Normally the presentations at New York Fashion Week take the form of runway shows, as the city’s high-end designers display their latest lines for the perusal of international buyers. But this year, unconventional fashion brand Opening Ceremony bucked tradition. Instead of a line of models parading in the hottest fashions, the designers, celebrities, and models in attendance were presented with a one-act play—written by Spike Jonze and Jonah Hill about Fashion Week—on the subject of how being a model is kind of awful.
Starring Catherine Keener and John Cameron Mitchell as Opening Ceremony’s Carol Lim and Humberto Leon and staged at the Metropolitan Opera House, the play—titled 100% Lost Cotton—showed the audience the fictionalized genesis of this year’s collection, and also how much it sucks to be the people hired to show it off.
Drawing upon their years of experience as young, thin, beautiful women in a world that wants them only for their looks, Jonze and Hill’s script includes a long interlude between seasoned model Bella (Dree Hemingway) and newcomer Julie (Elle Fanning), in which the older woman expresses the insecurities and frustrations of her chosen profession:
You want to know what modeling is? Most days you don’t even model. You spend hours in the morning worry about what you’re going to wear, or say, or do. And then you get on the subway anxious about what people are going to think about you. And then you have people in a fitting or a casting or a meeting look you up and down for 30 seconds without even looking at you in the eye. And then you get back on the subway, and you try desperately not to see your reflection in the window because they made you feel like the ugliest girl in the room. And then you spend the whole rest of the afternoon trying to wash off your make-up and everything else they threw at you that day. All for 30 seconds of shit.
Julie counters Bella’s cynicism with some convincing farm-grown wisdom: Just focus on the happy parts, and ignore the bad stuff! So, there you go, models of the world: Life and career advice from the guy who made the movie about banging your computer, and the kid who drew all those dicks. You’ll be okay, now. You’ll all be okay.