OMG! Its a first time when I have such experience! =) I was at Kumaki store when some woman IM me and told me interesting things about her modelling career! And I just decided to interview her since I like to do it and she have a desire to tell the truth without any threats behind. Its an anonymous interview though so I wont tell you anything about her except she is one of established models in SL. I wanted to give her a pseudonym Natasha by name but she told me there is such model already, so she offered me to call her Alexis! ^^ Enjoy! =)
Vic Zuzu: Hello Alexis! Thank you for giving me this exclusive interview! Please tell our readers why you are here and why you've chosen to hide your identity?
Alexis: Hello Vic and thank you for your time! I discovered your blog through your profile and I've established an interest in many of the interviews that you have done. I have also found some truth to some of your blog posts, and I would like to step forward and give my personal testimonials as a MVW Grad. I wanted to talk a bit about my disappointed in the fashion world that I have found myself in. I prefer to keep my identity anonymous because my modeling career may very well be affected by my statements.
Vic Zuzu: So I wonder, what agencies do you represent?
Alexis: I work for a few agencies such as EIMA, Glance, Dejavouge, Avenue, Boulevard. Some are well known, and others not. I'm sure that you may be able to recognize some of the more popular ones.
Vic Zuzu: Yes. I know a few, but let's talk first of all about the fashion industry in SL. As a working model, how did you start, and what is your impression of this industry so far?
Alexis: I started with big enthusiasm since I thought everything was going to be different from real life. But after a few months in, I noticed that things in SL were drastically worse. A model becomes important only if he/she knows the right person to pander to. Since I am in MVW circuit I've had the chance to see many things, especially how models who flatter the heads at the agencies, gain a place in «court». I've seen more than one model making it in Miss Virtual World final, not because of their skill set, but because coincidentally, they happen to be an administrator's favorite. I am sure that is absolutely an unprofessional way of going about business in these agencies.
Vic Zuzu: And what about you, have you found you're a way around this industry?
Alexis: Personally, I just have the will to continue despite the disillusions I've had. This is what is helping me; I just try to take in every piece constructive advice, consider every critic and try to improve myself. I reached a level that is higher than most models (considering my avatar's appearance and my styling abilities), but this isn't enough. I still have to see models with old and very common skins, deformed and unnatural shapes, and outfits that are not the best, step over me and other beautiful, hard working models without breaking a sweat. I've been in the public for a MVW graduation and I had to see a model with a deformed shape, somebody who had always used the same hair, and the same skin (with the same makeup) during the entire graduation process, enter directly into one of the top elite modeling agencies. Ironically you will always hear these elite agencies saying that having a very good looking avatar is not enough, since just everyone can have one. But if you accept somebody that doesn't even have good taste in making a shape and choosing a skin (practically the foundation of this industry) then how can that be a good model?
Vic Zuzu: How would you describe a good model?
Alexis: To start off, at the most basic level, a good model should have a pleasant, original and unique look, paired with incredible styling abilities. If one of these things is missing you can't be a model. Or at least this is what they teach at their academy. But it looks like this works for only some of us.
Vic Zuzu: Since you're mentioning the good fortune of «bad models», do you suspect that there is a possibility that people just pay their way into the MVW, and even into a modeling career? In other words if you have enough money, then you have it all?
Alexis: This is what I just thought while watching how things went in Mr. Virtual World! I was shocked when I saw a model with a common skin that almost any male avatar would wear, and an outfit that looked almost like a freebie, reaching the final! But after I realized that he was connected with one of MVW backers everything became clearer. So my answer is yes, I think that if you have enough money you can make it in MVW; and it's likely that if you pay more you can also get the title. As I mentioned before, also giving plenty of attention to the agency administrators, is a good way to advance in this career. Especially to someone like Frolic Mills, I believe he is always looking for attention in SL as if he lacks it in RL. You can see that in the manner he is always sending notices in the group, it seems like a way to be at the center of everyone's attention. But then he rejects store owners from the group telling them that notices have a limit and there are too many designers. For instance, he once removed the Italian designer of Baiastice, Sissy Pessoa. I don't see how he can be very professional by removing designers from the group for sending notices, simply because he needs to use the notices to grab attention. Sadly it seems that only designers with a shop at the BOSL Boulevard, and friends from his inner circle, can send notices. Plus, generally speaking, he's not very friendly except when you fawn over him! He gives you the impression that he should be treated better than others. He doesn't accept any critic, and wants to be the only one who can do that. It's just silly models like me who makes BOSL what it is. It's our fault.
Vic Zuzu: So now you don't believe in contests at all?
Alexis: I tried also other beauty contests around SL and they're all the same. I don't think I'm going to try again. Also a famous designer told me that you have to pay to reach the top of this kind of contests.
Vic Zuzu: Really? Like who?
Alexis: I'm not telling you the names even if you had a gun. *Laughs*
Vic Zuzu: *Chuckles* Ok then, new question… Have you graduated from any modeling schools or academy?
Alexis: I have a friend that is a famous model and taught me almost everything, but now since it is necessary to have school graduations to be in shows I decided to spend money and enter in a few academies. I graduated at MVW Academy while paying a considerable amount of money, especially considering that Second Life is a game.
Vic Zuzu: Did you get any useful information that surpassed the advice that you already learned from your friend?
Alexis: Well I refined my knowledge and I got the chance to know wonderful experienced models such as Mimmi Boa, Mui Mukerji and well… that's it. They helped us a lot and always gave useful advice without giving the impression that they were better than students, they were very polite and professional. However, most other proclaimed «elites» who come to teach and share their wisdom are not very friendly at all and have a condescending manner about them (Miaa Rebane and Dancer Dallagio for instance).
Vic Zuzu: How much did the entire thing cost and what did the graduation include?
Alexis: I can give you info from the official MVW Academy note cards they send to models who show their interest. You may pay for each session separately, but if you pay for it all at once, you will receive a 10% discount on the total price (13.000 L$ paid total if paid per session, 11.700 L$ if paid in full at once before the first session begins).
Vic Zuzu: 13k for modeling classes? *Gasps* That is a lot! How many lessons do you take?
Alexis: There are 5 courses called 101,102,103,104 and 105. The first 3 are about basic things like editing objects, how to move, getting judged on avatar's appearance and stuff like that. 104 courses (that can vary from 1 to 2 days) are usually made by ex Miss Virtual World like Mimmi Boa or Miaa Rebane and it's a course about «how to be a model» or «finding your own style». Class 105 is a seminar (that last 2-3 days) made by Frolic himself if you're lucky enough to find him in good mood. You basically get your avatar and your outfits judged in order to be ready for the graduation show.
Vic Zuzu: Did those lessons help you in your modeling career?
Alexis: Not really. I just learned a few tricks and useful things to improve my avatar, and developed my way to move in the catwalk. In general I think that just everyone can teach us something new, we can always learn new things. What I found to be very enlightening and interesting where the lessons with Mimmi Boa. She's the sparkle in all of the debris that is the MVW organization.
Vic Zuzu: Do you believe in fashion education in SL? Do you think models are more likely to succeed if they graduate from as many schools as possible?
Alexis: If you are a good model and you attend at least one good academy, you don't need to collect graduations throughout SL. That's completely a waste of time and money. The need to go to different academies might be caused by the fact that in every academy there is always one or a few teachers that don't do their work well, but since these teachers are the friends of owners they get to stay there. *Smiles grimly*. Sadly this is how things work. You can be the best model in SL, but you also need to have the capacity to teach, otherwise it's just a waste of time.
Vic Zuzu: Could you describe your modeling experience at Dejavogue?
Alexis: Sure! The casting had been kind of comic, with that weird attitude that Dolce has where you don't know whether she's being rude or making you a compliment! I guess I entered at Dejavogue because Dolce was looking desperately for models to give rebirth to the agency, and I've been chosen because I had a good look and a good outfit compared to the others models. Later on though, the models from her previous agency started to come back, and they automatically became top models without any effort.
Vic Zuzu: I would like to ask you directly, what are your thoughts on Dolce Enderfield as CEO of Dejavouge?
Alexis: Well, in one instance during the first show that Dejavogue had she just disappeared and came back when everything was over, leaving the models to manage everything by themselves, that to me, was very unprofessional of her. I think she's probably still learning how these kinds of shows work; the feeling that she just improvised this profession in Second Life is still strong.
Vic Zuzu: Since the Fashion Victory blog is about men's fashion, I would like to ask you my traditional question; do you think men's fashion in SL exists?
Alexis: Yes I think it exists and it's growing quickly thanks to the wonderful new designs that Second Life offers today. On the other hand male models look all the same, many with the same skins and unnatural blue eyes. Now that, in my opinion, is boring to see.
Vic Zuzu: Thank you very much Alexis for the interview! It was a very brave of you to step up and tell us the things you have experienced in this industry! Would you like to say something to our readers at the conclusion of this interview?
Alexis: Well as you all can see this is how things work in this world! I hoped that SL was a better place in terms of this industry than RL, but it appears to be very similar or even worse at times. All I'll be spending my time and money on now are clothes, not academies, or beauty contests of that sort anymore! Thank you Vic for such opportunity and I give you my support. I know if you try to talk about this part of the modeling industry you'll a lot of people against you. Someone speaking from our positions would be seen as a menace, but the autocrats of the fashion industry in SL can only keep so many people quiet for so long.