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Rocking The Runway: How to be a child model

Insider tips for strutting your stuff down the catwalk of Florence's kids fashion fair

Posted: 24 January 2013
by Catherine O'Dolan

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Showcasing the model mood at Monnalisa

The 76th edition of Pitti Bimbo in Florence has been the perfect showcase for some of the world's finest children's fashion designers, not to mention bringing together the young fashion elite who have been chosen to walk down on the runway in the most fashionable finery. With a dazzling dozen fashion shows over the two days of the famous fashion fair, young child models must call upon more talents than just having a pretty face – though of course, that helps too.

Read these tips in our behind-the-scenes mini guide to making it to the top of the children's fashion world:

Love to dance! At this season's show by Italian designers Monnalisa, we were treated to various dance moves to Gangnam Style (with interesting variations between the boys and the girls' interpretations). It helps, then, if models do not have two left feet…

Beware of footwear Young models are often required to wear shoes that do not fit. It's hard not to trip over your toes when your shoes are way too big – boys seemed to have particular trouble with heavy biker boots, while some girls shuffled (penguin style) down the catwork with toes (and teeth) clenched to try and keep their too-big shoes on.

Stay grounded As if it is not hard enough walking down the catwalk in ill-fitting shoes, young models must also contend with further hazards and obstacles by way of scene-setting props. For the A/W14 shows, we saw catwalks that were saturated with glitter (at Monnalisa) creating a cloud of sparkle as models walked; artificial snow at Philip Plein, where an oversized polar bear also kept an eye on proceedings, and rotating giant fairytale books and a cascade of inflatable silver letters at Il Gufo which prompted a frenzy of jumping children bursting balloons at the finale.

Familiarise yourself with the garments Backstage at the fashion shows, the atmosphere can be chaotic and fast-paced. Amid all this, it's a good idea to check that models know how to get out of their clothes too. Onstage at Il Gufo, a model in a stunning cream wool coat struggled with her button for a good few minutes before appealing for help from a willing audience member. The crowd gave the flustered girl a huge round of applause – you had to admire her tenacity!

Shine in the spotlight Of course it's paramount that children look like they're having fun – although the occasional pout doesn't go amiss. Don't be afraid to let your natural personality show through. Children with the oddest of poses always get the biggest applause, and noone can resist the cuteness of a teeny toddler – especially when they haven't got a clue what their supposed to do. One word of warning: the lights at a catwalk show can be dazzling. Youngsters might like to practise by having a touch shone in their face or be prepared to see stars before their eyes. 

Avoid traffic congestion Try and learn your catwalk route – including your exit route – before the show, otherwise there can be collisions between those starting and those finishing their struts.

Keep calm and carry on There are good reasons why WC Field uttered the showbiz adage "Never work with children or animals.” Why? Children's behaviour can be unpredictable, and they invariably steal the show. In a children's fashion catwalk show, a little bit of chaos adds to the charm. And the audience always show their appreciation with plenty of applause.

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florence, model, childrenswear, fashion, children, designer, monnalisa, pitta bimbo

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