Behind the velvet rope stands an army of grey suited followers. “This does NOT look like the fashion crowd?” and being a model, with two highly successful models in tow, I think nothing of strutting to the front of the queue unchallenged as we brush past the velvet rope. Do you hate me yet?
We strut straight to the bar, “Ah here is the fashion crowd.” Photographers, stylists, magazine editors, makeup artists and now a few models who are drinking, smoking and wearing black leather with looks of dysfunctional cool. Ordering wine now Darlinks… “Who is that crowd out there to see?.” They replied “Lord Alan Sugar, they’re filming The Apprentice next door.”
I’m struck by the difference of the two audiences, how organized and clean-cut The Apprentice crowd is, in comparison to the designer stubble on this side. Perching myself with the fashionistas at the bar, I instinctively know which audience I belong to and with not a Croc shoe in sight, I feel MUCH better.
“This deeply dispiriting documentary follows the 13-year-old Nadja on a hopeless journey from her home town in Siberia to Japan and elsewhere after being recruited by a dubious model agency and told to give her age as 15. It’s a tragic story of exploitation and human indifference, and she was fortunate perhaps only to finish up in debt to her employers rather than working as a prostitute or sold to international sex traffickers.”
The Observer- Philip French.
My Dearest Ashley Arbaugh is the scout. We met many years ago when we were both ‘girl models’ in Japan. Taking our first steps on the catwalk of our modeling careers, we used Japan to sharpen our claws and get a crash (and sometimes burn) course in model deportment.
We earned money, learned how to model, we learned the meaning of hard work. Ten-hour photo shoots often ended driving around the streets of Tokyo in a van till the early hours of the morning, doing more castings so we could get more work. I didn’t sleep much on those grueling trips. I slept in trains, planes and in the back of the casting van. It was lonely and hard work, just like any job, it had its downfalls. Either you fit in, or you fell from grace, straight off the catwalk.
Japan was no place to be naive. You had to be as hard as acrylic nails to get anywhere. I saw many girls just break down and cry, being judged on your exterior is draining. Regardless, I spent the next eight years of my career going back and forth to Japan and there is logic behind what seems an unrewarding and chaotic system.
I know there’s nothing sacred about the hyper-competitive modeling industry, the only reward at the end of the day is money, ego or love. For every girl who succeeds in this pony-tail pulling career there must be hundreds maybe even thousands who fail.
In a land of strict clichés and mannerisms you learn the language of subtlety and how to work with insanely talented and bizarre people. If you don’t learn… you don’t earn and get sent home. As for Nadja the language barrier and her tender years would have played a major role in her outcome, but with her striking beauty I’m sure this wont be the last we see of her. These were the first shaky steps of what should be a long catwalk of a career for her and she has all the time in the world to shape the career she wants. She is just a fledgling after all and already the central focus of an award-winning documentary.
Unfortunately this is the ugly business of beautiful women. As for Ashley Arbaugh perhaps she would have been more suited to a more creative career path, but just like the rest of us, was seduced behind the velvet ropes of fashions exclusive allure.