Tuesday evening, IMG Models hosted thirty of its fresh-faced female and male models for its biannual pre-fashion-week health and wellness conference, known as “Model Prep.”
Globally recognized as the leader in model management for its diverse talent roster, and for looking after the total well-being of their models beyond the runway or billboard advertisements, IMG held its first-ever health initiative in September 2007 with the goal of helping newcomers cope with the inevitable stresses and uncertainties of the profession.
This season, the young talents were treated to a rainbow-hued array of garden veggies from Sweetgreen, healthy desserts from Siggi’s, and inspirational speeches from industry veterans, including fellow IMG Models Grace Mahary and Garrett Neff; social worker and psychotherapist Betsey Selman-Babinecz; health guru and private-fitness expert Tara Faye; fashion stylist Alastair McKimm; and casting director Adam Hindle.
Held on the agency’s penthouse deck, the event welcomed such rising stars as Madison Stubbington, Veroniek Gilkins, Mona Matsuoka, Adam Butcher, and Tommaso de Benedictis, all of whom listened intently as Neff and Mahary shared their collective experiences. Both extolled the virtues of pursuing interests outside of modeling (art, sports, education, etc.), and of maintaining excellent hygiene, offering helpful insider tips to better navigate this notoriously demanding time of year. The overarching theme of the evening: Be your best, most engaged and curious self.
Mahary, known for her infectious and endless supply of energy, recalled her slow and steady ascent (“a seven year overnight success”), and how her career began to take off the moment she “let go.” Her T.I.E. acronym (Take It Easy) especially resonated with the new crop, as well as a few seasoned IMG employees, also in attendance.
For his part, Hindle, a former IMG model-turned-runway casting director, shared the importance of being “authentic, keeping a positive attitude, and resisting the urge to complain” after countless go-sees, fittings, or even after being rejected. “Sometimes,” Hindle continued, “it’s simply not the designer’s vision for the season, but keep going, it could change." IMG Models’ VP, David Cunningham, added, “This isn’t a test. If you don’t book a single show this season, that’s okay. We believe in you, and there’s always next season. ”
Just before intermission, Selman-Babinecz reminded the teens and young adults that fashion week, and their careers for that matter, are a “marathon, not a sprint.” She echoed similar sentiments shared earlier in the evening, encouraging the girls to move with great agility among the chaos, “like bamboo: tall, slender, with deep roots, able to weather any storm.”
Faye was on hand to share fitness and nutritional tips and misconceptions with the group. She reiterated a positive approach to wellness of mind, body, and spirit, and stressed the importance of sleep. “No matter how many fabulous parties you’re invited to,” Faye prodded, “you must get 7.5-8 hours of sleep! Trust me, it catches up with you over time.” She also offered more serious challenges such as interval training, learning to love working out, and tracking your food in-take.
Before evening’s end, McKimm detailed what to wear to Castings (“Unless you’re truly a rock ’n roll girl or guy, simple, clean, and form fitting”), his process of coordinating looks (or “lewks”) for designer’s collections, the Catch-22 of being cast as a “season exclusive,” and the benefits of forming relationships with other models, designers, and fashion editors during runway fittings. McKimm affirmed, “Whatever you do, own your personality in what you’re wearing, and don’t be ridiculous; just be polite, it doesn’t cost a thing.” | text + images: Teddy Tinson