Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Walk This Way

Yesterday Slate posted an interesting Fashion Week FAQ. Now, generally speaking, anthropologists are routinely characterized as the "worst dressers on campus," so a fashion article should be the last thing people of my ilk and education would read. However, I did notice one question related that conjured up images of John Cleese, the Ministry of Silly Walks, and general anthropological curiosity about mundane, quotidian details of life that escape most people on this planet:

3) Tell us about the models. Where do the models learn to walk? Does their agency teach them? And why do they walk like that? Why can't they just walk normally? Do the models really not eat? Do they diet before the shows?

You may have seen Jay Alexander, who works with Elite Plus in Paris, on America's Top Model. He's famous for teaching models to walk and is rumored to make quite a bundle doing so. But not every model takes walking lessons; some have a natural sense of presentation. "It depends on where the models are from," according to Andrew Weir, a New York casting director. "If they're from Brazil or South America, the walk is innate. The other girls have to watch the Brazilians for a season or two until they catch up."

There are a few walking styles. "If you say to the girls 'Do a Versace walk,' they know what that means—a va-va-voom, shake-it-like-you-might-break-it walk," says Weir. " 'Street' means no swish. It's strong, like the way people walk down a New York street." Most shows now use a near-natural street walk, described by Weir as " 'Street' plus a little bit more." That means a pretty natural stride with no hands on hips or posing. But the walk is still slightly exaggerated: Some extra swagger makes skirts swish dramatically and gives tailored looks a bit of extra power.

Although people don't like to believe it, models are not big dieters. They are blessed with fast metabolisms.

I still don't believe it.

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