William vs. Milan. Round 2. Fight!
Contrary to my expectations a few things have changed since I last subject myself to the capital of voluntary suffering. Let us begin with the model apartment. Far from the squalid third world conditions of my previous insect-ridden detention cell, this season's model apartment is perfectly pleasant.
With three people in a two person space, I would not be inclined to take up permanent residence, however, compared with eight people in a three person space, it is quite comfortable. The apartment is newly constructed with hard wood floors and continuous South facing windows.
The kitchen unit is built seamelessly into the wall. A new gas range and oven make cooking enjoyable. Pleasantly surprisingly a good kitchen knife, bread knife, wooden chopping board, matching (albeit cheap) cutlery, and some glasses and dishes were included. With one pan and one pot there is a limit to the range of culinary prowess one might hope to acheive, but at least that limit is great enough to avoid complete frustration.
My roommates "Noobie", nicknamed for his naivety, and "Questions", for his incessantly interogative conversation style, are pleasant company. I try to keep them out of too much trouble with medium success.
So, armed with a substantive portfolio, much more (i.e. some) show experience, and boundless confidence, I approached this season's market with an understandably bullish perspective. That perspective soon began to fade.
I was reminded that the Milan I once dreamt of as the center of fashion, culture, and style is really characterized by dog shit, cigarettes and graffiti.
The composite card, "comp", or Z-card, is a model's business card. A 6x8 in. full colour card with typically a head shot on the front and four smaller pics on the back with a model's name, agency, and stats. Its importance cannot be understated. Especialy during show season.
Scads of comp cards are sent to all the designers a couple of weeks before fashion week. From these thousands of cards, the designers pick a few or few hundred they would like to see in person. When I arrived, I was a little dismayed to see a really low quality version of a normally good picture was used on the cover of my comps. The pictures on the back were decent quality, but old.
I should have sent my pictures to Joy ahead of time. Partly by losing track of things, the short time frame between deciding to go to Milan and actually going, and the only recent arrival of some of the photos, I did not get everything to them. They were missing some of the pictures I sent electronically. Next time I know to send physical copies. I also expected Joy to perhaps ask me or my agency at home for material. It reminds you the only person you can count on to look after yourself is you. Needless to say, I generated a lot less interest from the designers this time than I did last time.
Thus begins my frustrating descent into "rejection week". While weighing the pain in my stomach against the pain of paying 4 euros for a piece of dry leather between two drier crusts, I queue with hundreds of beautiful people to be scrutinized, patronized, and disqualified by designers, casting directors, and assistants.
The worst part is when your book meets with approval and you pass to the try-on-the-jacket stage. The jacket fits and you move on to the walk stage. You walk your oft debated, well rehearsed, purposeful and determined promenade down the imaginary catwalk before the distrustful eyes of the selection committee. You wait for the sweet "grazie" in Italian, "merci" in French or "thank-you" in English which politely means, regardless of language, "please fuck-off". You cannot think of a better reply than reciprocating a "thank-you" before turning, book in hand, tail between legs, off to another rejection.
Getting rejected after the walk is the worst because it is one of the few aspects of modelling over which the model has complete control. Actualy, the worst was getting rejected after an approved walk for having hair that was "brute, brute, brute, brute!" or "ugly, ugly, ugly, ugly!" in English. I was too dumbstruck to debate the current state of my hair and the styling possibilities acheivable by a competent hair stylist. Perhaps they were too blinded by the ugliness to think about that themselves.
So I did not get any shows. The small consolation I have is that I got a showroom. It is consolation because I can earn some money and it is difficult to get work at all during this time. It is small because I am trapped in a gallery of clothing all day. I stand and stand and stand at attention for the distribution agent, the designer, and his entourage to poke, prod, and try different suit jackets and coats on me. Lunch (panini) rolls around about 3 pm. Until then I starve.
The designer wanted canvas shoes which I did not have and could not borrow. The only source I could think of has feet a couple of inches shorter than mine. The stores were closed on Sunday, open after I get to the showroom, and close before I leave. So the compromise is barefoot.
In the short breaks between clients on the floor, I scribe this epic tale of adventure on my Sharp Zaurus. If I am lucky, there are no castings at the end of the day and I can rush to the only supermarket in my neighbourhood open until nine. I scan the shelves in vain hoping they have stocked some fresh produce or the yoghurt I like. I can choose from many dried bread things, a myriad olive oils, and plenty of fizzy waters. I cannot, however, find romaine lettuce, tinned salmon, or soy milk in a carton larger than 500 mL.
To avoid the chill, I walk home briskly through the quiet streets and shuttered shop windows. I scan the pavement with my peripheral vision, wincing at the sight and smell of fresh dog waste, but feeling grateful for having avoided the land mine. I skirt the smashed car window. The car is gone, but I am reminded of the car to which it belonged and the gentleman on his phone shaking out the floor mats the night before when the incident was fresh.
I look up and realize I have two more blocks to walk, not one as I thought. However, I eventually reach the apartment and bound up the stairs happy to be home.
The relief is short lived. Despite the elegant finishing, it is still a model apartment. The beatiful leather couch would be a welcoming seat were it not folded out as a third bed. The house is getting messy and I have no more clean clothes for tomorrow. The washing machine may arrive in February. I wash some underwear and a couple of shirts in the bathroom sink.
The specialized bulb in the designer fixture in the bathroom was burned out on arrival. Replacement is unfathomable and defies periodic scrutiny of the well secured enclosure. A halogen desklamp sits precariously in lieu on the edge of the sink. It looks like it wants to fall off and, once in a while, it does.
Noobie tells me the details of how he was mugged the other day and how he found out today all his options were cancelled. Questions recounts a colourful tale of being dropped at the fitting for the Valentino show. His only show and one for which he cancelled his showroom for the day. Now I feel guilty for lamenting about my own daily assignment. At least I am working with nice clients and have my personal safety (touch wood). Despite our misfortune it is still fun to talk joke and unwind.
Being here is not only about the shows. I have seen some new agencies in Paris, London, and Germany, one or some of which will hopefully take me. Then after the shows castings will start again for "normal" jobs and again I am optimistic.
As I post this,I sit on the cold marble floor in the stairwell. Tired but alert in the fridgid temperature. In the darkness, blinded by the glare of my screen and enjoying the spotty Internet access. No connection in the apartment, but better than bleeding money at the Internet cafes.
I shall live to fight another day. In Milan, things get real bad before they suddenly pick up. In fact, I will tell you soon how things are better. Stay tuned. Goodnight, farewell.
Posted by William at 2006年01月20日 23:01
i thoroughly enjoy reading your entries. unlike my endless drivel and attention to detail, your writing style and wry sense of humour serves to glamourize "dog shit, cigarettes and..." what was the last one? roaches? in any case, i admire your sense of adventure SO much that i wish we had met up in the UK or Toronto...wouldve been good times! if you're ever a short flight away, i WILL hop on a plane and visit - i need a vacation (yep, already - barely 3 wks back in school).
Posted by: subha at 2006年01月23日 11:43