Sunday, June 8, 2014

Part 1: Allegra's Story

New York, London, Milan, Paris.

As a model I was familiar with hotels in each of these cities. Believe me, the star treatment does not exist for models in the hotel industry unless you’re Naomi Campbell and no one else can be Naomi Campbell. I would usually land around 6am in Charles de Gaulle Airport and arrive in a taxi to my hotel looking trashed in a big t-shirt and jeans. I would hop into the shower and run off to a shoot by 8 am. The hotel staff probably thought I was transporting drugs or something.

 I wasn’t the best model and that is why I only lasted two years. I was mainly a runway model and not a print model. I was too awkward with myself physically to be a good runway model too. I had the skinny, lanky looks but never the booming confidence of a Giselle or the mysterious air of a Mariacarla Boscono. The only print advertisements my agent wrangled for me were for a few hair straightening products in which they loved showing my kinky hair in the before picture then adding a wig on top of my head for the after picture in fake long straight silky hair.

I am really shy by nature and suddenly being thrown into the spotlight was distressing, but also exciting because I had never been so close to the fashion world before. Walking on a runway filled with important people you read about in magazines or see on television with all their eyes on you, cameras flashing and music thumping while trying to look serious and walking down the run way in time to the music. I walked the runways for Prada, Versace, Chanel, Dolce and Gabbana and for smaller houses that are now just as big such as Proenza Schouler.

Gone are the Glamazon days of Linda, Naomi and Christy. When I started modeling models were just clothing hangers that did not need personalities to fill out the clothes. Actually, you were never encouraged to fill out the clothes completely but to glide across a stage as a shadow with the only interesting aspect  or focus was the  latest half ripped or digitally printed dress.  Every model was a blonde or brunette clone with the same measurements same walk and same blank expression. I no longer wanted to be the olive skinned clothes hanger only called upon for the before part of commercials for kinky hair and for photo shoots that were "gypsy" inspired.

But despite my brief career, I went to the best parties of my life while modeling. Something about being surrounded by beautiful people in a party that makes you want to continue partying since the outside world was a lot uglier but just as cruel as the inside. I wore the slinkiest dresses, got high off champagne and weed and slept with the most gorgeous men. Parties were outrageous after fashion week especially in New York. One year after some of the girls and I had finished the Marc by Marc Jacobs runway show we trekked over to Brooklyn to a warehouse party. It was literally raining men in the warehouse. Shirtless men suspended mid air from chandeliers just dancing and having a good time. When we got there around midnight the place was packed and everyone was on the happy part of their buzz dancing and enjoying the warm night. My friend Shane and I quickly ran to the bar to drink some shots and ran to the dance floor to just let our end of fashion week energy out and all over the place. I went back to my hotel with one of the dancers and the rest is now a good memory. It was one of the best parties when the people, music, and mood was just right and that only happens once in a blue moon.

I guess everyone’s story starts with being discovered. As if I didn’t exist in my San Francisco bubble before Anton, my agent, found me. I was in my senior year of high school when my friends and I decided to skip school that day and go to the Haight and Ashbury. Our goal was to buy some weed and hang out at Golden Gate Park after making a quick munchies run to McDonald’s off Stanyan Street next to the Rasputin record store. I was incredibly high while walking towards the park with my faithful buddies, Arianna and Karen, while stuffing french fries into my mouth. Since I was so preoccupied with my fries, I bumped into Anton on the street and my Happy Meal fell to the floor. I was so upset because I was looking forward to the apple pie stashed into my little cardboard Happy Meal box  that I forgot in my haze that I had bumped into a human being and not a pole. Anton stood there just staring at me as did Arianna and Karen in their weed induced silence. This process seemed to be taking eternity and I thought it was just the weed in my system making me paranoid, but this man was staring at me in a strange way. I normally would give him my usual scrappy street foul mouth, but I was too high to attempt any smart back talk. He fished around in his pocket and stuck a card in my face while I was still lamenting my apple pie.

"Sorry about that. My name is Anton and I am a modeling scout and agent. You know, I think you would do well in modeling, especially if you stop eating McDonald’s. Here is my card, give me a call if you are interested. My office is in the Marina district. Hope to see you there and sorry for making you drop your food.”

 After much excitement from Arianna and Karen, they convinced me he wasn’t some street pervert and an actual agent so I called, and I guess you can say the rest is history. Allegra (aka me), the kid from San Francisco started her career in the fashion industry.

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