Secrets of the runway: Tempus meets Gucci model Jack Chambers
The Fashion Week star reveals what's behind the reality of life on the international runway
With endless travel to exotic destinations, an enviable list of contacts and gorgeous designer wardrobe, working as a prolific catwalk model may appear glamorous from the outside, but is life really as rosy backstage and beyond? To gain a deeper insight into life behind the scenes, Tempus spoke to model Jack Chambers, who’s walked for top designer brands including Gucci, Burberry, J.W. Anderson, Louis Vuitton, Hermès and Alexander McQueen.
Safe to say then, that Chambers, 25, knows a thing or two about life both on and off the international runway. After being scouted in his home town of Oxford back in 2012, the model made his catwalk debut walking for Topman Design in 2013 and has been a regular fixture at Fashion Weeks across the globe ever since. The 6'2" model has also graced the pages of Harper's Bazaar China, Manifesto and The Glass Magazine. Chambers exclusively his runway and fashion week secrets, and why, for him, there's no place like London.
You've just completed the end of this season's international Men's Fashion Week. How does London compare to Milan, New York and Paris?
I'd say London embraces fashion week a lot more than some of the other cities. During LFW you can look at people in the street and think "they've just come from a show", whereas in Milan fashion week is quite separate from the city itself, and the atmosphere feels quite contained. During the season you spend so much of your time abroad that doing shows in London feels like home – seeing friends, stylists and team members I haven't seen in months. Saville Row brands bring a mature grace to proceedings, and the up and coming designers are always trying something new. London has always been respected not just because of it's designers, but because of the history of both the industry and the city itself. While other major fashion cities have their own image and history, they'll never quite be London.
Do you think people have as much interest in men's fashion weeks as women’s?
Definitely not quite as much interest, but it's gathering momentum with each passing season. Having worked both men's and women's fashion weeks, I'd say that men’s is a lot more relaxed in terms of work ethic and the environment as a whole. Whether that's due to it being a smaller branch of fashion financially compared to women's, I'm not sure, but you're far more likely to receive a smile and a cup of tea at a men’s show than you are a women's. >>
What's been your most glamorous runway experience?
I've been lucky enough to work with Gucci on numerous occasions and their Cruise 2018 show at the Palazzo Pitti in Florence was amazing. Many shows share runway spaces, so the settings can become quite forgettable, but if a brand hosts a show in an exotic or interesting location it always makes it more glamorous for all involved.
What's the most incredible piece you've ever modelled?
At Raf Simons I wore an outfit that include a mesh vest embroidered with what I thought were costume jewels stitched into it, but they were actual rubies. The vest alone was worth €5,000.
What are your thoughts on modelling as a business?
I'd say it still has a long way to go. We've seen a lot of positive steps lately, with more being done to protect models from abuse and overworking, but the fact it's taken so long for that to happen says a lot about the job. Having no real policing agent or union means that for many years models could be used poorly by brands with little consequence, so hopefully that changes as the industry grows.
What's it like backstage before you go on for a show?
It's actually a lot duller than people assume. We normally arrive four hours before the show, spend about an hour in hair and make up, then the rest trying to fight boredom. Endless coffee and cigarettes are par for the course, other than that it's just chatting and waiting. I always say that fashion week is about 30% work, 20% commuting and 50% waiting. >>
Modelling is a competitive business. How do make sure you're top of the list for the best runway shows?
For me, it's always been a two man job: me and my agent. Every job I've ever done has been booked and managed by my agents at Elite. I have to be as professional as possible, make it to castings, be on time and be a pleasure to work with. Models need be smart about investing and make sure we have our personal life in check – the job is so sporadic and unpredictable that sometimes you have to be willing to travel at a moment's notice, but other times you may not be working for an entire month. Making sure you have plenty of hobbies and things to fill your downtime with is essential, as is being ready to go in an instant.
There's also a lot of downtime when on a shoot or waiting for a show to start. How do you manage that?
At shows I used to just smoke a lot and chat to whoever was at the show, but once you've done it 100 times you start to go in search of other things to do. I try and take a book with me, or my notepad to do some writing in the quiet times. Headphones are also essential, as well as being able to nap in any spot you find - I’ve even fallen asleep while getting my hair done.
What's your best piece of style advice?
If in doubt, opt for black. The majority of my wardrobe is either black, grey or white. I see so many people wearing neon colours but unless you're Sir Elton John, you’re not pulling it off. You can never go wrong with a nice suit, as long as you have belts and shoes to match. Another pet peeve of mine is Aviator sunglasses. 90% of the population wear them, but only about 10% actually look good in them.