Runway Models: How to Walk Like a Catwalk Model

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Fashion Show, A Catwalk Event

Runway models have a very specific walk – and it’s far trickier to perfect than you might think. 

It’s important all catwalk models have a great walk. The top models have a very definitive walk that can be associated easily with them. A bad walk can lose you work and opportunities, so it’s vital you master this skill early on if you want to succeed in high fashion. 

Read on for our top tips on how to walk like professional runway models. 

Your Facial Expression

A runway model’s facial expression is just as important as their walk. Smiles are rarely seen on the runway. Runways tend to have a story or a theme, and these are usually fairly serious. Your walk and expression need to work with the clothing and the brand’s vision, so you’ll need to pay serious attention to the brief. 

For your “everyday” facial expression when asked to walk by a brand or agency, you need to master the sultry stare. Lower your head slightly and lengthen your neck. This will help to make your jawline appear sharper while also giving the audience a good look at your face. Stand tall and look straight forward – no looking down at your feet, or glancing to the sides. You need to master walking in heels without looking down. 

To nail the no smile-smile, try smiling, then relax your mouth without letting the eyes relax. Keep your mouth relaxed, but try to naturally make lips appear plumper. It’s a good idea to practice this as much as you can in the mirror. Take photos of your face from straight on and the sides to make sure you look good from all angles. 

Don’t scowl – your face should be crease-free yet fierce-looking. 

How to Walk

Place one foot in front of the other in long, sure strides. If you watch professional models walking in the London, New York, Milan, Tokyo or Paris fashion week runway shows for brands like Chanel, Prada, Valentino, Miu Miu, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Dior, Mugler, Dolce & Gabbana, Calvin Klein, Tom Ford, Stella McCartney, Tommy Hilfiger, Givenchy and Saint Laurent, you’ll see they have one thing in common: they walk with confidence and self-assurance. 

Try imagining that you’re walking along a straight line. Remember to look forward and not at your feet. Try not to exaggerate your movements. Keep your hands relaxed at your sides, or in your pockets. Move your arms naturally in sync with your body, but don’t over-swing them.

Practice your walk in heels as much as possible. Vary the size of the heels and the size of the shoe; many models must wear ill-fitting shoes on the runway, but they must still show off a perfect walk regardless of how uncomfortable their feet are. 

If you’re struggling, try walking to the beat of some music. Once you’ve got the rhythm down, turn the music off and try to emulate the rhythm. Catwalks tend to have music played during them, so you’ll be able to walk to the music when you’re on the job. Runways always have a pre-walk through too so you can practice and learn where you’re supposed to be and when.

Try to project confidence; even if you don’t feel it, pretend! Many models feel incredibly nervous on the catwalk.

Don’t run, but don’t walk too slowly either; you’re looking for something in between the two. Again, the music will dictate how quickly you need to walk.

Your Posture

Runway models often need to pose briefly at the end of the walkway so that a photographer can capture their image. Don’t just come to an abrupt halt; have a spot in mind where you plan to pose and start to slow down before you get there. 

When standing still, make sure to stand tall with your shoulders pushed back. You should look natural and it should be a comfortable position to hold. 

Don’t be stiff. Your movements should be fluid and natural but have power and intention. Some models like to put a hand on their hip, while others keep them in their pockets or show off an item of their outfit. Turn to one side, then the other, then walk back in the direction you came from. Remember not to look at your feet at any stage.

The Pros

If you’re struggling with your walk, it’s always best to learn from the experts. The following models are well-known for their amazing walks:

– Naomi Campbell

– Kate Moss

– Linda Evangelista

– Claudia Schiffer 

– Rihanna (at the Victoria’s Secret Show)

– Karlie Kloss (click here to check out her ironic walks with Jean-Paul Gaultier – watch specifically how she adapts her walk for the theme of each show).

Workouts to Improve Your Posture

A good posture is vital for modelling, especially for walking on the catwalk – there’s nowhere to hide and hundreds of eyes on you. There are certain workouts that help balance the muscles and improve the posture, leaving you with a strong foundation for a good walk. 

Your core is the most important part of your body to keep strong because it’s your core that controls your balance and overall posture. Work to strengthen it with regular sit-ups and crunches. 

Resistance training will help to strengthen muscles without bulking them up. Barre is an excellent exercise as it also helps with balance and poise – two great assets to any model’s runway walk. 

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