Wednesday, December 23, 2009


in the beginning of the new millennium the runways of the fashion capitals was ruled by the brazilian bombshells spearheaded by the likes of gisele bundchen, caroline ribeiro and fernanda tavares. models who's bodies and searing sensuality was the direct opposite of the boyish waif frame that has been in vogue for the better part of the nineties. these models however, much like the supermodels who preceded them a decade earlier, were able to balance high paying and high profile jobs such as victoria's secret and still be in demand with high fashion clients who normally tend to favour more directional looking models which has been de rigeur since kate moss exploded into the fashion consciousness. however since fashion is a notoriously fickle industry, the demand for something new, and by new meaning the complete opposite of the popular, the brazilian domination of the catwalks was about to make way for a new crop of models that defined their own respective timeline in the industry.
perhaps the first real trend to come out of the naughties was "butch chic". personified by eleanora bose and omahayra mota, they took fashion's long fascination with androgyny into a whole new level. it's aesthetic was harder, more aggressive and during the spring/summer 2001 shows when one of the biggest themes to emerge was a play between masculine and feminine tailoring, it was perfect timing for bose and mota.
the "butch chic" look however became victim of fashion's incessant attention deficit disorder and by next season a new wave of models, this time hailing from belgium came in vogue. kim peers, the first of the belgians to break out and favored by marc jacobs and tom ford for her brooding, intellectual beauty paved the way for an oost, anouk lepere, anne catherine lacroix, delphine balfort, and elise crombez. the latter who's career skyrocketed when she was chosen to front prada's spring 2003 ad campaign. one of the most influential campaigns in the business which has been responsible for launching the careers of many successful models. one of which would be the most successful model of the decade, daria werbowy.
the canadian model that holds the record for most show opened in a single season. she became the face of prada's first perfume campaign and went on to star in its ads for four consecutive seasons lensed by steven meisel who also put her on the cover of italian vogue three times in 2003. contributing to the well known fact that canada produces high quality models that continues to carry the torch once held by linda evangelista and yasmeen ghauri. and when modelling entered its next phase, it was canadians jessica stam, heather marks, and lisa cant that would capture the photographers' fascination with the doll like face that became in demand in the middle part of the decade.
as prolific as the canadians were in this new school of beauty, it was australian gemma ward that perfectly encapsulated the doll like aesthetic. with her wide blue eyes, round shaped face, button nose and downturned lips, ward became a favorite among many highly influential photographers. her chameleon like ability to be girlish and sweet in one shot to a vamped up woman in the next frame, then rebellious street urchin next, ward's versatility made her one of the most in demand models of the noughties. starring in ad campaigns for prada, burberry, balenciaga, and dolce and gabbana to name but a few.
russia too had an answer for the doll like craze in vlada roslyakova. a favorite of christian lacroix who chose her to become the bride for his last four couture shows. a position once held by another doll faced beauty, english model lily cole. the last few years of the decade saw an explosion of russian beauties on the international catwalks. currently on top fifty ranking, there is an impressive fifteen russian models that occupies the spots. with the number two slot shared by sasha pivovarova and natasha poly. with the amount of magazine covers, campaigns, runway and editorial work that have been accumulated by pivovarova and poly, the top honor for russian model of the decade however goes to natalia vodianova. the only other model who can contest with werbowy's success.
one of the handful of models who was able to land a solo cover for american vogue, vodianova has managed a level of success that even after taking three separate hiatus from modeling as a result of giving birth to her three children, she is still in demand with fashion's most influential movers. rarely appearing on the catwalks and when she does its to open balenciaga, vodianova's timeless beauty with it's lolita-esque appeal with an expressive face has made her the choice representative for brands as diverse as calvin klein who she was the face for for most of the decade, to louis vuitton and l'oreal. in vogue's "model as muse" issue in may of this year she potrayed nine of modelling's most iconic faces. i think its safe to bet that in a few years she too will be remembered as one of the great ones and many future models will channel her timeless appeal.
in the latter part of the decade, one of the fashion world's most unresolved and undiscussed issue was brought into the forefront, that of the lack of models of colour on the international runways and magazines. not much has changed in the new millennium but as the decade ends it is showing some signs of promise.
after ten years jourdan dunn became the first black model to walk the prada runway since naomi campbell. chinese model du juan fronted the armani campaign and for the autumn/winter 2009 collections liu wen top the list of most shows walked. however it was vogue italia's landmark "black issue" in july 2008 with an all black cast with four covers that became the loudest statement about race in the history of fashion publication.
one of the models that graced one of the four covers for that issue was ethiopian beauty liya kebede. her career was jump started when tom ford discovered her and had her flown to milan to walk exclusively for gucci's autumn/winter 2000 show. he then cast her the following year to star on the ad campaign for his second ysl collection and soon got anna wintour's stamp of approval who made her a monthly fixture at american vogue. it wasn't just american vogue who fell for kebede's charm. in may 2002 paris vogue's editor carinne roitfeld put her on the cover and dedicated the entire issue to her. the following year she became the first black woman to represent estee lauder cosmetics.
since then she has broadened her horizons and became a good will ambassador for the world health organization, bringing attention to the plights of her fellow africans. it is this humanity that shines through and has made her one of the most beloved models in recent history and to highlight her humanitarian work she graced the cover of american vogue in 2006.
everything in fashion always comes full circle. and just as 2000s opened with the brazilian, it would be a brazilian to close it. but unlike giselle, raquel zimmerman doesn't exude heated sensuality or latin heat. instead there is a purity in her face. a classicism that has universal appeal in a form that has the ability to be molded into whatever a client needs and a personality that afflicts everyone around her.
while she is the most successful model right now, her journey to the top has been a long one. she first started making the international rounds in 2000 but it wasn't until she opened prada autumn/winter 2004 collection that her career truly sky rocketed. now a perennial fixture on all the top shows and a superstar in her native brazil, zimmermann has become the girl that everyone wished would be most likely to succeed.
with the idea of beauty being constantly challenge to adapt to the times, modeling has become a fast paced business that is always trying to catch the definitive. however it really isn't about being the perfect face for now that makes a good model. yes it is an important foot in the door, but its their ability to adapt to the needs after that initial demand has passed that tests their abilities as a model and gives their career longevity. it is their personalities however that makes them a star.

unlike their female counterparts, male models have never really enjoyed the attention or salary that female models have commanded for many years. there are obviously exceptions to the rule such as marcus schenkenberg, mark van derloo or tyson beckford who enjoyed substantial success in the nineties. although they were never able to match the earnings of the girls, their chiseled good looks and defined bodies made them household names and help contribute to the growing popularity of male models.
as the new millennium approached, a new crop of boys emerged who's aesthetic was far removed from the beefcake image of beckford and schenkenberg. and with the growing influence of hedi slimane's new definition of the modern man he first exhibited with his collections for yves saint laurent, and then at dior homme a new sensibility was to take shape that would continue to assert it's influence throughout the decade.
models such as scott barnhill, greg payne and charlie speed, boys with a more noticeably youthful appearance and smaller frame perfectly captured the essence that was beginning to rewrite a new definition of masculine beauty. although this new wave of models were beginning to redefine the aesthetic, the picture of an underwear clad jeff aquilon under the miami sun shot by bruce webber in the eighties for the calvin klein underwear campaign was too potent an image of male sexuality that would forever influence the definition of male perfection. it was because of this that enabled more "traditional" models such as robert petrovich, will lemay and gabriel aubrey to continue to represent the long lasting ideal in the first years of the new millennium.
as the decade progressed and with slimane's vision becoming more and more influential, the demand for the new aesthetic began to dominate the prominent catwalks and advertising campaigns. matthew avedon, the first bonafide star of the two thousands and grandson of legendary photographer richard avadon along with fellow american tyson balou came to embody this new sensibility. their boyish good looks but with a hint of rugged masculinity made them the perfect avatar that represented the kinetic energy of youth, yet their classical features perfectly bridged the old school of thought and the new one that was beginning to form.
just as the females that became muses for some of fashion's most creative minds in the past, the noughties saw the boys beginning to inspire some of the most important designers of the decade. j.r. gallison became tom ford's male muse at gucci, just as damien van zyl and travis fimmel came to represent the calvin klein man. but no other model became as inspirational to a designer such as brad kroenig, who's career was launched to dizzying heights when he caught the attention of karl lagerfeld who shot kroenig prolifically and used him for every campaign for all the houses he designed for.
as the years went by the youth movement was in full momentum and with designers and casting agents looking for the face that could fully represent the trend it ushered in some of the most unforgettable faces of the decade. boyd hollbrook, shaun dewet, danny beauchamp, and jeremy dufour all embodied the youthful spirit and with a face that had all the charm of a young boy with a swagger that gave them universal appeal that transcended the age barrier. but it was danish model mathias lauridsen who emerged out of this new school to fully represent this new romantic and youthful aesthetic. his career was catapulted to the top when jil sander hand picked the young dane to star in the first advertising campaign for the house she had just returned to. and while many of his contemporaries eventually faded, lauridsen has been one of the few who was able to maintain his level of success and in the five years he's been at the top, he has managed to bag some of the most coveted campaigns in the industry. closing off the successful decade with the gucci pour homme fragrance campaign.
while teenagers were the norm in female models, it was virtually new in the noughties. suddenly the need to capture the essence of youth became a priority and it sidelined the archetypal image of aquilon and van der loo and the new male models became noticeable younger and younger. regardless of how prominent the youthful ideal was, when a model like andres segura with all his searing masculinity and with the noticeable sexuality he projects, few could resist the prototype of the perfect man he embodied. he became the face of louis vuitton, chanel's allure campaign and even one of the most powerful editors, vogue paris' carine roitfeld who profiled the model in her magazine was unable to resist segura's charm. when photographers inez van lamsweerde and vinoodh matadin shot him in all his naked glory for arena homme plus, his status as one of the industry's most iconic figures was forever cemented.
just as the nineties was able to make room for both the classic beauty of the supermodels and for the likes of kate moss and alek wek, the two thousands was able to duplicate the same revolution for the male modeling industry. today, models like david gandy with a face and physique that seems to have been carved from ancient greek marble and lanky framed and tatooed cole more walk the same runways. this decade wasn't about redefining the male archetype but expanding on it. and with this new sense of freedom to look anew at the old palimpsest, the next ten years promises to be a very interesting one.


the "russian doll" collection presented by the dutch duo's haute couture collection for autumn/winter 1999 is regarded by many as the defining moment when the designers gained the reputation for being two of the most innovative talents and established viktor and rolf as two of fashion's most provocative showmen.
inspired by matryoshka dolls, that beloved icon of russian culture, viktor and rolf took the idea and built a collection based on the theme of layering. casting model maggie rizer for her unobtrusive and pure doll-like beauty, the show opened with rizer standing on a rotating pedestal dressed in an unassuming burlap slip dress with frayed edges that resembled more like a potato sack than a couture dress. without the obvious grandeur that is usually attached to a couture show no one was to expect that magic that would eventually unfold. after each complete rotation of the pedestal, viktor and rolf would re-emerge from the darkness to add another layer on top of the dress. the new one more beautiful and more elaborately embroidered than the last. after the seventh and final layer was added, a massive coat with a sculpted rose made out of the same burlap that opened the show sprawling across the front, rizer was covered in approximately seventy kilograms of beautiful and ornate creations.
this collection struck such a chord because it displayed in essence the true nature of haute couture. the sublime beauty in the process of making hand made garments. how every hidden boning, every seam, each panel of cloth and everyone of the thousands of beads embroidered onto the fabric is just one part of the complete, resplendent picture.
in the many years i've been following fashion, there are only a handful of collections that i can only describe as incandescently perfect. this is most definitely one of them.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


it might not be summer anymore and the air is a bit colder, but friends are always loads of fun.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


designers have always used fashion as a tool to sculpt and perfect our outer shell. there are few designers however who's fascination with what lies underneath our skin is as apparent as british designer katie eary. whose recent collection for spring/summer 2010 presented in london during the MAN show explored on the idea of "inner decay on the human body and its twisted beauty".
this translated into gauzy t-shirts printed with an anatomically correct diagram of the respiratory and digestive system caged by rib bones worn underneath metal works that covered the models' torsos resembling the human skeleton. macabre and slightly disturbing yes, but also extremely fascinating because of its originality.
as a woman who designs fashion for the other gender with a background that is heavily influenced by classic british tailoring and military uniform, eary brings to men's fashion what many of her male contemporaries fails to offer, a romantic fantasy that isn't suffocated by the rigorous rules attached to sartorial traditions that governs menswear.
underneath all the theatrics and shock value, there is above all a woman dedicated to her craft. much like a young galliano or mcqueen, the real testament to eary's talent is in her highly accomplished tailoring and her ability to easily adapt technique with her imagination. after only two collections, eary joins fellow MAN show presenters j.w. anderson and christopher shannon as the leading torchbearers of british men's fashion.


Friday, December 4, 2009


VOGUE - september 1991
photographer - peter lindbergh
creative director - grace coddington
models - cindy crawford, tatjana patitz, helena christensen, linda evangelista, claudia schiffer, naomi campbell, karen mulder, stephanie seymour

one of the most unforgetable editorials of the nineties featuring supermodel heavyweights shot by peter lindbergh and styled by living legend grace coddington, "wild at heart" featured one of the first important trends to emerge in the early nineties. a look the heavily borrowed from biker culture and jewelry that was at that time, mostly associated with rap music.
the trend first emerged on the chanel catwalk for autumn/winter 1991. where chanel's classic quilted leather and gilt chains was luxuriously amalgamated by karl lagerfeld with the biker uniform. the "biker" look would not only emerge on other catwalks, but found its way to one of the most iconic ad campaigns of the decade, the calvin klein jeans ad with carre otis and marcus schenkenberg.
after almost two decades, the influence of of the biker culture has permeated every aspect of fashion. from ricardo tisci to frida giannini, countless designers have presented their own take on the biker look.
what was once a sub-culture that developed its "uniform" to give itself a visual identity, fashion has turned the black leather biker jacket into a modern classic.