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 Fashion Showcase with Prom, Pageant, and Social Occasion Gowns
Ms Barbizon - Jacquelin Voetglin & Mr Barbizon Mark Valvano
The following question came in the form of an urgent middle-of-the-night transatlantic phone call to my home in Florida. (All models please note: There is a time difference between London and Tampa—they are five hours ahead over there!):
Q: “I am doing my first big fashion show today. There will be hoards of paparazzi. I am wearing a Dolce & Gabbana gown and I am terrified. How should I walk? Please help!”
A: The distraught caller was a stunning new model whom I had met. Her poise, looks, and figure were stirring great interest among the fashion cognoscenti. However, most of her assignments had been commercial, and she was not trained for the high-profile runway show just hours away. Realizing this was not the time for embellishment and trying not to sound grumpy, I sleepily answered: “Stand up straight, shoulders back, stomach in and put one foot in front of the other. Just walk!”
Winning Pair
I thought a lot about that call and of other models who, no doubt, had the same dilemma. Shortly afterward I attended a fashion show at an International Model and Talent Convention (IMTA) in Los Angeles. I was amazed at the professionalism of the young models, who were all newcomers and contestants from modeling schools. Some agents and scouts in the audience commented that, given their brilliant performances that weekend, the girls had to be professional models. IMTA vice president Michelle Buttlgieg confirmed for me, however, that that was not the case. The aspiring models had arrived only three days earlier. I asked who had produced the show and transformed this raw talent so brilliantly in such a short time. Michelle’s answer on both counts was Michael Maddox.
Michael is acclaimed all over the world as one of the best runway coaches and fashion show producers in the industry. Crista Klayman, runway director at the famous LA Models agency in Los Angeles, was one of the first to recognize his talent years ago, and hired him to train her top models. He has worked with other leading agencies, including IMG New York, Ford Models, Wilhelmina, and Visions LA, as well as top designers, super models, and actors. In spite of his fame, Michael has stayed humble and treats the ingénue with the same respect and passion he has for the superstar.
I asked Michael what, in his opinion, makes a great fashion model; if there really is a specific runway walk, and how he had pulled off his IMTA masterpiece. Here’s what he told me: “First of all, when a really great model walks down the runway, everyone in the audience wants to become her or buy everything that she has on. To reach that level, a new girl must be disciplined, patient, and willing to listen and learn from the experts who have been there and done that. She must have great posture; stay on a healthy diet; have a well-proportioned body, which she maintains by doing a 20-minute workout every day; and learn about this business. She must research the designers, their vision, their likes and dislikes and the realm of their expectations.
“When she goes on a fashion-show casting, she must be simple and basic in her looks and walk. Then when a designer says he wants a stronger walk, or a more graceful walk, or a stronger attitude, she can adapt to his wishes and take on that character. Every designer wants something different. If the model has done her research, she knows what is expected of her and it becomes a win-win situation. When she walks out on the runway, she must have a character in her head, which will enable her to interpret the designer’s ultimate vision and show his collection to perfection.
"There is something so gratifying about working with kids and turning them around in a 24-hour period." - Michael Maddox
“The IMTA show you refer to really did cause a stir, because everyone thought the models were professional. The secret for any runway instructor or show producer who is working with young people is to put themselves in their shoes. Only then can they realize the children’s feelings and the hunger they have for their careers. To me they are children, and just like a parent—and I am one—I have to be patient and strict. I don’t let them get away with anything. They must understand we are a team. If I have to repeat myself eight times on one issue, I do it because I want them to know I care. I want them to be the best they can be. There is something so gratifying about working with kids and turning them around in a 24-hour period. At the end of that time, they get a chance to see that the time, effort, and sacrifice they put in was worth it.”
It isn’t often the word “nice” is used to describe a person in this industry, but for Michael it is used by everyone. It is understandable that his motto for life, which he instills into his students, is: “It is nice to be important, but it is just as important to be nice.” Something we should all ponder.
Michael’s excellent DVD on runway technique and other criteria for male and female models is available by e-mail request at His newest venture, a web site which exposes athletes around the world to scouts and colleges, is called
Eve Matheson is the author of The Modeling Handbook , a bestseller in the industry. She has been writing about the modeling and acting world for over 20 years. Her new book Model Scoop And Acting Info provides a wealth of information on how to have a happy, successful, safe career and is now available. Eve is a journalist and the mother of a former international model. She has worked as a model, and in radio and television as a writer and presenter. Eve lives with her husband, Ian, a plastic surgeon, in Tampa, Florida.

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