When aspiring models think of their future, many of them may envision the type of success that coined the term ‘supermodel‘. A supermodel is a model who has reached the highest levels of fame and fortune; they become a household name. Supermodels always work in high-fashion and are sought by the biggest and most popular publications and fashion designers around the world.
But what makes a supermodel so super, and what can a regular aspiring model do to reach such dizzying levels of success? Read on to find out what it takes to become a supermodel.
Top UK Supermodels
– Kate Moss
– Naomi Campbell
– Jourdan Dunn
– Cara Delevingne
– Rosie Huntington-Whitley
– Erin O’Connor
– Karen Elson
– David Gandy
– Lisa Snowdon
Model Vs Supermodel – What’s the Difference?
First, let’s take a look at what the difference is between a regular model and a supermodel.
As we mentioned before, a supermodel always works in high-fashion. High-fashion models are also known as runway models because they’re the models seen on the catwalks at fashion weeks.
A supermodel is deemed ‘super’ once they become recognisable the world over. They make vast amounts of money and are easily recognised, much like a pop star or Hollywood actor. Fame can depend on many factors; a lot of supermodels are related or friends with other famous people or are born into rich, famous families. Some are in the right place at the right time.
To work in high-fashion, a model must meet extremely strict physical standards to even be considered. These standards include:
– Being at least 5’8 if you’re a woman, and 5’11 is you’re a man
– Women must fit into a UK size 6-8 clothing
– Having a proportional, hourglass figure
– Women must have a bust–waist–hips measurement close to 34″-24″-34″. In the high fashion world, anything above that is considered plus-size. (In commercial modelling, a size 14 and over is considered plus-size) .
Of course, there are some supermodels who were able to break the strict requirements and achieve success in spite of them. Kate Moss is a good example; at only 5’7″ tall, she is considered short for a high-fashion model. Unfortunately, these break through models are incredibly few and far between. The majority of supermodels meet the required criteria.
Meeting the Criteria for High-Fashion
Even if you do meet all these criteria, it doesn’t mean you’ll find it easy to get into high-fashion modelling. It is an extremely competitive industry and you still need that ‘je ne sais quoi’ thing that makes you really stand out and photograph well.
Being in high-fashion doesn’t mean you need perfect teeth or to be considered conventionally attractive; in fact, some brands and modelling agencies like to hire more unusual-looking models. But you do need to be hard-working, and you need to possess that certain something that pulls attention and draws a crowd. You need to walk well and look great in clothing. You also need to photograph well; you’d be surprised how many attractive people do not come across on camera well.
Becoming a Supermodel
First thing’s first; you need to become a model before you can even think about being a supermodel. There are several ways you can become a model:
Get Signed to a Modelling Agency
If you’re serious about the business of modelling, you’ll need a reputable agency to sign you. The theory of this is relatively simple, but unfortunately, it can be quite difficult to attract the attention of an agency. They receive thousands of applications each week and you need to stand out from all of them.
You can find hundreds of agencies online – they’ll all have a website. Your first job is to research all the agencies you like the look of (try researching your favourite models and find out who they are signed with). Then you need to decide if your look suits their portfolio of models. You’ll only be wasting both your time and theirs if you fail to do your research.
You should be able to find an application process on their website. Fill this out and attach some of your best modelling photos. Try to wear minimal make-up and basic clothing to show off your figure. A simple fitted t-shit and jeans is a great go-to outfit. Remember, the agency wants to see your natural beauty and modelling ability, so save your more creative photographs for your modelling portfolio.
Once you’ve sent your application, you’ll hear in a few weeks if they’re interested. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back – just move on and keep applying. You can apply to as many agencies as you like, as many times as you like, though it’s a good rule of thumb to only approach the same agency once every 6 months or so – you don’t want to pester them.
If an agency likes your look, you’ll be invited to an in-person audition (also known as a casting call). This gives the agency the opportunity to view you in-person and evaluate whether you’d be a good fit for them. They will likely ask you to walk and try on a few clothing. They will also ask you some questions to try and get a gauge of your personality. You will hear there and then whether you’ve been accepted.
You really want to nail the audition phase, so make sure you spend your spare time practising your walk and your posing in front of the camera. You won’t be given much time to prove yourself, so make sure you make a great and professional first impression.
If you’ve spent years applying to agencies and getting rejected, you need to re-think your approach. Usually, this comes down to the photos you are using to apply. It’s a good idea to hire a professional modelling photographer to get some proper head-shots and other high-quality images that can then also be used in your modelling portfolio.
Some very lucky models (and actually quite a high percentage of those who become supermodels) get scouted while out and about. This means they are seen and approached by modelling scouts.
This relies heavily on being in the right place at the right time. It can happen anywhere, though mostly in major cities like London or Manchester. Some supermodels have claimed to be scouted whilst out shopping, others at an airport – one even claimed to be spotted in a McDonald’s restaurant! While the chances of being scouted are incredibly thin, you can improve your chances by ensuring you’re always making an effort to look presentable when out and about. Clean hair and skin, pretty makeup and flattering clothes will give an off-duty model vibe.
Some models choose to work freelance, which means they find their own work rather than getting signed to an agency. This has both pros and cons.
Without an agency, you lose the validity and support a reputable agency gives you. It also means you will spend a lot more of your time finding job opportunities and sorting out contracts.
However, it does mean that you get to keep 100% of your earnings, rather than a modelling agency taking a cut.
Going freelance can be a great option for already established models who understand the business and know how to find themselves work.
Social media, in particular Instagram, is a great way to boost your modelling career and get the ball rolling. It’s a way for you to show your modelling potential, get a fan-base and attract the attention of brands. If you’re able to show your worth as an influencer and as someone who can make a brand money, you will find yourself work as a model.
Instagram also gives you the opportunity to control how you are seen by the public, which is quite a rare but nice thing to be able to do.
Don’t be fooled; having a social media career also has its downsides. It’s incredibly time-consuming and it is difficult to understand the algorithm and build an initial following. It can also be an incredibly negative space; as you control it yourself, you will see any negativity aimed your way. It can be a very mentally taxing thing to keep up, so bear this in mind if you decide to try and go down this route.
Having said that, if you are an aspiring model who is managing to bag the odd job or two already, why not post them on Instagram (with the photographer and brand’s consent). Social media used in conjunction with other things (like a modelling agency) is the best way to get your name out there and find work.
How to Become Popular as a Model
This is the tricky part. You’ve become a model, got signed, and are able to find regular work. But how do you become a more recognised name? How do you go from model to supermodel?
There’s no set formula, but there are some things you can do to help yourself:
– Be reliable. If you show up on time and never miss a casting call, you will be remembered as a professional and someone taking modelling seriously. If you’re late and regularly skip auditions in favour for social engagements, you’ll soon be overlooked for models who are more serious about their careers. A model who is late to a shoot will also be costing studios, photographers and directors hundreds if not thousands of pounds – don’t be that person! Always show up on time.
– Always work on your appearance. Supermodels look good year-round – they have to, it’s their job! If you want to be a supermodel, you’ll have to invest time and money on your looks, too. That usually means eating well 90% of the time and having a regimented and effective exercise routine. Look into hiring a personal trainer to cater your exercised to your unique body type. A skincare routine is also a good idea to keep skin healthy. Learn how to wear makeup to suit your personal features, and how to style your hair to look appealing at all times. Dress well no matter where you go – that doesn’t mean you need to be wearing designer gear every day, but it does mean having a good sense of personal style.
– Practice. Practice posing in front of the camera and walking in high heels regularly. When the opportunity arises for you to show a modelling agency or brand how good you are, you need to be ready.
– Have a strong portfolio. Your modelling portfolio should be constantly evolving and improving. Your portfolio can make or break your career; it is the single most important tool you have. It needs to show off your experience and modelling skills. Book a professional photo shoot if you don’t have any good photos yet. Investing in a decent portfolio will truly help you stand out.
– Know the business. A model who knows who people, brands and publications are will appear well-educated and professional. Learn about casting directors, photographers, top make-up artists and hairstylists. Research a brand or modelling agency before you audition with them. You might just find that knowing your stuff will help put you above the rest. Think about it; if you appear genuinely interested and educated about a brand/company, who do you think the director will choose – the excited, knowledgable model, or the model who arrived not knowing anyone’s names?
– Embrace rejection. Even the biggest supermodels will have faced rejection during their careers – it’s par for the course in the fashion industry. One Victoria’s Secret model said it can take up to 15 years of hard work before landing a role as an angel. Just don’t give up!
– Gain as much experience as you can. Top models will work for some of the most popular publications like Vogue, Glamour and Harper’s Bazaar and regularly appear on the covers. Don’t turn down opportunities with these publications if it gives you a chance to meet and get to know the people behind the pages.
– Be realistic. Many models are unable to become supermodels; only a fraction of the world’s population even meet the requirements to work in high-fashion, let alone be the best of the best. Enjoy modelling without being unrealistic. Don’t forget that there are plenty of other options in the modelling industry if high-fashion isn’t for you; commercial modelling requires fitness models, lingerie models, petite models, alternative models… there are plenty of other opportunities.