It’s 2:30 on Wednesday afternoon and I’m sitting in a hotel suite while two strangers fondle my hair. Alas, it’s not the prelude to an orgy blog: it’s fashion.
While striding along in my dressy togs today, late for a fancy-pants luncheon/fund-raiser, I was stopped by a lovely girl who gave me a flyer that said Model Call. It happens that the Bumble & Bumble road show is in town and looking for hair models.
“You sit on stage all day and have your hair cut,” the girl explained to me.
“I have my hair cut all day?” I asked, but no. A large part of it seems to just be sitting.
If this is all sounding sort of vague and hard to picture then you’re right there with me. After my lunch, I went to the room number on the flyer, where four British people — all of them much better looking than me — were sort of hovering around, mostly ignoring the five or six model girls who came and went while I was there.
“Have a seat,” a woman said when I walked in. I sat. She immediately pulled out my ponytail and started spreading my hair over my shoulders.
“Um…what’s this all about, exactly?” I said. Her answer was to bring a much frownier British man over, who also fondled my hair without meeting my eyes. I was starting to worry. Were these the white slavers my mother never warned me about?
After a third Brit had also touched my hair with alarming (but also kind of soothing) familiarity, they all stood back and looked at me.
“What could you do with it?” the woman asked the frowning guy, who answered her in, as far as I could tell, a kind of Cockney-accented growling. She nodded sagely.
“You realize this is all incredibly surreal, right?” I said loudly. Finally they all looked at me. The woman blinked.
“You mean because you’re in a strange room and strangers are touching your hair,” she said. Clearly it had not occurred to her before.
Actually, the surreal part came mostly from the models that kept coming and going. I wanted to point out that there was much better hair than mine on offer, but stayed mum because there was a chance I’d get paid for this.
They were all startled by my blue streak. It was shown to all the Brits as they entered and left the room. “Oh, I like it,” they all said, with varying degrees of conviction. “It’s so…interesting.”
Finally, the frowning man suggested that, were I to be chosen, he would cut my hair into something “less teenage.” They took my polaroid and my number and sent me off. I have this feeling, maybe from the way I kept looking at them warily, or from the way I finally shouted “HANDS OFF, FLESH-EATERS!” at them, that they are not planning to call.
I’ve now had two brushes with the fashion industry, and the consistent trend seems to be the people in charge ignoring the models. In both cases, I kept trying to converse, or at least get some kind of verbal reaction, but it was nearly impossible to get through. In both cases, the photographers or scouts or whoever would wander off in the middle of a sentence to take phone calls or joke with other photographers or do anything to emphasize that the model does not need to be taken seriously as a person. It’s weird. I’m glad I’m a writer and not a piece of meat for a living. Still, if they want to pay me to give me a fabulous haircut, I’m not going to say no.