Pricing Beauty: The Making of a Fashion Model

Pricing Beauty: The Making of a Fashion Model

Ashley Mears

Language: English

Pages: 328

ISBN: 0520270762

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Pricing Beauty: The Making of a Fashion Model

Ashley Mears

Language: English

Pages: 328

ISBN: 0520270762

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Sociologist Ashley Mears takes us behind the brightly lit runways and glossy advertisements of the fashion industry in this insider’s study of the world of modeling. Mears, who worked as a model in New York and London, draws on observations as well as extensive interviews with male and female models, agents, clients, photographers, stylists, and others, to explore the economics and politics—and the arbitrariness— behind the business of glamour. Exploring a largely hidden arena of cultural production, she shows how the right “look” is discovered, developed, and packaged to become a prized commodity. She examines how models sell themselves, how agents promote them, and how clients decide to hire them. An original contribution to the sociology of work in the new cultural economy, Pricing Beauty offers rich, accessible analysis of the invisible ways in which gender, race, and class shape worth in the marketplace.

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reported campaign rates of $50,000 and rumors of exclusive fragrance contracts with houses such as Dior for $100,000. The consistent money is in the commercial sphere. Catalogs, showrooms, and commercial print advertisements provide the bulk of a model’s income. Catalog work is the “bread and butter” of a modeling career, with day rates that begin at $1,000/day for new models, peak at $20,000/day for top models, and average about $3,000/day for most. Catalog retailers often book models

models are the mainstay of any agency. They have a malleable look that can be edgy enough for a magazine and classically relatable for catalog clients. If the editorial model is broke but cool and the purely commercial model is rich and dull, then the majority of models are a mix of both. Lopping off the two extreme ends of earnings are the majority of models who do middle-range magazine editorial shoots and make middle-range earnings. They shoot for commercial fashion magazines such as Elle and

in some “genetic lottery,” as though their bodies were superior gifts of nature that automatically receive social recognition, and, indeed, some evolutionary psychologists echo this view.10 Such explanations of the deservingly triumphant cannot account for the physical outliers— people such as Kate Moss, who at 5'6," is short by model standards, or Sophie Dahl, who reached fashion fame at a size 10, rather heavy compared to her catwalk counterparts. Nor does talent account for the hundreds of

have to show the clothes. It’s, I guess, less “prestigious” than the other boards. . . . But also of my division, the girls are more commercial looking. They might be more mainstream pretty, but less interesting perhaps, less editorial, whatever [rolls eyes]. (Bre, New York booker) Metro’s Showroom board is quietly referred to among other agents as the “B-level” models, because their portfolios feature tear sheets from 132 | The Tastemakers the likes of Parade and Redbook magazines. But

what makes a girl “right” for the moment, Heather is at a loss for words. Scouts like Heather have a difficult time explaining their work. A look either makes sense to them or it doesn’t, and this they know because their “eye” tells them so. To a booker, having an eye is having the ability to spot models, envision their future career possibilities, and match them to clients. It is a learned skill, a form of cultivated knowledge similar to The Tastemakers | 133 what journalists might call a

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