Thursday, November 09, 2006

Robin Hazelwood, Model Student

When I was thirteen I started subscribing to both Seventeen magazine and Harper's Bazaar. I imagined life as a model would be magical- flying off to other countries, wearing high- end clothes, going to parties with Elle, Cindy and Naomi, and drinking champagne night after night, having tons and tons of money and driving a fancy car which back then was something like a Dodge Daytona or a Corvette.

I never knew too much about what really goes on in modeling. And I never read a book like Model Student, giving super juicy details of modeling. The character of Emily Woods is from Wisconsin, a long way away from the highly competitive and fierce modeling in the fashion capital of New York City.

Emily arrives in New York to attend Columbia as well as pursue her budding modeling career. New York is where careers are made and to become a top model, she must work the fashion shows there. Emily tries to juggle school and modeling but she doesn’t seem to fit in either world. Author Robin Hazelwood, a former model, gives readers tons of information about a model's life. She writes about the gritty photo shoot in a seedy hotel room, doing lines of coke is as common as brushing your teeth, extreme dieting to be ultra- thin, vicious competition with other models, romance with a two- timing photographer…it's all in Model Student. I enjoyed this book for both the finer points of that mysterious world and Robin's writing. Two thumbs up! It is a novel that will keep you interested and entertained. I should point out that it's not a light, happy, funny book- it can be dark and serious.

What were the best and worst times of your modeling career?

Best times: when I first started (because even a jogging with shoulder pads seemed glamorous back then—and trust me there were a lot of those!) and whenever I got a chance to explore a new destination, be it Taos or Berlin. Worst times: those first few weeks in a foreign city, any combination of: casting/ subway/95 degrees/ mini skirt/Milan and hunger pains.

Is there a photoshoot that makes you cringe when you think back to it?

Any? There are many, o so many, which is why I felt compelled to create the slide show on my website: My Life in Bad Fashion.

Knowing the nature of the business and all the immoral behavior and habits, do you feel sorry for Kate Moss or do you understand her behavior? I’m taking about her getting caught with the coke, not her relationship with Pete Doherty.

Yes, I do understand Kate Moss’s behavior (which is not to say I condone it). Models begin their careers at such a young age and are under so much pressure to be unnaturally skinny that many rely on substances--both legal and illegal--to help them succeed. Cocaine is like the little black dress of the modeling industry: a wardrobe staple. The drug keeps you up and it keeps you slim, two things a model needs to be.

Who are your favorite models of today? There doesn’t seem to be a big super model craze like when Cindy, Elle, Christy, Linda and Naomi were popular.

And did you ever get a phone thrown at you by Naomi Campbell?

I think Daria Werbowy and Karolina Kurkova are both stunning, but yes, you’re right, there are fewer big names today. In fact, most of the supermodels today are actresses: they’re on every cover and in every campaign. In part, the pendulum shifted because the well known supermodels became very expensive to book and started making a lot of diva-like demands. Like Naomi (no she never threw a cell phone, but let’s just say my encounters with her back then haven’t inspired me to throw a pity party for her now).

I applaud this transition, though it’s interesting to note that actresses, now under greater scrutiny and pressure to be physically perfect, seem from the outside to be developing more eating disorders.

Is Model Student your first attempt at writing a book? And why not make it a memoir instead of a fiction novel? I’m sure many of the details were taken from your experiences.

Model Student was my first attempt at writing a novel, which is probably why it took me over three years of full time work to finish it; I learned as I went! I decided on fiction because I wanted the freedom to compile characters, compress the timeline, and incorporate other model’s stories into the book.

You had some pretty impressive book parties - I saw the photos online. How was it to be the center of attention, this time for a totally different reason than modeling?

It is much more gratifying to be photographed and filmed as “Robin Hazelwood, author” than as “hey, you,” “babe,” or “the brunette over there!”

What do you want people to come away with having read Model Student?

First and foremost, Model Student is designed to entertain. I can’t tell you how many people have come up to me and said something along the lines of “I’m not all that interested in the world of modeling but I really found Model Student engaging” (and I paid them all handsomely for it).

For those that are coming to the book with an interest in fashion, I think they will come away with a more thorough understanding of the pitfalls of such a seemingly glamorous life.

Do you have any regrets from your modeling days?

I accelerated a semester of college in order to model longer so that I graduated in 3.5 years. I regret that.

What do you think when you hear people like Mischa Barton complain that being pretty is such a burden?

I think people don’t want to hear it. Sure being attractive has a downside but, let’s face it, we live in a very looks-oriented culture; the advantages vastly outweigh the disadvantages. One must always be cognizant of that.

Who are your favorite designers? Your must-have beauty and skincare products?

Currently, I wear blue jeans or cords almost every day (I love James jeans). I buy some of my casual clothing from Vince, and have a weakness for Merrill clogs! But I still love high fashion, even if I don’t wear it often, particularly from the Italian designers. I have more than my fair share of Prada, Gucci and Costume National.

What are your hopes and dreams and goals right now, in this moment?

I hope people continue to read and enjoy my books as much as I enjoy writing them.

That sort of answers my last question- do you plan to continue writing books?

Definitely! I am working on my second novel, which follows a group of people in their late twenties/ early thirties between New York City and the Hamptons, so, please, stay tuned!


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