"as a designer of clothes, lifestyle products and books i am so used to telling visual stories, that, once i'd started one drawing for this book, I couldn't stop. I loved crafting each page of stupid model, it took me ages and now I miss it..." barbara de vries
Barbara de Vries began her fashion career as a model in Amsterdam, Paris, Australia and London working for Vogue, Cosmo, Avenue, Yves Saint Laurent, Zandra Rhodes, Razzamatazz, and many others. She went on to study fashion in London and started her own post-punk collection in the mid-eighties. She moved to New York in the early nineties and, as Senior Design Director at Calvin Klein, designed and launched the CK collections, using models Kate Moss and Mark Wahlberg as the iconic faces of CK. In the last two decades de Vries's design career has evolved from fashion design to publishing, editing, writing and designing books on architecture, lifestyle, art and design. As a designer she always kept journals and Stupid Model is filled with her fashion drawings, sketches, collages and photographs. Barbara now lives in Miami Beach and Milford PA with her husband and three daughters. Stupid Model, an illustrated work of fiction based on actual events, is de Vries's first full length book and she is currently working on a memoir of her days at Calvin Klein.
a scanned spread from the book:
some pages and excerpts from stupid model:
“It looks pretty,” he said and waved a hand across the bay towards the city. “But it’s not a pretty place. Terrible things happen there. Unspeakable things, every single day and every single night.”
She was about to scrutinize every part of my body, like my face, my skin, my hair, my breasts, my legs, and even my feet. I did it to myself in the mirror all the time.
“Actually… you… are… wrong,” Janice said, her face inches away from mine. ”It’s not luck! I do what it takes. I work every day for weeks nonstop and still look amazing. They fly me around the world twice and back, and I still save the day. I never complain, I am funny, I am smart, I am strong and I am beautiful. I am Super Woman! No, I am Super Model! And that’s why they love me.”
He bent over, picked my shirt up from the floor and gently draped it over my shoulders. I sat at the table and tried to figure out what had just happened. I was exhausted, drained from the range of emotions he’d put me through. I got up, slowly gathered my stuff, dressed and fastened all my buttons. I tucked the shirt deep into my skirt, sure that I’d shown enough skin for one day.
My mom shook her head and said, “I don’t like this, it isn’t right. Do we even know who these people in Australia are?”
“Mom, it’s fine,” I said, “my booker would never send me to the other side of the world if it wasn’t legit.”
After the show, several women were waiting for me by the exit of our dressing rooms. They all held copies of The News for me to sign. I’d never, ever signed an autograph before and Brenda teased me again, saying that I’d started a page-three trend for feminist lesbians.
... there I was, in the middle of a mob of breasts, fully clothed, with my heart beating so loud that Helga could probably hear it.
“YOU,” she yelled at me, “why are you not naked?”
In the end I felt so sick from the pressure that I wanted to run for the bathroom. Maybe this competitive feeling went against my nature to be nice and make friends, and what I ended up with was an overwhelming desire to puke and purge myself.
Over the past four weeks, I’d been working with Waterland, a clothing company, to create a collection for the fashion shows. The designer of the label was sweet to let me help her with designing my six outfits for the International Model of the Year Competition.
I think all the uncertainty of my childhood sometimes makes me insecure, but it has also made me independ-ent. I’ve never expected much from people, and that’s why it was easy for me to leave home and do my own thing. It wasn’t as if I didn’t love my family; I just learned early on that you can’t rely on anything.
“Tell me about yourself,” Sally said.
“What would you like to know?”
“How about from the beginning? Like your mom and dad.”
“My father died when I was two, and my mom and I have been really close ever since. She did remarry and I have a brother and sister.
“Well, I am Dutch and I need your help,” I said. I told her the whole story of the competition, everything from Amsterdam to my success in Melbourne, then Adelaide, and how I and sixteen other models had been dumped in Perth and needed help, like a place to stay and figure out a way home as soon as possible.
“What?” she said, “seventeen models? Staying here?”