Fashion Houses and Their Model Aesthetic - the Fashion Spot
 
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01-03-2012
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Fashion Houses and Their Model Aesthetic
Well, I just consulted with a very nice moderator, and it seems there isn't a specific thread to discuss about the aesthetics that designers and fashion houses look for in their models. I constantly read comments referring to models like: oh this boy is so Prada!, or hey this girl really fits Balenciaga's aesthetics... so, I think I'd be nice if we analyze here what kind of physical features/style a girl or boy usually has when he or she is casted to work for a specific fashion house, and how these aesthetics change through the years.


Last edited by Legolas; 01-03-2012 at 06:51 PM.
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To me the ideal Balenciaga model is all about mystical, intelligent femininity (!) with a very, very tender touch of quaintness, surrealism, fragility or melancholy. Dark and mean isn't enough to embody the Balenciaga ideal, there needs to be femininity. And she needs confidence in the most nonchalant way you can imagine, the perfect Balenciaga woman probably has a skeleton in the closet. :p
Like these ladies:




Natasa Vojnovic (via models.com), Querelle Jansen (via xaxor.com), Luca Gadjus (via digitaldiamonds.de), Zarina (via digitaldiamonds.de), Othilia Simon (via silentmodels.com), Dovile Virsilaite (via Andrea Carter-Bowman.com), Ann Catherine Lacroix (via models.com), Jamie Bochert (via zimbio.com), Aymeline Valade (via models.com)

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Thanks Legolas for coming up with the idea and starting this thread, I'm really excited for people to discuss this! With the revolving door of casting directors there has been a lot of discussions across different threads about whether fashion houses' model aesthetic will change as a result. This thread should be a great reference tool to identify, and track the evolution of, fashion houses and their preferred model aesthetic.

--

I'm really glad cologne_rocks bit first, and that he started with Balenciaga! I agree with your assessment CR. You touched a lot on femininity, but I also think there is a bit of a masculine quality to their aesthetic. No baby-faced or outright pretty girls here, these woman have a strength to their look. Many of the Balenciaga girls look as though they could also hang with the boys (be tomboys) due to a certain nonchalance they posses.

Also, when I think Balenciaga, I think natural beauty! (that undone French, looks great with messy hair, thick eyebrows, and minimal makeup factor), as reflected in the model examples posted above as well as their celebrity favorites: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Jennifer Connelly, and more recently Kristen Stewart.

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Great idea for a thread, Legolas!.

And great start, CR, I think Nicolas is one of the designers with very specific demands on how the women that represent the brand should look. With the exception of girls that debut for the brand, what most of his 'muses' seem to have in common is an 'intelligent' way of carrying themselves, not really something that is physical but what they emit.. the ability of being in command of their own careers and deep understanding of what they do, which are ultimately qualities that you see in somebody's face but not necessarily through features if that makes sense.. I love that Liya, Delfine, Diana Dondoe, Roos, Miranda Kerr and Gisele don't really have much in common but in one way or another they built a direction of their own in such a competitive territory and I think that's what the Nicolas seems to admire.. and what women should look up to without a doubt.

What I like about Balenciaga is that they don't ever discard models like they're expired products, you see Nicolas exploring design and embracing new faces the next season but you can always expect a 'familiar' face to make an appearance eventually (perhaps after a 2 season or even a 4 year break).

Moving on, I've been following Prada's shows religiously for over 10 years (*aged* ) and I don't think there's such a thing as a physical 'Prada' look.. that doesn't exist to me unless you specify season. They add anyone that lucks out with the fickleness of the house and take it from there, they might create buzz surrounding their casting and have a preference for campaigns depending on revenue but I don't think their actual demands when it comes to aesthetics are any different from most luxury houses. I also don't believe in a "Versace look". I believe in Versace styling though..

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02-03-2012
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cologne_rocks, your definiton of the ideal Balenciaga model sounds exactly like Kinga Rajzak to me

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Yep MulletProof, that makes completely sense about the iconic Balenciaga 'figureheads'. Besides a few phyisical attributes, it's really about the charisma of a model, radiating the strength she has achieved in the business... Pretty extroverted, but not in the questionable Givenchy-ish way. The complete opposite of casting strategies of very introverted houses like say Jil Sander - 100% based on physical attributes, minimal risk, minimal personality, let the clothes speak. I also agree when HeatherAnne says the average Balenciaga girl is far from being a pink cheeked baby-face (which would be purely Jill Stuart haha).


Kind of agree about Prada as well, it totally depends on the season. The show openers of the past 4 years had not much in common:

Adina

(via style.com)

Nastya

(via style.com)

Ymre

(via style.com)

Sam

(via style.com)

Lindsey

(via style.com)


Arizona

(via style.com)

Colinne

(via style.com)

Querelle

(via style.com)

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how about Famus people can we talk about them? or not?

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Quote:
Originally Posted by alonsoJonathan View Post
how about Famus people can we talk about them? or not?
I think that as long as those famous people you want to talk about have modelled or being the face of any fashion house, you can discuss them too. In other words, as long as you comment them here as models, I don't think you'll go off the topic. For example the several actors who walked for the male Prada show this season, or like Heather mentioned, actresses like Jennifer Connelly, who actually got F/W 2009 Balenciaga's campaign.

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Interesting contributions by all of you so far, btw...
I completely agree with CR about his vision of the ideal Balenciaga girl, but I also agree with MulletProof when she explained that the whole concept that embraces the aesthetic idea that people from a fashion house might have when they look for a new face to represent the brand, it's not only about specific physical features. Personality is becoming a very significant aesthetic factor in model castings these days. The feelings and emotions that a model may exude from her/his personality, contribute in the whole building of an aesthetic concept in order to represent a fashion house.
For example, Heather mentioned that Balenciaga's models are not usually baby-faced or outright pretty girls... and ironically, Miranda is a baby-faced outright pretty girl who's a favorite of the house; and that's an interest fact 'cause, imo, even though I think that both, CR and Heather, are right when they stated that Balenciaga's girls are usually mystical/melancholic looking, and that sometimes their features may look tough and strong.... they also can have soft features like Miranda as long as they have a strong personality like hers; 'cause actually that's also a characteristic that this specific brand likes to stand for: giving power to their women and representing hard-working and strong business girls like Gisele or Miranda... so there are definitely many other factors beyond the superficial ones, that we need to consider when talking about the aesthetic vision of a fashion house.
Now, I really want to make some comments about what Mullet said of the Prada look, but I really need to leave rn so... later

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03-03-2012
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I'm no expert on this topic but isn't Prada a much bigger company than Balenciaga or Givenchy? Prada is its own company too, whereas Balenciaga and Givenchy are brands within a larger company (Balenciaga is owned by the Gucci Group, and Givenchy is owned by the Louis Vuitton group). This might affect their model aesthetic.
Being a much bigger operation, Prada won't want to risk shrinking sales by marketing only to a particular personality. They must appeal to a broader range of buyers (all having plenty of cash and no taste :p). For smaller subsidiary companies like Balenciaga, its more a niche marketing thing so their model aesthetic can be more defined.

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05-03-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bothsidesnow View Post
I'm no expert on this topic but isn't Prada a much bigger company than Balenciaga or Givenchy? Prada is its own company too, whereas Balenciaga and Givenchy are brands within a larger company (Balenciaga is owned by the Gucci Group, and Givenchy is owned by the Louis Vuitton group). This might affect their model aesthetic.
I'd never thought about it this way, but maybe this can be related to their model choices… very interesting aspect to consider.

Now, about what Mullet said of the Prada look, that she doesn't think there's such a thing as a physical Prada look... well, I don't know for the girls, but when I first discovered Prada years ago (actually I think I was just discovering fashion, so you can imagine my theories back then ), I started noticing there were certain physical patterns shared by most of the boys that Miuccia uses for the Prada shows and campaigns.
One of the first men's Prada ads I remember seeing was the one for Fall/Winter 2007. The cast was a group of 4 or 5 boys, but for me, the edgy and angular faces of Nick Snider and Rogier Bosschaart outshined the others in every shot they appeared together:

Prada Menswear F/W 2007





prada.com/Posted by Ed at modelhommes.com

Then I saw some even older ads featuring one of the brand's favorites, Eddie Klint (who btw opened the show for more than 3 times if I'm not mistaken), and I thought he and Nick quite look alike physically speaking, since both are lean and tall guys with similar bone structures, and also they don't exactly have that type of "handsome-Hollywood movie star classic look" owned by most of the guys that brands like CK and Versace usually cast.

Prada LG Phone F/W 07


models.com

Later, it came F/W 09's campaign featuring that blonde mysterious boy (I still don't know his name ) and when I first saw his large nose and ears, I instantly thought of the way Rogier looked on his Prada Infusion d'Homme F/W 08 ad. At this point, I really started believing there was a certain physical pattern Prada followed when casting boys.

Prada Menswear F/W 2009



Prada Infusion d'Homme F/W 08


models.com

Also, there was the fact that I constantly read, and even have heard from some male models videos in which they joke about the fact that if they want to have the chance to walk Prada, they need to be... not too muscular; in other words, not as hunky as the Calvin Klein or Dolce boys, who most of time are styled in order to look sexy on shows and campaigns. I started noticing then that Prada boys were nothing like that. Even you can say they can be quite the opposite of that aesthetic.

By looking at the casts of several Prada shows through years, even though there are several boys with different aesthetics in all of them, you can tell that many of the boys who actually are regular walkers share some of these distinctive features, that imo, make me relate them to a physical Prada look: they're always less muscular than most of the other guys on other shows, and they usually have those strong facial features that make them interesting to look at and help them to give an image of exclusiveness and distinction to the brand:


lorenzodeparis

Now, when I saw the actors they casted for their last show, I couldn't help noticing how their aesthetic choices were very similar from many of their model choices in the past. I mean: Adrien Brody and Jamie Bell... they somehow share some physical features that suggest mysteriousness, cool quirkiness, elegance, and all those characteristics that make Prada boys look very high fashion.


theentertainmentlifestyle.com

So, for all these reasons, sometimes I like to think that there's actually such thing as a physical Prada look... at least for the boys (and when I say this I don't mean that all Prada boys have always looked that same way. There are actually many Prada boys that are most likely to be compared with a more classic handsome look from movie stars, like for example the most recent openers from the past shows: Arthur Gosse and Benjamin Eidem). I know that in the case of the girls, their aesthetic choices are even more varied, but I still think all Prada models, regardless of their gender, are best known for their distinctive/not so traditional look and this is the reason why I think that very unique-looking girls like Kelly and Sasha are perfect to represent the brand aesthetically speaking:


models.com

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Great post, Legolas, you've made your point and I'm convinced now.. what you said got me thinking on the path the male modeling business has taken and how it differs from the world of female models. The menswear world in general evolves slowly (or just slower than women's) and this affects the frequency in which they push 'beauty' boundaries.. which doesn't really happen often.. certain companies still hire and succeed by using the male equivalents of a Cindy Crawford or Stephanie Seymour, they're a handful of houses whereas in the female modeling world, it's actually a handful of models the ones that represent that aesthetic and then they are optional, in case a brand feels like being diverse or just happens to have clothes that season that need that specific physique, because every possible way of conceiving beauty has been multiplied into a myriad of forms and there is one that continues to dominate.. don't ask me why, because I don't think men buy that differently from women, they both have expectations where the unrealistic and the very realistic collide.

.. and that brings me to another self-contradictory and totally debatable point: while Prada may be bringing a more receptive or alternative approach to male beauty in a world that's still defined by tanned Versace hunks, I feel like its performance in the womens world sort of antagonises what they do in menswear.. they timidly subscribe to a body type that's been established and that could very easily be challenged and their attention to facial features merely responds to a mood that's usually already happening.. in other words, I agree Prada sometimes calls its own shots in menswear (perhaps for the obvious freedom that there is, or perhaps I pay little attention) but it doesn't get anywhere near that in womenswear, no matter how 'rare' the models' face is, to me that's just the result of excellent trend forecasting and as they do in design, observing what smaller/unknown/independent designers are doing.. if you look at their models from 97, from celebrities walking the show to Angie Schmidt to Louise Pedersen to Gemma, Suvi and their last ones, they're all part of a wave that's been solidified thanks to Prada support but not necessarily established by Prada.. I actually find it funny that people credit the 'doll faced' wave to a label like Prada when models like Ciara Nugent were already making splashes outside the mainstream world (covers for Nylon, walking for Warren Noronha and Bernhard Willhelm), but I guess that's what's bound to happen not just in the fashion industry..

Sorry if I'm not being clear enough, it's past midnight here!


Last edited by MulletProof; 05-03-2012 at 07:36 PM. Reason: off-topic.
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Has there ever been an aesthetical pattern when it comes to Chanel casting?

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07-06-2012
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I think there is, but only several girls mixed with more mainstream models.
Karl tends to like those tomboy models. Over the years he has used Freja, Stella, Alice Dellal, Lily Allen, Saskia, Aymeline, Daria W, Frankie, Soujourner, Arizona, Edie, Josefien, and with the right styling, he can also turn someone like Ines de la Fressange into a tomboy. Very nonchalant models, but not in a Balenciaga way like previously stated.
However, apart from these models he also likes very feminine models e.g. Claudia or Linda, Heidi or Daria S.


Last edited by anlabe32; 07-06-2012 at 05:08 AM.
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When it comes to Versace, there always has to be some sort of sex appeal (girl next door), whether extremely apparent with girls like Natasha Poly, Mariacarla B, Karmen Pedaru, Andreea Diaconu etc. but Donatella has obviously been leaning towards less typically sexy beautiful girls and started using models like, Julia Nobis, Lindsey W, Iris Egbers, Valerija Kelava (especially the fall 2012 season) who all have a bit more of a tomboy/less girl next door appeal about them. Gone from Versace is the days of the supers but she still always keeps a few very sexy, powerful girls in her casting just to keep in touch with the roots of the Versace girl.

Jil Sander- pale, almost etheral, angular, intellectual beauties. Daria/Vlada/Nastya Kusakina/Kati Nescher all come to mind


Last edited by ad31214; 16-01-2013 at 11:18 PM.
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