Monday, June 29, 2009
Fashion Model for a Day
Everyone should have at least one chance to rock their inner runway fashion model, and last night I got mine. Interestingly enough, runway modeling was never even a part of my daydreams, the ones that included me as a famous actress, rock star, international spy or CEO of Paramount Pictures. It might have something to do with the fact that at a moderate 5'5" tall, and without the height to weight ratio of a string bean, I've never been what you would call "fashion model material." Something I'm honestly pretty okay with. Mind you, I can't sing worth a damn (see "Karaoke for Beginners") but I still have secret visions of tearing it up on a concert stage with the crowd screaming and singing along to my latest hit. But don't we all fantasize about that one?
I'll preface the rest of this story by telling you that I am a member of a 1940s/50's style pin-up performance group called the Diamond Bettys. We were invited by the designer for a company called Bettie Page Clothing to model her fashions as part of the grand opening celebration of her new store on Hollywood Blvd. And on Saturday afternoon, as the final touches were being put on the shelf displays and pictures were being hung on the once bare walls, we began a run-through of the twenty minute fashion show, and I took my first steps down the long, elevated runway.
I was excited to get started. Walking? In a straight line? No problem. But as I teetered down the path in my new black high heels, a gift from one of the vendors to wear during the show, I felt a bit like a newborn animal trying to find my legs. This was altogether different from walking on the ground. An elevation of about four or four and a half feet doesn't seem like much, but my innate fear of falling kicked in and it suddenly seemed very, very high. I'm afraid my first pass had little in the way of flounce or flair in it, but I made it down and back without realizing my fear and toppling over the side. The next two passes down and back got easier and once I got into the swing of things, and managed to convince myself that the likelihood of falling was, in all actuality, pretty slim, I was ready for a dress rehearsal.
I learned a thing or two more once we ran it again, this time with full dress changes. Timing is crucial, and all credit goes to Alika, who stood at the side of the curtain, saying "go faster, we're running out of music" or "slow down and take your time, we have too much music." It's really a well-orchestrated event. Not to mention the cooperation needed backstage to get everyone in and out of dresses in record time.
Then it was time for the big day. Yesterday, I had the misfortune to awake with a bit of a head cold so I downed some Sudafed and as much water as I could and set off for hair and makeup. Hey, you know what they say, the show must go on. I've been through the hair and makeup routine before, for other Diamond Betty events, photo shoots, etc. So this part was nothing new, though there's still nothing better to me than someone else curling my hair. Not to mention having someone else put on my fake eyelashes, something I am notoriously terrible at doing myself.
At the store the crowd built quickly - a motley crew if there ever was one. The rockabilly crowd was strongly represented - men in pompadours and rolled-up jeans, girls in Bettie Page bangs and colorful tattoos. Then there was the press and publicity group - the ones with the still cameras, video cameras and microphones. And then the regular folk, including the friends and boyfriends of the Bettys. Knowing how these things can go in a town where flakiness is the norm, I was glad to see a good-sized crowd in attendance.
First up on the performance schedule for the evening was Kalani Coconuts, a burlesque dancer, who shook her tassels and her tailfeathers for the eager audience. I was pretty sure we wouldn't be able to top an exotic beauty clad head to toe in Trashy Lingerie, right down to her pasties, but we were about to give it a go.
I have to say, I got lucky. I know not every girl was happy with her dress choices. I really loved mine. First up was a black and white striped circle dress with a belted waist and a petticoat. Probably not something that I would wear normally, but I loved it, nonetheless. 'll admit it - I was nervous when the curtains parted for the first time and I stepped out on the runway and saw the cheering crowd. As I made my way down to the end for the obligatory poses to the center and sides of the the stage, I felt like I was star. The flashes were going and the people were cheering. At it lasted about five seconds. I know, because I was told later that while I rocked my walk and my poses, I did it all just a little too fast. Nerves, I guess.
I found my stride with outfits two and three, first a girly red dress with hearts on it, the one that I eventually got to bring home with me as a thank you from the designer for modeling in the show, and then a sexy black pencil-skirted dress with a corseted waist and a cherry-printed top. I felt like a vixen in that one. But I couldn't breathe. Not much of a corset girl.
Everyone killed it during the show and the designer was incredibly pleased. I know I had a blast. Who knew walking down a runway could be such fun, especially for a self-proclaimed intellectual. But the flashbulbs, the crowd and the cheers out front, and the laughter, cooperation and camaraderie backstage made it something special. Something I would do again in a heartbeat. Especially if I could do it with those girls. And as long as they don't make the runways any higher.