In the mid summer of 1966 I was having a lot of fun. I was an art student, studying fashion illustration in New York City. Because I was so tall and thin, people were constantly encouraging me to try to be a model. I did not think I had a chance, but after a slow start I was accepted by the Ford agency and sent to Paris to pose for the magazines and walk the runway of Pierre Cardin
and Jean Patou
and others. I was under contract to Paris Planning.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
The Paris Planning
agency was on Rue Tronchet
near La Madelaine,
a monumental church with columns. I remember going up an elevator into a beautiful, very Mod office, decorated in a very futuristic style with white walls, gleaming glass, plastic and chrome. They had am overhead slide show of all the models playing, projected on the wall, quite innovative
at the time. Many of the top American models of the day were in the show. They had added my pictures from Mademoiselle. Francois Lano,
the owner, was such a dear, so fastidious and good humored. He was dapper, elegant and well dressed with a little mustache, who treated the models as ladies. Maria was his partner. I remember they were measuring our hips. They were excited about sending me over to Pierre Cardin
for a fitting. I would be modeling his spring 1967 Collection on the runway for private clients, exclusive buyers and the invited World Press. Diana Vreeland
and all the top editors were going to be there, including my editor friends from Mademoiselle, Nonie Moore and Deborah Blackburn.
The photos were to be taken in the evening when the clothes could be borrowed from the designers. They had to be photographed quickly and sent back an hour later. Hundreds of couture dresses were being sent around Paris all through the night by special messengers. Thew would appear in newspapers and magazines through the news bureaus, sometimes the very next day. By dawn all the dresses had to be back and put into order for the fashion show the next day. it was a frantic time, fraught with anxiety. Sometimes an important dress might be lost for awhile or delayed. [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
These pictures have resurfaced today in the book Cardin: 60 Years of Innovation.
In the evenings, Francois told me that Vogue Patterns
had booked me for their selections from the Cardin Collection
, as well as Dior
and Patou, Yves St. Laurent
and more, The photographer was Richard Dormer.
Those pictures are on the Internet in several places today.
With all the new media attention, Cardin needed girls that would look good in the glare of the flashbulbs at the end of the runway. He decided he would have the current crop of new young American cover girls and editorial models, who embodied his idea of the Future. So the opportunity was opening up for more American photo models to conquer the sacred runways of Paris and be featured n the editorial magazines. Forget about the fact that we had no idea how to walk properly. None of us ever did runway in New York. All that mattered is that we would look pretty on camera.
The regular house mannequins were still used for private showings to the actual clients, the aristocrats and movie stars that could afford these super expensive one of a kind fabrications. They hated us for taking their places at the main press show, and we really couldn't blame them. In New York, we had to put up with the influx of Swedish, Danish, German, Dutch, Swiss, French and British models, being imported by the Ford Agency. It was the survival of the fittest. Models were sent to Europe to get tear sheets from European magazines.
There were no model scouts, no great chains of modeling schools, no Internet to post your pictures to. If you wanted to be a model you could find out who was the best agent and send your pictures in. If the agency showed interest you had to pay your own way to New York City and apply at the agency in person. Thing are very different today. There are networks of agencies and websites. There are ways to be seen and evaluated before you even have to leave your own home. Of course one has to be very careful because there are many scams out there. There were scams in my time and even in my Mom's time. She had done some modeling too.
It is important to work with reputable people like Modelwire Network
who will steer you in the right direction and make your photographs available to the best model agencies in the world. I wish there had been something like that when I started modeling 1964.
Linda Morand BLOG