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Model (person)

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A fashion model on the catwalk. (Gisele Bündchen)
Fashion model: Abbey Lee shows design by Diana Furstenberg, 2009
One of the most famous paintings in the history of art: Édouard Manet's painting of Victorine Meurent as a prostitute. Olympia, 1863. Toulouse-Lautrec, who also used her as a model, used to introduce her as 'Olympia'. She went on to become an artist herself.
Art model posing in a French painting school

A model is a person who has the job of using their body to pose for art, or to show fashion items, such as clothes or jewellery. Models often appear in advertising on television and in print media, for example newspapers and magazines, or on the web.

Commercial models

There are many different types of models. Some models only use certain parts of their bodies. For example, a hand model is a person who only uses their hands. A hand model would be used to display certain items, for example rings and watches. These models are mostly used for advertisements.

Fashion models are used to sell clothing or cosmetics. People who make clothing will often use fashion models to wear the clothing they make at fashion shows. The models will walk up and down a raised section of floor called the catwalk or runway to show the clothing to other people. Some exclusive 'fashion houses' also use models to show off their dresses to clients. This idea was invented by Charles Worth.

Photographers can use models for several situations, which can be grouped into the following categories, advertising, editorial and personal/portfolio work. Within these groups, work can involve fine art, fashion, fitness and glamour, to name but a few. Some photographers may ask models to express different moods or feeling for pictures.

Models can be all shapes and sizes, both men and women. Models do not have to be size zero, though most are young, good-looking females. Some models are 'plus-size' models and are of a larger build.

First model

The first person described to be as a fashion model was Parisian shopgirl, Marie Vernet Worth. She was a 'house' model in 1852, for her fashion designer husband at the haute couture House of Worth.[1][2]

Art models

Fine art models are hired by photographers, painters, sculptors and other artists to pose for their art.

Models are frequently used during art classes, but are also employed by professional artists. The most common types of art created using models are figure drawing and painting, sculpture and photography. Although commercial motives dominate over aesthetics in advertising, its 'artwork' commonly employs models.

Throughout the history of Western art, drawing the human figure from life was considered the best way to develop the skill of drawing. In the art school classroom setting, there are no real limitations on who the model can be. In some cases, the model may pose with various props, one or more other models, animals etc., against real or artificial background, in natural or artificial light and so on.

Models for life drawing classes are often nude, apart from visually non-obstructive personal items such as small jewellery and sometimes eyeglasses. This may be referred to as being 'undraped' or 'disrobed'.


Models typically work in one of two ways:

  • Agency. Models are given work by an agency: the agency takes a percentage of the fee.
  • Self-employed. Models are contacted directly by advertising agencies, photographers and others. The models set their own fee.