Forums > Model Colloquy > Why runway shows need tall models:

Photographer

udor

Posts: 22390

New York, New York, US

DISCLAIMER:

Because of some unqualified posts beginning on page 5, this thread turned into an ugly flame fest. However the information presented is valid regardless the hostility.

Enjoy

udor

.


Originally posted on February 11, 2006, revised on January 24, 2007

Since this question seems constantly to come up, I did some extra shots at this current Fashion Week (Fall 2006 Collection) here in New York City (with the purpose of doing an informative thread on my own... soon... but here's the "preview").

The girl in image 1 and 2 is NOT a model, she's one of the finalist designers for "Project Runway", I shot the show on Friday morning... and thought that this is an excellent example for showing the visual effect of "short models" mixed with tall, high fashion models.

The first shows her alone, she's is somewhere around 5'2" and  has actually a pretty face.

The second image shows her walking behind her models, wearing her designs... this shows how funny it would look like if you put a short model into the mix.

The third image is from the show of the designer Chado Ralph Rucci. I shot this image for the purpose of demonstrating the size of the showrooms at major fashion shows... and why very tall models are mandatory, so that the audience far away are able to see the model and the garment she's presenting.

There are actually a few more rows... but I would have cut out the model... and it was necessary for me to demonstrate the room and the model.

In short (pun unintended wink ), there is a very practical reason WHY runway models have to be tall!

Agencies like to sign models that are versatile and can be used for many different applications..., the more a model is limited (height in this case), the more is the earning capacity limited for the agencies.

It all boils down to economics!

Short "model", finalist of Project Runway, could "pass on her own, if a tad slimmer, but(!)...
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v200/UdoRPhotoArchive/Miscellaneous/ModelHeights01.jpg


... here is the "short model" in comparison to regular runway models... looks funny, doesn't it?!
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v200/UdoRPhotoArchive/Miscellaneous/ModelHeights02.jpg


Putting height and major fashion show in perspective... Would the garment on a five foot model be seen by the fashionistas in the remote seats?
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v200/UdoRPhotoArchive/Miscellaneous/ModelHeights03.jpg?t=1255267536

Jan 24 07 01:28 pm Link

Model

Mandy McKeating

Posts: 506

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

not trying to start shit, just playing devil's advocate...

i understand the height thing, but why do they have to be stick figures? what makes a size 0-2 model carry the clothes better than, say, a size 4-6 model, assuming both are of the same height?

Jan 24 07 01:39 pm Link

Model

ANNABELLA

Posts: 1642

Atlanta, Georgia, US

Mandy McKeating wrote:
not trying to start shit, just playing devil's advocate...

i understand the height thing, but why do they have to be stick figures? what makes a size 0-2 model carry the clothes better than, say, a size 4-6 model, assuming both are of the same height?

Good question. (I'm a size 2 so I'm not disagreeing with either statement but I have always wondered that)

Although I have heard that designers do make only sample sizes of the clothes strictly for shows.

Jan 24 07 01:41 pm Link

Model

Mandy McKeating

Posts: 506

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

ANNABELLA wrote:
Good question. (I'm a size 2 so I'm not disagreeing with either statement but I have always wondered that)

Although I have heard that designers do make only sample sizes of the clothes strictly for shows.

ya, my question does not come from sour grapes, simply curiosity.

i know, too, that designers tend to make clothes in a sample size for shows, but my point is why is it that size? is there something that makes the clothes look that much better?

Jan 24 07 01:45 pm Link

Photographer

Brian Diaz

Posts: 63192

Danbury, Connecticut, US

Mandy McKeating wrote:
...is why is it that size?

Designers have learned over the years that they make the most money with those models.  When they used other models, they didn't make as much money.

Jan 24 07 01:51 pm Link

Photographer

Michael Anthony

Posts: 2235

Glendale, California, US

this totally reminded me of this old post...

http://www.modelmayhem.com/posts.php?thread_id=107596

Jan 24 07 01:53 pm Link

Model

Kaitlin Lara

Posts: 6467

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US

Mandy McKeating wrote:
ya, my question does not come from sour grapes, simply curiosity.

i know, too, that designers tend to make clothes in a sample size for shows, but my point is why is it that size? is there something that makes the clothes look that much better?

In general...thinner girls can pull off more styles. You don't have to worry about "Will this dress make her legs look thick?" "Will this top make her belly look poochy?"

There's also another aspect that I don't think most people really consider, but it's something that seems very important to me. Stick shaped models are inherently less sexual looking. If I were on a runway, you wouldn't be looking at my hot rack...you'd be looking at the dress. On a runway, the walk is rather sexy to start...add some womanly curves to that, and the clothes aren't the focus anymore.

Jan 24 07 02:00 pm Link

Photographer

215 Studios

Posts: 3453

Center Point, Texas, US

Mandy McKeating wrote:
not trying to start shit, just playing devil's advocate...

i understand the height thing, but why do they have to be stick figures? what makes a size 0-2 model carry the clothes better than, say, a size 4-6 model, assuming both are of the same height?

The primary reason for this is, these women (0-4) are as close to a "walking coat-hanger" as the designer can get.  When designers send their clothes down the runway, they don't want you to look at the model.  They are not selling the model!  They want you to see the clothes.

-Major

Jan 24 07 02:00 pm Link

Model

Mandy McKeating

Posts: 506

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

thanks all, that puts it into perspective.


not that i had ever argued or disagreed with any of it, just wondered why.

Jan 24 07 02:03 pm Link

Model

Kaitlin Lara

Posts: 6467

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US

Mandy McKeating wrote:
thanks all, that puts it into perspective.


not that i had ever argued or disagreed with any of it, just wondered why.

It's cool...it was something I wondered for a while...I'm not even sure my answer's the right one...it's just the one that makes most sense to me.

Jan 24 07 02:06 pm Link

Model

Mandy McKeating

Posts: 506

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Kaitlin Lara wrote:
It's cool...it was something I wondered for a while...I'm not even sure my answer's the right one...it's just the one that makes most sense to me.

i figure there isn't one answer, but all of them put together have made things the way they are. they all make sense.

Jan 24 07 02:07 pm Link

Photographer

Nadirah B

Posts: 28521

Los Angeles, California, US

Well i've seen plus models on runway and thought they looked amazing...oh well !

It shows a difference with her being shorter than the other models, but what if
you put a platform up and had all the same height model at let's say 5'5 what would be the difference then?

This is just curiousity

Jan 24 07 02:15 pm Link

Photographer

Ivan123

Posts: 890

Arlington, Virginia, US

It is also interesting that the 5'2" designer, who presumably has something to say about this, chose models that are literally head and shoulders taller than her to show off her clothes.

Jan 24 07 02:21 pm Link

Photographer

Nadirah B

Posts: 28521

Los Angeles, California, US

Ivan123 wrote:
It is also interesting that the 5'2" designer, who presumably has something to say about this, chose models that are literally head and shoulders taller than her to show off her clothes.

Didn't the show provide the models you have to select from? I understand that it's that way because it has been that way, i'm just asking if you make the models uniform in whatever you choose what would be the difference?

Jan 24 07 02:24 pm Link

Model

little apple blossom

Posts: 7617

MCMINNVILLE, Oregon, US

it's totally because I'm biased but I would love to see a show that uses all short models every now and then. even it's a gimmick I don't care. I think there is something special and idealistic about being petite and I think it should be shown off by designer clothes in a runway show.

Jan 24 07 02:29 pm Link

Photographer

Ray Cornett

Posts: 9203

Sacramento, California, US

Mandy McKeating wrote:
not trying to start shit, just playing devil's advocate...

i understand the height thing, but why do they have to be stick figures?

Think about it, runway models are human clothes hangers. The designers want the clothes to be the show, not the models body.

Jan 24 07 02:33 pm Link

Model

Megan E B

Posts: 948

Cleveland, Ohio, US

thinner, and also models with small breasts allow the clothes to be worn more as they look on the hanger, which is what the designer is going for.

Jan 24 07 02:34 pm Link

Model

Joanna Kristine

Posts: 1251

Boston, Massachusetts, US

Kaitlin Lara wrote:

In general...thinner girls can pull off more styles. You don't have to worry about "Will this dress make her legs look thick?" "Will this top make her belly look poochy?"

There's also another aspect that I don't think most people really consider, but it's something that seems very important to me. Stick shaped models are inherently less sexual looking. If I were on a runway, you wouldn't be looking at my hot rack...you'd be looking at the dress. On a runway, the walk is rather sexy to start...add some womanly curves to that, and the clothes aren't the focus anymore.

Good point. Also besides the fact the designers make the clothes to fit the "hanger"- maniquin- the material they use in not cheap. Again, economics.

Jan 24 07 02:34 pm Link

Photographer

Ivan123

Posts: 890

Arlington, Virginia, US

I too would assume that there is some pool of models to pick from.  And if you are getting your first chance to display your designs to the fashion press you might want to go with the flow rather than make a statement by hiring only 5' 2" models.  But she might have had some leeway if it had been a big deal to her.  It would be interesting to ask her her opinion on it.  My guess is that she doesn't think her height is a big deal or particularly relevant.  She obviously doesn't think her own clothes are relevant.  Like most fashion designers she looks like she got dressed out of a dumpster.  I don't know anything about fashion or makeup but I can't help but notice that those who are expert in producing it seem not to indulge in it themselves.

Jan 24 07 02:36 pm Link

Photographer

Nadirah B

Posts: 28521

Los Angeles, California, US

Ivan123 wrote:
I too would assume too that there is some pool of models to pick from.  And if you are getting your first chance to display your designs to the fashion press you might want to go with the flow rather than make a statement by hiring only 5' 2" models.  But she might have had some leeway if it had been a big deal to her.  It would be interesting to ask her her opinion on it.  My guess is that she doesn't think her height is a big deal or particularly relevant.  She obviously doesn't think her own clothes are relevant.  Like most fashion designers she looks like she got dressed out of a dumpster.  I don't know anything about fashion or makeup but I can't help but notice that those who are expert in producing it seem not to indulge in it themselves.

Usually folks are running around in the back and are trying to be comfortable.

I also was wondering that if the models aren't the focus what is the point of makeup and hair being done on them?

Jan 24 07 02:46 pm Link

Photographer

Garry k

Posts: 27257

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

People do not want to see the average or the normal on the Runway ( or in the Fashion World in general) and that includes average height ,body shapes or looks

Tall , beautiful , impossibly thin ( and generally young ) models play perfectly to the Nuerosis of the Fashion consumer - the older ( ie over 21 ) year old woman who at some level believes that in buying the right clothing , accessories or perfume - she will somehow be transformed somewhat  from reality  into  the idealized

Jan 24 07 02:56 pm Link

Model

cynthiacoops

Posts: 273

Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas

to the post above me (sweetface) about "running around in the back"

maybe they arent so cramped when the models are sticks, they can just breeze pass when other "curvy" women would have to move slower because they have to keep saying "excuse me" when trying to run around

he he just a silly thought

Jan 24 07 02:57 pm Link

Photographer

Nadirah B

Posts: 28521

Los Angeles, California, US

cynthiacoops wrote:
to the post above me (sweetface) about "running around in the back"

maybe they arent so cramped when the models are sticks, they can just breeze pass when other "curvy" women would have to move slower because they have to keep saying "excuse me" when trying to run around

he he just a silly thought

http://blogs.mediavillage.com/bloom/archives/www/vhosts/blogs/htdocs/bloom/dave%20chappelle.jpg
My expression...

lol, moving on!

Jan 24 07 03:01 pm Link

Model

cynthiacoops

Posts: 273

Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas

lol (i know i know)

Jan 24 07 03:02 pm Link

Photographer

Nadirah B

Posts: 28521

Los Angeles, California, US

cynthiacoops wrote:
lol (i know i know)

k, let's not do that again smile oh, if you ever need retouching help on newer pictures I know a couple people who can do it!

back on topic though smile

Jan 24 07 03:05 pm Link

Model

Kaitlin Lara

Posts: 6467

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US

SWEETFACE SHOTS wrote:

Usually folks are running around in the back and are trying to be comfortable.

I also was wondering that if the models aren't the focus what is the point of makeup and hair being done on them?

Because no one wants to buy clothes from ugly people. Kind of awful...but very true.

Jan 24 07 05:17 pm Link

Model

SWEETFACELA

Posts: 3479

Los Angeles, California, US

Kaitlin Lara wrote:

Because no one wants to buy clothes from ugly people. Kind of awful...but very true.

*giggles*

Jan 24 07 05:31 pm Link

Model

Monika M

Posts: 186

NORTH STONINGTON, Connecticut, US

the designer is actually more around 4'10"- 5 ft because when she was on the show she was also ALOT shorter than the other designers, and they weren't tall. Also, she has short legs...

Jan 24 07 05:37 pm Link

Model

Monika M

Posts: 186

NORTH STONINGTON, Connecticut, US

Kate moss does it, and they accept her, and she is only 5'6"... I know the story behind it though... but still she is fairly short for her market. I am just curious as to why it doesn't bother people.

Jan 24 07 05:41 pm Link

Model

if_u_only_knew

Posts: 567

Seattle, Washington, US

Muneca wrote:
Kate moss does it, and they accept her, and she is only 5'6"... I know the story behind it though... but still she is fairly short for her market. I am just curious as to why it doesn't bother people.

Total fluke. Somebody like Kate Mosss comes around once in a lifetime. There are always exceptions to the rule. But rules is rules. Tall and thin is in, short and fat step back(off the runway that is.)smile

Jan 24 07 06:26 pm Link

Model

cynthiacoops

Posts: 273

Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas

SWEETFACE SHOTS wrote:

k, let's not do that again smile oh, if you ever need retouching help on newer pictures I know a couple people who can do it!

back on topic though smile

yikes

Jan 24 07 06:29 pm Link

Model

Monika M

Posts: 186

NORTH STONINGTON, Connecticut, US

Yea... Sigh... oh well! who knows who the next special one will be... right wink

Jan 24 07 06:30 pm Link

Model

jade83

Posts: 2253

Columbia, Missouri, US

Kaitlin Lara wrote:
There's also another aspect that I don't think most people really consider, but it's something that seems very important to me. Stick shaped models are inherently less sexual looking. If I were on a runway, you wouldn't be looking at my hot rack...you'd be looking at the dress. On a runway, the walk is rather sexy to start...add some womanly curves to that, and the clothes aren't the focus anymore.

In that case, I'm a total hottie!!

Jan 24 07 07:50 pm Link

Model

Matt

Posts: 241

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

if you're too lazy to eat properly and hit the gym...
or if your genetics are HONESTLY getting in the way of hitting the dress
size they want...

PICK A DIFFERENT PROFESSION!

Stupid people don't get to be neuro surgeons (bad example, I know),
and people who aren't thin and tall don't get to be models

Jan 24 07 08:08 pm Link

Model

if_u_only_knew

Posts: 567

Seattle, Washington, US

everything looks better on tall, thin people, except overalls. Only short people and babies look good in those.

Jan 24 07 08:26 pm Link

Model

Michelle A

Posts: 66

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I agree with the original post about height. What I don't understand is, with the rather popular exception of Kate Moss, models that are 5'6" or 5'6.5" are more often than not turned away because of their height, when in reality it is very difficult to tell someone who is 5'6" from someone who is 5'7".

Working as a make-up artist I often saw extraordinarily beautiful girls that were 5'6"ish and unfortunately would be unlikely to make a career in fashion modeling (although lingerie models are often 5'6" - this was told to me by an agent). I've also worked on girls that were tall and nowhere near as beautiful (as well as some who were).

I find that a lot of the girls that are just under that height restriction often want to make it more than some of the taller girls who are "discovered" and get the whole thing thrown into their laps.

Jan 24 07 08:26 pm Link

Photographer

Chex

Posts: 651

Los Angeles, California, US

Mandy McKeating wrote:
not trying to start shit, just playing devil's advocate...

i understand the height thing, but why do they have to be stick figures? what makes a size 0-2 model carry the clothes better than, say, a size 4-6 model, assuming both are of the same height?

Hehe a simpler answer.. (i'm also being sarcastic.)  It takes less fabric to make a size 0 compared to a size 4 or 6.. smile

Jan 24 07 09:17 pm Link

Model

ANNABELLA

Posts: 1642

Atlanta, Georgia, US

Kaitlin Lara wrote:
In general...thinner girls can pull off more styles. You don't have to worry about "Will this dress make her legs look thick?" "Will this top make her belly look poochy?"

There's also another aspect that I don't think most people really consider, but it's something that seems very important to me. Stick shaped models are inherently less sexual looking. If I were on a runway, you wouldn't be looking at my hot rack...you'd be looking at the dress. On a runway, the walk is rather sexy to start...add some womanly curves to that, and the clothes aren't the focus anymore.

Very good points!

Jan 24 07 09:24 pm Link

Model

Reann Beyon

Posts: 99

CAMBRIA HEIGHTS, New York, US

you know whats funny i asked myself this question numerous times and i know the answer. but it still makes me wonder. they do it because they want there clothing to look as if it would if they had designed it on a COAT HANGER.. dumb but true... i love tallness (?) lol and i love shape. but if you really think about it i'll give you some instances.
1. tall size 2 model, medium look appeal, beautiful clothes or even not so great
     clothes
2. tall model size two, very pretty, medium looking clothes
3. tall curvy pretty model size 6-8, beautiful clothes
4. tall curvy ok looking model size 6-8, medium looking clothing

  now think like a designer, what do you want people to look at? #1 she's ok looking but she doesn't over power the clothing with her look she kind of complements it that's the girl. #2 she takes away from the clothes #3 her curves and looks take complete attention from the clothes. and #4 the clothes don't even exsist!
  BUT of course i happen to like # 3 because if a chick got in the business before me and shes on that damn stage she better be a bad BITCH!!! cuz i don't know about everyone else but i want a real chick on a stage then an imaginary one whom i can say hey i can do that!!
  but designers have there reasons well HIGH FASHION designers! cuz hiphop, rock designers don't play that unrealness and hey if you think about it who wears high fashion clothing?????? rich people!! so there you go, they don't want the average joe wearing their clothing....

something to think about!!

Jan 24 07 09:48 pm Link

Model

Keni

Posts: 301

Cary, Illinois, US

I work as a fit model occasionally for a few designers, and this is how the size issue was explained to me.

The first stage of design is the sketch.  Then comes the sample garment.  All samples are made in a size 2.  This is universal globally, although in Europe I think it is called a size 4 (same actual size side by side).  There are dress forms/mannequins made specifically for this.  There are no patterns made for the samples, rather they are fitted to the dress form, sometimes in pieces, pinned then sewn (just like Project Runway).  There may be some slight size variations, but basically the clothes are made to fit a 34-24-34 figure. 

After the samples are made, they are fitted to a real model (size 2) to make sure they hang right.   (For those not aware, this is another form of modeling and pays pretty well 2x's a year if you are the perfect size.)  The samples are then put into the show circuit (where they are fitted again to the model that will be displaying the garment on the runway) and buyers pick what they want to purchase.  Following the shows, some samples are also put on display in the various Merchandise Mart showrooms for buyers to order from. 

Only after there are orders are the clothes paper patterns made (taken from the size 2 sample then adjusted up/down for other sizes using simple mathamatics).  Manufacturing production starts in the sizes purchased by the buyers.  Not all clothes in a collection are successfully purchased and go into production.

There has to be a standard, and this is it.  As stated earlier, using tall size 2's makes the clothes hang well and show better then they would on a shorter model.

Jan 24 07 10:45 pm Link