“I Feel so Proud Watching my Girls Walk the Catwalk!” Booker Billy Mehmet on how to Survive LFW…
There are bookers, and then there are bookers. The former get models jobs and sign off at 6:00pm after cursorily sending us our casting details for the next day at 17:50.
Bookers, on the other hand, are our parents/siblings/best friends/doctors/therapists/orienteers/accountants/teachers/legal guardians/bouncers/stylists/cheerleaders/nutritionists/personal trainers/guard dogs/Samaritans…as well as sending us our casting details at 17:50 for the next day.
Billy Mehmet is a booker. Not only has she booked me on some great jobs, but she’s let me cry over the phone to her over how I didn’t like the contraceptive pill I was on, battled for me to get work when I’ve had a quiet patch, gee’d me up when I feel low, and patiently sits on the phone when I pretend to be phoning to check in but quite clearly just fancy a natter, even though she’s mega busy.
I popped into the agency for some Polaroids and asked Billy to give me some hints and tips for us models over London Fashion Week.
R: Hello Billy! What goes through your mind with LFW approaches?
B: “OMG.” “Goodbye life”. It’s all part of the job, but over Fashion Week I have to be available 24/7. I’ve booked girls whilst on a night out – clients will ring at 3am to confirm a girl.
R: Yeah, I remember doing fittings through the night…The designers have no concept of day and night and so we’re just expected to fit in with them, whenever and wherever!
So what are your main tips for the girls for surviving the madness?
B: Wear comfy shoes/heels, as you’ll be running all over London. Print your routes off the night before so you don’t get lost or disorganised. Make sure you look after your skin and hair and take healthy snacks with you, like almonds, to keep your energy up.
R: Good advice indeed! Some girls are really unhealthy about London Fashion Week. But then again, they are meant to be crazily skinny.
What do you think of the inevitable ‘Size Zero’ furore in the media every time the shows are on?
B: It’s a vicious cycle – the girls get skinny for the sample sizes, then the sample sizes get smaller, so the girls are expected to get smaller again. Even though London is more chilled than other cities like Milan where they’re really strict on measurements, I still see my girls, who are perfect, getting upset that they can’t compete with the ultra-skinny models from New York.
I’ve had to walk outside the agency and cry just to let off my frustration when I see really perfect, brand new faces who are the ideal measurements (32/24/35) worrying that they’re fat. I refuse to tell them to lose weight, because I think that’s wrong. Sadly, though, it is the mega thin girls that book the big shows.
R: Well it’s great to know you’ve got their back. Maybe if more people stay strong and resist the pressures, we’ll see more sizes on the catwalk.
There are famously out-there looks during LFW. Do you cringe when you see what some of your models have to wear?
B: You have to laugh a bit at the wackier looks, but I much prefer the off-schedule shows at Freemasons to the more classic ones at Somerset House, as they’re way more fun. People need to stop wandering outside Somerset House, waiting to get photographed and wearing their coats on their shoulders!!!
R: I soooooo agree! Right, I know it’s awfully exhausting, sleep-depriving and the most challenging time of year for a booker – but what do you love about London Fashion Week?
B: The buzz. It’s fast-paced, always changing, and I just love it when I can sit on the front row and watch my girls walking down the catwalk. I feel so proud.
R: Thank-you Billy! Finally, which girls are you mega excited about this season?
Well obviously I’m excited about all the girls, but it’s the first season for Ana J so I’m looking forward to seeing how casting directors respond to her – she has such a strong look, perfect for shows…
..And as for my Asha, it’s her first too and she has such an original look – plus have you seen those legs?! GHAD DAMN!!