UPDATE: On this lazy Sunday, what's better than watching someone else work? This story was originally published on October 25.
We'll admit it, we're modelizers. Whether we're looking at Kate hitting the London streets or Carolyn being poreless in a glossy, we've been taping our favorite supers to our walls since junior high. Closer to home, our local pin-up girls have us crushing hard. Oh, the beautiful life. Seriously, though, we can't help but wonder what it would be like to walk a day in a model's stilettos. Well, ponder no more, friends.
We tapped Ford model Noelle Lynch to bring us in tow during the hours leading up to a high-energy runway show in Millennium Park (the official kickoff to Fashion Focus Chicago) and go way behind the scenes. From walk-throughs down the catwalk to a three-hour hair-and-makeup session, we stuck by this doe-eyed knockout's side to learn all the tricks of the trade. Don't worry: In the midst of the backstage chaos, we managed to get Lynch to dish on how she stays in such great shape, the business side of the industry, and most importantly, her post-show plans. Put your curiosity to rest and follow our day-in-the-life of this beauty. Warning: It's not as easy as it looks.
Photographed by Anjali Pinto
Did you always want to be a model?
"I didn't always want to be a model! It was my sister who was always pushing me to try — and I'm glad she did — because now that I'm into it, I couldn't imagine doing anything else."
What's the best part about your job?
"I love being involved in such a creative industry — especially in Chicago. There's just so much talent. Many people don't get that runway shows are really like creating art. It's not just about the designer. It's also about the lighting, makeup, hair, set design, the art director...It really is quite a beautiful and creative process. I just love to see it all come together."
Noelle is wearing an Urban Outfitters top, Forever 21 skirt, and Nine West shoes.
So, tell us: What's your diet like?
"I don't try to complicate things. As trite as this sounds, I try to eat as many vegetables and clean foods as possible — nothing processed."
Any indulgences? Even every once in a while?
"I just went apple picking, and we got these amazing apple cider doughnuts! Oh, and apple turnovers...I'm just really into apple right now."
On the flip side, what do you do to stay in shape?
"I try to mix things up. I love yoga, Pilates, and kickboxing — but I think it's really important to bring in weight training, as well."
Taking a practice run in her street clothes about five hours before showtime.
When you know that you have a big shoot or a show, how much sleep do you get in preparation?
"It depends! If it's local, then I usually get a good nine hours of sleep — like last night. But If I'm traveling, it's substantially less than that. Often times, I have to take a late-night flight and end up having an early morning start time."
Hanging out with her fellow models during practice runs down the catwalk.
What advice can you give to any girls who want to get into modeling?
"It's definitely a lot of work, and there's more to it than it looks. Essentially, you're self-employed, so you really have to be business savvy, as well. You can easily be taken advantage of if you don't have proper representation like I do. Like the designers who make the clothes we wear, there are a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. But, I do believe you should absolutely follow your dreams!"
Noelle's rack of show ensembles, all ordered and ready to go.
Double-checking her dress with designer Lagi Nadeau.
Are there any designers along your path that have become favorites?
"I obviously love the greats like Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera, and Versace. But locally in Chicago, I'm a big fan of many of the designers here tonight! I just shot a lookbook with Zamrie. Such a kind, great company, and Ashley Zygmunt is just so talented. And Lagi, of course. Her items are just absolutely gorgeous. I've worked with LaTonya Williams before, too. Until I met her, I did not know that you could make a simple white button-down shirt look that good!"
The Nine West shoes Noelle strutted down the runway in.
Is there anything that you don't like about being a model?
"My least favorite part would probably have to be the occasional crazy schedule. Sometimes, you'll have really early mornings, which turn into really late nights. And, as much as I love traveling, sometimes it can get a bit lonely."
Noelle is wearing a Lagi Nadeau dress. The designer herself is assisting her.
Describe the chaos behind the scenes?
"You're right in saying it's chaotic! It goes by very, very fast. The director is yelling at you to get in line, and we're all rushing to get dressed while getting our hair and makeup gets retouched at the same time. It's crazy — but it's a lot of fun, and I love it."
Noelle getting glammed up by the hair and makeup team of Mario Tricoci Salon and Day Spa.
How long is the average hair and makeup session?
"It depends on what it's for, but usually I would say two hours on average — an hour for each"
How do you handle the pressures of the industry?
"My friends and family really help me stay grounded. It's also really nice to be able to come home to my fiancé, decompress, and talk about whatever it is that's on my mind."
You really know how to change your look in a matter of seconds. Lots of practice, or does this come naturally to you?
"It takes a lot of practice! A big part is researching and looking at what other models have done — but it's also about being really true to your own body and body language. I also love to learn little tricks on how to take better photographs."
Can you share one with us?
"People tend to put their chin too far down or too far up when taking a photograph. So, to know where your face is on a good level playing field — and to avoid getting shadows under your eyes — take the tip of your tongue and touch the roof of your mouth. Next, just smile and you're good to go!"
Noelle is wearing a Lagi Nadeau jacket and dress.
What is the best beauty advice you've ever taken?
"I would have to say moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! Also, a friend of mine told me this, but I do believe that you should wash your face twice with a mild soap. We wear so much makeup and have so many people touching our faces with different brushes, that it's really impossible to get it all off in one swoop. I'm a big fan of my Clarisonic brush, for that reason."
Noelle is wearing a Gidi dress.
Do you feel the industry is competitive and catty?
"Not at all! I love the camaraderie that I have with the other women. It's really nice to have someone you can relate to who really gets the entire process. I have established some really amazing friendships."
How do you wind down after a shoot or show — like tonight?
"It really depends on how I'm feeling — but I can tell you it's really hard to wind down after a show! A night like tonight has a great vibe and good people, so I'll probably head out for a little fun. There are some great places in Wicker Park where I live. Lately, I'm loving this new place called the Emporium Arcade Bar. It's fun because they brought back all the old-school video games. It's packed on the weekends though, so we generally only go during the week."
Describe what it feels like before going on stage.
"It is fantastic! I love the feeling before going on stage. Your adrenaline is pumping, the music is pumping, and everyone is doing their part to make sure all the elements of the show go off without a hitch. The second the lights go on and I start walking, it's like the best feeling in the world."
Did you ever have a fashion mishap?
"Yes. It wasn't exactly fashion related, but I did fall on the runway once — that was such an embarrassing experience. What can I say? It builds character."
Do you have a dream project?
"I would love to work more with the Model Alliance in New York. It's a great organization that provides education to models. Who knows? Maybe one day I could start a Chicago division."
Noelle is wearing a Crystal B. Designs dress.
What is beauty to you?
"Beauty truly is only skin deep. The best beauty advice is to be confident in yourself — it's really more about how you feel than anything. Don't follow a trend just because it's a trend — follow what you love. When you feel beautiful, nothing else can replace that."