How the “photo model” profession appeared

Let’s start with history, because it is the key to understanding modeling. For the first time, the concept of model business emerged at the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century, in America and Europe. There was it for quite understandable reasons. The matter is that merchants and tailors of that time used original rough mannequins (not the photo model as now) for demonstration of the products. But with the development of fashion, it was not enough.

What is the point of the photo model profession ?

Then someone had an idea specifically to hire girls to show their products. This service was particularly in demand in the province, where local women of fashion wanted to see the city’s fashion trends. And dressed models were strange – at first they dressed in black robes, completely covering the body, and on top of this was wearing clothes that were demostrated.

The idea almost failed, because the arrogant, noble ladies disdained to dress the costumes, which were showed by ordinary girls of the lower class. European clothing manufacturers were saved by the idea of bringing to work young American women, who were more favorably received by the sophisticated public. But the real boom occurred after the arrival of Russian emigre girls into the business. They, in the opinion of historians, were much better educated, were able to behave in society and accordingly it is more profitable to submit goods.

What next ?

We must say that the sphere of clothes demonstration with participation of models at that time was very different from the current version. The most common work of the mannequin was the presence at social events, receptions and parties. Wearing clothes for the show, the model communicated with the visitors, talking about the details of her wardrobe, by who it was made and about other details.

One of the historical versions of the appearance of the first model agency is very interesting. At the dawn of its existence, the sphere associated with modeling was not very popular and was paid low. The girls had to huddle up five people in the room, constantly waiting for an invitation to work. One of these girls, Eileen Ford, did not have special external data, so more often she was on duty near the phone, recording incoming orders in the notebook. So over time, the idea of ​​mediation between models and customers of services was born, which successfully transformed into model agencies. And Ford agency has become one of the largest and most famous.

After the First World War

After the First World War, fashion houses like Christian Dior, Chanel and others, began to actively use the services of models and pay good fees. Business has become privileged, the profession began to be treated with great respect. In the 1960s and 1970s, the modern image of the photo model began to form as an example for imitation. Perhaps the most famous model of those times is Twiggy, like millions of women all over the world wanted to be.


In the 70-80s of the last century the notion of a Top Model or supermodel (photo model) was formed. In the elite cohort there were such girls as Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Verushka, Christy Turlington. The world embraced a model boom, supermodels flaunted on all covers of fashion magazines and received millions of royalties for shows and advertisements. It did not last long, in the 90s designers and other industry participants began to oppose these idols, who dictated the conditions on the market. The famous phrase of Linda Evangelists – “I will not get out of bed, less than 10 thousand dollars”, has become a household name.

At the moment, the model business is a multinational industry with billions of turnover. As in some other spheres, there is a certain hierarchy. The Major League are models that take part in the shows of the most famous design houses, are official brands, decorate their photos with magazines and fashionable Internet portals around the world. They are quite a small number, much more professional models that work both internationally and locally, earning it for a living. And even more models, in which this business is not the main source of income, rather an underwork or hobby.


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