Today we learned New York congressman and Huma Abedin BF Anthony Weiner had sponsored a bill to amend immigration laws to make it easier for foreign models to get H1-B visas. "The market is calling for foreign girls," said someone from Trump Model Management. "From Fashion Week to our vibrant publishing industry to the many designers that call New York City home, fashion is a vital part of our economy that drives thousands of jobs," Weiner told the Daily News. And hell if we're going to let the pinko protectionist traditions that so define the fashion industry threaten our competitiveness for a moment longer! Clearly, there are just too many clothes out there, and not enough 23-inch-waisted waifs to fit into the sample sizes! Anyway, Jezebel's anonymous model columnist Tatiana is in New York for a few weeks, and she's positively thrilled for the influx of new blood, let me tell you. Wait no, let her tell you! Without further ado, Tatiana spills on an average night in the world's most fulfilling line of work.
Last night I worked, unpaid, for six hours so that a fashion designer could continue dressing socialites and selling out her sunglass and perfume licenses and decorating her SoHo apartment with Picassos. I did it notionally for pictures on Style.com ("Think of your pictures on Style.com!" a minder hissed whenever we models began to look slightly wilted in the third hour of standing, immobile, in shoes invariably two sizes too small or two too big.) But actually, if you want to be technical, I did it for two slices of melon and a lipstick and a dress. And I did it because I knew if I hadn't, my agency would've been disappointed - "She's a little difficult," I could already hear my cokeblown oaf of a booker whispering in a client's ear, "how about Dasha or Angelika instead, mmh?" - and because I would've been replaced for the show in less than an instant if I had quibbled with the remuneration offered.
Style.com didn't even get my good side.
We had come from Brazil and Canada, from the Ukraine and the Bronx. From Croatia, Australia, and Korea. We had come to work a presentation - to spend three hours in hair and makeup, and three hours entertaining those individuals wealthy and well-connected enough to make the guest list. We wore a resort collection. Although resort collections are timed for mid-winter release, they are brief, pretty, summery garments - the idea being that you pack them to take on your January cruise. This is my "career" in a nutshell: I work for free to sell overpriced clothes to the women for whom an invitation to a fashion show and a Picasso and a January cruise are among life's givens.
There were a dozen of us and we were hungry, for backstage there had been a fruit tray and a pallet of Poland Spring bottled water. (I watched while a girl from Russia ate all the grapes.) On the months when I make more money writing this column than I do selling the rights to my own image, I've been known to wrap leftover food in napkins and take it home with me from the inevitable pastry trays and sandwich plates of the catered world I move in; last night's pickings were so poor ("I can't believe this shit! A two-inch nubbin of brie and some tangerines," squalled the girl from one of the places they use the word "nubbin.") It wouldn't have been worth the trouble, even had there been leftovers, which there were not. During the show, the Russian had to be helped from the stage when she feared she would faint.
The guests sipped champagne and munched on caviar-and-smoked-salmon canapés.
"Beautiful," a woman in a cocktail dress murmured between bites. Her suited companion asked if he should buy the blue one in her size. Event photographers' flashbulbs popped whenever a new boldface name made an entrance. We stood, living statues, not even allowed to converse as the press took our pictures.
Each of the models was decked with enough gold and diamonds that I could've lived comfortably off the proceeds of my bracelets for years. The girl next to me wore a pavé necklace as thick as a garden snake. I counted eight security guards - who kept an eye on us not because the owners were worried unduly about a model making off with the goods (finding the culprit would hardly be difficult) but because, as the guard who accompanied me outside to the fire escape for a pre-show cigarette explained, there was a slight risk of the event itself being robbed, or of one of us being kidnapped.
The eight security guards were being paid. The twelve models were not.
In the end, when the guests finally began to leave, and we were led down from the stage on our throbbing feet, there were no more canapés, and nor were there the promised glasses of champagne. The Russian, though pale, had been revived, and the jewels were returned to their safe without incident. I put on my street clothes and turned up my iPod and made myself smile at the designer as I left. Outside, a guest who hadn't been quick enough for a gift bag grabbed my arm and asked if I wouldn't mind giving her mine. I declined. "But what's in it, what's in there?" she persisted, pawing at the heavy embossed paper sack. I couldn't find the words to reply, so I mutely pointed at my mouth. "Oh." She shrugged and released the bag. "Lipstick? Fine. You keep it then."
I suppose The Great Gatsby or some other book about young people from modest backgrounds who consort for a time with an extremely rarefied crowd - I actually have friends who, entirely good-naturedly, invite me to their birthday parties in Gstaad and seem not to grasp why I always must send my regrets - could've told me that the Learjet echelon have their own special world and that there is a fundamental, limiting opacity to their understanding of and interest in what goes on outside of it, but then again no lesson quite sticks like one you learn for yourself.
I went home and called a friend in another country and angrily vented the story - Picasso! Diamonds! Sunglasses and perfume licenses! A fruit plate with a nubbin of brie! - and, when we hung up, I cried. As you read this, I'll be at another "job" with no paycheck, and as for tomorrow and its castings, nobody knows what they portend.
Bring On Hotties From Overseas [NY Daily News]