An excerpt from Short Stuff: on the job with an x-small model
which is now available on BN.com and Amazon.
Subject: Wednesday Easy Spirit shoot
NOTE: Model should have clean, neutral mani and pedi (i.e. Essie “Ballet Slippers” or similar) and legs should be shaven.
There was no casting for this job. Instead, my agent asked me to FedEx my portfolio up to White Plains, NY. I was living on Wall Street with my boyfriend and it was an easy walk to FedEx Kinko’s on Water Street. Sadly, the store is right across the street from where fashion model Ruslana Korshunova jumped to her death.
I hoped my portfolio wouldn’t get ruined in the mail or misplaced. There were tear sheets that showed I was becoming an established, professional model which took years to build inside it. Tear sheets that my little self worked so hard to get. Tear sheets that would be a royal pain in the ass to replace. I didn’t want to contact all those magazines and ask for back issues. It was a rough to not have my portfolio for that week.
I knew I had the job when my agent wrote me an email to get my address and zip code, because they will have a car pick me up and bring me to White Plains. The email also asked, “you don’t mind sharing with the makeup artist.” Of course I didn’t mind. Who would? A car picking me up? Awesome.
The makeup artist’s name was within the details for the shoot. I quickly Googled her and learned that she is a pro at eyebrows and loves to shape them. This made me a little nervous. I imagined her staring at my eyebrows, ripping them apart and thinking they were so ugly – massively in need of reshaping. That night I spent an hour tweezing and cleaning up any stray hairs.
I typically wouldn’t wear heels to a shoe modeling job, to save my feet from pain or any redness. But since it is a job for a shoe company under the Nine West umbrella, Easy Spirit, I decide wear some Nine West heels. Why not? I like to be a part of the team and environment.
I was the first person the car picked up. Then we went to the Lower East Side to pick up the makeup artist. She wasn’t in a good mood, or it seemed that way. The moment she plopped down in the seat she starting ranting about the world and what she hated about it. I just wanted to stay positive and I zoned her out. My pedicure looked great, I was about to shoot an ad campaign, and from what I understood I would be the only model. My foot and legs would run the show.
Finally, I saw a big white building in the distance and felt like we were approaching OZ. Good, I couldn’t wait for some coffee. However, we couldn’t get in since the marketing assistant hasn’t arrived yet. I really needed to use the bathroom a well.
After a few tries calling the office, we get buzzed in. There is a huge rack of clothing waiting for me inside the studio room, and the stylist is organizing it.
We do introductions. I meet the photographer, his assistants, the art director, the stylist, and a few other random helpers. It’s always kind of weird when everyone greets you, especially when you know all they’re interested in is your feet. It makes you feel important, but also a bit self-conscious as they stare at every toenail.
Afterwards, I run to the bathroom. Then I take off my heels and put on my comfy sandals, and become model-ready.
The makeup artist sets up in front of a table with a mirror, and I sit in front of her as she lotions my legs and feet.
I notice that there is a computer near the set, which I like, so that I can see what the shots look like while we are shooting.
Today I will jump up and down in fitness shoes, lie in a man-made sandbox, sit on a fake seawall, and model ten different shoes and a handbag.
Things were going well – the lighting was good, and my foot looked nice in the shoe. I had been sitting on the seawall with my legs crossed. But then the art director and photographer were stumped on the pose for the next shot so I suggested something different. I stood up, leaned my butt against the seawall and put one of my shoes against it, while keeping my other leg down. They liked it.
Side note: Models should be perceptive. Most of the time, as the model, you are not involved with the creative process at all. You just need to be natural and quick to understand the shot, —modeling involves a lot of listening. However, when the time is right I think having a creative side can be one of the greatest assets a model can have. It’s important to work as a team with the photographer to accomplish a creative shot. Not just being a model that shows up.
At lunch I found out that the photographer wanted to publish a book. I figure everyone does and we talked about publishing for a bit. I joked that I could eat as much as I want as long as it doesn't go to my feet.
Then we started shooting again.
Sand was a big part of this job since the images were for a spring and summer campaign. Lying in the sand, in a flowered sundress and a gold sandal, I felt like I was at a real beach. I angled my legs to make them look longer and the summer sandal looked flirty.
The day was almost done. Soon I’d be able to say that I had shot a whole shoe campaign myself.
During the next weeks, I kept checking the website to see when the images would appear and I ordered myself a few catalogs from the website.
It was pretty awesome to see my feet and legs in the large window displays at the Easy Spirit stores and in shoe sections in department stores – even at Macy’s in Herald Square. They were seen by millions of people. These images prove once again that a little model can do big things.
(Isobella Jade TM)
P.s: I look forward to seeing you at the book party in NYC on October 14th! The scoop on the party is here.