The fashion industry has been Christina Ross’s passion since she was a child. She thinks about haute couture the way some Canadian kids dream about pro hockey. This summer she made it to the big leagues, landing a contract in Asia. For almost three months she worked the runways and catalogues of Japan.
“They are into cuteness and a more mature, elegant, sophisticated look,” says Christina, a Prince George teenager. “I had a job once a week. You end up doing a lot of waiting. I had one shoot that lasted 23 hours and the shooting itself was only about three hours. The rest of the time you had to wait around and be ready if they wanted you, but I did a lot of sleeping, they provided all these fruit baskets, all these juices and coffees. It wasn’t hard, you just had to sit there and chill and be a professional when they called on you.”
Over the course of her stay she had the opportunity to experience several sides of the modelling industry. She was called upon to do a hair show, a couple of fashion shows, a television commercial, leaflets and catalogues for department stores and clothing companies. The Japanese experience greatly expanded her model’s résumé.
Being in the Orient also expanded her cultural views. Although most of her time was spent in Tokyo, she was able to take the bullet train out into the countryside. Although Japan has adopted many Western traits over the last 50 years it remains a distinct society and Christina was curious about it. It was hard, though, to escape the urban lifestyle in a nation with so many people crammed into such a small space.
“There was one intersection you can go to during rush hour and watch one million people cross the street at the same time,” she says. “I did one day of being a tourist, but a lot of days I wouldn’t go out until three or four o’clock because it was so hot and I couldn’t tan.”
She did a lot of shopping and outings with friends. Although the language barrier did impede her, a lot of westerners there acted as guides and the Japanese were accommodating. She soon made friends. They took her to places like the famous nightspot Roppangi where she met celebrities like Ben Affleck, Sylvester Stallone, Steven Segal, members of Duran Duran, Tool, System of the Down and Billy Corrigan of Smashing Pumpkins. Her social circle included everyone from professional skateboarders to pop singer Tiffany and the other models who, like her, were in Japan for short-term contracts.
“I want to go back, I loved it,” she says, a trace of longing in her voice. And what did she learn there about the fashion industry and style? “I’m creative. I like to make my own. You have to do what’s natural to you. As long as you just chill and have a good time everything will be okay.”
Christina works for La Mode Modelling of Prince George. The agency looks for international partner agencies that will accept up-and-coming models like her for contracts in other countries or in Canadian fashion centres.