T Lo Interviews Model Amanda Fields
Since the last show (like every PR finale) focuses on the model casting and the runway show, we sat down with S3 model Amanda Fields to give us an insider’s look at the whole process and the life of a hardcore walker.
Hello, darling! Thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Fashion Week must be a very busy time for you.
Yes, Fashion Week is one of the busiest times of the year for me. I’m primarily a runway model. There are some models that are stronger in print and some models are stronger on the runway and that’s where I get booked the most. I mean, I love it all, but the thing that makes me most happy is runway. That’s what I love.
We’ve seen you on the runway many times and you can pretty much look like anything. Is that important as a runway model?
I think it is but at the same time some designers have a specific image in mind for their show so it’s really up to them who best represents that look. I might walk in and definitely be able to deliver what they want, but if they look at me and think that I’m not the right look for the collection, they might not choose me, and that’s OK. It happens to every model.
You can’t take that personally. Every collection requires a certain look, a certain hair length…
Right. One day my hair might be too long for a certain show and the next day they think it’s too short. You never really know. You have to consistently perform at your best and have a good attitude. You can’t get too hung up on that.
How does a model get selected for a runway show?
The designer will call an agency and they either request a specific model or they will ask for a type, a height, or a certain measurement they’re looking for and the agency will send the models that fit that particular description.
The agency emails me every evening around five o’clock with my schedule for the next day. It’s a busy time now and I usually have eight, nine castings a day. Sometimes we don’t know the details of it, for example, when the show will be or anything like that. All they say is where to go and who to see. Sometimes castings are more specific and they’ll say that the designer is looking for a rock-and-roll girl to sort of give you advice on how to dress for the casting, but since there are so many castings you dress in a way that is cute but that makes you look good.
For example, for the summer/spring collections I wear a lot of skirts and shorts because I want to show off my legs since that’s the thing people usually compliment me on the most. A little bit of makeup…Actually now it is a trend for models to go on casting without makeup. I still wear makeup but I apply it in a way that it doesn’t look like I have so much on. They probably tell the models not to wear makeup because some of them are not good at it.
What do you bring to a casting?
You have your portfolio with you, you bring your high heels and your purse because you’re going to be walking a lot, especially in New York, and you want to bring a pair of flats in your purse. You arrive at the place, put on your heels, straighten your hair and makeup before you go inside, get your portfolio ready and you go in. You come in, they look at your portfolio and they have you walk. They usually take Polaroids or digital pictures of you. They do that so they know what the girl looks like because sometime it’s hard to tell by their card what they look like; those photos make them look so different. I’ve actually had times when they asked me to hold my card up next to my face so that they could take a picture.
Yes, sometimes a girl looks amazing in a picture and in person she doesn’t hold up to what they saw and sometimes the picture is nowhere near as beautiful as the girl in person. They look at the card and say ‘why did you pick her? This is not what we’re going for’ and somebody else will say ‘no, no, look at the Polaroid. She’s the right look.’ In some cases you will show up and they’ll collect all the models’ books, go into a room, then come out and say ‘you, you, and you are free to go, and you and you come with me.’
Is the walk an important/decisive part of the casting?
Yes and no. Some clients care about the walk more than others. Sometimes they don’t even want to see the girl walking if they don’t like their portfolio. Sometimes they’re going for the look rather than the walk and that’s why you sometimes watch a show and see beautiful girls on the runway but they can’t walk. And in other cases, it is all about the walk. They ask you to walk, and if they have a really specific walk, you might walk a second time and they’ll tell you how they want you to walk. I have a classic runway walk and sometimes people view it as a little too sassy. Sometimes clients will ask me to be simpler, and that’s OK, I cater to what they’re looking for. The other day I went on a casting and they want me, I kid you not, to walk like an awkward thirteen old boy. No wonder I didn’t get cast in that show.
When do you try on the clothes?
In some castings they might ask you to try the clothes right there and then that’s also another sign if they like you or not. If you see models trying on clothes before you and they don’t even say anything to you, you know they’re not going to pick you. Especially when they photograph you in the outfit, you feel like they booked you even though they never tell you at the casting because they might change their minds later. When they decide that they’re going to use you they will schedule a fitting because even if they tried something on you at the casting, they might want to try a different look, just to make sure the right look is on the right girl. They might change your outfit later, maybe there’s another model that looks much better in something that you were going to wear. They’re always switching things around. I’ve had experiences where they’ve done the fitting, they selected the clothes, I show up at the show and I wear something completely different.
It must be frustrating go through the whole process and not get picked.
You do get used to it but there are still, I’ve been modeling for seven years, there are still occasions when I really think that I would be perfect for that client and they’re not that into me and then I get booked for something else that I didn’t think that they would pick me. You really never know. I’ve actually been picked for a show, done the fitting and then released from the job.
Do they still pay you?
No, they don’t have to pay until you actually do the fashion show unless they specifically pay for the fitting, which is rare.
How early do you have to show up for a show?
For Project Runway, for example, if the show is at 9 a.m. our call time is 6 a.m. It’s pretty much a rule of thumb for any show it’s usually three hours. But if you’re doing a lot of shows on the same day it’s kind of hard to follow that rule. Of course you show up on time for the first one, but throughout the day it gets harder and harder to show up on time. Designers are used to that, especially if a model is in demand, of course she’s going to be booked on everything.
It’s kind of notorious that fashion shows never start on time.
And it’s not just backstage, sometimes it’s the people attending, for example, the celebrities getting photographed and all that, the magazine editors…
Have you ever tripped or fallen?
No, and knock on wood, never in seven years. I think the reason is that I was a dancer for fifteen years. My balance is a lot better than a lot of other models that are coming to it with no dance training or anything like that. For me that’s what helped me out. Another thing is that I’ll let them know during the fitting if the shoes aren’t working. You know, in a nice way, but I do. The only time I almost tripped was during Uli’s finale show. That was my first show at Bryant Park ever. I was so excited but also nervous, when I walked during the little finale with all the models lined up, right in front of Michael Kors, my right foot sort of turned and I thought I was going to fall but thank god it didn’t happen.
Speaking of Project Runway, how do they cast the models for the show?
Through an agency, just like for a show.
Well, the difference is that the models don’t get paid.
Actually, I ‘ve learned that for Season 6 they will. I don’t know how much the rate is but they are paying. They’re using six models from LA Models next season. They’re using other agencies too but I know they’re using six models from LA Models.
Is the casting different for the Project Runway finale show?
A little bit. First of all, it’s on camera. You have to sign a release before you go in. They usually have the finalists sitting at a table and the decoys sitting off camera on the side. All of them in the same room, just the decoys not being filmed. Each designer has his or her little section with the rack of clothes where the models are getting dressed. The finalists have their section together. The crew makes it look like they’re filming everyone but they aren’t. They’re focused on the final three.
How long do they wait to cast the models?
They wait until the last minute because it is usually the last show at Bryant Park and the designers aren’t even in town yet. It’s nice to go on the casting because you find out who the final three or four are. I love that.
Of all the Project Runway models you’re one of the most successful, if not THE most successful model out there. Why is that?
Well, first of all, thank you guys. I think it’s because I had a clear idea what I wanted to do after the show. I knew where I wanted my career to go. I saw the show as a way to improve my career and some models see it as just another job. It’s one of those things that can really make a difference because millions of people are watching you every week. That’s bigger than any fashion show that you can do. I also try to go to any red carpet event that I am invited to. Make sure that people see me, know what I’m doing…You know who I think will be following on my footsteps a little bit? It’s Karalyn. She’s beautiful, she’s smart. She looked amazing in that blue dress for Diane von Furstenberg. She really worked that runway. She’s going to make something happen with this opportunity.
It’s a shame that Shannone had to drop out of the show. Well, we understand, she probably had a paying job that day.
Yeah, but she could have won the whole thing.
They’ve had a lot of bad models on the show.
It’s because the models don’t get paid. Well, in the short term you don’t make money but in the long term I made a lot more money because of the show. I got a better agency, I used it to my advantage.
Which is HUGE in the modeling world, isn’t it?
It’s pretty much a dream come true. I’ve been modeling for seven years and I worked with several agencies while I lived in New York. I lived in New York for five years and I was with four agencies during that time. The agency I was with when I booked Project Runway was called Major and they actually are a very good agency and certain girls worked with them a lot more than I did, sometimes they are a better fit for certain models. For me, I wasn’t making the living that I wanted to so the only thing to do was to switch. At that point, after doing Project Runway a lot of people were recognizing me, especially in Los Angeles. So I decided to go to LA and signed up with LA Models which is the same agency as New York Models. It’s the same agency that the winner of Make Me A Supermodel signs up with.
How is the modeling industry in LA versus NY?
I actually have been much more in demand in LA Fashion Week than in New York Fashion Week because coming into LA as a NY model is great. I do tons of shows. I literally have to run from one runway to the other.
Do you feel that Project Runway helped you in anyway?
Yes, I think it helped me a lot, especially in LA. I got recognized on every casting when I first went to LA. All the designers knew my name, they watched the show. I was doing shows left and right. In NY is a little different but sometimes they do recognize me or they’ll say that I look familiar to them.
Now, the question everybody asks, ‘Is there still pressure to look thin?’ Also, we’ve noticed the models are getting incredibly younger with every season.
Yes, and you know how designers keep telling the press they want to hire the healthy girl? I go on these castings and all the girls look like they can’t be a day over sixteen or seventeen. That’s why they look so skinny, they’re so young. They don’t put on weight the same way that I do because I’m more of a woman. And that’s OK. I can’t get too caught up in comparing myself to a seventeen-year-old.
The thing I’ve learned from modeling is to not try to be anything else but me. Every time I go on a casting I’m still going to do my walk the way that I do it and when they ask me to do something different of course I do. I’m happy to do what they want. And as long as I am in this business, I’m just going to be me. I look around at some different models and sometimes I think that maybe I should wear something more like this girl or maybe I should do my hair like that girl when they’re probably thinking the same thing about me. I stay with I know works for me.
I don’t want to make it sound like it such hard work; we do put a lot of effort into. I love it. Just the casting alone; even though you don’t get paid to go on a casting. It’s exciting when you go on a casting for Donna Karan, Diane von Furstenberg, Michael Kors. You feel like you made it. You feel like you’re one of the best.
[Photos: Courtesy of Amanda Fields' MySpace Page]