Saturday, March 31, 2007

Roxanne


Photographer: Norine Perreault

Roxanne
You don't have to put on the red light
Those days are over
You don't have to sell your body to the night

Roxanne
You don't have to wear that dress tonight
Walk the streets for money
You don't care if it's wrong or if it's right

Roxanne
You don't have to put on the red light
So put away your make up……


Ten days of an unforgiving schedule of the New York collections and another week of trying to shoot the cover of Tatler Magazine for Asia, on an extended bout of the flu, I finally sit down to watch the Grammy awards. There was much excitement, as Sting and the Red Hot Chili Peppers were going to perform live. As Sting was singing this hit from the Police, I finally get it! I felt a sense of comfort envelop me, as I listen to the words and kept singing them to myself. “Put away your make-up. Put away your make-up.”

After I retired as a model and was going around with Elsa Klensch of Style CNN, to the backstage of major fashion shows in Paris, London, Milan and New York, it was a revelation to me how much I was welcomed and accepted by the fashion designers and the fashion people I have worked with for many years. Each and everyone of the designers, even the big names like Karl Lagerfeld, Jean Paul Gaultier, Gianfranco Ferre, etc…acknowledged me and made the extra effort to comment on my presence. I told Elsa that I was pleasantly surprised. Here is what she told me. “Fashion people are comforted to see me. They feel that if I am okay, they will be okay, as well.” In a business where people are hanging on by the thread of ‘you’re IN or you’re OUT’, seeing someone move on and do very well seems commendable.

Retiring, or stopping whatever it is you used to do is difficult whether it is your choice or not. Habits are hard to be broken. Even older people in their golden years who are tired of working will miss their daily routine. Throwing myself into the fashion scene once again, I had to conform, but I did it with detachment. Yes, I had to look fashionable but as Sting says, “I did not have to put the red light on.” Funny, for someone who always tore up pictures or polaroids that did not present me in a good light, I was more tolerant of my failings this time. I had to interview girls that were probably 25 years younger than me. I would cringe when my cameraman, Mark Walker, would say, “move closer” so my face is framed with 16 and 17 year old girls’ faces - a tight shot. Oh no! My wrinkles, my age spots, my eyebags, my loose pores…. I did it anyway, with no fear.

How does it feel to know that you are not the most beautiful in a picture or a frame, when you are trained to be the most beautiful? How does it feel to be the foliage in a flower bouquet, the baby’s breath around the red roses, when you used to be the center flower? Well, now I know. Yes, we will all be in a different station in our lives, one way or another. But to face this fact 'full frontal' is a revelation. When I retired and the ‘model mafia’ of Linda, Naomi, Christy took over, I told myself that “What ever is happening to me will happen to all the girls…even Naomi.” It is an inevitable fact. Some fare better than others but it will come, just the same.

It is not enough that I had to agree to put myself in a tight television frame with 17 year old girls. Now I have to shoot a magazine cover while I am completely sick with bronchitis. It was a challenge. I knew my energy level would be low even though I could put it on anytime. My first shoot was a walk up to the 5th floor. “God, why are you punishing me this way?” As I was navigating the stairwell, one step at a time, I could feel the wheezing in my lungs.
I was very thankful that the photo shoot crew was very professional and the photographer, Norrine Perrault, a couture model from the 50’s, who worked for Jacques Fath was very pleasant and not so demanding. Kevin Mcqueen, the make-up artist is an old acquaintance and, the sweet Japanese hairdresser was as quiet as a lamb. I only lost my temper with the stylist who did not do her homework. She called the day before to ask me what I think would be needed for the shoot. I told her a basic white shirt. Well, she brought 4 of them that looked really ratty and not my style at all. Still, I tried to be very patient with this stylist. However, I reached the limit of tolerance when I put on a signature red Valentino couture gown, which I brought, and she brings out a cheap white fur stole for the shot. Somehow, I know Valentino would crucify me if I let this happen. Valentino's clothes do not even need a model sometimes. His clothes are so exquisite and beautiful by themselves on a clothes hanger. And this stylist wants me to wear a white stole ...for what? To cover the perfect lines of the garment? (You can always mix and match, but always with taste.) Now my diva fangs came out and I berated her in front of everyone. “Please do your homework.” "If you want to dress me, you better get to know me." “Do yourself a big favor and google me."


A photographer has to orchestrate a combination of elements into one picture...hopefully a great one. These elements are: model pose, model energy, perfect make-up, perfect hair, styling that works, light and shadow, the mood, angle and perspective. Meaning, each hair in place, flawless make-up, the right lighting and the perfect angle, the exact glint in the eye of the model. A perfect picture happens in singular moments. It is best if at that very moment when a photographer can capture that perfect picture, all the other elements are perfect too....then magic happens.

A great picture only happens when everyone is on the same page; a photoshoot has to have great teamwork. Everybody in a photoshoot should do their jobs to perfection and JUST MAYBE…there will be a magical moment and the picture will look fabulous. When one party in a photoshoot slacks, there will be problems in the picture. And it is a pity, because maybe you have a great picture but the hair is in the face or the garment does not fit, or the lips are too red, or the model blinked. The stylist finally redeemed herself by adroitly taping the gown on me. Once the pictures go to the discerning eyes of magazine editors, the picture that will be chosen is the one with the least flaws and the most dynamic. So it is really the goal of a photo shoot to have the most number of pictures to choose from.

I really did not expect much from this photo shoot because as a model, you can always almost feel when it is a good shoot or not. I was skeptical that we would find a cover from this shoot because after working for many years and working with the very best photographers, lighting comes to me instinctively. The lighting was not set up for a cover shoot. Norrine, the photographer, kept asking me to look towards the light. I know this will never make the cover so I kept reminding her it is a cover shoot but I think her motivation was to get a good editorial picture. Covers need to have eye contact with the lens. I played along because in a photoshoot, photographers are the like conductors of an orchestra or the directors of a movie. They see the picture on the lens, while I, as a model, have only a instinctive visual imprint in my head.

When I saw the stills, one picture jumped out. I love this picture. I was really pleasantly surprised, for here was a magic moment. The perfect hand movement, feet off the ground as if I am floating, face relaxed, no tension on the mouth, splendid lighting, hair in place, great natural make-up. The best thing about this picture is that something is happenning.

Gown by Yuki Yao

Even if I have put away my make-up for a long stretch…I am consoled by the thought that I could still take good pictures. Even though I don't want to sell myself as a model anymore, I can still 'do classic'. No plastic surgery, no exercise, my undeniably more matured (a euphemism for older) looks.
I can ......

put away my make-up…..put away my make-up….

I don't have to put on the red light.........put on the red
light.

20 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow... that photograph is incredible. I love how you can recognize that you're no longer in the same league as those 17 year olds. Its always an awkward and pitiful moment when you see someone trying to be something they're not. I can only hope that I will be blessed to age as gracefully as you have.

9:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MS. BAYLE...YOU STILL GOT! THESE YOUNG GIRLS HAVE MUCH TO LEARN FROM YOU. YOU LOOK AMAZING...AS YOU SAID, YOU ARE A CLASSIC. BEING AN OLDER FASHIONISTA, I LONG FOR THE DAYS WHEN YOU AND YOUR FELLOW UBER DIVAS RULED THE CATWALKS AND PAGES OF COUNTLESS FASHION MAGAZINES! ....HERE COMES ANNA, FOLLOWED BY DALMA, KIRAT, MOUNIA, IMAN, MARPESSA, DIANNE.....

3:58 PM  
Blogger Gautam said...

MS. BAYLE...YOU STILL GOT! THESE YOUNG GIRLS HAVE MUCH TO LEARN FROM YOU. YOU LOOK AMAZING...AS YOU SAID, YOU ARE A CLASSIC.
gautam Chaudhury

1:15 AM  
Anonymous Elgar Esteban said...

Anna,

I can relate to what you said about the shoot being a teamwork. Every person should really do their homework. You look amazing in the pictures you posted.

Elgar

6:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw Pat Cleveland at a Stephen Burrows Video Fashion episode last week on TV. She was there to support her daughter who was walking for Stephen. Let me tell you, that apple didn't fall far from the apple tree. She reminded me of you. Models who have personalities.

Love this post Anna. Kudos!! You should visit thefashionspot.com and read how your countless fans still discuss you and your achievements with awe. Of course, there are detractors which is to be expected. A couple of them even had the nerve to proclaim that Du Juan is the first Asian Supermodel. Oh puuuhleeeeeze!! She's a lovely girl but she ain't no Anna Bayle. She'll be a lucky girl if she can achieve a fourth of your achievements by the time her shelf life is over.

7:29 PM  
Blogger ilovesecondhandsmoke said...

Sooooooooo beautiful even with your 'more matured looks'.

7:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful. And what a body. You are ageless.
I hope your show materializes soon, we want to see you on TV!

10:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ms. Anna, it would be great to see you on TV! For instance, as a guest judge on America's Next Top Model-imparting your wealth of knowledge and experience to these newer generation of uninformed and careless young model wannabees...not to mention seeing your beauty on TV as a different perspective-afterall, you are the world's first Asian Supermodel! This photo of you is amazing-I echo the anonymous poster's comments by saying-Ms.Bayle, you still got it!!!

Nim

11:32 PM  
Blogger Deepa said...

that is a gorgeous dress. this photograph makes me want to whip out a sketchbook and start drawing, even if i know next to nothing about designing.

11:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi anna

you are in a league all your own....you uplift the pinays of the world with your intellect. you are not just "beauty but brains" as well....more power to you and please come out with a book with your pictures in your early modeling days. im sure it will sell like hotcakes. im first in line to buy it. ricky

5:53 PM  
Anonymous Rebecca Domingo said...

Hi Anna, I remember your Mother from days past when she used to take you to PSHS on the odd occasion; I am a batch ahead of you. I used to admire her beauty, while we were gangly teenagers, and now I see you've grown to look a lot like her. Long live and all the best, Rebecca

12:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that's a lovely dress! and i love the way you wore it and the way the picture was taken.. it's indeed beautiful :)

2:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

awmygawd!....this is well written and well put....love it love it love it..and your HAIR....so beautiful and it totally softens up the look of the bold black applique/print on your dress..and you face juts out with the perfect strong jawline placement to balance the otherwise loud full effect of the dress...BRAVO for this shoot...MAGICAL

2:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Miss Bayle you were certainly ahead of your time and I appreciate your modesty and personae as the World's First Asian Supermodel. You are still beautiful and graceful inside and out.

8:03 PM  
Blogger Malyne said...

Anna, you make us so proud to be Filipina! Malyne Fernandez

8:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW!!'

12:07 AM  
Blogger Martin And Melson Forever said...

Wow. I'm proud of you Anna.

7:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

gone are the days when the graceful walk and regal look of anna, iman and dalma were the norm in the runways. kate moss' waif look started it all... now, the feet-stumping walk and the blank, stunned, jaded and stoned faces of the new generation of models abound. pity! -mike amor, m.d.

6:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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2:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really liked the article, and the very cool blog

12:05 AM  

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