Zoolander No.2: What it’s really like to spend a day being ridiculously good looking
When I’m first asked if I would like to experience a day in the life of international supermodel Derek Zoolander, to celebrate the hit film’s sequel Zoolander No.2 being released on DVD and Blu-Ray on July 4, my response is immediate: when?.
Two weeks later, I show up at TILT Professional Makeup in Camden looking slightly worse for wear after running straight from an interview and sitting atop a boiling bus in traffic for half an hour. My face has a pale sheen of sweat and tiredness, and I’m privately thinking the makeup artist has a lot of work to do to make me look like a human, let alone a really really good looking one. I’m excited to get started though, because being 4’9 has meant that I have never considered becoming a supermodel – and I’ve considered becoming a lion tamer, exotic dancer and even an accountant.
The first thing I learn is this process is long. I usually spend around fifteen minutes on my makeup in the mornings before work, and I was under the impression that was pretty thorough. Apparently not. By the time I expect to be finished entirely, they’ve just about finished removing my current makeup.
I close my eyes through much of the experience and refrain from talking, a bit unsure if moving my face might completely reverse their efforts. I open my eyes after what feels like hours to see my nose is half the width it usually is, and this is what it means when people saying “contouring”.
When the eyeshadow goes on, the makeup artist perfects that smoky look that I can’t manage despite hours of YouTube videos. I’m most excited about the eyebrows, however. I’ve plucked mine half to death, but these new ones are thick and glorious and remind me a little of Emilia Clarke.
There are parts I do not enjoy. My hair is pulled back and I’m manhandled into a wig (I have a man’s head size, so getting me in any wig is a feat requiring multiple people). My lips are like a Rimmel advert – really red and glittery and twice the size of any real human lips, but licking them feels like licking gravel.
Anyone can get heavily made up, so where’s the supermodel touch? Leopard print face paint goes on next. This looks a lot like a chemistry experiment, as various powders get mixed with liquids and sprays on a palette. It’s all a bit GCSE science, but the final look – with added glitter – is actually pretty cool.
I’ve heard of TV stars spending upwards of four hours in makeup every day, and I’ve always thought that sounded like a fun and stress-free way of starting the working day. I could describe what it actually felt like in three points. Firstly, I feel a bit like a human doll. Secondly, my head is being moved from side to side so casually and frequently that it reminds me of those annoying mornings when I can’t get the showerhead in the correct position. Thirdly, people staring unblinkingly at my face and making comments I can’t understand makes me feel like some sort of scientific experiment. I have an insane itch above my right eye, but I dare not touch it.
When it’s finally over I feel distinctly more like a drag queen, and yet I do feel a weird surge in confidence from having a look inspired by the really really ridiculously good looking Derek Zoolander. The photographer, Adam, asks me if I want to do my photoshoot in the crowded and vibrant Camden Market. After a bit of trepidation, I figure nobody would ever recognise me and I want to get the full experience, so I say why not.
Courtesy of Rockit Vintage, the dress I’m wearing is vintage Ralph Lauren. It’s the first time I’ve ever worn the label (my attempts to touch the fabric in department stores in the past has always been followed by filthy looks from the shop assistant). It’s followed by a choice of a Pat Butcher-esque leopard print fur coat and a leopard print bomber jacket. Unable to choose between the wonderfully awful pair, I ask if I can wear both. A pair of sunglasses completes the look, and by this point I genuinely doubt I will be able to contain the giggles long enough to take even one photograph.
Strangely, I feel less self-conscious than usual in the quirky Camden Market. I let my inner super model (I have to search very hard to find her) take over, and the clothes and make up really help. Suddenly the sultry poses I only dare attempt when horribly drunk at some god awful club at 4am don’t seem quite so ridiculous, and with a little urging to show my “blue steel” I get right into character. There’s definitely something to pouting with really enormous lips, it just looks good. This must be why Angelina Jolie does it.
I strut through Camden Market like I own it, lean backwards against walls like I do that sort of thing, and even block a group of people trying to cross a bridge to attempt my Beyoncé face (that one needs work). In the moment, with a camera, an inch of makeup and the eyes of baffled tourists in my face, I do feel really caught up in the experience.
Derek probably wouldn’t understand my relief when it’s all over. Being a model, even just for a few hours one Tuesday afternoon, is honestly exhausting. Don’t get me wrong, the confidence boost and the stares are great fun, but give me a quiet night in with a curry and Netflix any day of the week.