All the models backstage at the WHIT show were chatting, texting, posing for a camera, or touching up their makeup. All, that is, except one model. She stood out like a sore thumb. Her wide-brim hat made her 5 '8 frame over 6ft tall, and she was off to the side with a nervous, serious look on her face. She looked really young, - I guessed maybe 15 - and she was all alone, constantly fidgeting and adjusting her outfit. I just knew it was her first season. A small part of me wanted to take a picture because she had such a striking look, but the real reason I asked to take her picture was because she looked like she could use a light-hearted chat. She gave me a few serious poses with the hat on, and I asked if I could I take a picture or two with her hat off. As soon as the overpowering hat was removed, her entire demeanor softened, resulting in the shot above. After I was done with photos, I said 'So... Is this your first season?'
I found out her name was Nicoline, she was a senior in high school, and she was away from home to be at fashion week. I was really surprised to find out that she was 17, and she was equally surprised to find out that I was as well. We talked about her success so far (this was indeed her first fashion week), and balancing fashion and school. We had to stop chatting when the models had to leave, so we wished her good luck with the rest of her week and she left.
Befofore I met Nicoline, I though of all models as just that - models. Pretty canvases who showcase designer clothes. It didn't really occur to me that these are very young girls who are very often far from home. Many don't speak English, and some have never been outside of their country before. Now when I see models during fashion week, especially the ones who don't look much older than I am, I start to wonder all about their lives. Rather than analyzing their look or their walk, I wonder how were they scouted, where they're from, if they're nervous, etc. It has really made me less judgmental. I'm grateful that I got to get to know Nicoline, but I'm even more grateful that she was able to give me some perspective on what today's aspiring models are going through.