Sunday, September 18, 2016

Quirky Beauty - The New Faces of Modeling

We are so used to the blank stares on the lengthy line of fashion’s runways as the model clones parade by without any hint of individuality or even the slightest suggestion of sensuality or femininity.  To be honest, it has not in any way been the fault of the models, but rather demanded by designers and brands to keep the focus on the fashion rather than the models.  This has been the trend for over a decade and just like fashion, trends ebb and flow, and finally the pendulum is swinging in the opposite direction, to the “cult of personality” which gave rise to the supermodels in its first round in the early nineties.  And we couldn’t welcome it more.  

Runway models before that era were called mannequins for good reason: they were not meant to be distinct in any way, but to be thin, elegant, and basically a walking dress form.  This trend was repeated in the early part of this century as a counterpoint to the supermodels who became oftentimes as relevant and influential as the designers and brands themselves.  The models were so indistinct that celebrities took over many of the magazine fashion editorials, covers, and campaigns.  Agencies have been full of these seemingly interchangeable models that were so void of any individuality that these women could never have built a career standing out from the pack.  The rise of social media and “influence” is having such an enormous impact on the industry as a whole that the model-clone trend is crashing and disappearing.  Brands now hire models based on their social media influence and personal style, and the only way she can build a huge personal following is by embracing her uniqueness and being a larger-than-life personality. 

Scouts hunt far and wide for different, often un-definable beauty, looks that break with  traditional ideas of beauty, and sometimes models without any seemingly normal perception of “beauty” at all, but who rank high on the influence scale.  Agents and scouts are actively encouraging models to be more than just a clotheshorse, as it broadens their appeal and social influence if they have other skills, talents and abilities.  Acting, singing, music, athletics, surfing, dj-ing, cooking, blogging, designing, dancing, being genetically or ethnically ambiguous, all add to a model’s potential for wide appeal.  Just like club kids, indie actors and musicians inspired designers like Marc Jacobs in the early nineties, doing something while modeling on the side is a valid part of a model’s personal brand-building, which is essential in a successful career.  What was in the past a distraction is now considered an asset.  Not only does it open the doors of the fashion world to a more inclusive, exciting, creative section of the population, it is infinitely more appealing to a wider audience as it reflects the world around us, and not some other-worldly ideal. 

Everyone now cultivates their own brand on their social media, creating their visual identity, defining what fashion means to them, and its place in their lives.  Quirky models who are unique, ethnically ambiguous, extremely tall, or not so tall at all, are racking up mileage on fashion runways and in campaigns.  Dreads, afros, super wide-set eyes, large noses, androgynous, gap-toothed, and long-faced models are having an impact, and allowing us to look at fashion from another perspective, not only on the runway but in editorials and campaigns as well.  

We always think that fashion sets the trends and is a step ahead of the curve in its edicts and dictates, but now the industry is being influenced.  Just like the rest of us. 

#models and social media #quirky models  #quirky beauty  #new models #new faces  #changing beauty standards  #cult of personality

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