There’s a reason why cinema favours a statuesque beauty in slow motion. There’s something about watching a woman who is famously gorgeous walking towards you. It’s nearly overwhelming. There is an otherness in a face and body that’s exceptionally well-formed. It’s like the world’s supply of beauty is being harboured by a select handful.
Megan Gale strides forward with her model walk: one implausible leg in front of the other. The legs really are up to there and in her all-black ensemble, they go to infinity and beyond. She towers. She is Amazonian.
She thrusts out her right hand and is so disarmingly friendly that the initial shock of meeting her subsides quickly. Gale says to me, ”I love your outfit. You should be on Project Runway.”
This reporter manages a thank you while the model chuckles.
Gale nestles into the couch and turns her eyes to her questioner. They are lagoon eyes, precious gem eyes or big cat eyes. The word ”piercing”, that word of romance novels and wild west films, comes to mind.
She is the host of Foxtel show Project Runway Australia, a fashion reality show that unearths design talent and has, in previous cycles, found the likes of Canberra’s own Anthony Capon, a sewing prodigy and advocate of skirts on men. Gale is a great believer in the show’s ability to dig up those who could go on to have significant impact on Australian fashion.
”We’re looking to cultivate and nurture talent and, hopefully, through this show, give a job in the Australian fashion industry,” she says. As a model, she has worn some of the world’s greatest fashion, so what is she looking for in terms of design?
She explains contestants must have a strong skill set, that is, sewing and pattern-making ability and a talent for fit. A superb eye for design is a must, as is originality. It’s no use having someone who will simply emulate what already exists in the marketplace. Finally, contestants need a good sense of who they are as a brand with a view to growing a business.
The Perth-born Gale is 36 and started out her career as a model aged 18. She enrolled in deportment classes in 1991 and, on graduating, was approached and asked if she’d be interested in working as a model. She began to model during her final year of high school; jobs were fit around her studies.
She says the momentum really started when she was 23 years old
”I broke some rules,” she says, and she’s right models typically start out in their early to mid teens, mere baby-faced waifs. Some cause concern because they’re underage, others raise questions on the peculiar logic of using a dewy schoolgirl to show off clothes in the hopes full-grown women will buy them.
To the rookie models, Gale gives the following advice: don’t drop out of school. ”Having an education behind you can only be an asset,” she says. ”There’s plenty of time.” She also advises models should never believe their own hype, or fall into the trap of believing themselves to be the most important person on a modelling job.
”You’re not. You’re part of a large team in which everyone’s role is just as important as anyone else’s.” Her final tip is to be fiscally savvy.
”It’s such a short-lived career and such an unpredictable career that you can’t rely on the fact that the money’s always going to be there. Be really smart with your finances.”
She waxes lyrical about the delights of being a make-up brand ambassador at the age of 36 and the positive message this sends in a youth-fixated industry.
”There is this perception out there that once women are out of their teens and 20s they start to lose their beauty and start to lose their ability to gain those kinds of contracts. ”L’Oreal is a brand famous for celebrating women for what they represent rather than what they look like, such as Andie MacDowell, Jane Fonda, all these fabulous women who aren’t teenagers.”