It is time for Haute–Couture Fashion week. It is the most important time of the year and the most important moment in a model’s career. If you do a haute-couture show, your career is much brighter in modeling. (At this time it is like that, but in the future Haute Couture will lose its importance.) It has prestige. Not every girl gets a chance to do a casting for it. It is special.
My first casting is for a big designer, Valentino. One of the biggest and most important shows of the week.
The casting takes place on the third floor of a building that is magnificent inside and out. But a waiting line with girls standing and sitting on the floor, steps, and balustrade begins on the first floor. Some girls are camping, literally. Some of them are sleeping; some reading; some of them are playing games, but all of them are whispering. Just now and then you can hear a giggle. I throw myself on the floor, close to the last girl; i don’t want to give a space to anyone to jump in front of me.
10:30 a.m. My God how long will this casting take? I have a book by my favorite writer, the Serbian author Dobrica Cosic, but I have to save the pages. I can read only 30 pages per day, or I will run out of books to read. I have to remember I am in France and it is not easy to find a book in my language, plus the price must be unreachable for my pocket money, for sure.
I don’t know anyone. In the line are some recognizable faces from campaigns and magazines. I thought that top models don’t do castings– at least not with us beginners at the same time. But obviously I was wrong. Anyway I am ready to take my chance. I am not afraid of competition.
I will yawn around for a bit, then read for a bit, more yawning then reading… this waiting will take a while.
In the end, it isn’t so slow. It is my turn after only 2 hours. In the room there is a woman sitting in a Louis XIV armchair. She lifts her skirt and puts her legs on the tabouret in front of her. She is a big lady, and she looks strict. Her skirt is a gypsy style and she has a scarf over her head. Yes, she looks very strict and serious. On her left and right, scattered on the floor, are Polaroids of the girls. There are food leftovers on some plates lying around, too. I will tell you again that I didn’t imagine a casting to be like this. I enter the room thinking, what now?
She is looking at me with a smile in the corner of one lip, but she is not saying anything. Her assistant comes over to me, takes my portfolio and asks me where I am coming from, then kindly asks me to walk for the two of them. When I finish my walk, the strict and serious woman is looking at me with more interest. The Gypsy Queen. Yes, she is the Gypsy Queen now. I am standing at a certain distance but looking arrogantly back at her. The assistant has a Polaroid camera in his hands, ready for her signal to take a snap of me, but she is mute. She is looking at me closely. The assistant is becoming nervous. I keep looking straight into her eyes while they fly over my face and body again and again. Finally, she gets up, takes a Polaroid camera from his hands, and shows me with her finger to stand on the cross marked on the floor next to the wall. She asks me to stand straight with both legs together, head high, and then she comes a few inches away from my nose and clicks. My god. How good can I look on that Polaroid?
I say thank you, wish them a pleasant day and leave. No answer from her or her assistant, but I don’t care about that anymore. When people don’t answer it is ironically funny to me, so I leave this place with a smile. Who cares about them?
Today I couldn’t make all the castings because almost every one that I went to was very crowded, I spent hours waiting. The agency told me that so much waiting is normal, but I have to make sure that I have a list of priorities: important castings first. Ok, I will remember.
Tomorrow I will have even more castings than today. I will find out what the “call back” is. Call back is: We have seen you but come again.
So I have to go back again. I already have a bunch of castings on my schedule and they want me to go back someplace I have already been. Really, I don’t think it’s time for games like that. My legs are falling apart, and my shoulder gets numb as soon as I put my bag on it. Let’s go donkey, you have no choice.
The call back is for the Gypsy Queen. The agency calls to make sure I remember to be on time. When I get here, 10 girls are already in the line. Some of them are famous models. Some of them are beginners like me. I can feel the excitement and indifference in the air. I find a place to sit on the stairs to wait for my turn.
The assistant is taking us in, one by one. It takes longer than yesterday. When I step inside, everything looks different.
There is a big table now in the corner of the room. Gypsy Queen is sitting with a few others. She is not really in the mood today, I can see. She left her ego on the arm chair for today’s rest. The armchair is resting as well in the other corner of the room, and today the Queen is seated on the “simple” chair from Louis Something period. She is silent, but the right corner of her lip is smiling. Dead silence in the room. The assistant is whispering into my ear how to walk to the table and back. I am doing now what he has told me. My steps in high heels on the creaking floor are making an echo in the room. The “Recruiting Board” is now making a judgment about what to do with me.
They are whispering something now, while the Queen is just looking at me. Then someone gives a sign to the assistant. He takes my arm and we walk through the door to another room.
In that room are four girls, two kneeling, and two standing. Around the room are beautiful dresses hanging on the walls. I get a sign which means: strip off! Ok!! And the assistant tells me that I have to wait here, he will come to get me.
The girls are dressing me and putting shoes on me. They don’t want me to touch the dress. They are scared I could rip something or somehow destroy the dress, which is a unique hand work. It is kind of strange that someone is dressing me, an adult. Not someone, a whole team, to be more precise. I have my shoes on now and I am barely standing straight. The dress is so heavy, heavier than my bag. And the shoes are a size smaller. O my God!!
The assistant is here now to take me back to the room with the Recruiting Board, to walk again completely dressed up; then he takes a Polaroid of me, then back to the changing room. The well- trained team takes everything off me. I change back to my clothes and I am ready to take off, but someone grabs my hand:
“You cannot go there until he comes to pick you up!!!”
“Why not? I am done. I need to take my portfolio from them.”
“If you go in, you will disturb them.”
What are they doing? Some kind of scientific experiment which is going to change the future of the Earth? Or do they just have to decide which girl is good enough to walk down the runway in their designs? How much focus do you need for that? You like her or not! My God, Jesus Christ. I have no choice, I have to stand there and wait.
Finally, when he comes to take me out, I am still in shock. I look at them again. Really, their faces are so serious and strained, like an important thought could run away any second, and it will be a disaster. So funny.
I have to go. I am sure I have a few more “Recruiting Boards” waiting for me today. Maybe not on as high a level as this one, but important for me for sure. I am at the beginning. Every casting is important.