Model Behavior | HerCampus College Fashion Week

There’s a lot to be said for doing something that scares you. It’s a good test of bravery and your limits. On a whim, I submitted a selfie to enter the model casting for HerCampusCollege Fashion Week and wouldn’t you know it, on a warm night in Brooklyn, I received an e-mail saying that I had been chosen. I’m certain I’ve been mildly nervous ever since but for better or worse, the day arrived and I quickly realized that throwing myself into something was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

College Fashion Week Boston - Class of 2015
College Fashion Week Boston – Class of 2015

Keep reading for more about my experience leading up to the big day & night!

Got my golden glow and feeling like this chair just gets me.
Got my golden glow and feeling like this chair just gets me.

The Monday before my show I volunteered to participate in a “Before & After” shoot at Blush Organic Sunless Tanning in Wellesley. Having never had a spray tan before, I thought it would be a good way to gradually pull myself out of my comfort zone and prepare for the weekend show ahead simultaneously. When I arrived, Christina and her team put me at ease and explained the process. I slipped into a black swim suit set (what they recommend you wear for a spray tan) and took some before shots with the models. I use Jergens Glow Daily lotion year ’round and typically take pretty good care of my skin so I wasn’t too pale for the before photos but I was definitely still nervous. (Note: When someone tells you to “look natural”, you basically lose any and all ability to do just that.) The shoot went well and my tan developed into a very flattering glow that stayed intact until Saturday came around. I definitely recommend keeping your skin moisturized but I was really impressed with the quality and durability of the all-natural color.

Two words I never thought I'd ever see precede my name.
Two words I never thought I’d ever see precede my name.

On Friday, I made my way to the South Shore Plaza in Braintree for my fitting. I stood in line with a little over two dozen other girls who were hopefully just as excited and nervous as I was. A couple girls were graduates like me but most were undergrad HerCampus followers. They were all very friendly and we chatted about everything from Boston’s public transportation to restaurants in the North End. We were split into groups with no idea what our groups indicated. By the time it was my turn, I discovered I had been assigned a group called “Modern Punk”. As if that wasn’t terrifying enough (so NOT my style), I was given a black fringed motorcycle jacket, a white tee, corduroy-like textured J.Brand pants and Frye boots. At first I panicked. The outfit was so much edgier than anything I normally wear but then I thought, “This is what pushing the envelope is all about.” I carefully put on each piece and tried to relish in what a different experience this would be.

At my fitting.
At my fitting.

Now before you say, “Doesn’t she do shoots all the time? How is a fashion show any different?” the answer is SO MUCH. Photo shoots for blogs are very different from real-time posing with hundreds of other people watching. For one, your photographer is typically someone you know or someone you’ve developed some kind of rapport with. You often have control over the venue or have self-selected your outfit and the whole experience is personalized. A fashion show is live and much more slowly paced and, well, scary. For an entire minute (or more), hundreds of sets of eyes watch you in your attempt to be graceful and capture the essence of what it is you are wearing.

Hair & make-up. Check!
Hair & make-up. Check!

On Saturday I woke up, determined to not let my nerves get the best of me. I told myself it was going to be fun and I had a unique opportunity to be ultra chic and styled that would last mere minutes. i arrived at the Revere Hotel right on time. Girls were gathered in the Theater 1 space that looked more like a new-age movie theater than behind the scenes of a fashion show. Things began to move quickly at this point; we helped put together the goodie bags for attendees, met Windsor (a HerCampus co-founder and one of the vent’s MC’s) and did a walkthrough of the show and were handed lanyards with our schedule assignments for our hair, make-up and brows. By this point, I was getting genuinely excited. With just hours to go before the show, the waiting time was dwindling and the actual model experience was getting underway.

One of the fishtails that rocked the runway.
One of the fishtails that rocked the runway.

While individual styles varied slightly, the theme for each model’s hair was “Braid & Waves”. Stylists from Pyara Salon in Cambridge, twisted our day-old hair into fabulous designs. I was so excited about my style since my hair only holds a curl with a lot of encouragement and many of the models were complimenting the plaits that trailed down the back of my head. My make-up look was fierce with dark lined eyes and a bold red lip (another beauty trend I have yet to master). With a finishing touch from European Wax Center, my brows were intensified with powder to make them stand out and frame my face.

Selfies are the new "Ready for my close-up".
Selfies are the new “Ready for my close-up”.

Next we got dressed by “scene”. Being in the last scene, I was in the last group to get dressed and the anticipation was a killer. I tried not to rush what a whirlwind the whole experience was and got dressed as slowly as possible, make sure all my tags, fringe and hemlines were all carefully flattened, tucked in or hanging appropriately. To be in big clunky boots was a huge relief because I was so excited by this point that I was afraid I would never have been able to walk in a straight line in tiny stilettos. Models were spread all throughout the room, taking selfies and group shots of their outfits and accessories. I snagged a few shots like the blogger that I am:

Finishing touches.
Finishing touches.
This is what a real runway looks like.
This is what a real runway looks like.
Some of my fellow models all ready to go!
Some of my fellow models all ready to go!

When cued, we all formed a long line and processed backstage where we stood as the show opened, chatted, giggled and cheered each other on. When it was my scene’s turn, I started to get really into character. I realized I had placed my prop, a pair of Alexander McQueen sunglasses, over my white tee shirt and thought they should have more of a role. I decided to wear them for my first walk onstage. When it was my turn, I strutted as slowly and as badass as I could to take in the moment. I stared into the crowd, lights and cameras as if I were Sandy from Grease (and not the demure version) and flicked of my sunglasses with such attitude I actually felt like a character. But I didn’t break until we walked the runway for the third time at which point I used my bold red lips and blew a kiss to the cameras waiting at one corner of the runway.

Backstage beauties.
Backstage beauties.

Walking away from the experience, I would do it again in a heartbeat. Now I know that fear is largely comprised of the unknown and the unknown of who you will be once you defeat the experience. I might not have saved the world and walking in a fashion show might seem like a small and perhaps superficial feat, but I am really proud that I stepped outside my comfort zone and onto a real runway for just a few minutes. It really proved to me that I can do anything I set my mind to and that even if it feels hard, to just have fun with it. Hopefully I won’t hesitate when the next opportunity to do something like this comes up but even if I do, I will be all the more confident remembering how I felt that first time I stared into the crowd at HerCampus College Fashion Week 2015.

For more on where I’ve been, what I’ve been doing and what I’ve been wearing, follow me on Polyvore, Tumblr & Twitter.

xo, Vanessa

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Vanessa M. Gatlin

-Blogger, dancer, fashionista -Self proclaimed "political junkie" with a strong interest in international affairs -2011 graduate of Emmanuel College in Boston

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