Farrah Sabado and Maxim Orlov for Tom Ford “Love Holiday” Campaign, Dir: Raphael Hache
In fashion and advertising, the spotlight often shines brightly on models gracing runways and magazine covers. However, there exists a hidden yet essential niche within the industry where specific body parts become the canvas for artistic expression and marketing allure. This unique and specialized field is known as parts modeling.
Farrah Sabado for Revlon Ultra HD Snap Campaign
Parts modeling is a distinct subset of the modeling industry that focuses on the exquisite portrayal of specific body features, such as hands, legs, feet, eyes, lips, and more. Instead of showcasing an entire individual, this genre isolates and highlights a singular aspect of the body. The goal is to present that feature with unmatched precision and aesthetic appeal while telling a compelling story with just one isolated body part. The models must exude a sense of emotion and capture the viewer's attention through their chosen features.
Farrah Sabado for Revlon Ultra HD Snap Campaign
Understandably, parts models are not chosen for their conventional beauty or physique per se. Instead, they are selected based on the exceptional quality of the particular body part in question. These models possess the symmetry, tone, texture, and, most importantly, the ability to convey emotion and story through that body part.
Louis Vuitton Wonderland Boot Campaign
The history of parts modeling is closely entwined with the evolution of the broader modeling industry. While it might not have the same historical prominence as traditional fashion modeling, parts modeling has a rich heritage. The origins of parts modeling go back to the early 20th century when high-fashion designers and photographers recognized the significance of detail in their work. Hands, in particular, played a crucial role in conveying the craftsmanship of clothing and accessories, leading to the rise of hand modeling. In the post-World War II era, the concept of parts modeling expanded to include other body features, such as legs and feet. During this time, hosiery and footwear companies began seeking models to showcase their products in the most appealing and elegant way possible.
Farrah Sabado for Wolford
As the modeling industry underwent a radical transformation during the latter half of the 20th century, so did parts modeling. The demand for specific body features grew significantly, leading to opportunities for parts models with ideal hands, feet, eyes, lips, and even unique physical traits. In the modern age of digital marketing and e-commerce, parts modeling has grown as models continue to find new avenues for their work online. Close-up shots of lips showcasing a lipstick's color, detailed images of a wrist adorned with a luxury watch, or striking images of eyes have become essential to marketing campaigns and product branding over the decades.
Farrah Sabado for Tom Ford “Love Holiday” Campaign, Dir: Raphael Hache
Farrah Sabado, an LA-born and NYC-based DJ, musical artist, and parts model, is a perfect microcosm for the modern state of the industry. Having been dubbed a “parts supermodel '' by Vogue, Farrah's parts modeling career truly took off after she officially moved to NYC from LA to pursue a career in DJing and dance music. What started as a silly little side hustle quickly transformed into something greater than Farrah could ever imagine. As one of the foremost ethnically ambiguous and non-recognizable parts models in the industry, Farrah not only leverages her talents and professional experience to help top brands market their products but also to self-fund her music career over the years.
Farrah Sabado for Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs Spray
However, Farrah's journey into the limelight began in high school, where her passion for theater burned brightly. Little did she know that her first big break would come at the young age of 17 when she landed a national commercial for fast-food giant McDonald's. In the same year, Farrah found herself standing on the precipice of fame as a finalist in a nationwide model search for the revered Seventeen Magazine in collaboration with the prestigious CHANEL brand. This honor led her and seven other finalists to the bustling heart of the fashion world, New York City, for an exclusive magazine shoot. It was amid the city's ceaseless energy and creativity that Farrah fell head over heels in love with the place that would later become her home.
Farrah Sabado in Seventeen Magazine x Chanel Model of the Year Issue
Ultimately, it was not the conventional path of runway modeling that would define Farrah's career despite her early head start. However, Farrah's path would prove to be just as influential as a parts model despite falling into it unintentionally. According to Farrah, it was a "happy little accident."
While simultaneously building her legitimacy as a DJ, Farrah embraced parts modeling as a side hustle transforming into a veritable career. Her naturally beautiful, ethnically ambiguous, and non-recognizable parts propelled her industry trajectory faster than expected.
Farrah Sabado for 13 Minutes Magazine Editorial
Farrah has worked with a handful of major campaigns for massive global brands like American Express, Maybelline, Cover Girl, Neutrogena, Target, Tom Ford, La Mer, Cartier, Tiffany & Co., Movado, Drunk Elephant, Sunday Riley, Bailey’s, Häagen-Dazs, Truvia, J.Crew, Louis Vuitton, Stuart Weitzman, Christian Louboutin, and more. Her hands have adorned ginormous billboards overlooking Times Square, Penn Station, and Madison Square Garden and her eyes have tantalized consumers from product packaging in addition to other parts modeling. Farrah has lent her talents to countless non-recognizable commercials as her anonymity and ethnic ambiguity serve her well in the industry.
After a decade plus in the game, Farrah isn’t jaded and continues to look for innovative — and humorous ways — to leverage her talents. She jokes about the possibility of teaching online DJ tutorials featuring only her hands or creating a premium ‘Only Hands’ fan page.
Photography by: Courtesy of Farrah Sabado