Are models back in the game?
If the cover of Vogue’s September Issue is anything to go by, models are officially back. Joan Smalls and Karlie Kloss (among others) had arms linked together like sorority sisters under the Vogue banner, smiling in silent victory: they won the biggest cover in fashion back from the hands of pop stars and actresses.
It’s no secret to say that ours is the age of celebrity, with actors making headlines even in the “hard news” sources like your channel 5 broadcasts. We have an insatiable appetite for what our favorite actors do, eat, and wear. The media has helped feed our ever-growing celebrity-hungry belly.
With celebrities becoming the centres of more and more fashion ad campaigns, it had began to feel as though there was just no room left for models. After all, why have a silent mannequin peddle purses and perfumes when your favorite movie star could? Cashing in on the personality of the star and the magnetism of their presence simply made sense for companies (I mean, really, if wearing Gucci perfume can make me as fetching as Blake Lively, sign me up!).
But, much like everything else, social media changed the fashion advertising game- albeit not just in the way we may think.
Models, who were once considered personality-devoid fashion canvases, mere flesh hangers for clothes, have shown who they really are through tweets and vines and all the rest. Seeing the brains behind the beauty has us hooked on models again.
The craze for Cara Delevinge stands as the best example of this: her ability to parlay personality via selfies has made her at once admirable and relate-able.
Models used to be valued for being silent clothes horses- even the great Kate Moss is constantly described as nearly mute.
Letting the clothes speak for themselves was always the idea (the reason I
believe that “model” and “mannequin” are the same word in French). This new generation of models has managed to regain a footing in pop culture for going against their traditional stock.
They choose to be brash and loud, tweeting in all caps (a la Jourdan Dunn) rather than seeming coquettishly silent like Cindy Crawford.
They are no longer just models but it girls- we want to know them and be just like them, much the way we felt about the popular girls in grade school. We devour photos of their parties and vacations with the same vigor normally reserved for top 40 hit makers or silver screen starlets.
And while I applaud these women for branding themselves so successfully, it does raise an important question about us, the viewers.
As we feverishly consume social media scraps of models' lives we prove to be beings fuelled ever more by gossip and people watching. Part of it is sheer escapism- in an age where terrorism is a constant headline and jobs are hard to come by it can be fun to follow the happenings of a pretty young thing. But by following other's lives so closely do we stop living our own as much as we could?
If celebrity culture has proved us vapid (as many argue it has) what does this model/it girl extension add to it? Hungry to escape, full of vacant neo-news about the rich and famous, we are content to gorge on images of beautiful women in beautiful clothes. What once seemed like a love fest for those who are very talented performers now seems to be merely a blind admiration for anyone attractive enough to have a million Facebook likes and a perfume ad.
It is the return of the model, indeed. Is it also the exit of another layer of our real-world lives? When so much time is spent watching beautiful people what are we not seeing?
The model is no longer a mannequin. With her gaining a voice have we lost all that we had to say?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hi! I'm Morgan Mullin, a coffee-loving vegetarian from Trout Brook, Canada. Raised in the country but always a city girl at heart, I love travel, adventure and all things fashion. When I'm not traipsing around town highly caffeinated in unpractical footwear, I'm working on my blog, Hedonist In Heels. It's a place where I discuss how fashion and culture and daily life mix (along with lighter topics like city guides and boozy recipes). My favorite season is fall and my favorite author is Jack Kerouac. I love black and white movies, romance, and carbs of all kinds (but especially the ones that come from pasta!).