In terms of work here, The French Way means my bookers call to ask me whether I can make it to a new casting (note: this may just be the delightful team at Major Paris), rather than texting me to go to one. People take LUNCH BREAKS, often an hour long - on set this entails the entire team breaking together and sitting down to eat. Which is not to say that I've never found myself standing on set eight hours into the day, stomach growling, while the rest of the crew stood behind the photographer with plates of food in their hands; however, I find such occasions to be particularly rare in Paris. If New York taught me how to get a million and one things done in a single day, Paris has taught me the importance of life's daily pleasures; food, drink (coffee is the favorite here but I stick to tea and mineral water), and good conversation, amongst others.
I find it easy to lose touch with important things in my life - things like friends, family, study, and creative outlets - while abroad, allowing work (the only reason I've ever gone abroad, after all) to take absolute priority over everything. While it's difficult to do anything more than make it to ten castings, three fittings, and two shows in one day during fashion week, I always try to remain present to things that bring me joy outside of work. It is when all aspects of my life intermingle that my experience of it becomes most colourful. As George Bernard Shaw said, "life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself." While my bookers may create my work schedule, I create my life, and within my life: myself. I am deeply grateful to have gained a greater understanding of this idea here in Montmartre, the historic neighborhood of Paris' famous painters. A big, big thank you to Matteo at Major for inviting me to Paris is due (and to the entire team for bringing me back). Merci, Thank You, Grazie.
My booker Julien sent me a text message last week that I think is worth quoting here; "If I was to do an interview about my job and someone said what is your ultimate pet hate I'd say 'girls who don't answer their phone' So girlfriend, turn your ringer on loud, stick it to your forehead, find a way, but for Christ sake answer your phone when I call!!!"
I'd been aboveground (there's no cell service on the tube in London, unlike on the Paris metro) for thirty minutes, and definitely should have checked my phone, when I strolled into my agency to see Julien, only to have him refuse to speak to me until I'd read my messages. Woops. Request casting for Burberry, and only an hour left to make it (as aforementioned, this is often the amount of time it takes to get anywhere at all in the city). I arrived well before the hour was up, nice and sweaty from my speed walking due to uncharacteristically warm London weather.
Ten minutes later I found myself decked out in Burberry having makeup applied on-set (and still sweating).
The makeup application was actually rather unnecessary, considering that the entire shoot was for Burberry accessories and I will be completely unrecognizable in the photos. Nevertheless, it was pretty surreal to leave the house for a day of castings and end up on a Burberry set working alongside the brand's campaign stylist and models I consider to be Burberry-regulars (models who have done the campaign or worked for the brand regularly).
One day turned into four—four days spent in one of the most delightful working environments I have ever had the good fortune to happen upon. The people were delightful, the studio was well-heated, and the catering was, well, catering! Working with seven other Burberry-employed models gave me great insight into England's fashion industry, social intricacies, and vernacular (to 'munch' is to eat, to 'march' is to walk quickly, and 'safe' is a way of saying 'cool' or 'all good'). One shocking thing I discovered: for some models, the kind of set we had at Burberry—something I regard as a rare and almost dreamlike occurrence—is the norm. Cue look of utter disbelief.
These four days were quickly followed by two days' unpaid work which left me chilled to the bone—thank you, freezing studios and outdoor shoots in unfavorable weather conditions—and with a case of nasal congestion which even my hearing finds offensive. I pity anyone who has spoken to me via Skype in the last twenty-four hours.
When I haven't been working, I've found myself traipsing about to a surprising number of hair castings—this, I've discovered to be due to the upcoming British Hair Awards. I also had the weekend off—and what a weekend it was! In typical London fashion (as legend holds) Saturday and Sunday were punctuated by torrential downpours. This put a damper on my sightseeing plans but served wonderfully in providing the background music to the five yoga and meditation classes I attended over the weekend. The yoga mat is somewhere that I get a strong sense of home and happiness, and what better way to spend a rainy weekend then getting in touch with my bliss!
The second most jaw-dropping experience of my past week or so (after the realization that 'Burberry Dream Set' translates to 'Normal Day at Work' for some models) was the interior of the British Library. In a fit of post-casting speed walking I had managed to make it to the entrance half an hour before closing. I set eyes on what lay inside, and the security man at the front door actually laughed out loud at my expression of ecstatic glee. A COPY OF EVERY BOOK PUBLISHED IN BRITAIN! Hallelujah! This was also my first sightseeing venture; hopefully a taste of many delightful moments to come. After making the rounds to a few more hair castings, that is.
Until next time, from the land of awesome accents or wherever I may be,
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