Being a Model at LAFW
Kathryn Maysent, known to her friends as Katie, is a 16-year-old high school junior, turning 17 at the end of the month. She’s 5'11, left-handed, and can do a handspring and a cartwheel in 6" heels — something she has grown to feel comfortable in after walking in many runway shows, including this year’s LA Fashion Week (LAFW).
While the audience staked out seats before the show, Katie stood in line at the Wetzel Pretzel with two of her friends. “This is what models do before shows,” she laughed with a gesture towards the food.
Katie started modeling about two years ago, making a natural transition from her passion for dance to modeling. She incorporates many of her dance movements and grace into her modeling career. Though the 16-year-old does both print and runway modeling, she said that she enjoys runway because “you get an immediate reaction from people.”
“Fashion weeks are really fun because you spend the entire week working with so many designers,” she said, “but it’s also pretty tiring. You know it’s coming, so you just really focus on what you’re eating and make sure you stay hydrated and ready. And, get lots of sleep.”
The high school junior says that one of the hardest parts about modeling is keeping fit. “I work out probably ten hours a week. I have a very strict diet to what I can eat — I can’t eat everything that every other 16-year-old can.”
One of the most important parts of being able to model for a show like LAFW is the casting.
“Usually you walk in and you’re being judged without any makeup and your hair is pulled back in a ponytail,” said Katie,“I used to feel nervous for castings because you never know what they’re going to say. They’ll straight up critique your body right in front of you, which can be difficult. But one of the things I’ve learned is when you don’t get cast for things, it’s really not about you or how you look but about the look they’re going for.”
Katie also shared the importance of social media in her modeling career, saying that even though she is represented by two agencies, she also does a lot of self-promotion via Facebook and Instagram, and sometimes finds casting opportunities through social networks. “My agents and all my friends’ agents check our Instagrams, how many followers we have. People will book you for jobs just because you have a certain number of Instagram followers, because you’re probably going to post pictures of your job on Instagram and they get more press. Sometimes people will even pay models to post things on Instagram, even if they’re not doing a show or a photoshoot or posting their own pictures.”
Katie walked LAFW on Friday and Saturday, her second season walking the LAFW runway. Since Katie lives and attends high school in San Diego, she drove up to LA for the weekend and was only able to do two nights of shows before driving back down for school on Monday.
After walking the Shigo show on Friday night, Katie was quickly pulled for the Salo Shayo show, only two shows later, getting her hair slicked back and the same minimalistic, edgy makeup to match the other Salo Shayo models.
“It actually happens a lot,” she said, “sometimes you’ll have a girl come for a show and her measurements will be wrong on the sheet and she can’t fit into the clothes so they’ll just throw another girl into it. You just have to be ready for anything.”
Instead of feeling tired with the extra job, Katie said she felt excited. “It’s one of my favorite things. Sometimes I can’t walk for as many designers as I want to because I can’t make the fittings, so to, like, get pulled for something is really fun because you get to go and do the show but you don’t necessarily have to put in all the work for fittings beforehand.”
Her personal favorite, though, was the eccentric, high fashion piece that she wore for Flora Miranda.
“Her stuff had a lot of layers, and a lot of blue fabric that was layered over each other. It was a cool concept I wore a huge ball gown with long sleeves and a high neck. It was really cool because it just lit up offstage, but it was very hot. It was about 100 [degrees] backstage, so we had a couple volunteers fanning me with plates,” she laughed.
Though her family and her friends are very supportive of her passion for modeling, she says that she feels upset by some of the comments or jokes she gets from her peers.
“One time I was in the bathroom, and someone asked, ‘Where’s Katie?,’ and someone said, ‘Probably puking.’ Comments like that are desensitizing for people who actually have eating disorders.”
Her concern for dietary and women’s health issues is also why she studies hard in high school, “because we all know modeling won’t last forever.” Katie aspires to become a dietician and open a women’s health care center.
The busy high schooler has also started pageantry, and recently was crowned Miss Gold Counties Teen USA, and heads to compete for Miss California Teen USA this December.
“I definitely hope to do LA Fashion Week again next year,” she said. But, at least for now, the 16 year-old is completely booked until the end of the year with more modeling jobs.
Reach Contributer Morgan Chen here.