Thursday, April 24, 2008


liya kebede, kinee diouf, jourdan dunn

channel iman, naomi campbell, alek wek

i'm pretty sure you all have heard the rumors of an upcoming vogue italia edition featuring a cast of all black models. when the most watched and most influential fashion media devotes and entire issue on non white models that have been predominantly the only image of beauty most fashion magazines depicts, there is no question that it is bound to cause controversy. and for it to be shot by steven meisel, perhaps the most influential image maker in the business, the speculation on who would get the cover, and which black models will be cast is creating a heightened sense of anticipation. could this be the emancipation proclamation of the fashion world? perhaps not. although i will agree that it is an extremely good gesture for the realization that models of racial minority are not properly represented enough. i have touched on this topic last christmas and i mentioned how it's been a decade since prada had a black model down the runway and maybe i'm psychic but two months later, jourdan dunn walked the prada runway ten years after naomi campbell. and while many were quick to point out that she was still the only token black girl on the runway, i for one was hella excited. i mean i didn't understand why people were getting so mad. i mean why was there no ruckus when hye park walked down the prada runway for fall/winter 2005? she was the first asian model on a prada runway i've seen (there was an asian male model miuccia was so fond of in the late nineties but hye was the only girl that i know of that has walked the prada runway). and now people are asking why doesn't vogue italia devote a whole issue on asian, jewish, arabic, or any other racial minority models instead. does it really matter which minority gets an issue devoted to them first? the fact of the matter is that a publication such as vogue italia to devote a whole month to celebrate african beauty is a momentous milestone. because then maybe in the following months other publications will realize that beauty doesn't just live in the realm of blonde hairs and blue eyes. i mean this magazine is the most watched and ergo one of the most influential voice in the fashion world. the careers of models like karen elson or snejana onopka was basically jump started by landing the cover. i'm also aware that this might hardly change a thing and a few month from now vogue italia will again be filled with only eastern european girls. but i much rather stay on the positive side. being pessimistic about something that hasn't even happened yet or something that could very well be only a rumor, says a lot about how we are. how are things supposed to change if we're so antagonistic about everything?

but enough about philosophical ramblings on race relations and how it affects the image of beauty as it is presented by the fashion industry. i personally am hella stoked about this issue and i will gladly pay the jacked up price of thirty dollars for a copy and i will put it in a clear acid free bag with a cardboard backing just so that it never creases and will be in mint condition to pass onto my grandchildren. i had a friend once and back in the day we would imagine that someday we're going to have a fashion show and it will be all black girls and kate moss. so needless to say my affection for melanin blessed sistas is for real. i predict that since its going to be an all black cast that naomi will definately be in there. and so would liya because she is what i imagine eve to have looked like. newbies like prada girl jourdan and channel iman, who i must admit i am not a very big fan of because i can see her being the future tyra banks. alek would probably be not there because she hasn't really been modelling full time anymore but i would love love love love love her to be in it. i can also almost see kinee in there because alber elbaz does love her and also because she reminds me a lot like grace jones in a non-confrontational kinda way. but since this is vogue italia i'm also guessing that there would be a bunch of new girls that haven't had that much exposure. but if i could pick which "undiscovered" girls from the big modeling agencies should be cast, here are my choices:

rahma, jeneil, aminata, georgie

these are the girls that are my new crushes after i spent all afternoon looking at all the big agencies newest discoveries pretending to be the casting agent for the vogue italia edition. hopefully at least one of them makes it on the magazine, but i don't really disagree with franca sozzani so i'm sure she would've made the right choices. but for the cover, there is only one face, i repeat, only one fucking face that should be on it. and that face should be.....

seriously, jourdan is basically perfect. and if it for some cosmic mistake channel is on the cover, i will lose all faith in god and everything that is holy.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

oh yeah freja

u.k. vogue: april 2008
photographer: nick knight
stylist: kate phelan
model: freja beha erichsen

when i see really flamboyant gay guys in big flared jeans, blonde highlites, plucked eyebrows and cowboy boots, i wonder how can another gay man be attracted to someone who tries to look like a girl. show me a girl like freja dressed liked a boy it makes me question if i might be a gay lesbian because freja is fucking killing it on this editorial. i remember a few years ago i was still working on queen street and then one of the hottest lesbians of all time, cover girl tasha tilberg walked in wearing this old beaten down army jacket, tight black jeans, chucks, hair pulled back with a nose ring and lemme tell you she looked fucking amazing. to the point that i basically didn't talk to her because i was too in awe with how awesome she is and if i opened my mouth it would've probably sounded like "padfjhdaerkl". i'm pretty sure if i saw freja walking down the street dressed like her casual butch self, i would probably get hit by a car because i would not be watching anything else but her.

p.s. as an added bonus, here is a video of the making of this shoot and i'm sure all you boys AND girls are gonna fall in love with the great dane with the rhyming name.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

nu waif - part 2

joel west, mark vanderloo, tyson beckford, alex lundqvist

mathias lauridsen, cole mohr, clement chabernaud, hugo sauzay

the powers that be that controls the mechanism of the fashion world is unfairly still dominated by the ones born with the xy chromosome. regardless of their sexuality, these purveyors of style are still genetically male. as a consolation, there is no argument that it is the female of the species that inspires them most. from poiret to galliano, these designers have divined inspiration from women. poiret's wife denise boulet was the prototype for his "la garconne". while galliano channeled the mystique of mata hari to one of monsieur dior's personal muse, mitzah bricard, a woman who once uttered the phrase when asked who her favorite florist was replied "cartier". since the dawn of time, the mystery of female seduction inspired artists to no end. they have been the subject of literature, music, poetry, and visual art. their intangible allure, the spark that drove artists into creative fervor. if mona lisa and aphrodite were the archetypes of beauty in their own respected time, the same could be said for models daria werbowy and giselle bundchen for the present. while these women can command as much as twenty thousand dollars a day for a day's work, even in a male dominated world, male models makes considerably less than the girls. the dynamics of business and a capitalist society where women have become the targeted consumers have assured that idealized beauties like werbowy and bundchen will be greatly rewarded for winning the genetic sweepstakes. as the closest avatars they are to the idea of female perfection, that idea has also been challenged from time to time. in a constantly shrinking world when the general idea of beauty needs to adapt to a more universal language able to be understood by a wider range of audience of all demographics, enters girls like kate moss, guinevere van seenus, alek wek, or gemma ward to challenge the status quo. with all the debate, attention, and controversy that comes along with the female modeling bussiness, the boys, have unwillingly sat on the back seat to their female counterparts. without the hoopla and media attention usually reserved for the big name girls, the male modeling industry have basically gone through the same metamorphosis minus the microscopic scrutiny. like the female equivalent to early eighties gia carangi who best represented the physical ideal of the time, jeff aquilon gained notoriety by being shot by legendary photographer bruce webber for calvin klein. ushering in an image of a sexually charged male to the public. it unintentionally lead the way for calvin klein's iconic marketing strategy that manifested itself into seven story billboards on time square depicting adonis like male models in various stages of undress. images of michael bergin, joel west, and tyson beckford were stripped because many believed that their provocative images were too distracting for drivers passing by. it didn't however stop the sudden realization that male sexuality could also be a brilliant source to be marketed, wrapped, and sold. one only has to look at an old men's fashion magazine from the late nineties and see muscular models selling everything from sodas to deodorants. while mass media still manages to generate a lucrative profit from using a robust form of male sexuality to sell products, the male fashion world was to enter a new era. when hedi slimane became creative director for ysl and then eventually dior homme, a more romantic male idea emerged and suddenly everything started to change...drastically. in a short time, the gym perfect bodies were replaced by an almost disturbing image of lanky androgyny. models boyd holbrook, scott barnhill, and anthony vibert were suddenly everywhere and the old guards like mark vanderloo, jason lewis, and marcus schenkenberg were considered not of the moment, and their representation of male perfection seemed out of touch. but just as how the waif movement was a cleansing palette for the female modeling industry, so were these new crop of male models. they represented a more democratic idea of male beauty. their bodies weren't acquired from hours at the gym lifting weights but at skate parks and basketball courts. tattoos and piercings were a form of self expression, and individuality, not perfect symmetry, was the thing that mattered most. while the notion that success in life is measured by the girth of your bank account, these modern men measured it by how much they enjoyed their youth, their nonchalance, and the possibilities for the future. this sense of optimism was inspiring to designers but at the same time they also looked to the darker side of youth: rebellion, uncertainty and angst that came with the years before adulthood. the celebration of youth and the freedom that comes along with it became the general theme that reverberated throughout the business. menswear designers like slimane, raf simons, and alexander plokhov of cloak became the ambassadors of the new direction menswear was heading. one that combined traditional technique with a street wear sensibility to produce something completely modern. as the old millennium drew to a close, a more liberal aesthetic became obvious. the runway has become an arena where avant garde models like cole mohr with his lanky physique and tattooed framed and the reigning king of the male modeling world, mathias lauridsen from denmark, one that is gifted with a linda evangelista chameleon like ability to one moment be the image of smoldering male sexuality for gucci's "pour homme" fragrance, and in a blink of an eye almost unsettingly androgynous in front of fashion forward photographers for the most influential magazines. these new breed of models became the new harbingers for the new idea of a modern man. while models like mohr and lauridsen have become the poster boys for the prevalent mood in modeling and menswear, there is still a commanding market that craves for men that is reminiscent of the "hunk" ideal. after so many seasons of seeing man-boys on runways and magazine editorials, the rugged uber masculinity of a new crop of models like dolce and gabbana fixture david gandy, calvin klein's male answer to natalia vodianova garrett neff, and armani's andrew cooper are suddenly everywhere and able to command top dollars for their work. the "hunk" ideal will never fade away because of their commercial selling power, but only time will tell if the male waifs have the capacity to achieve the longevity of kate, or shalom, or amber.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

nu waif

kate moss, amber valleta, shalom harlow

adina forizs, magdalena frackowiack, suvi koponen

the debate on skinny models is sadly, an issue that i don't think is going to end any time soon. although it's a cliche to say that the most constant thing about fashion is change, it could also be argued that fashion also has a cyclical nature. in these days when styles and time periods are always constantly referenced to give birth to new ideas, the business of modelling, just happens to be another casualty. the fact of the matter is, and this is putting it very bluntly, clothes just looks better on skinnier people. i'm not saying that i totally agree with that, i'm one that actually thinks sophie dal looked a million times better when she was heavier. its just that designers like using skinny girls because they want the closest thing they can get to their sketches. i dont know of any designers who sketches a more full figured drawing. the fashion that is presented is an idealized form of perfection. an idea that has been nurtured not just by fashion, but also by media, cultural values, social expectations, and a host of dozens of other factors. while it was british model leslie "twiggy" hornby during london's swinging sixties that catapulted the lithe "waif" aesthetic to the collective consciousness, the demand for skinny models was already in demand more than a decade earlier. top fifties couture model lisa fonssagrives had an unbelievable seventeen inch waist and carried her own tape measure to prove it (thanks for the little gem of a trivia bobble bee). after the popularity of mod fashion began to wain, a healthier aesthetic began to emerge and in the seventies, the wholesome, natural beauty of models like cheryll tiegs and jerry hall became the acme of beauty only to be surpassed by the glamazons of the supermodel era of linda evangelista, christy turlington, and naomi campbell. but just as trends go, a sort of backlash followed the supermodel phenomenon. suddenly the over the top image of highly paid models reached its peak and a new idea of beauty that came with the minimalist nineties began to take shape. the emergence of the waif movement, with its girlish features was in many ways, a cleansing process to erode the pile up that occured in the eighties. designers were looking for girls who was the antithesis to the unapproachable perfection of the supermodels and the girls like kate moss, amber valletta, and shalom harlow epitomized everything the supermodels were not. they were a little awkward, with slim unwomanly bodies in comparison to naomi's physical perfection, and they possesed a sense of distance between high fashion. these appeared to be real girls. girls that were not born with a perfect hour glass figure but girls who had more "realistic" bodies. however the public didn't see it that way and models like kate who was suddenly everywhere, were soon labeled anorexic by the public because they believed that she wasn't setting a good example for young girls. it happened too fast for the public to understand why these models became in demand when they did nor was time for the the world to realize the symbolism they represented at that moment. as much ruckus the public outrage caused, it eventually subsided and kate, shallom, and amber continued to experience a very successful carreer in modelling even when the brazillian bombshells spearheaded by giselle and her infamous body dominated the catwalks in the beginning of the millennium. recently however, the debate on so called "skinny" models began to resurface. i was never really against "skinny" models because i grew up on kate, amber and shalom and i actually never found them to be that skinny because i've seen girls in my high school, including my sister be that thin and know for a fact they weren't starving. but i must admit, there are a new crop of girls that i see that is quite disturbing. and finding out that the standard modeling size today has dropped to a size zero, that blows my mind. fine be a size zero when you're four foot eleven, but not when you're six feet tall. i know those new girls are healthy because otherwise they can't keep up with their demanding lifestyle but its just not appealing. nor does it represent a healthy body image. how can fashion which is supposed to provide a tangible fantasy by achieving the highest level of beauty fulfill its goal when its represented by emaciated looking girls? and after all the hullabaloo that followed kate when she first came out, why is there not that much being said now? i know certain cities have banned "skinny" models and even karl lagerfeld sent models packing from his channel spring collection for being too skinny, but there are still people out there that perpetuates this alarming idea of beauty. when a model like ali michael gets sent home for gaining five pounds and someone like olga sherrer who is i hate to say skeletal gets to open lanvin, a show ali opened only over a year ago, something is just not right.

boris bidjan saberi - spring/summer 2008

let's be honest, for some of us, regardless if its summer or not and the weather can be thirty degrees celsius and feels like fourty degrees with the humidex, black still dominates our closets. judging from the looks of his spring/summer show, the same can be said for designer boris bidjan saberi. for his spring/summer collection he showed in barcelona in july last year, saberi showed an all black collection made of loose knits and airy fabrics. the choice of fabrication saberi used gave the collection, despite it's severe colour palette, a light hand that made it a viable summer option. the use of layering of net like knits on top and across each other gave the clothes a unique sense of texture and shape that reminded me of what hussein chalayan used to do when he designed for the house of tse a few years ago. in saberi's hand however, there was an apocalyptic edge to the clothes that gave it more of a japanese aesthetic combined with a renegade streetwear sensibility that has been rapidly gaining popularity and relativity in the world of high fashion. saberi is a young designer who shares a similar vision and approach with other young, avant garde contemporary menswear designers. it'll be interesting to see how he can find his own voice and evolve in the sea of tight, gothic, and androgynous menswear collections.

Friday, April 11, 2008

angela lindvall

oh how i love me some angela. let's face it, after kate and carolyn, there really wasn't any new model that came out that has been able to sustain such longevity as the ridonkculously hot ms. lindvall. how many models can actually take a season off or two whenever they want, and when they feel like it, come back and end up on only the really good runways? or be the only girl featured in a top multi million dollar campaign? like when she was the sasha to prada's late nineties. after being discovered at the age fourteen in kansas city by an agent from the all powerful IMG camp, angela made her debut during the fall/winter 1997 shows. angela has sinced walked the runways for prada, galliano, comme des garcons, ysl, balenciaga, alexander mcqueen, jean paul gaultier, versace, and gucci amongst others. and her campaign trail are filled with stops for prada as mentioned, dior, gucci, chloe, versace, channel, miu miu, helmut lang, valentino, marc jacobs, jil sander, h&m, louis vuitton, roberto cavalli, fendi, a contract with cover girl cosmetics, and earning her wings for victoria's secret. the girl's track record is impecable. and not to mention covers from u.s., french, and italian vogue, i-d, numero, w, dazed and confused, harper's bazaar, and elle magazine. in 2001 she made her silver screen debut in the film CQ and appeared in 2005's kiss, kiss, bang, bang. it's been over ten years since angela, her infamous walk, and the widest blue eyes this side of the atlantic has made our visual environment so much better. when she's not schooling the new girls on the runways, she's being a good mom to two boys and saving the planet fighting environmental issues.