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Pricing Beauty

Pricing Beauty: The Making of a Fashion Model

Ashley Mears
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Pages: 328
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  • Book Info
    Pricing Beauty
    Book Description:

    Sociologist Ashley Mears takes us behind the brightly lit runways and glossy advertisements of the fashion industry in this insider's study of the world of modeling. Mears, who worked as a model in New York and London, draws on observations as well as extensive interviews with male and female models, agents, clients, photographers, stylists, and others, to explore the economics and politics-and the arbitrariness- behind the business of glamour. Exploring a largely hidden arena of cultural production, she shows how the right "look" is discovered, developed, and packaged to become a prized commodity. She examines how models sell themselves, how agents promote them, and how clients decide to hire them. An original contribution to the sociology of work in the new cultural economy,Pricing Beautyoffers rich, accessible analysis of the invisible ways in which gender, race, and class shape worth in the marketplace.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95021-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. CHAPTER 1 Entry
    (pp. 1-26)

    You’ve got a great look.

    That was what he told me as I sat in a Starbucks in downtown Manhattan. I had come in search of a quiet table at which to crack open a social theory book, one of a number of texts I was assigned as a new graduate student in sociology at New York University. Instead I found myself seated across from a model scout who was handing me his card and telling me that I could be making a fortune as a fashion model.

    While waiting in line for my coffee I overheard a man, flanked...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Economics of the Catwalk
    (pp. 27-70)

    By any measure, JD had a great first year as a model. As a sophomore university student living in his hometown of Manchester, UK, he caught the train to Kings Cross Station every week or so to shoot a booking arranged by his high-fashion modeling agency in London. He was twenty years old and making more in a month that he had earned all his life in part-time retail jobs. His first booking was a high-fashion campaign that paid £10,000 for one day’s work. Not bad, considering he didn’t even want to model, but he had gone along with his...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Becoming a Look
    (pp. 71-120)

    Two weeks after signing the contract with Metro Model Management, I received an e-mail on a Saturday afternoon from Heather, an encouraging and very friendly booker. It read:

    Hi sweetie! . . . You have a bunch more castings on Monday. You have been requested to see Michael Stevens. That is SO HUGE!!!! If you don’t know, he is the most important photographer that can turn you into a huge star in an instant. . . . So you should definitely come to the agency first thing before you go anywhere.

    xo, Heather

    Prior to this, all I could think...

  8. CHAPTER 4 The Tastemakers
    (pp. 121-169)

    Walking into Metro’s office, one first notices howcoolit is. It is a sleek minimalist space, styled like a white cube of an art gallery: tall ceilings, bare white walls, black Herman Miller chairs. A pretty receptionist at the entrance of the office greets you from behind a marble table adorned with a tall vase of exotic fresh-cut flowers. Adjacent to her is a long pane of mirrored glass that hides a busy scene: the booking room, which fits two tables, a long one, which seats eleven agents, and a smaller table at the other end, which seats four...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Size Zero High-End Ethnic
    (pp. 170-208)

    In the early spring of 2007, on a cloudy English afternoon, a group of protesters, mostly women, gathered outside the gates of London’s Natural History Museum on Cromwell Road. They shouted and marched and braved the cold in the name of justice at a most unjust time of year in London: Fashion Week. Feminist activist Susie Orbach’s brainchild for positive body image,, organized its first protest with the aim of sending a message to British designers, magazine editors, and modeling agents. Their problem with Fashion Week—that month-long international showcase of designer collections passing through New York, London, and...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Runway to Gender
    (pp. 209-248)

    I’m seated in a cramped lobby of a studio in Manhattan’s West Side, with about ten other young women waiting to be called in for a casting for a designer fragrance campaign. My casting sheet for the day, filled with details for nine additional appointments, notes that at this audition, models are asked to bring their bathing suits. It’s been about thirty minutes since the door last opened to admit the previous round of models to audition. In several short spurts, loud music thunders from the studio. It’s a popular reggaeton club hit by Sean Paul, playing in thirtysecond intervals:...

  11. CHAPTER 7 Exit
    (pp. 249-262)

    As I finish writing, Sasha and Liz are now twenty-seven years old. It’s been five years since I met them, since I began modeling in New York for what was, in the beginning, a graduate research project. While both women have traversed through the New York modeling market and beyond, they have landed in very different places.

    Three years after our interview, I saw Sasha on TV in a national commercial for a well-known retail chain. The “Virus” from Vladivostok was easily recognizable with her strangely large brown eyes and bobbed hair. I caught up with her over dinner and...

  12. APPENDIX: The Precarious Labor of Ethnography
    (pp. 263-266)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 267-282)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 283-296)
  15. Index
    (pp. 297-305)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 306-308)