paris: things i have been meaning to say / by lalalalauren

january 6 2011
victor and i moved to paris together for three months or so. we got there and stayed in my friend cindy's flat while we looked for an apartment for ourselves. my first day i left at 10 am to meet my new agency in paris, walking through the grey neighborhood of the 17th, the streets glistening from the rain, I arrived at Metropolitan Models on avenue de Iena. They took my portfolio, spread it out across a long glossy black table and began rearranging it to their liking, while an intern took my measurements, minutes later i went upstairs to their photo studio and shot some new polaroids. Each day I left the house, the same routine, discovering each beautiful haussman building as i hurried from casting to casting, unprepared for the misty rain sans umbrella.
I had never experienced this side of Paris, my head buried inside the detailed map of the tiny parisian streets, mapping out my day as I speed undearneath the city in the metro. Ten castings a day, each lasting no more than five minutes before rushing off to find the next one or endlessly waiting in a line of twenty or more skinny girls dressed in black, portfolios in hand. Most of the girls stuck together with the other models from their countries, more often I would hear russian and polish being spoken than french or english. Sometimes when I would enter the room with the casting directors, I would pretend I didnt speak or understand French, so I could secretly listen into their conversations and criticisms, othertimes they would be so impressed that an american girl of 20 years of age (i was told to say i was 20 years old) spoke french that i tried to use it to my advantage.
I had never really been into hanging out with models, living in a model flat, and going to all the free dinners and parties that are offered, and i felt so nice that after such a long day, spent mostly in the metro going back and forth through paris, i would come home to my wonderful boyfriend and a glass of french red wine. victor and i found an apartment in place de clichy. we were living with another american girl, but rarely saw her, as we camped out in our beautiful room, with wall to wall windows over looking the place de clichy. every day the sunsets and sunrises would shine through our window covering us in the most beautiful golden sun. we cooked dinner practically every night, since dining out in paris was too expensive for us at that time... sitting on the wooden floor with our plates on our knees, smiling.
i went on castings for brands that i had only heard of in magazines, it excited me to know that i was even being considered for jobs like these, even though the hundreds of other models probably all thought the same thing. i would go on a casting and think it went great and that i had a chance to actually book the job, but then as you can imagine, in paris with so many models to chose from, even if i had a 'good feeling', i probably wouldn't book the job. but also because it is paris there is so much work, I started working a little bit, and I was just so happy just to be working instead of out on the streets doing castings.
I started working a lot for the big catalog companies of France, La Redoute, Trois Swisse, Phildar, etc. This is great work, and although not the most glamorous, the catalogs paid great and thats where i wanted to be. i also did a funny job for a french cookie company, Lu Biscuits. all day i had to do the same act of pretending to eat this cookie, over and over, through about 20 packages of the cookie, each photo so slightly varied I couldn't tell the difference in the end. i then started to realize how much work and effort goes into just one silly photo for a damn cookie, i couldnt even imagine the time involved in shooting just the one photo for a perfume or makeup campaign.
after a month in the apartment in place de clichy we had to move. we found a great apartment in belleville, on rue rampal. it was a loft apartment, nice and renovated, and by far the nicest place I had ever lived in Paris. it was so cold in the winter, victor and i would leave our apartment in the morning and nearly freeze to death as the icy wind attacked our exposed skin. we really didn't have much money and spent most of the time at home when we were both not working. we didnt see each other very much, i worked always in the daytime, from 7am to 7pm.... victor worked at a bar in le marais, he would leave for work at 7pm and come home anytime between 3am and 8am. it was pretty frustrating as i would come home from work, just in time to wake him up and have a quick bite to eat before he hurried off to his job, and likewise as he would come home just in time to wake me up to start my day. our three and a half months in paris continued like this... we were cold from the winter wind, working completely opposite hours, and when we luckily both had a day off together, we spent them together staying warm in bed, hugging tight making up for the lost time of sleeping alone each night even though we lived together.