Wednesday, May 6, 2009
With Royal Ascot just a month and a half away, I headed to the racecourse last Saturday for one final photo shoot. My flight from San Francisco arrived at Heathrow at 6:30am that day. After a quick shower in the arrivals lounge, I was driven to Ascot racecourse for a 10am shoot. Maybe that’s what it’s like to be a jet setting international model. Harder than it looks.
Once at Ascot, I settled in to the Winning Connections Room, where the group that was doing the shoot was based for the day. As the fashion editor from the Sunday Express Magazine laid out all the clothes, the make-up artist arranged her mountains of make-up, and the photographer took out his equipment, it was strange to see the room in which I had last sipped champagne with the likes of Bernie Ecclestone transformed into a studio for a photo shoot.
Dresses were the theme of the day. There were blue ones with white stripes, white ones with skinny belts, orange ones with gray satin irises, black ones with huge yellow flowers, bright red ones with giant bows, and frilly pink ones with dainty patterns.
The shoes were lined up along the wall like a row of obedient soldiers, red ones next to blue ones next to black and white ones. On the table were hats, hats, and more hats. There were tiny hats with feathers, huge straw hats with striped bows, purple hats with mesh veils and butterflies, and heart-shaped sequined hats in magenta and black. The whole room was awash in color.
I sat down to get my make-up done and started talking with the other model that was there to do the shoot with me. She asked if I had won a competition, and I told her about the Face of Ascot. I asked her how she had gotten into modeling. A competition as well. Which one? Britain’s Next Top Model. It was Lauren McAvoy, winner of the reality TV show two years ago. Impressive.
As I picked her brain about spending half her year in Miami and doing photo shoots in the Caribbean, the make-up artist slowly pinned my hair into curls and painted my face with every brush in her bag.
When my make-up was finished, it was time to get dressed. The fashion editor handed me my first outfit, a blue-and-white striped dress with a hat to go with it. We went outside to the grandstand, where the photographer was setting up for the shoot. It was freezing. Go figure.
The sun kept going behind the clouds, so we shot for a few seconds, stopped, put my coat on, waited for the sun to reappear, and shot for a few more seconds. Repeat a few times, and we had ourselves some good photos.
Back in the Winning Connections Room cum dressing room, Lauren was still getting her hair done so I changed into dress number two: a short, small, red dress with a giant bow in front. I spent another freezing half hour outside for the shoot, then warmed up with my fourth cup of tea while Lauren took her turn in front of the camera.
Dress number three was a gray-and-white striped dress with a giant hat and matching shoes from Karen Millen. It was paired with a pink frilly dress that Lauren wore. As the photographer snapped shot after shot, Lauren and I struggled to keep our hats from flying away in the gusting wind. Eventually the editor decided it looked good to have us holding the hats on our heads, so we went with it for the rest of the shoot.
The final dress was a black satin number with giant flowers, paired with a black hat with purple butterflies. Lauren wore a nautical-themed Ralph Lauren set, and we shot the photos on the benches near the parade ring.
It was 4pm by the time we finished shooting, and I was running on pure adrenaline. When all of the clothes, shoes, hats, make-up, curlers, cameras, and computers were packed up, my car service arrived to take me back to Hampstead.
As the car pulled away from Ascot, the jet lag that I had managed to keep at bay all day finally got the best of me. I arrived home an hour later and nearly collapsed after devouring the cheeseburger my boyfriend had so graciously cooked me for dinner.
The photos from the shoot should be in this weekend’s Sunday Express Magazine, and I’m excited to see the end result of a long (but fun!) day of work.