Tuesday, June 7, 2011
After three months of living in another country, acclimation is only natural. Whether it’s in inhaling easier after a 5 mile—perdon, 8 kilometer—run in Denver-high altitudes (sans the fresh mountain air), haggling in another language, or merely picking up on intonations previously missed. Being 10 minutes late to everything. Esquinas and colonias instead of cross streets and neighborhoods. Carrying a running conversation (in Spanish) about the pros and cons of black market DVDs and plans for the evening.
And so, acclimating becomes simply living. And just as you adapt to a new environment, you hone the intricacies of a new job (I hesitate to say career, per modeling’s premature lifespan). One of the most common questions models receive about this particular lifestyle—selling one’s image for a living—is what it is exactly they do. Those unaware usually draw comparisons to a show helmed by the likes of one Tyra Banks, or, worse, assume I’m being finagled into some kind of underground sex trade (No manches. This really happened with my first taxi driver in New York). But, simply put, it's glorified freelancing—except you have your agent working hard to pitch clients directly. Still considered an "independent contractor" on your tax return, you're still hawking your "talents," they're just those of a different sort.
Mexico, as I mentioned in my last post, is a smaller market than most, so work so far has varied. There aren’t as many different types of models to go around here, so jobs—such as catalogs, editorials, runways shows, and the like—intermingle. Last night, I was up until 4:30 AM filming as an extra in a telenovela in full sequined, falsh-eyelashed regalia (for those who aren’t familiar with the extra-queso, way more awesome rendition of the American soap opera, I highly recommend a night of Televisa as a primer.) Earlier the same day, I booked an editorial for a magazine I absolutely adore. Unpredictable, but always interesting.
But one of my great joys as someone who, as a journalist, earns her keep on curiosity, is discovering new talent. One of my most beloved jobs so far happened on a simple Saturday, 4 blocks from my house, for the organization Compra Moda Nacional, who aims to helping local designers find a platform for the international scene. Contrary to the snark above, Mexico is pretty dense with talent, if you know where to look, and they do—forget blinding hues and mariachi-inspired ensembles; clean silhouettes, sophisticated color palettes, and the out-there thinking needed to make it in the fashion industry are all present in full. Locally produced publications such as Revista 192, Nylon Mexico, and Spot, as well as Oscar de la Renta’s recent visit/show here and the omnipresence of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, reinforce its sartorial cred.
But misconceptions about this country, as you already know, run far deeper than what to wear. In my next story about life here, I’ll detail the cultural, historical, and interpersonal aspects I’ve been able to probe so far. This is Culture Lust, after all. What questions do you have about Mexico?