Life Drawing Class
Jade ‘o’ Belle
Robert George Sanders
Clothing & Creative Direction:
Michaela Stark (represented by TL Paris)
Cameraman: Rob Lewis
Daniel Del Valle
Juan Anguera Olmo
Laia Lykke De Lemos
It’s not easy being a life drawing model. In fact, I would say it is one of the most difficult forms of modelling. It requires an intense amount of inner core strength to hold yourself in position for 15 minutes at a time, in silence, while the class takes their time to study your every curve.
It’s also not easy wearing a corset, especially one that is designed to reshape your body and accentuate your curves in such an extreme way.
So, to ask these models to sit still for an entire hour in shape shifting corsetry, in front of a room full of people intimately studying their body - their curves, hair, waistlines, stomach, legs, or whatever part of their body that they may have felt insecure about or at least at one stage in their life have gone out of their way to hide - was a big ask. I couldn’t just ask any model to be a part of a show like this. It was important to consider really deeply the models that would want to be a part of the show. Models who, like me, get off on wearing these kinds of provocative clothing. Who get a sense of power from the tight and restrictive lingerie that I create, as well as the in-your-face, risqué, ugly beautiful kind of glamour that I adore so much.
Kevin, Dodo, Jade and Robert were the perfect fit.
I remember in the actual show, about 5 minutes into our first 15 minute session, I could feel Kevin next to me shaking like a chihauhua, very clearly in pain. Hahahah. Me, I was sweating and wondering how long I could last before passing out, making grunts under my breath every so often to try to create a sense of solidarity between the models - and also just to let them know just how much it was hurting, with Dodo on the other side of me, just replying ‘mmmmhm’ under her breath in agreement.
That night, Kevin and I were looking over the footage from the show and were surprised by how graceful and in control we looked. I thought for sure we would be showing signs of discomfort, but actually we look .. dare I say .. effortless! Haha
It’s quite common for people to make comments to me about how uncomfortable my work looks, and I usually laugh it off because my work is not really uncomfortable. Even if, (occasionally, in extreme cases, like this show) it can be painful, I always feel so empowered wearing it that I honestly don't even notice. I think one thing I learnt from this performance is that being physically uncomfortable isn’t really the point, and was never the biggest focus for us. It’s not about not making the models uncomfortable. Being physically uncomfortable is inevitable in almost any show, especially ones like this.
It’s about casting the right people and honouring and respecting those people. It’s about listening to them, and collaborating with them on the looks. We did this every step of the way, with styling, makeup and hair. Even the set was designed for the models to make us feel as empowered as possible.
The photography as well - I tried to make sure the models were as in control of their own bodies as possible, and just hired a cameraman as the "photographer" so that he could keep the camera in focus and we could take our own self portraits, using a monitor.
All of these steps are really important when working with models in such a sensitive way. You have to remember that our bodies are ours, and that each model has own their visions and fantasy’s for themselves. It’s so important when using models like us, whether you are the designer, creative director, make up artist, photographer, stylist, hair stylist, even the set designer, you understand this.