Friday, October 28, 2011

O! How The Mighty Hath Fallen!


Yeah, I'm just kidding. The news was released yesterday via Tweety Bird and fashion journalist Jim Shi that Freja "Face of Chanel" Beha will NOT be the face of Chanel for 2012. Well, he didn't say so explicitly, but he didn't really have to. Whatever, here's the tweet:

I'm guessing you are all well pissed off right now right? Like on a Richter scale, you're the equivalent of that earthquake in Turkey? And to think, you're all just walking about, ready to explode at any unsuspecting stranger...

Well. I understand the anger, truly, I do. Freja has been the Chanel girl for what, the last five seasons? It has become a constant, expected thing. Some of you might not have been there at the beginning of fashion season, but I was, and this is what happened:
Naive Person: "Will Freja open Chanel? Will she close? Will she be in the campaign?"
The Voice of Reason: "Uhm derrrrrr; is the Pope a Catholic?"
Naive Person: "I think he is, actually, yeah."
Of course, the rest went down in history like The Flintstones and now everyone's wondering what the shit just happened. This is the part where I confess that I have NO idea. But somehow, I'm not worried.

Freja has been the Chanel girl for ages, but I think it is really important that we don't become reliant on that single image of her. Despite what advertisers would have us believe, Freja and Chanel are not synonymous. They can exist in unison, or independent of one another harmoniously. It's not as if Freja's career is now over; in fact, I would almost argue that it is quite the opposite: now that Freja is not entirely tied to Chanel, it opens up the opportunity to work for a wider variety of haute couture clients.

Allow me to elaborate on this brilliant little seed germinating in my mind.

For the last two and a half years, the fashion world has been fixated on this notion of Freja being Karl's muse. She is involved with just about everything he does, whether it be magazine editorials, shows, campaigns... even one of those calendars where you strip down and don a strategically-placed yamaclaus as Ms. December in the name of charity. Except that this one had a more artistic spin and was sold to make money for a wealthy tire company in Italy, instead of the children in third world countries.

Golden cod pieces aside, my point is that Freja and Karl have been nigh inseparable for this whole period of time. The problem this poses is that the implicit associations between Freja and Karl, or Freja and Chanel mean that no matter what brand name is on the ad, we will see Freja's face and immediately think "Karl" or "Chanel". I dub this the Lara Stone Conundrum.

For those of you who don't know, Lara Stone is BIG. Big boobs, big lips, big tooth gap. Big eyes that will stare into your guilty little soul. (She used to have a big forehead too, but then her eyebrows rematerialized.) Big attitude: a girl was loitering in front of her once during a show, so she shoved her out of the way. Of the incident, she replied "It was only a few stairs." Lara Stone, to be completely blunt, is sex appeal. And until extremely recently, she had a monopoly on almost EVERY campaign Calvin Klein produced. You used to think "Brooke Shields" or "Kate Moss" when you thought of Calvin Klein, but now it is "Lara Stone".

Fortunately for CK's bank account, this genius marketing ploy goes both ways. If you see Lara somewhere, you don't think "Prada" or "Versus". You think "Calvin Klein". This will take time (and perhaps the new found eyebrows?) to change. So Tom Ford, until further notice, is doing free advertising for Calvin Klein. Just so that you know.

Fortunately for Freja, she has not been as pigeon-holed as Lara Stone. Where the terms of Lara's contract essentially meant she was promoting ONLY Calvin Klein each season, Freja has been busy with campaigns for other labels, not just Chanel. A strong relationship with Valentino has been developing for the last few seasons, as well as a string of H&M and Harry Winston campaigns. Freja is even setting up shop with Denmark's oldest luxury jewelry label Georg Jensen, not just as the company's face, but also as a designer. Earlier this month, she even became a philanthropist, which was totally rad (do we want a post on this?).

Suddenly, Freja and Chanel are looking more like biffles than conjoined twins, am I right?

So in response to the frantic emails pouring into my inbox even as I type this, no, I am not worried. Freja's career will live on for many years, whether she continues to appear in Chanel ads or not. (In fact, chances are that she'll pop up in the eyewear campaign, or maybe even a perfume ad?) Who knows, I wouldn't be surprised if she gets a single-girl campaign for F/W 2012. If Freja and Chanel are done forever, I will happily eat a bolt of tweed, but I hardly think that that is the null hypothesis in this situation.

I, for one, am happy for the girls who did get the campaign. Saskia has been getting a lot of hype the last two seasons, and I am looking forward to seeing how this all turns out for her. And Joan Smalls? When was the last time Chanel had a black girl in their campaign? Racism has been a huge topic in fashion for such a long time, and I think it's great that we are beginning to see some of these barriers broken down.

This is my take on it all, but I know there's a wide range of opinions on this particular subject, so I'll leave the rest to you. If you agree, or disagree, or differ in opinion, I would love to hear what you have to say, and I'm sure everyone else would appreciate another perspective. So please take full advantage of the comment section below!

If you're not comfortable with discussing this at the present time (for whatever reason: shyness, anger-induced silence, carpel tunnel, lack of fingers, whatever), I'll leave you with this: If you can't be happy for Saskia and Joan, be happy for the bright future Freja has ahead of her. She's facing the sun now, but she's definitely not casting any shadows.

Peace, love, and floating,
Gill Ford

P.S.: I'm pleased to see that you are taking full advantage of my email address, and encourage you all to continue to do so as you feel the need. I'll do my best to answer any questions you have, whether they be Freja-related or otherwise. If I'm stumped, I'll try to refer you to someone who's smarter than me (I keep tabs on all three of them) so you can get your business sorted. Today I dealt with some fun issues that included anorexia, lesbians, and what I did on Vladimir Putin's birthday. So you know, anything goes.

P.P.S.: I'm also aware that the night is dark and full of terrors, and you were all left in it for the last five months. So if there is anything that you know happened, or suspect might have happened while you were flailing about like headless chickens, give me a shout and I'll wiggle my fingers about with some scented candles and tea leaves and we'll see what happens.  


Anonymous said...

I'm not surprised Karl replaced her - it was time for a change after so many seasons. I'm a bit sad about the lack of new work in recent weeks. She isn't working a lot this year compared to previous seasons. Could be a conscious decision of course because she was overexposed last year.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to think that Freja is hitting the bottom, due to the lack of works (eds, cover, runway, etc). But, the bright side about hitting the bottom is there's nowhere to go but up.

Chin up, Freja!

Anonymous said...

Come on people it's not like Freja hasn't done or appeared in anything in recent times. She had 2 mag covers for last month.I think It was her choice to slow down a bit and not because the designers or editors suddenly realized they don't want her anymore. I'm sure we will see more of Freja again in the coming months after this teeny tiny break (which she so deserve and needed).

Anonymous said...

^agree with the person above.. while I want to see her EVERYWHERE for my own sake, I think its not healthy.. and yes, very agree, she deserves a break from last year.. not so much ed this year? nbd for me. yeah yeah, miss her, but I'll always remember her 3 covers, which is HUGE for me.. about karl, he cant very go far without her.. Im sure, he will come back for freja again..

btw, congrats for saskia and joan.. really looking forward to see the campaign, what karl and carinne will bring to us now.. curious..

eeekk, I excited for her, what campaign will she get? balmain (please not anja again, ugh), Lanvin? Isabel Marant (again)? ysl? Celine???

remember, "happy fish everyone", lol

Anonymous said...

Hi! I recently became a fan of freja and just found this blogspot. Just wondering where did the header photograph come from? The one with 4 shots of freja that heads every page. Could someone tell me? :D

Mona Lisa Overdrive said...

I don't know what to make of her absence from the Chanel campaign. I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise to her followers because she's been doing Chanel for like an eternity now and obviously it can't go on forever. I get the feeling the people over at Chanel wanted something fresh. As for her replacements, I don't know what to make of Saskia and Joan Smalls doesn't appeal to me. I think there are way prettier, skinnier, African American/Afro-Caribbean/East African models than Joan Smalls.

Speaking as an admirer of all things Beha, of course I want her to book as many advertising campaigns as possible, but then also think she's been overexposed and could use a break from the back to back Chanel campaigns. Honestly it was getting a bit boring.And yes we need to do a post about her philanthropic undertaking! What's it all about?

Jasmine said...

It was time really, for Chanel to get some new faces for their campaign. Saskia wasn't a surprise and I do think that Joan was a good choice. It's nice to finally see some diversity for Chanel, something they've lacked both on the runway and in their campaigns.

I liked you're point about this being good for Freja as well. Every article you read about Freja usually has "Karl's Muse" written somewhere within the first few sentences. And, even though that has been amazing for her career and an honor in the fashion world, I can see how other major fashion houses might be put off a bit by it and might be slightly more reluctant to have her front their campaigns. Not that she was ever doing poorly in that department, but maybe this distancing from Chanel could lead to some new surprises?

Anyway, I'm definitely excited to see what this "post-Chanel" era of Freja's career has in store for her. But of course it's probably not the last we've seen of her for Chanel, the muses always come back at some point :D

Anonymous said...

anyone knows if there's anything coming up (ads, campaigns, editorials...etc) with Freja? I miss her...

Anonymous said...

"I love them like a wildebeest loves a pack of lionesses ripping at its legs."


I love your description of Freja fans. And don't mind @ME_AGAIN1, she's just being a bitch.

Anonymous said...

^sorry, who's @ME_AGAIN1?

Anonymous said...

^Nobody special, she tweeted Gill today and called Freja's fans "loons"

Anonymous said...

Gill, what do you think about her valentino ad?

Megan said...

i am not surprised. i mean, this happened to daria werbowy a few years ago. she was karl's muse and had quite a few campaigns with him and chanel. daria was "the chanel girl." she was then replaced and rarely seen with karl at all.