Author Sandra Morris should know: she began modelling aged 12, worked as a fashion writer at Elle and has been a booker at her own agency for the past decade. After writing Catwalk: Inside the World of the Supermodels last year, Morris was inundated with letters. "One girl wrote to me from America. She felt she had lost her dreams because she had been told she was too short, so I wrote her a letter explaining what her other options might be, like promotional work or becoming a booker," she explains.
Agencies, Morris believes, are often too busy getting jobs for those who are already on their books to explain to aspiring models what the alternatives might be. Equally, they may not want to offend them by suggesting they approach a plus-size or a character agency. "The market is saturated with models of all sorts, and guys know that they don't have to be drop- dead gorgeous to get work," points out Marc French, managing director of Ugly (which represents the likes of Del, the buck-toothed oddball of Calvin Klein fame). Similarly, Alison, head booker at Excel (an agency for plus-sized models), gets lots of calls, letters and snapshots from girls wanting to get on her books.
Morris's manual includes a directory of reputable agencies to approach for any branch of modelling - something which anyone in the industry will tell you is perhaps the only important thing aspiring models need to know. Morris acknowledges that "no amount of training will transform a no-hoper into model material". In one section, she suggests tips for self-improvement (dark clothes will make you look slimmer; practise tongue twisters to improve voice projection).
One insider puts it more bluntly: "Ultimately, it's down to whether your face fits or not."
The Model Manual, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, pounds 14.99.Reuse content