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11-07-2007
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The Supermodel - Is it Time for a Rebirth?
After countless debates on who are the neo-supermodels if there even are any, I think it is first time to discuss wether they are actually coming back in a topic devoted especially to that. As far as I am concerned, they are so very much on their way and right now at this moment, the indistry is slowly determining who they will be and when they will be officially supermodels. Of course, the original Supermodels - which I'll wright with a capital S - will never be replaced, but that does not mean that there will not place for a new crop of girls and women who will attempt to reach the same status.

Basically what happened in the late nineties is that the Supermodels became out of vogue. The fashion world wanted clean, faceles slates to hang their clothes on and nothing more. But recently, this has been changing a lot IMO. My arguments are clear. There are various signs to be pinpointed that indicate a scream for new supermodels from within the industry itself. I'll try to put them down as chronologically accuratly as I can:
  • 2001? and up: the Victoria's Secret show becomes a cultural phenomena and the Angels are raised to a limited celebrity status.
  • September 2004: Vogue US cover features 9 models which are introduced to us as girls to remember.
  • 2006: after Kate's affair, her gigantic media attention is exploited by the fashion industry. She had 10+ big time campaigns and never made more money in a year: fashion needed a face with a name to sell.
  • Early 2007: influx of Supermodel era covers: Linda, Helena, Claudia, Naomi all land important covers.
  • January 2007: John Galliano returns to his 90's style of couture presentation, models are forced to inject personality in their appearance.
  • S/S 07 campaigns: 1 Versace's ads feature huge topmodels and accompany every printed ad with their names. 2 Doutzen Kroes becomes spokesmodel for L'Oreal.
  • March 07: John Galliano's show repeats and enforces the personality issue in his F/W 07.08 presentation.
  • May 2007: Vogue US launches the Ten World's Next Top Models
  • June 2007: Mario Testino shot Catherine McNeil for V Mag in an ed entitled Birth Of A Supermodel.
  • July 2007: In his Christian Dior couture collection which marks 60 years of Dior, the use of top and Supermodels of the past is undeniable. The personality influx remains.
PS: As you can see, I definetly see Galliano as a huge force in this, because he was as well back in the nineties...being Wintours baby and all.

Dicuss!

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Last edited by Mr-Dale; 11-07-2007 at 03:28 PM.
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23-07-2007
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I would agree that now is the time for supermodels. I believe that people want supermodels - I think everyone is tired of the endless stream of girls who look for all intents and purposes exactly the same.

I would agree Mr. Dale with all the events you've listed - I think the Vanity Fair, Slavs of Fashion cover/editorial could also be on that list.

The world is ready for supermodels but my question is - can the industry deliver? A supermodel has to be someone very special who stands out from the pack and the tastes of the fashion crowd are not usually the tastes of the general public. A girl would have to have a certain amount of crossover appeal in order to make it to the big time. I'm really wondering which girls will have the power to do that because honestly I don't think that all of Wintour's picks for the May cover have that ability.

There was an interesting letter to the editor in this month's Vogue from John Casablancas - he makes some good points though I wonder how much of it is sour grapes and how much is harsh truth.

Letter from John Casablancas to Anna Wintour:

I looked at the beautiful faces on your May cover [photographed by Stephen Meisel] and couldn't help wondering; Who are these girls? Most of the "new" supermodels, although gorgeous are not recognizable faces.

1992, your April cover story was about supermodels who were not only gorgeous but also bona fide personalities known by only their first names.

A few years later their power had waned. Vogue made a valiant effort to revive the supermodel spirit. Even though the faces were recognizable the names were not. Natalia Vodianova had to be described as the "Calvin Klein model" and Daria Werbowy as the "Lancome face" in order for people to be able to identify them.

Soon after, designers, advertisers and leading magazines worked to destroy the capricious supermodel era and to standardize the profession - creating easily disposable, flavor-of-the-day models. The result is a democratic modeling industry with hundreds of pretty, waiflike young women who are not given the time nor the necessary management to make their mark and create a new generation of supermodels, who would inject sorely needed excitement into a stale and repetitive fashion industry.

John Casablancas
Former Chairman of the Elite Modeling Agencies
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

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23-07-2007
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Very interesting thread; I too agree with the list, though I would add a few more events to it. The main event would be Versace advertisements bearing the names of models, a key move in making modern models household names.

Additionally, our very own tFS is a large step in creating a new breed of "supermodels." By listing every model in every campaign, editorial, cover, etc., we're making an effort in educating others of models.

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23-07-2007
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I'm with you seanutbutter, I think websites like tFS do play a crucial role. Models are not featured in magazines in the same way they once were. There aren't profiles for every girl or rundowns of who was in what show and so on so forth. People come here so they can learn more about the girls - information that they really couldn't get anywhere else.

I think the internet has been a great tool for fashion in terms of showing the industry just what people actually want. The amount of blogs, websites, and communities dedicated to models is a sign that people are in fact interested in not only the original supers but their modern day counterparts. Its a real cultural barometer - you can go into Supporting Cast and see who is popular, who is missed, who is loved and so on so forth.

Another coup for the return of the supermodels would be the rise of models getting major cosmetics contracts. Doutzen for L'Oreal is one of many in recent years. Maybelline brought Turlington back, Liya, Anja and Hilary signed with Estee Lauder, Cover Girl even brought Christie Brinkley back after all these years.

I also think the whole influx of late 80s - early 90s nostalgia is bringing about this need for supers. Designers are looking at Versace, Leger and Alaia - the main supporters of the supers and when you design clothes with vigor and sensuality you want a girl whose allure can match that energy. Its all about the right clothes on the right girls.

I think photographers (and not just Meisel though he is so very important) are going to really have to band behind the new girls. Back in the day you had photographers clamoring to shoot whole groups of girls. There was a solidarity to that - it wasn't just "McNeil is exclusive to Testino" or "Meisel Coco" there was this focus on the group. Naomi, Linda and Christy were/are dynamic and incredible but as the trinity they were unstoppable. Either were going to get a really group of girls with true beauty, unique stories and crossover appeal or were going to get one girl who dominates the entire scene the way Gisele did in the early 00s. I'm much prefer seeing a group rise up as opposed to one omnipresent girl.

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03-04-2008
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I found this entry from The Imagist interesting and kinda relevant to the discussion in this thread as it mentions one view of tFS's, among other internet sites, influence on the industry:

Quote:
CAMPAIGNORAMA : It's 1998 All Over Again.
Question. If as hiss has it, Claudia is Chanel FW 08 and Naomi YSL with Kate set to log her inevitable 4-pack of camps, where does that leave today's mob of bright eyed newcomers? The magazines are awash with Top Newcomers edits. V must do one. German Vogue has one pending and the new incarnation of Interview under Karl Templer's stewardship kicks off with a visual ode to today's Top New Stars but these girls will not be populating the blue chip campaigns this season from the look of things.

This is not a new story. Clients are clear where they stand on this issue. In the rare cases that they cast from the current ranks of models, they still contract those girls with a track record. Think for instance about that certain haute editorial blonde who dropped out from the scene a few seasons back. She's in much demand these days proving that certain girls will always find a space on the call sheet waiting for them. Or you could be Lara Stone and find yourself constantly needed on those best sets. Now consider the curious political change-ups at that hallmark American label which seems to be hopping from girl to girl per season. The days of long term commitments seem to be over at that house.

The upshot is a Manhattan modeling market that has most managers in a state of confusion. The frantic and melodramatic demand for New Faces that feeds the shows just suddenly falls dead when the campaign calls come in. It now leads to an interesting conundrum. when you go from agency to agency in New York to take the temperature , there now just seems to be a numbness at the speed of the runway and editorial turnover of girls.

One frank agency head put it this way "The barriers have been lowered and the cities are just flooded now. It's you guys. Models.com, fashionspot, Myspace,Ones2watch, Facebook. You guys have made it so easy and open for anyone to be scouted and cast . Four polaroids can make a star now. And then girls are showing up with a list of the only shows they want to do in New York . And the only magazines they want to be in. Because everybody knows everything now".

In a sense he was right. there is no mystique anymore. No more selling to clients the myth of the right girl in the right car staying at the right hotel. How do you make a model rare when the client can cross the street and find 12 more Russian girls of the same ilk?

The few old school agents who came of age in an era of power managers still think that the diva tantrum on the phone, the shuttling to voice mail and the icy strategy of ignoring the non--blue chip will put a naughty client in their place. But the naughty client is thriving regardless and shade and hauteur are expensive illusions in a time of glut. The brutal fact is, outside of Kate Moss and Gisele, there is not a single model modeling today that can set the terms and conditions of the booking.

In many ways there is a rebellion brewing in the face of this glut. US Vogue has made it clear that the model as non-entity has lost her blank slate charms. Which then loops us back to the question of what Aline and Amanda and Natalia and Karmen are to do to become distinct and compelling. Live for fashion girls. Learn it, live it, breathe it. Rock mad outfits, cultivate friendships with the editors, photographers and designers who make or break. Work the Japanese photographers outside the tents in Paris. Pull stunts. Date rock stars. Believe in the drama of chic, chic, chic, chic chic. There's an audience waiting to be entertained. Just ask Agyness.
-the imagist


Last edited by *Bianca*; 03-04-2008 at 03:43 AM.
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21-06-2010
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Lastly, though it has been disputed that the term "supermodel" is dead, it is refutable. Though fashion's evolution and jump from one trend to another is lighting fast, the change of attitudes and ideals is slow. This is why many still consider the supermodels to be those of the 90's, such as Linda, Christy, and Naomi. However, a modern kind of supermodel has come about. Just look at Raquel Zimmermann, who made the jump from the number one spot on Models.com's list of the top 50 working models to icon status. This came about through a career spanning more than 10 years and the combined effort of fashion's fairy godparents (whether it be Inez & Vinoodh, Anna Wintour, or someone else). Previous faces mentioned (Sasha, Stam, Natasha, Gemma, Lara, etc.) are all icons and supermodels in their own right. The requirements for becoming a supermodel and retaining this title/status has shifted into the present. The checklist for becoming an icon will likely be different in 10 years. Fashion changes, and so will the requirement to becoming a supermodel. Today's icons are different, so you can't really compare them with or pit them against the models of years past. It is a different playing field operated with a different strategy. As fashion evolves, so will its faces and its champions.

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21-06-2010
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I had written 4 or 5 paragraphs, maybe more, but they were not posted. Anyway, the jist of the post was to say: fashion is different now, the stars are made differently, are presented differently, and have to behave differently in order to become/stay a supermodel.

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21-06-2010
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In my eyes, a supermodel was someone who could stride the catwalk, do the cover of Vogue Italia, marry a film star, shoot a swimsuit calendar and sell Pepsi to millions. These days, such a distance has opened up between the look demanded by the runways and magazines, and the look that sells to a mass market outside of fashion, that it's hard to imagine a crop of girls who would be able to 'do it all'.

I look at the fresh faces that pop up every season... and naturally, the selection process effectively weeds out potential supermodels at that early stage, in favour of girls who fit the current demands of the industry. So you end up with models who do great things in terms of high fashion, but who mostly don't have the ability to appeal to people beyond that sector. The closest they come is when they get a perfume or cosmetics campaign, but even then - outside of the L'Oreal universe - they're made to seem like exchangeable faces, with individual selling power so poor that it doesn't warrant printing anyone's name in the advert.

And in comparison to the coverage it used to get, the media doesn't really care about the Pirelli calendar anymore, so that's another outlet down the drain. Playboy has gone from being a canny move to being the favourite publication of the desperate and the forgotten. VS is still a route for a girl to get herself out there, but if they reach the point where there are too many 'high fashion' physiques, wider interest will slowly decline, and the exposure will stop being as effective for someone's career.

However, supermodels also rely on the elusive alchemy of creative people coming together to make something happen. It's not enough to have a model with a certain look - around that girl, you have to have designers and editors and photographers and stylists who are producing output on a level where the reader can feel the creativity and passion (on a level higher than the perpetual 'hype' that everyone gets caught up in, which has no real magic in it).

It's like a photograph - the model might be the focus, but you need a team to make it all happen. So perhaps the question is not whether we have the girls, but whether we still have the behind-the-scenes talent? And I don't even mean in terms of - let's say - editors making a conscious decision to create supermodels, I mean in terms of editors having the skill to produce 'moments' in fashion. It's a rare person who really has those abilities.

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Last edited by tigerrouge; 21-06-2010 at 03:58 PM.
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22-06-2010
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the look casting directors are looking for today does not translate in "supermodel". back then, the girls are bombshells, they had it all. They were rock star babes. with the girls of today, i don't think they're be able to fill in such big shoes.

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22-06-2010
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I mean ... I think the keyword here is "perrsonality" ... when the supermodels reigned they made sure to date the right guy, get the right picture, fight for the campaign, get acknowledgement at the shows ... be a diva and all that comes with it .. to me, they had drive.

And yes, there may be models who work REALLY hard in order to be able to land campaigns and shows .. but I think they are kinda fickle and then just get happy with whatever they get and then settle and retire or take it easy ... to me Natalia V could have perfectly been one of them ... but her quite personal life and the fact that she didnt want it to make headlines and be in mags at the end made her career get stuck and land campaigs, yes ... but her focus moved to something else (her family, I guess).

Girls now are not like they made em in the 90s ... if shes got the right look AND attitude, we will have a supermodel.

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22-06-2010
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i miss the supermodels era too, not to be taken in a wrong way, there's loads of girls with interesting faces i adore in the catwalk right now but they're just "too much of them" now. and each have interesting look as the others but no one have the right attitude.
when i look back at the supermodels as in naomi, kate, christy, claudia era, they have "the look" "the attitude" when i look at them i see girls with class, girls who you won't mess around with. they have great aura.
the girls nowadays are kinda flat to me. i adore gemma, lily cole, and some other girls but to me they're not in the same class as the "supermodels" girls
i think there's much distraction too nowadays, now models are model/singer or model/actress or model/designer

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22-06-2010
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What I find a bit confusing out of this never-ending supermodel nostalgia is that most people often refer to models as the ones with heaviest input and power in the industry when it was never really like that. Yes they did work closely at ateliers, had a say, more command of their careers and society was lacking celebrities willing to go to the lengths these girls would or remotely rival them in the looks and sense of style department, but it was also a time when there weren't that many designers, stylists, photographers.. if there were 15 supermodels to rotate, there were probably 15 photographers to work with too.. obviously the relationships were more intimate, they could understand each other's role and work on it. It's very difficult to have that now.. the competence amongst designers is enormous, there are so many going in all sorts of directions, changing aesthetics dramatically every 6 months out of the fickleness of new customers that are not the Nan Kempner kind anymore, they want a 50s dress presented by a bombshell model and they want it now and if you show androgyny by winter with heavy-eyebrowed models, even better for them.. this all inevitably takes effect on the rest of the organization.. hence the inflexible samples, the last minute castings, improvised fittings, girls that come and go.. it's all come to a territory where it's practically impossible to be memorable because those in charge of pushing or publishing your unique personality are actually too busy holding their own piece of cake, too scared to be replaced by a better stylist or having to quit the business because there simply wasn't a clientele interested in buying similar clothes forever.

People complain so much about the similarities of all newcomers and in my opinion, they have failed to understand the new dynamics, it got harder for EVERYONE, not just models.. it's very rare if you come, make an impression and can keep it until you're slightly remembered.. you usually need to start off steadily, be some sort of filler for a few of years and slowly, before anyone can even notice, switch seats from 'girl that looks like any other' to 'one of the few girls with Supermodel potential'.. Raquel Zimmermann and Natasha Poly are perfect examples of that.. very much a walking point of 'how to make it in the modeling business in a time when no one cares'.. and they're still lacking the Hollywood touch, another industry that must be even harder to get into, let alone pair up with fashion.. it's only easier all the way around, to start off as a mediocre celebrity and be remembered for how you filled with fashion your talentless profession.

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22-06-2010
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I can see how magazine are trying to push models like Daria, Natasha Polly, Lara Stone, Isabeli, etc, into a real 'Supermodels' league ... you see these titles on the covers of Vogue e.g. Natasha Poly ya da ya da ya...but the reaction from people is Natasha who??? I don't think it works... by no means I am trying to be disrespectful to this girls... or diminish the quality of their work...I admire the work of some of them.
I know I sound like a broken record but I don't think anyone outside the fashion world can recognise these girls... whereas old supermodels Claudia, Cindy, Linda, Christy, Helena, etc... they are still recognised and remembered... and people are still interested despite the fact that from 1997 up until 2007 everyone in the fashion industry tried to destroy this phenomenon - 'supermodels are dead' etc. It did not work, the original supermodels did not get any work but they are still remembered, loved and people are still interested in them and they still sell magazines... however I think it did affect drastically the chances of creating new supermodels... No one knows new girls unless it is someone at least remotely interested in fashion... whereas when you say of Cindy Crawford you don’t really have to explain who she is...

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22-06-2010
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I think another thing about the 90's supermodels was their versatility and ability to do different kinds of works from Haute Couture to Victoria's Secret... that is why we have this trend of using Adriana, Anna-Beatriz, etc who actually started as catwalk models... but it still does not work at least for me because they are heavily labelled as VS models...and I am sure at some point editors and the designers will understand that... the only models who could be distinguished is Gisele who was and still is strong on all fronts... Someone mentioned dynamics and I agree... when you cast Adriana Lima for Givenchy campaign she stops being Adriana that people recognise hence, stops being recognisable... tough times I agree... that is why 90's supermodels are in demand now because you can recognise them in any work they do...and it will have publicity... and people will relate to them... and most of people who spend most of money on Fashion stuff are mainly from their generation, etc.

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22-06-2010
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^ On your last part, I somewhat agree.. partly on the publicity but one thing that concerns me (funny, I was just having this discussion earlier) is the need to go back to them every time something's missing in the industry, I think it's important to remember these Supermodels the current real consumers of fashion feel identified with were the same Supermodels that same people in their youth, with little financial liberty, also worshiped, of course they have a following, as active as ever through other means.. they supported them back in the day because they were the only ones that conveyed all the fantasy of the world of fashion and they go back to them now because they want to revive it, because they're at an age when stability gives them the freedom to have the pleasure of revisiting.
My question is, why does the younger generation, those who honestly can't tell who even Shalom Harlow is but admire, say, Freja Beha because her personality is easier for them to relate, why do they not deserve their own icons?, people (particularly those that grew up during the Supermodel era) keep bringing them back thinking everyone misses them, disregarding the generations that came much later than them.. when, even if I'm not complaining about well-deserved comebacks, they could catch up with the current culture and find a way to embrace the women people now look up to, just because they're young, it doesn't mean they're less qualified to understand their job or lack a passion and versatility to project what supermodels did, and like I said above, I know the circumstances are hard but it's not impossible, look at Lara Stone, someone that's built close relationships with designers and gets items custom made.. something almost unthinkable for most models.
I think designers/editors, instead of underestimating the newcomers, throwing samples at them and setting ridiculous requirements like they're just robots and literally going back in time looking for relics every time something's missing, they could take a good look at the past, understand why it worked then, then take a look at the present and finally imagine a future, see society's expectations of the concept of beauty and how it's evolved.. and understand youth as well. You can spot a potential icon in the blink of an eye when you understand a generation and when a girl that belongs to it has all the traits that differentiates that group of people from those of 10, 20 years ago, and then a passion for fashion, which unfortunately doesn't seem a priority anymore.

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