08 July 2015

My Experience as a Lolita Model


Banner photo credit to Erskine Noel

Although the photo above is not of a specifically Lolita brand, I have been in my fair share of Lolita fashion shows. In fact, I have been in five to this date. I have modeled for MILK, Innocent World, and Ivy Frozen (for three times!). Unfortunately I haven't been able to travel far for fashion shows, so I have been limited to local ones. I hope to change this in the future!

I feel extremely lucky to have been able to be a model for these wonderful brands. There are so many aspiring Lolita models, and not everybody has the chance to hit the runway. I hope my personal experience encourages you to follow your dreams and unveils the reality of being a Lolita model.

My first fashion show was for Ivy Frozen, a wonderful local girl who has an Etsy here, at the Fanime Indie Designer Lolita Fashion Show a few years ago. A mouthful right? Well it went alright, I was super nervous as a total beginner, but it was low-key and casual. Our audience was small, and my designer was kind and accomodating. She allowed us to bring our own wigs or style our own hair/makeup. A few weeks before the show she emailed all of us asking to visit her for a fitting and told us what color shoes to bring. The application process was simple, someone posted a model call on our Facebook group. I sent in an email with my measurements and a few photos.

The other two times I've modeled at Fanime for Ivy Frozen were pretty similar, except I'm proud that we've begun to get some international indie brands in addition to local designers! This year we had Haenuli for a second time, and the Kawaii Ambassador for Mexico brought us Lief and White Forest. The Fanime shows really aren't competitive, and are much more casual than new models expect.

Photo credit to Alexander Martinez

The shows at J-Pop Summit and PMX were a bit different. The model casting call appeared a couple months in advance, and it took weeks for them to respond. If you're planning on applying to model, be prepared for long response times. They go through a lot of applications, be patient~

When I modeled for MILK at J-Pop Summit 2013, we had a fitting and orientation/practice day the day (or a week, I can't remember!) before the actual show. In the beginning I was a bit disappointed to be chosen for MILK instead of Innocent World, but I learned to be appreciative of being chosen and to discover my love for the brand itself. The girls who were chosen for Innocent World had all sent in photos of them in Lolita, so that is definitely a factor when designers are choosing their models.

Modeling for Innocent World at PMX 2014 was exciting but also... different. We had no fittings, and only met the morning of the show. The hotel we were at wouldn't allow us to bring food inside the ballroom, but we couldn't leave once we were dressed. Ladies, bring snack bars and bottled water! I was lucky I did because one of my new friends had a health concern that would have been problematic without food....

Luckily Ms. Fujiwara had her personal translator which helped move our own group along smoothly. I don't think any of the other brands' designers had come with the clothes. She was so sweet, tying our waist-ties herself and constantly adjusting our petticoats, accessories, and hair. I felt like she was a mother-hen carefully looking out for her precious babies, the way she kept perfecting our outfits! After the show she thanked us all individually and gladly took selfies with each of us. 

Photo credit to PMX Fashion

Photo credit to Danielle

What have I learned from my experience? 

Modeling is tough! It is physically and emotionally tiring because 90% of fashion shows consist of waiting around. Waiting for everyone to arrive, waiting for makeup artists, waiting for hair stylists, waiting for outfit inspections, waiting for practice runs, waiting for professional photos, waiting for the show to start, waiting for your turn on the runway, waiting for the show to end. So much waiting!

But it is also so rewarding. I have made friends from these shows, gained a lot of experiences and memories, and got to meet wonderful designers and models from Japan. 

A few words for aspiring models:

You are working for the show, not the other way around. This probably sounds harsher than I intend, but it is true. You have to be okay with not getting accepted to the brand you want, or even the show at all. It is such an honor to be selected by designers personally to represent their brands. When I modeled for MILK, my shoes were waaaaay too small and hurt my feet the entire day. But I sucked it up because there was nothing they could do. You won't get paid, and usually won't get a convention badge either. 

Model calls will generally ask you for the following on your application: age, height, measurements, previous modeling experience, visible tattoos, shoe size, and various photos (headshot with little/no makeup, full-body, etc). Unfortunately, some designers have a height requirement and/or a maximum shoe size. There's not much you can do about that except wait for another show. But always apply anyways, you never know! 

Finally, make the most out of your experience as you can! Being a Lolita model is so much fun, and is worth it to make friends and maybe meet your inspirations. 

Do you have any experiences that were different than mine? Anything you'd like to add? Let me know in the comments, because nobody's experience is the same. I hope that mine helps you achieve your dreams~

Photo credit to Dave Golden

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