Feb 8th, 2024, 01:00 PM

How to Get Into Modelling

By Kiara Carrière
Milla Lapidus attending the Cannes Film Festival
The French-Lebanese model Milla Lapidus shares her tips

Becoming a model. It is a dream that more and more young people envy. With social networks and the growing number of influencers posing for the biggest brands, one might think, "Why not me?" Being the face of a major brand, posing for photographers, getting interviewed, traveling the world and getting paid for it. It sounds pretty cool, right? Especially if you're living in Paris, the sacred capital of fashion, style and Haute couture. Although this world dazzles many, it is one of the sectors seen as the least accessible in career terms. But behind it all, there are months of patience, perseverance, failed castings and despair. This guide will give you all the tips on getting a foot in the door of modeling thanks to advice from the French-Lebanese model and actress Milla Lapidus.

Milla Lapidus is a 21-year-old French-Lebanese model based in Paris. At the age of 15, she decided, with her elder sister Koukla, to start modeling. Together, they did everything to seize the opportunities that would allow them to break into this world. They eventually managed to model for Vogue Arabia magazine. At the age of 16, Milla was posing for several fashion magazines and had began to make a name for herself in the industry. She was given clothes on loan by the best fashion designers (Dior, Elie Saab) and made her first climb of the steps at the Cannes Film Festival, adorned by a major jewelry brand (Chopard). After finishing her studies, she decided to combine her passion for acting with her now-existing career in modeling. Now she splits her time between photo shoots and film sets.

If you decide to follow in Milla's footsteps, you will need a lot of confidence, nerve and determination. "The most important thing in this job is to believe in yourself and accept yourself as you are," Milla says. In a profession where your physical appearance is constantly scrutinized, she emphasizes the need for a robust self-image: "If we don’t believe in ourselves, no one will."  The competition is also tough and the criteria are constantly evolving. Your appearance may not be “in” at the moment and may become the “must” in a few seasons. Addressing the daunting competition, Milla offers an optimistic perspective. She observes the modeling industry's dynamic nature, noting its evolving criteria that now embrace a broader spectrum of beauty: "I find it great that the physical criteria change and that everyone can have a chance."

However, you have to be careful throughout your career. Modeling is a world of wolves. There are a lot of poignant testimonies from former models who suffered from anorexia and/or psychological problems. Victoire Dauxerre recounts her fight in her book : Never too thin. "When I started modeling I felt this pressure a lot," says Milla, "Now I have the impression that the criteria are finally starting to change. I am hopeful, and I can’t wait for the codes to break even more. The beauty criterion does not exist. Putting criterion next to beauty is an oxymoron". She adds: "There are more and more girls arriving at agencies at a younger age. The problem is that it is a very particular environment which can be very difficult to experience if you are not psychologically prepared. When you are 16, you are not yet assertive most of the time and it is much easier to take criticism to heart or to question yourself... even though it is a job where you will inevitably be criticized."

Modeling is a profession that is constantly evolving. In the digital age, social networks play a pivotal role in gaining exposure. Gone are the days when people were scouted on the street or in the supermarket. The new territory for headhunters is social media. Instagram and TikTok now rule. Through these platforms, new trends are created and new faces are found. Those who are not present and active online are, by default, excluded from the game. It is therefore essential that you have a public account that you update regularly and use to build a network. Farnoush Hamidian is a 34-year-old model of Iranian origin. Thanks to social media, she made her story known and succeeded in making her face recognized by becoming the muse of Dolce and Gabbana. Milla acknowledges this trend, pointing out that a significant online following can pique agency interest. However, she cautions against conflating social media influence with modeling prowess, underscoring the distinct skills required in each arena. In modeling the goal is to show yourself in an artistic way. Your Instagram page should be like a portfolio: your calling card. It should show your features clearly, highlighting what you do and who you are. The goal is not to show your life but your work. A real influencer must show their daily life, what they eat and wear, what products they use, and tips on how to accomplish their lifestyle. In a sea of aspiring models, standing out hinges on one's individuality. Milla circles back to the theme of authenticity. "Be yourself. Don't try to be like anyone. Accept yourself. Love yourself," she says. Enjoying the journey and embracing the process are key to a fulfilling career in modeling.

The key to accessing this environment is an agent. Without an agent, there is no casting, and without casting, there is no work. The 21-year-old model encourages persistence and self-belief when approaching agencies. "Be yourself, you have the chance to be you and NO ONE else can be you.” During agency meetings, Milla stresses the importance of showing a strong sense of motivation without appearing desperate.

Sharing her personal experience of rejection and eventual success with Elite, her dream agency which represents Kendall Jenner, Irina Shayk and Adriana Lima, she underscores the importance of resilience and self-confidence. After knowing all these elements, you need to follow a few specific steps. The first essential step is to take Polaroids. You need to put together a "book," which essentially is a portfolio of a model's best pictures. It can either be physical or online. At the beginning of a modeling career, it is often best to only include your Polaroids; you should not add pictures with your friends, or use only black-and-white images. If you are ready to invest some money in yourself, here are two coveted professional photographers from modeling agencies who will know how to make you look your best: India Lange (@india_lange) and Sarah Salazar (@sarahsalazar.pics). Otherwise, use what you have at hand. Nothing extravagant; i.e. a simple jeans and t-shirt look with sober colors (white and black) in front of a white wall will do just fine. You will need a full-frontal, three-quarter, profile and full-length portrait. Take a look at Milla's Polaroids below for some inspiration.

Send your photos, accompanied by a short description of yourself, to all Parisian agencies, with your social media accounts linked. Go to the contact section on the agency websites and send your email to the agents and their assistants. The website Mannequinat.fr provides a list of most of the agencies listed in France. If you get an appointment, Bravo!

Milla Lapidus's insights offer more than just a guide to navigating the complex world of modeling; they serve as a powerful reminder of the importance of authenticity and self-belief in any ambitious pursuit. In an era where inclusivity and individuality are increasingly celebrated, Milla's experiences and advice resonate not just with aspiring models, but with anyone looking to leave their mark in a world that is constantly evolving. Her story is a testament to the enduring power of staying true to oneself, highlighting that in the glamorous, yet demanding world of modeling, the most timeless and impactful trait one can possess is an unwavering sense of self.