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Models Use Not-So-Glamorous Rituals to Survive Fashion Week

By Serena Solomon | February 15, 2012 1:31pm
Erin Eisenhower works one of her tactics: a foot soak in ice cold water.
Erin Eisenhower works one of her tactics: a foot soak in ice cold water.
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DNAinfo/Serena Solomon

LINCOLN CENTER — When a day of modelling in high heels turned her feet black and blue, Erin Eisenhower phoned her mother for advice.

“Ice your feet," her mom said. "Athletes do it. Why don’t you?” 

So began a not-so-glamorous survival ritual.

Most nights during her two-week job as a showroom model at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, the 5-foot-10 blue-eyed Eisenhower, 24, who lives in Williamsburg, can be found soaking and icing her tired feet.

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week brings an intense work schedule for models as they dart between runways, castings and stints as fit and showroom models for designers.

Instead of participating in the party life that modelling is associated with, many choose to tone down their big week to stay healthy and look good. 

Kendra Spears walks for Andrew Gn's Fall collection in 2009
Kendra Spears walks for Andrew Gn's Fall collection in 2009
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Andrew Gn

“I dedicate this entire week to fashion,” said 23-year-old Kendra Spears, who was waiting between runways shows on a Sunday morning at Fashion Week. “I don’t go out. I stay focused.”

For 16-hour days with ever changing, heavy makeup, Spears has developed some secrets to keep her skin clean and fresh.

“I use good oils such as grapeseed and tea-tree oil,” said the New York-based model who has walked for Prada, Fendi and Chanel, and has shot campaigns for Diane Von Furstenberg and Calvin Klein.

Russian-born model Kristina Lezhepekova uses regular facemasks to keep her skin clear. There is also the simplicity of eating well and resting that are essential for her job.

“Sleep is the hardest thing, but it is the best thing,” Lezhepekova said.

Like Eisenhower, Lezhepekova also does showroom modeling as well as runway shows. As designers unveil their collections in the tents at Fashion Week, they are also giving buyers and fashion editors a closer look in a showroom setting.

“We work really hard,” said Eisenhower, who says she is related to the 34th president, Dwight D. Eisenhower. “They [editors and buyers] want to see everything on the model.”

The 12-hour days and six-day weeks are spent perpetually taking off and putting on delicate and often tricky clothes for multiple appointments. Each outfit is paired with sky-high shoes.

While a model may never know when her next job is, the seasonal nature of the industry means a lot of work can come all at once. When New York Fashion Week draws to a close this week, many top models will be moving on to other events in London, Paris and Milan.

“I go under the radar [during Fashion Week],” said 19-year-old SoHo resident Mariel Soehner, who is booked for both New York and London fashion weeks. “My friends don’t see me.”

Soehner, a 5-foot-9 blonde beauty, stocks up on Luna snack bars to avoid the sweet treats, such as cupcakes and Diet Pepsi, that are sometimes provided back stage. She also jumps into a pair of flat, sheepskin-lined boots as soon a runway show is over.

While some models can maintain their appearance for work while living the party life, Soehner cannot comprehend how they manage.

“For me, it's to the shows and home again,” she said.