Fewer than 100 women in the world have the potential to be a Victoria’s Secret model. Prospective models face fierce competition and must meet specific requirements to become a Victoria’s Secret “angel.” But the few women that manage to overcome the harsh scrutiny often become some of the most well-known faces in the modeling industry and have long careers in one of fashion’s most elite companies.
Height, Measurements and Age Requirements
With height requirements starting at the high fashion rate of 5 feet 8 inches, a five-sixer like myself isn’t typically considered for Victoria’s Secret. However, for brands primarily selling lingerie, an hourglass figure is preferred. Models with a 34-inch bust, a 24-inch waist and 34-inch hips are the most desired and even a slight variation is acceptable if the model possesses other more desirable attributes, such as a beautiful face. Is there still a chance for me?
Take away a point for height, but add one for measurements and another for the right face, it seams I do still have a chance. However, age is still a major issue. Victoria’s Secret looks for models with longevity, so older models are typically not considered, unless they are already established in the fashion industry. Focusing on the younger side of the pendulum, new Victoria’s Secret models are between 18 and 22. I can pass for 22, I’m sure. If I had the pictures, or the energy to put into more photos that showed off my physic, I may be able to prove whether age really is an issue for this particular client. My dear 33 year old friend changed her Model Mayhem profile to 24 years old and she gets way more hits than she ever did before. I shall test this theory on Model Mayhem myself, in my own market, and report on it’s truth.
While appearing mainly in magazines, Victoria’s Secret models have the help of Photoshop. But on the runway, those models must be in top physical condition to strut the revealing lingerie in high heels and on live television. You don’t get smooth skin, a toned body, and glossy hair by doing nothing when you’re not in your 20’s anymore. These attributes are possible for an older model, however, they come at a higher price. Each person is allotted the same amount of time every day, and what we do with that time is a matter of priority. Work, school, family, and other dreams and aspirations come into play. It takes time to be physically active and eat healthy, and being in top physical shape in your 30’s means to sacrifice other important things, like family and work. Another point against me.
Still, the most important part of a Victoria’s Secret model’s appearance is her face. Full lips, a small nose, high cheekbones and chiseled features are common amongst the Victoria’s Secret models. But is that enough? After 6 weeks of training my body to fit the competition, and then trying to maintain a perfect body thereafter, I know for my own sanity and self esteem- the answer is no.
Necessary when becoming a Victoria’s Secret model is an agent. The two agencies that handle most of the Victoria’s Secret models are Elite Model Management and Ford Modeling Agency. Most Victoria’s Secret models are considered through the recommendation of their agent, whom negotiates their contracts for them. Since Victoria’s Secret will not work with a model who does not have an agent, getting your foot in the door will be a challenge. Any client with such specific requirements has their reasons, but it is my work to find the answers to why they have chosen these requirements, and how to evolve them.
Understand that while modeling for Gucci or Prada would be ideal, it is unwise to start at this point. Most high-fashion does not pay because of it’s prestigious place in the industry. Most models trade this work out because looks good in their portfolio. To designers, this is no secret. Gucci and Prada pay well, but the competition is hot. A good way to look at it is the 80/20 rule. Twenty percent of paid bookings are high-fashion and eighty percent are commercial. Eighty percent of commercial bookings will be paid work and twenty percent of high-fashion bookings will be paid work. Commercial bookings pay a lower dollar amount than high-fashion but the bookings are more frequent. Is it more important for you to work to get paid or is it more important to add more photos to your portfolio (trade-for-print)?
If you’ve developed your portfolio book already, there’s no need for you to continue doing trade unless it’s for a well-known brand and you can get a tear from it. Abercrombie, for example, doesn’t pay their models because they know they have enough people that would be willing to do trade-for-print. Another benefit of TFP is if you have a full portfolio already, but it’s missing a particular look for a market you’re trying to break into. These two examples are great ways for you to receive the images you need and submit yourself to a target client.
Now, you won’t want to consider all paid bookings. What if a company is willing to pay you a fee but their product is intimate apparel? Are you prepared to model in your skivvies? If so, you’ll want to make sure they’re willing to pay a higher rate- your rate for that type of work.
Establish a minimum day and hourly rate that is worth your time. You’ll also want to increase this amount as your time gets more valuable- say, when you start getting a lot of paid bookings. Say you’re day rate is $200 for an 8 hour “day rate”. This would make your hourly rate $25. Most models-and agents- require a minimum number of paid hours in order to accept a booking. You may want require a client to book you for a minimum of 2-4 hours for it to be worth your time. Consider you’ll have to travel, make arrangements in your schedule, and cover expenses, for example. Know where you draw the line before negotiating so you don’t end up regretting it when you accept your next booking.
Sustainable Modeling: modeling where age and other stereotypes don’t matter
The career of a model is short lived and usually only lasts until the early 20’s. Has the industry develop this standard or did women drop out of the race when they became older?
My experience so far has been that you get to a certain age where things become more difficult and you have to work harder to be what you were in your 20’s. Staying in shape and being fit takes more effort. Looking healthy is a bigger challenge. I don’t know that many people who will work too hard on the way they look. But I am determined to try. Not only to see if it’s possible, but to see if we can push the industry away from having beauty be determined by youth. Youth is determined by the amount of wrinkles and sun spots you have- not by how beautiful you are. Next week, a local T.V. station will be screening a film series on the harsh realities of youth in the modeling industry.
Can I still have wrinkles and be considered beautiful? Designers have produced some images that have tested this theory. The results have proven that it doesn’t hurt a brand if the image is good enough. I would like to contact some of them directly and see if I can get an interview on the subject. For now…
Everything has to be so perfect in every way and is very oriented towards something unattainable. Celia Peterson of Eco Verse -a sustainability company, says organic and sustainable beauty is something that values signs of life and living, growth, and personality, rather than a synthetic doll. It creates poverty of the whole idea of beauty, and like art, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
What benefit do we get from someone else telling us what beauty is? Actually, there is no scarcity of beauty in the world, at all. Stylist Tyson Daniels says, “There’s no such thing as an ugly woman- just a lazy one.” Still, recreation and decompression need proper balance, and that’s where the organic part comes into play. Plus, with organic beauty, many of these designers can finally move their marketing campaigns to the next level.