x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Be a supermodel for a day

I was curious to see how a Dubai photography studio planned on transforming normal women into supermodels - for a day at least.

I was curious to see how a Dubai photography studio planned on transforming normal women into supermodels - for a day at least. With cutting-edge clothes, out-there make-up and barely there diets, supermodels have always seemed more like exotic aliens than beautiful humans to me. So I was curious to see how Darrin James Photography planned on transforming normal women into supermodels - for a day at least. The four-month-old Dubai studio is offering a "Supermodel for a Day" package for women looking to get a taste of Kate Moss's life. For Dh5,000, the package comes complete with chauffeur service, calorie-controlled lunch, hair and make-up and a two-hour photo shoot. The price includes five finished photos and one framed print, but not the clothes. The studio owner, Darrin James, says he aims to "make women feel beautiful" by giving them the royal treatment during a five-hour foray into fashion.

I tagged along with Kate Fox, an account executive who was celebrating her birthday, to see what it's like. The day begins when Fox is picked up from her office up in a sleek, black SUV. The first stop is the Studio 8 boutique, which specialises in local and South Asian designers, to select outfits. An array of assistants are on hand to help, while a videographer and photographer capture each moment. (Fox could buy a video of the whole process later as a keepsake.)

After trying about 15 outfits, Fox chooses the final six for the photo shoot with the help of Faye James, a fashion expert and editor of Emirates Woman. Her choices range from regal to risqué: a lilac-and-green silk ball gown to a black beaded minidress. Next Fox is driven to the studio, where her low-cal lunch, a roast beef sandwich with tabbouleh, waits for her. She has a few moments' rest as the crew sets up. The break is short and she is ushered into the studio for hair and make-up. On the wall are pages torn out of fashion magazines to be used as inspiration. I ask Russ Kientsch, the fashion photographer, if, so far, Fox's supermodel experience seems authentic. "This is it," he says, "This is the real McCoy."

I count six people fussing over Fox. It is noisy and a little frantic: the make-up artist applies black eyeliner as the six outfits are fluffed and the film is prepared. But once Fox is ready for the shoot itself, the whole atmosphere changes. The lights dim and the tribal-lounge music is turned up. Kientsch kicks off his white leather sandals. Everyone stops talking to watch the model strike her first pose.

And model she is: Fox is instructed on how to position her body, hold her chin, open her mouth ever so slightly, and where to look to create the best composition. All the while she is surrounded by reflector screens, make-up brushes, masking tape and the ever-present videographer. The whole affair takes about two and a half hours, and at the end of it, everyone seems satisfied but tired. It is a long process, but Kientsch insists that professional photo shoots take even longer - usually a full day.

Fox hasn't seen anything more than thumbnails so far, but she says the day went well. She is still wearing her favourite outfit, a red strapless dress by Manish Manhotra, and is having her make-up touched up so she can leave looking picture-perfect. I ask her if she feels like a supermodel. "Definitely," she grins from beneath the make-up artist's mascara wand. "It's nice being quite pampered." She looks radiant, and it comes as a relief to me that a "normal" woman can be made to look just as unattainably gorgeous as a supermodel. Still, Dh5,000 is a hefty price to pay for a luxurious yet stressful five hours - but maybe that's what it takes to unleash your inner Kate Moss.

Julia Shew

For more information on becoming a supermodel for a day, call 04 368 6355 or visit @email:www.djphotography.net