Changing face of the supermodel
Runway season is right around the corner and from New York to Tokyo, glamazons will be strutting down runways for fashion weeks around the globe. It will be an endless parade of beautiful models, who are tall, lean and stoic. But, their lithe look isn’t the only attribute that distinguishes them, for some it’s their fame too–not as supermodels but as celebrities: actors, musicians, and athletes.
Just this past weekend in Milan, Ed Westwick of Gossip Girl hit the runway for Philipp Plein’s Spring/Summer 2013 show and last month U.S. Olympians graced the cover of Vogue. With so many celebrities moonlighting as models on the runway and in ad campaigns one has to wonder will celebrities replace models? It’s not a new quandary, but a relevant one that has not truly been answered.
In advertisements and occasionally on the runway, we are seeing celebrities take the role of supermodel. Remember the days when models rose to be superstars like the well known trio that reigned supreme in the 90s called “The Trinity,” which included Naomi Campbell, Christie Turlington, and Linda Evangelista. Today, we still have a few famous faces in modeling including Karlie Kloss, Chanel Iman, and of course, veterans such as Heidi Klum and Gisele Bundchen.
But looking at fashion magazine covers and brand advertisements, it makes you wonder if the supermodel is a dying breed. After all, celebrities are easily identifiable. Designers want to sell their clothing and publishers want to sell their magazines and in order to appeal to a broader audience and increase exposure, they seek the faces of celebrities. What better way than for viewers to see their designer confections on people they recognize or have an affinity towards? Even magazines such as Vogue and W exclusively feature celebs on the cover of their monthly issues.
No need to bid adieu to models quite yet though, the ‘gilded age’ of the supermodel, as we knew it, may have come and gone, but there is nothing like seeing a fresh face hit the runway. What made supermodels so valuable in their era was not only how recognizable they were from runway to ad campaign, but the unique appearance they brought to the industry like the waif look of Twiggy in the 60s and the ethnic vibe of Naomi Campbell in the 90s. Designers latched on to these and took it to the next level by aligning themselves and their brands and help create the supermodel.
But in all fairness, by using celebrities, designers are able to gain notoriety from an audience who otherwise would not be familiar with their brand. Although these individuals may never become their customers, it nevertheless generates buzz, therefore putting fledgling or emerging designers to the forefront sooner than if they had relied solely on traditional runway and print models.
Then again, maybe this debate is best resolved on the catwalk, where it will be determined who will come out the victor in the battle of supermodel vs. superstar — time will tell.