Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Model Stereotypes

Look! It's Daria, Lara, Sasha, Freja and lots of your other favs all in one editorial! Too bad it sounds so wonderful that it's just bound to disappoint. For things in life are never as good as they sound.....or are they?

Star Girls
Vogue UK, December 2010
Ph: Mario Testino
Styling: Lucinda Chambers
Other Models: Angela Lindvall, Carmen Kass, Claudia Schiffer, Daria Werbowy, Edie Campbell, Georgia May Jagger, Karlie Kloss, Kate Moss, Lara Stone, Lily Donaldson, Naomi Campbell, Natalia Vodianova, Sasha Pivovarova, and Stella Tennant

Freja's Part:

I kind of wish all the model were in one breathless group shot a la Annie Leibovitz and those awesome Vanity Fair covers of the early 2000s. I used to love those covers so much. They were so enchanting and fantastical. (Of course, that was also at the height of my Hollywood fascination so maybe that's why they seemed so awesome to me. But in hindsight they're still pretty kick ass. Not like those photoshop-of-horrors Vogue US top model covers.) Anyway, with each girl in this editorial being shot individually, it's difficult not to reduce each model down to some stereotyped version of herself. But short of photoshopping everyone into one picture, individual shots are the only way this concept would have worked. Can you imagine the nightmare it would have been to coordinate the schedules of Naomi and Kate, not to mention all the other models as well!? Eeesh...nightmare almost seems like an understatement.

Anyway, we have Sasha as eccentric fairy queen, Natalia as ballerina, Lara as vamp with boobs, Freja as androgynous rocker, Karlie as American sporty, etc, etc. If you look closely, you'll even find that the stereotypes are exploding out from the text descriptions of each model. Lily is an English Rose? Wow, never, ever heard that one before. As trite as this all is, I suppose it fits the theme of this editorial. They're taking the characteristics that made each girl famous and highlighting them. I assume that Vogue UK is similar to Vogue US in terms of market demographics, so the uninformed masses who know little to nothing about these models can look at their pictures and surmise the role they fulfill within the industry--the very role that made them all "stars." (But don't ask me what Edie Campbell is doing here after completing only half of a runway season. That hardly qualifies as star material.) If you already know everything there is to know about these girls (or if you run blogs or tumblrs on any of them), this editorial will most likely be comme ci, comme ca. I feel like we've all seen these pictures and poses from all these models in some form or another many times before.

Even if I'd rather see all these girls play outside their usual roles, I get it. A magazine like Vogue UK has to walk the fine line between commercial appeal and high fashion credibility. How else are you supposed to introduce these models to a public who possibly knows nothing about them? You have to make them recognizable, that's how. You have to present them in ways that might hit on some flicker of recognition in the viewer's mind. And at the very least, everyone looks pretty good, and it is a nice introduction to star models if you know nothing about them. And of course it's a great honor for Freja to be included. We can't ignore that Vogue UK has been one of her biggest and most constant supporters, even when times weren't so good. I will never forget how excited and relieved I was to finally see Freja show up in a magazine in Before the Fall, after a summer of literally no work back in 2008. Ever since then, I've always had a soft spot for Vogue UK. (On a semi-related note, I think Lucinda Chambers is a Freja fan and part of the reason why she's featured so much in Vogue UK. They've worked on a number of eds together, and Lucinda also styles the Marni show and we all know that Freja is a Marni runway fav.)

There is one thing I absolutely love about this editorial and it's the title page. It's extremely whimsical, interesting and creative. Just looking at it makes me smile. It's such a nice touch, and it elevates the whole editorial by tying everything together. Otherwise, the photos look choppy and unrelated. But with all the autographs on the front page, it feels like a collection of pictures some fan gathered together into a book. Subsequently, this fan was then lucky enough to meet all of his/her favorite models and collect all their autographs. And whenever you or I finally pick up this magazine in real life, we'll kind of have a fan book of our own. I like that thought, and I like the relational and tangible aspect of it. I don't know if it was intentional, but it's a neat way to engage the viewer.

Image Credits: Scans by tFS member gossiping.


yantomycin said...

Totally agree with u about its title page. Just the look of it, get me totally excited. I swear i got to get myself this copy. And its only 2nd of Nov!!!! Mind....

BTW, always love to read your thought. TQ!

Anonymous said...

What a bloody letdown. I was looking forward something like what Meisel pulled off last year with the Vogue US model issues where all "his models" posed together. Or even small groupings of models would have been better than this BS.

kim said...

Not loving it but I love how they styled Freja with her own boots, kinda like putting her real self in a high fashion sense.
I also agree that the magazine is accommodating the readers who are not too familiar with fashion models, which is a huge part of the general public. I am at least glad that they are talking about models, not celebrities.

Stupendous said...

i saw this in the shop today and i got exited, but upon seeing it i was disappointed. Freja, Naomi, Kate, Claudia, not much from each, but GREAT! i LOVE THEM! but Georgia May Jagger?! and Edie WHO?! i really hate how some 'whatever' models get put in the same book as models who have worked for YEARS or earned their stripes. i think it's really unfair on models who work hard, or should get more work, or did get alot of work but are still ignored. where's Jourdan Dunn? or Eniko?. and especially on a editorial focussing on the biggest models? yeah, 'of the decade', but if i havent even heard of Edie whatever, then she shouldnt really be there. and didnt Georgia May Jagger say she doesnt even want to be a model, around that time when she had her first british Vogue cover?

Anonymous said...

I totally agree kunklebunkle: a group shot would have been better. But can you imagine if they HAD done a group shot? Freya would have knocked the socks off of all the rest of them - I suspect they know it and don't want to piss off old Kate.

Am I the only one who has picked up on the sycophancy of the editor's remarks at the beginning of a previous issue of uk vogue (can't remember if it was the kate or freya cover): schulman commented with words to the effect that 'although we've shown you pics of freya, don't worry kate we won't stop putting you on our cover "any time soon"... ' the tone of not wanting to upset kate was loud and clear to this reader!