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Reuters/Tobias Schwarz
Many hands make light work.

No pain, no gain: Backstage photos reveal what it takes for a model to be catwalk-ready

By Jenni Avins

The word ”effortless” is often used to describe fashion’s ideal look: Models of the moment should appear polished, blemish-free, and achingly cool, but not as if it took too much work.

But the inhumanly smooth hair, even skin, and smoky eyes are the results of hours of many, many hands pulling, clipping, tugging, patting, brushing, and blowing on models’ heads, bodies, and faces. Often, they are rushed, and sometimes they are rough. Willowy though they may appear, these models are tough. This job looks a little like torture.

With another series of Fashion Weeks around the corner—New York Fashion Week begins September 10, to be followed by London, Milan, and Paris—it’s time for a reminder that beauty on the catwalk is many things, but natural and effortless it is not.

Reuters/Carlo Allegri
Dye is rinsed from a model’s hair.
Reuters/Andrew Kelly
That’s just an eyelash curler.
Reuters/Marcos Borga
No idea what’s on her head, but it’s nice that she gets a snack.
Reuters/Lucas Jackson
A tattoo is covered.
Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes
Cadaver or model?
Reuters/Andrew Kelly
DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FACE.
Reuters/Lucas Jackson
Could we get this braid a leeeetle tighter? Also, how about some studs in your eyes?
Reuters/Eric Thayer
You can totally eat, but just do it with your eyes closed and don’t mess up your face.