Fashion: A day in the life of a Hertfordshire girl

Tamsin Blanchard follows 23-year-old Cali Rand, from Royston, as she makes her debut at the Paris shows. Photographs by Gavin Bond
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A model's life can be a tough one. At show time, they travel to London, Milan, Paris and New York several days before the collections are unveiled to attend countless castings and do not know until shortly beforehand which shows they will be in. Once the shows are in full swing, working days begin at dawn and often go on into the early hours.

Cali Rand, a 23-year-old from Royston in Hertfordshire, has made a huge impact this season in all three of the cities that have shown their autumn/winter '96 collections so far - New York starts tonight. This has been her first full season and she has been part of a major sea change that has seen the emergence of a whole new gang of names and faces ousting the old guard of supermodels. The death of the supermodel has been talked about for seasons, but this time it has really happened. Even seasoned fashion editors don't know the names of a lot of the new faces. Cali is older than most - she has been through the education system and two years ago left her textiles degree at Central Saint Martin's in London to pursue a career in modelling.

Londoners will already be familiar with Cali Rand's eyes. They gaze at you like pale blue crystals from Monsoon's spring advertising campaign plastered across the sides of double-decker buses. She also features in the advertising campaign for the German jeans and perfume company Joop! shot by Peter Lindbergh. For that, she was flown on Concorde to New York. "It was amazing," she says. "I felt really awkward, as though I should have been in economy class on a jumbo, not surrounded by men eating lobster like they do it every day."

Today, Cali is in New York, trekking from casting to fitting to casting - up to 10 appointments a day with designers from Ralph Lauren to Anna Sui - for the last round of autumn/winter shows which begin tonight. Last week she was in Paris where she strode the runways for 13 international designers. And before that, the Cali roadshow was in Milan.

"I love the catwalk - you feel like a new person every time you do a different show," she says after a tight eight-day schedule. "I really enjoy it, perhaps because I don't take it too seriously." In model years, Cali is old, especially to be doing her first round of shows. But it is the fact that she has grown up on her own terms (rather than in the unreal world of fashion modelling) that gives her confidence to be in control of her life and career. She does not look as though she is new at this game. "Some of the 15-year-olds you see backstage look so terrified," she says. "I just want to give them a big hug and say be yourself. Your mum and dad are more important than this fashion show."

Although Cali is signed to Models One, (her boyfriend's aunt is Twiggy, who helped encourage her to join her own agency), she is self-employed. During showtime, she pays for all her own expenses - hotel, flights, food and a driver to get her between shows on time. Designers usually lay on food backstage. "I've never eaten so many sandwiches," she says after the week, "and I never want to drink another glass of champagne."

One of the scariest moments for Cali was the Comme des Garcons show. "We knew it was going to be weird before it began when we were told that there was to be no music." Each model had to walk into an intimate square of press and buyers, surrounded on two sides by photographers who took advantage of the silence by directing the models where to stand. "The first time I went on, I didn't know where to focus. I just had to shut off, otherwise I would have burst out laughing."

Cali Rand, welcome to Paris

7am Hair and make-up call for the French label Mariot Chanet. The show is scheduled to start at 11.30am, which means noon.

12.30 Martine Sitbon's show at an old theatre off the Champs-Elysees where Cali's glitter make-up is scrubbed off. In its place, pale skin and consumptive red eye shadow. Cali's hair is put into Thirties Marcel waves. The show begins around 3pm.

3.30pm After the show, a quick stop for coffee and a mad dash across town to the Elysees Montmartre nightclub near Sacre Coeur for Rifat Ozbek.

5pm Backstage at Ozbek, Cali was transformed from languid Sitbon girl to a punky alien creature with high spikes of hair.

8.30pm A post-show glass of champagne. Cali has been quaffing since breakfast and by now her head is throbbing.

9pm A fitting for Sonia Rykiel's show the next day. She tries on shoes with two-and-a-half-inch heels but it is not until she steps on to the catwalk that her heels feel like they are made of rubber.

10.30pm Out to eat with Jade and Gerard from her agency.

1am Back to hotel exhausted. You see some models dancing the night away. But not Cali: "I'd have gone mental if I'd gone to any parties. I need my sleep."