Friday, June 22, 2007

Bloom Where You Are

Maxine Whitney at the Cherry Blossom Esplanade, Brooklyn Botanical Gardens

Seasons come. Seasons go. There is only one prerequisite to being a model - and that is to be beautiful.

Seasoned models are models who do the whole circuit, meaning Milan, Paris, London, New York - twice a year. Spring-Summer and then Fall-Winter (the latter being the stronger season of the two). And the models who are really honed and who have their thumbs on the pulse of fashion are those that do both ready to wear collections and couture collections - the ones that do the circuit 4 times a year. These models who do both series of collections absorb the fast pace of fashion change and whether they know it or not, embody which way fashion is turning. You will see it in the way they dress – the coats they wear (current shapes), the colors they wear (current moods), their skirt lengths (the latest styles), the shoes they wear, etc. They are called ‘clothes hangers’, which they are indeed, and seasoned models’ clothing are a good benchmark for what is in fashion.

The work of a model is both simple and difficult at the same time because the key to being a successful one is the discipline involved in being a professional. I say it is simple because once you have all the discipline (the difficult part) down…it really comes down to one single element…beauty.

Is beauty easy to come by? Yes, if we are talking about superficial beauty. A person with great genes will always be a presence people would want to look at. But beauty that glows, beauty that strikes us and touches something inside us and makes us want to see more, does not come often. Like women who are in love, women who are pregnant, brides, etc.. These are particular moments in a woman’s life where all the hormones conspire to make the bearer distinguishable from the rest; eyes shine brightly, skin is just flawless, hair is healthy and luminescent, lips are full, cheeks are naturally rosy. To look like that blooming rose every season is a challenge for models.

Most models take their vacation immediately AFTER the collections. I have a different take on that. I took my holidays just BEFORE the collections. Why, because I had to make sure that I had that wholesome, ‘rested look’, that my skin is glimmering from a new tan, that I am reborn and refreshed from my recent holiday. That even if there is chaos around me when the fashion shows start, I am relaxed and in a better frame of mind. While everyone is harried, tense and ready to explode, I, on the contrary, am the epitome of calm. I am self-assured, secure, and irreproachable. You have to have that kind of strength so you are not easily swayed or 'got off your game' by intrigues, by fashion people treating you badly and most of all, to exude and maintain your confidence. Because as you all know, the moment you get angry, your face muscles tense up and you get ugly. It is just a nuance, but all photographers will tell you that it is significant. They know when a model is tense or not happy because the face is not relaxed. Everything registers on the face, unless you are a poker player, and even then, there are telltale signs.

It was very important for me to go away and feel good before the collections. First of all, one needs all that grooming – the spas, the exfoliation of dead cells, the treatment of one’s hair. Then there is the quiet time to regroup and feel ‘tight’ with oneself. To feel that one is in control of one’s destiny - of making goals and of having the determination to stay with those goals.

And the most important reason for me to travel before the collections, is the opportunity to be inspired. I will always treasure this gift of travel; to see something new that will give you the impetus to create. I always love traveling to new places and to discover,feel and breathe the beauty from everywhere.

My holidays, dictated my moods for the season. For instance, I loved going to Bali, because I am able to understand what a princess is suppose to be (as in Balinese princess). Fantasy, yes… but necessary for the ego-driven world of fashion that I chose to belong to and aspire to excel within.
Sometimes, when I am in Mexico, the romance from the boleros of the mariachi bands make me feel romantic. There are visual, auditory clues for me when I travel that I pick up and use when I am modeling.

To have an encyclopedia of those ‘feel good’ emotions is a good tool for a model, so you can project them whenever you are on the runway or on a photo set. Designers will give you a gamut of various clothing styles and provide you with music to walk by to determine moods they want you to project. You can tap into your most recent inspirations from your travels and use them to portray what is asked of you, much like actresses.

Coming out of a Giorgio Sant’Angelo show, whose designs were all body hugging coordinates, Peter Beard, the famous photographer once said to me, “Enjoy the peak of your beauty.” I know it was a very kind compliment but I was a little disturbed because the statement infered that there is an end. I would like to think that a woman's beauty is a cycle with peaks and valleys. Around the same time, I met Anne Lyon, who is a good friend of Peter Beard and having a ‘girls talk’ one day, I could never forget what she shared with me, something her grandmother.taught her.
“Anna, bloom where you are.”

Wherever you are, at whatever station of life you are in, bloom right there and then. Now, I think of the different seasons, and blossoms opening up to grace the world with their beauty. It is not limited to age, not limited to time, not limited to what you do or are. It is just, as women, we can slowly open up anytime and show our beauty.

Much has been said about me these days after the Tatler cover and cover story and my 4 page spread in an Asian magazine, Metro; many commending me and I am sure, some detractors, as well. I think it is normal not to be liked by everyone. What is important is that whatever stage we are in as a woman, we open up and bloom where we are. It is not for us to wilt when we are not watered, or loose our petals and dry up. It is not for us to expose ourselves in scorching sunlight to be burned, nor be in a small pot where we cannot grow our roots. We must find that which gives us water and sustenance whether it be motherhood, a passion, an exciting endeavor, a business enterprise. We must find a healthy balance with all those good nutritious elements and ….we must bloom where we are.

With that note: I am going on a 2 month tour of Asia and will be posting from wherever I am.
The summer of 2007