FS. Sitara. Catwalk. Label. If you’re a true St Andrean, you know exactly where this article is going. Our campus culture has long been regarded as a nucleus of creativity, innovation, and academic excellence. Starting as the hotbed for rhetoric and debate regarding the protestant revolution, to serving as the city of “change” during the rise of Scotland within the British empire, our little Scottish seaside town is anything but insignificant. Besides its undisputable historical importance, St Andrews has also expanded its culture and loving embrace to the world of high fashion. While these exhibitions of beauty and regality are well-known within the metaphoric walls of St Andrews, only a precious handful have the opportunity to see the clothes, the lights, and the crowds from the other side. In my first year at St Andrews, I was one of these lucky few.
Starting first year, going in blind, confused, and unacquainted with the importance and prestige St Andrews Fashion held—I had no idea what to expect. Little did I, first year Hannah realise how important fashion was not only within the university, but also within the spirit of the town itself. Taking a risk, I tried out and found myself presented with the opportunity (for the first time in my life) to model.
On one fateful October afternoon, I made my way to the top floor of the Union and was chatting to some girls on the Catwalk committee. They had just taken my headshot, and were giving me the lo-down on the audition I’d soon be walking into. I shifted in my seat, feeling grains of sand in my heels from the opening chukkas I’d attended on West Sands earlier that morning imprinting themselves on my feet. Put at ease by the committee girls and surprisingly not a bag of nerves, I rose when my number was called and entered Beacon Bar.
Thrown off only by the odd realization that I was sober in a place usually reserved for nights out, I was greeted by a panel of five or six well-dressed people who I later came to know as my director, choreographer, and committee. Once my preliminary introduction was out of the way, I was asked to do two walks, one with music and one without. Feeling a bit silly with my lack of experience and minimal idea of the modeling “norm,” I gave them my best poses and succeeded (much to my own surprise) in not falling on my face. They thanked me for my time, and I showed myself the door.
BEFORE THE SHOW
Being a first year, vertically challenged, and assuming that I had given a thoroughly mediocre audition, I didn’t expect to get the part. Imagine my surprise a few days later, when, making pasta in my ABH kitchen, I got an email with the subject line “Catwalk Model 2017.” My shock quickly transformed itself into excitement, and I ran back to Room 2071 to share the news with my roommate. Our celebration mostly consisted of a lot of hugging and jumping up and down, and then, like any kid who’s just made the honour roll, I couldn’t wait to tell my mom. I called her at what was an ungodly hour back home in the States, but, like any mom of a kid who’s just made the honour roll, she was appropriately excited and happy for me.
Rehearsals began a few weeks later, but first came the socials. Not having auditioned with any friends, I was equally nervous and excited to meet a whole new group of people. I expected some small talk, the big four (“What’s your name? What do you study? … Oh really, what year? Where are you from?”), and most of all, some really pretty people. And let me tell you, the first social did not disappoint! What (pleasantly) surprised me the most was how down-to-earth everyone I met was. Like the university somehow puts all the nice boys in Regs and the Americans in Sallies, the Catwalk Committee had succeeded in finding some really kind, personality-compatible people for their show. As the months passed, I found myself making some great friends, including one who still remains my best gal pal.
Meanwhile, the time between October and February was also sprinkled with the occasional photoshoot and, later, fittings in shops around town. I felt like a celebrity walking into shops, trying everything on, and pulling the outfits I wanted to wear. During preparation for the shoots, I watched myself be transformed with makeup and styling tools into various manifestations of our “undergrowth” theme, a process that let me feel like, most simply put, a “cool girl.”
Thankfully, that feeling never faded – right up until the show, the models and committee alike were caught in a relentless cycle of promotion and incessant Facebook cover photo updates which never let our collective excitement die. Our momentum made the countdown to the show feel both infinite and like no time at all; before I knew it, it was the day of the show and I was reporting for duty at the crack of dawn. Running on nerves and adrenaline, the show seemed to be over in a flash, my memory composing mostly of a blur of camera flashes, the rush of fabric over my head between walks, and my friends’ faces greeting me at each outcropping of the runway. And though those few hours now feel like a whirlwind, they are now some of my most cherished St Andrews memories.
I count myself, and anyone else with the same experience as me, extremely lucky to have been part of a team that I grew to love so much, and to work for a cause so worthy.