Ashburn resident Molly School thought the scene before her was just like the movies: stylists rushing wildly about, camera flash bulbs going off in front of her eyes, veteran makeup artists primping and pampering the models.
But School wasn't in Hollywood. She was in Northern Virginia, getting made up for a photo shoot for an international stylebook on hair design.
"It felt a lot like the 'Makeover Story' on TLC," said School, referring to a cable television series on makeovers.
School was one of dozens of models prepping for a trade publication on hairstyles. The publication, Passion Stylebook, goes out to salons in over 40 countries worldwide. The stylebooks, which inform hair stylists on the latest trends, come out in several editions annually.
Much of the grunt work for this international publication isn't done in Paris or New York or London. It occurs in Fairfax County, using mostly local models, with a City of Fairfax businessman serving as art director for the photography sessions.
"This is the book that people look at in over 40 countries," said Larry Oskin, art director for three of the Passion Stylebooks and president of Marketing Solutions in Fairfax. "It's not just a local photo shoot," he said. "It's got international parameters."
Oskin, who has worked in the beauty business for years, had been submitting hairstyle photographs to trade publications for his clients. Over four years ago, the California-based publisher of the Passion Stylebooks asked Oskin to develop stylebooks on the East Coast.
Since then, Oskin has organized the photography sessions for three editions of the stylebook. This latest photography session, which occurred in Falls Church and Arlington on Nov. 16 and 17, is for the updo's edition.
Over those two days, 100 hair designers and makeup artists from across the country and locally created hairstyles on 100 local models.
"It's a wonderful opportunity for the stylists to show their artistic talent and get excited about the industry," said Sonia Agosto of Alexandria's NuYu Salon and Spa.
The models who find themselves on the pages of the stylebook must be willing to let the stylist experiment on their hair. Almost all of them don't model professionally but are attracted to the idea of getting a free makeover.
"I like getting my hair done. I like the experience of getting my picture taken. It's really nice," said Jackie Kennard of Centreville, a student at George Mason University, who also works at the Fairfax County General District Court. Sunday's photo shoot would be her fourth opportunity in the Passion Stylebooks. "It's a nice thing to do, because you get to work with these stylists who are from all over the country."
Janelle Juanpere, a student at Fairfax High School, agreed. This would be her third photo shoot.
"I like the different looks. It's exciting to see what they're going to do," Janelle said.
Reston resident Natalia Konovaltchouk heard about modeling for the stylebooks through a friend. She thought the white feathers in her hair went well with the formal dress she was wearing.
"I really like it. Michael did a really good job," Konovaltchouk said, adding that she felt like a cross between a model for Victoria Secret's “Angel Collection” and a Russian ballerina.
"I'd like to be able to manage my hair," Konovaltchouk said. "There are so many options, and I'd like to explore the options. A lot of people cut their hair, and don't like to maintain it. As you can see, you can really do some amazing things."
AGOSTO of the NuYu Salon said the six hairstyles her salon submitted for the stylebook are actual hairstyles clients can get at their salon.
"The looks are going to vary in terms of what book they're looking to publish," Agosto said.
Now that the shoot is finished, the photographs have been sent to Los Angeles for film processing and pre-editing. They will then go to London and Tokyo for final edits and layout. After the book is printed in Hong Kong, it will be shipped back to the United States.
Production is completed on that edition, and now Oskin will start the next edition. The photo shoot for a family edition of the Passion Stylebooks is set for late February, and Oskin said he's always looking for models.
"Models just need to be willing to let the hair designers select and create the new haircut, hair color and style based upon their facial shape, lifestyle and personal guidelines," Oskin said.