Browse the latest fall magazines and designer campaigns and you will see many familiar faces: Christy Turlington for Calvin Klein Underwear, Linda Evangelista on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar, Karen Elson for Louise Vuitton, Naomi Campbell for Atelier Versace, and Kate Moss for Stuart Weitzman, amongst others.
Magazines and fashion brands don’t deny the appeal of these supermodels of decades past. These women are instantly recognizable and have much the same selling power as they did years ago. They are celebrities every bit as much as the actors and singers who have taken campaigns and covers away from the models for over ten years.
The fashion industry continues to go through a phase of using interchangeable teenage clones, claiming their personalities don’t compete with the image of the fashion brand. Frankly, how could they? No one stands out. An homogenous “look” parading the runway and being mimicked in fashion advertising has led to campaigns that are hardly memorable. In comparison, how many past campaigns can be recalled with the star models of the 90’s? Claudia Schiffer became a household name modeling for Guess? and led to her becoming one of the highest paid supermodels. Kate Moss for Calvin Klein – who could forget? Consumers remember these iconic images to this day.
Followers of fashion and style find it hard to find a favorite face amongst the models of the moment, a face they look for in editorials and on covers and in campaigns. Just when you begin to recognize a particular model, she disappears off the radar. One or two seasons is considered to be a long modeling career these days. There isn’t time for a model to build a fan-base or for her to establish her own brand image.
Fashion magazines and labels are seeing undeniable returns that the supermodels bring to their products. As consumers, we want to catch up with our favorite models and to see their new work. Designers and editors like to think they created these stars but in actuality these women were always unique, focused, and actively cultivating their own image. Each entity benefited from the other.
Two models in the past year have established real and quantifiable brands for themselves. Cara Delevigne and Kate Upton, so completely opposite of each other, have separated from the pack, and each has created her own image on her own terms, precisely because neither fit the criteria of the typical “clone” model. I for one, can’t wait to see where they will appear next. I am “buying” into their brand – and I am not the only one.