industry. She doesn’t know the “right” things to say. She’s just doing her job, trying to please the people she’s around but still being herself. She’s unaware, or just choosing not to think about, how much people are projecting their fantasies, ego and dollars onto her. She’s just floating.
During an internship at a fashion magazine my first summer in New York, I was sent out in a towncar to find “the most chic vahz ever.” I felt like such a card saying vahz, but I couldn’t go back to saying vase after all the women in my office and shops called it as such. I took hundreds of photos, and I came to think how vases were like the looks in a designer’s collection, and the models were the flowers.
I told this to my friend, but she argued models were more like the vases, like the hangers, and not the center of the attention like the flowers or clothes are. Then she threw me a copy of Amy Hempel’s The Harvest off her shelf, instructing me to read the first line. “The year I began to say vahz instead of vase, a man I barely knew nearly accidentally killed me.”
Every season brings new models, and every season these girls are like vases about to become vahzes. It’s great to catch them in the middle of their big moment.