You are on page 1of 4

Fashionable Labourers

DJ Saint-Chill, the sound guy from Miami, will miss his plane. The sun
is hot and black estates are starting to swarm the James A. Farley
Post Office as another New York Fashion Week show draws to a
close. Its 90-degrees. Hes standing on the corner of 33rd Street
urgently trying to secure a cab, but the tinted windows of the
fashionably chauffeured are blocking his way. At 3.30pm it rained,
and a slightly damp ground separates chirpy interns from tired
models and seasonaire photographers. An awkward ambience
worsened only by the moist metal gates that fashion week veterans
navigate to leave the building. Its a segregated framework, one
that re-establishes the hierarchies of the fashion world.

For those that make it big, theres free champagne and gift bags,
but for the rest theres overcrowded apartments and extremely
light paychecks. Many agencies have apartments that they rent out
to models for a lot of money, states Alina Osokina (or Vinca as she
likes to be called), the elf-like beauty from St Petersburg who arrived
in New York five years ago for her first fashion week. You live with
8-10 girls in these apartments and you pay $1,000-1,200 a month
out of your earnings.

The first apartment I lived in was really awful, she grimaces. It


was in the basement and we didnt have any windows, so there was

this feeling that we were illegal immigrants trapped down there. You
wake up and you dont know whats going on, whether its daytime
or night time. During this period, Vincas agency also contractually
required her to go out two times a week, as the agent, Joules,
tried to combine her nightlife-promoter background with model
management. The partying becoming especially hard during
casting and fashion weeks when the call time could be 6am and
youd be getting in from your night out at 2am or 3am, remembers
Vinca.

Casting directors want to see youth and freshness in their models,


combined with excellent skin and perfect hair. A difficult feat when
you combine a gruelling schedule with being sprayed, gelled,
painted and styled to within an inch of your former self. And Vinca is
26. An old age for a new model in the industry but she wanted to
finish her Sociology degree first. Apparently I should be ashamed of
it and lie about my ageI dont really know what to think. When I
was 23, my agent told me to lie and say I was 19.

For NYFW, Vinca walked in Project Runway and Leanne Marshalls


runway shows at Skylight Clarkson Square. Wearing an elegant, light
purple dress, Vinca claimed, it felt really epic on the catwalk. What
was less epic, however, was attempting to remove the makeup and
hair products, unsuccessfully, arriving at a casting looking like a
clown. She was rejected. But some girls have it even worse. Top

models at big agencies like IMG or New York Model Management can
have 10-15 castings a day and are paid approximately $800-1000 to
walk for big brands at fashion week. This is then taxed, the agency
commission is deducted, and rent and travel costs must be covered.

While Vinca described, shivering like a dog inside, Sabrina


Williams baked in the 90-degree heat outside. The Daily brand
ambassador has her hair knotted in a light blue headscarf, a little bit
of lip-gloss stuck to her teeth. She is a tall, slim and beautiful girl
aspiring to be a TV personality. Im wearing this T-Shirt now but
really Im glamorous, she says. Ive got to be on my feet all day,
so I aint gonna wear them heels, she laughs. Adding I always
wear heels! I havent owned sneakers since middle grade! Even
though shes on the wrong side of the fence, proximity to Sabrina is
golden, using her minimum-wage job handing out magazines to get
closer to the fashion week magic. She thinks the live streaming is
good too, It gives people a closeness, Sabrina says, but theyre
still miles away. She understands that she, like many, is a long way
off affording the clothes being showcased.

Its not just these beautiful beings that have it tough either. Newbie
designers have a hard time as well, investing between $10-15,000
of their own money into a show. Alfred Hor, a custom shoe designer
from Malaysia, describes the difficulties designers face when you
need to be creative, do something that is unexpected and make

people remember you, during a short 10 minute demonstration.


Of course the collection needs to be interesting, he says, but
then its about who you invite, which is the most important thing,
invite the right person to your show or it could bankrupt you.

These are not the concerns of those at the top of the fashion week
caste system. Those that enter the shows, ticket in hand. For them it
is of little consequence if DJ Saint-Chill makes his flight. If Vinca
walks in another runway show next year or Sabrina makes it as a TV
personality. No one will be concerned about Albert Hor, either, until
he becomes the next Jimmy Choo. Its make or break time and the
1% control the system.

Sources:
Alina Osokina (Vinca) Vinca.minor.la.grave@gmail.com or
6467054602
Sabrina Williams 7574471039
DJ Saint-Chill Ronald M. Saint Vil
Albert Hor - info@xalfdesign.com