Catwalk Confessional

Jab me with pins! Feed me lettuce! Insult my ass! How I became a (not-so-super) model for Voltage, Minneapolis's rock 'n' roll fashion show

After nearly an hour of beautifying, it's time for my photo shoot. The photography area consists of a massive paper rectangle suspended as a backdrop with metal poles. A boom light hangs overhead and an X on the floor serves as my only source of instruction. I feel like an actor in front of a blue screen preparing to converse with a cartoon penguin.

The photographer crouches behind a tripod 15 feet away as I take center stage. We start with straight-on shots, and I worry over the placement of my legs. Right leg forward? No wait, the left leg will make a better "V."

The photographer suggests that I try taking big steps to get some action in the shot. This is what it must be like to land on the deck of an aircraft carrier. The backdrop is roughly six feet long, so taking more than one step sends me veering off my mini-runway and out of the frame.

Nick Vlcek

After 15 long minutes, we finish the full-body shots and another photographer joins in to collect some close-ups. One of them snaps my profile and the other takes pictures head-on. I'm more comfortable with this because it doesn't require taming my gangly limbs. I wink at the camera, smile, flash my best sultry stare. And then the shoot is complete.

I change out of my Selden overcoat and stick around with two models for the Hyper Lush line as they get pretty. Derek, one of a handful of men in the room, only recently fell into modeling after accompanying a friend to a photo shoot. During our conversation, Kelsy braids a strip of auburn hair down the middle of Derek's head, rooster style. He doesn't appear fazed by the strange hairdo—or by the fact that he isn't wearing pants.

Part of the concept behind Hyper Lush, created by Anthem Heart and Hardland/Heartland, is to represent a post-apocalyptic world in which people return to their tribal roots. For Derek, this means cut-off nylons, a garish loincloth, and a skin-tight yellow shirt. His face is painted a sickening yellow-green, and rich red circles hollow out his eyes as if all of his capillaries had burst at once.

His partner for the photo shoot is Lola, a sweet 24-year-old with perfect skin and a rail-thin body. She's wearing white, high-cut moccasins and a pink dress that has a baggy cowl neck draped with animal skins. Her hair has been ratted and teased to form a chaotic halo around her head. Thick, white tribal lines run from the bridge of her nose down her cheeks and around her mouth.

"I'm going to go home like this and scare my mom," Lola laughs. "She thinks I'm not normal anyway. I might as well just show her."

Voltage will be Lola's first show. With her slender physique and high cheekbones, she didn't even have to audition—a Hyper Lush designer simply signed her up. I ask if she plans on getting into modeling now, but she says that she wants to be an actor. Sounds like a great idea, I say.

But just before I grab my bag and head for the door, Lola cries out with a line that makes me think she may have a future on the runway: I feel fat! I haven't worked out in ages!

How to look like Jackie O's crazy cousin

George Moskal is not a starving artist. At 30 years old, he works in the textile department for Target Corporation and lives in an upscale warehouse-turned-condominium in downtown St. Paul. Behind a brown sectional sofa, a plastic wall bearing Moskal's logo divides his living area from his workspace.

Moskal's studio mirrors the tidiness of his living space. There's a shelf along one wall with a plethora of design books and boxes labeled "Pins," "Bobbins," and "Pompoms." Five mannequins stand guard around a long metal table in the middle of the room. Moskal talks about how happy he is to finally have a full-sized dress form. Testing the limits of shape is a big part of his work and it's hard to see the whole picture on half a mannequin.

Moskal has certainly been waiting long enough: His preoccupation with fashion began when he started sketching outfits "like crazy" as a 13-year-old. He landed his first internship three years later, working for a hair stylist who made clothing on the side. Like several other Voltage designers, Moskal went to the University of Wisconsin-Stout and majored in apparel design. He spent time in London studying under Zandra Rhodes, a prominent textile designer. Back in the states, Moskal got a gig at Marshall Field's before scoring his current position as an assistant designer for Target's intimates department.

While he holds down a corporate gig, his creative energy is going into his Voltage line, which was inspired by the 1975 documentary Grey Gardens. The film (which opened as a stage musical last year) profiles a pair of Jackie O's barefoot cousins—fallen aristocrats who live in a crumbling East Hampton mansion. Moskal drew on their unkempt style—extravagant rags in neutral colors—to create nine looks for the show. Afterward, the garments will be for sale at Design Collective.

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