An inside look into the career of a high-fashion model who lives in Montreal
While fashion models are often dressed to the nines, their lives are not as glamourous as their outfits. Just ask 20-year-old Quebec model Jenna Castilloux.
It was never Castilloux’s goal to be a model—she just happened to be in the right place at the right time. She met a fashion stylist at a fair who introduced her to a famous Montreal photographer. The photographer saw potential in her and introduced her to Chantale Nadeau, her agent.
Castilloux has modeled high-end clothing from Louis Vuitton and Saint Laurent, had her hair and makeup done by professional stylists and has travelled to beautiful destinations. However, this is as far as the glamour goes.
“You travel all alone all the time, which gets really lonely at some point,” she said. “The lifestyle of a model is not stable. You live out of your luggage, with no real home or real ‘friends.’” All the relationships created are temporary, she said.
“The biggest pressure is when your agent comments on your weight,” said Castilloux, who said she is familiar with such comments. “Having to lose weight when your BMI is already under the normal is hard enough, but the time period in which they give you to lose [the weight] is not humanly possible.”
Losing weight is accomplished either by juicing, which means only drinking vegetable juices for a week to lose all the water weight, or starving, she said.
“When a model is given one week to lose that ‘extra’ inch or two off your hips to get that money contract, we’ll most likely do anything,” she said. “When you are constantly getting judged on your hip and waist measurements and are constantly being told to lose weight no matter how skinny you are, those measurements become an obsession.”
The paycheck is the biggest advantage of the job, she said. “The hourly rate is unbelievable for a student,” she said. Meeting people from all over the world, she said, is also a plus.
A model does not usually have just one agency, but one in every major city. At a destination, the agency will provide them with accommodations.
“You have to share a tiny room with four other girls,” she said. “Most of those apartments are dirty and some of the heating, hot water, air conditioning and sinks are broken. Not to mention that the other models that you live with steal your belongings.”
Castilloux’s top contract was with one of the most famous houses of fashion—Saint Laurent, working with Hedi Slimane. She walked for their prêt-à-porter runway show twice and worked for the showroom to sell the collection.
She also worked for Louis Vuitton, with designer Nicolas Ghesquière as her fitting model. Although it is gratifying to work closely with such an important designer, Castilloux said it was one of the worst jobs she’s had to do. Since the clothes are often being sewn on the model’s body, the needle pricks the model numerous times during the fitting, she said.
Her most memorable visit was to Tokyo. She lived there for a month and modelled for Giorgio Armani makeup, Vogue Japan and Elle Japan. “Living in Japan is one of my most cherished memories I will hold from this whole experience,” she said. “The culture shock was mesmerizing.”
Currently, Castilloux is still modeling but only in Montreal to pay rent. Over time, she became bored with modelling and she realized she didn’t want to pursue it full-time anymore. It made her unhappy, and she became mentally bored with the job, she said.
“To me, being a model meant shutting up and being pretty,” she said. “As a model you’re not really allowed to have an opinion, nor does anyone ask for your opinion. You just do what they ask you to do.”
“Over the past year, I’ve come to the conclusion that the lifestyle wasn’t for me, so I decided to go back to school to pursue what I really like,” she said. She is currently studying at McGill University with a goal to pursue a career in neuroscience.