Hearing a cliché can be stomach turning for some of us, but when a cliché materialises, we can’t help but fall in love. The cliché in question is ‘beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder’ – for some a euphemism to distract from the ugly truth, but for me, it means what it says
Different guises of the Pretty-Ugly revolution in fashion increase by admiration, and respect for fashion, every day. When I learned that 25-year-old geek, David Carp – the man behind the Tumblr phenomenon – had jumped out from behind the screen and bagged a starring role in the latest Uniqlo ‘s New York Faces campaign, the ‘geek chic’ cliché materialised. Smart equates to sexy (well we’re not so sure about the latter in Carp’s case, more cute) has always been the standing argument, and we heart campaigns and editorial shoots that make us sit up and take notice.
So when news broke that muse of the moment, Carine Roitfeld, was to take centre stage in front, and behind the camera lens as she styled and starred in Barney’s fall campaign, my heart skipped a beat. Famed for her feline, smoky-eyed looks and a terribly brave resignation from the BIGGEST job in fashion, I love the new facet this adds to this multi-talented doyenne’s diamond-cut career. Appearing in one image embracing her son, the result is striking and depicts a beautiful maternal bond accented by Roitfeld’s atypical aesthetic.
If fashion is the seed of controversy and fuel for the unconventional, then transgender model Lea T and androgynous Australian male model, Andrej Pejic were born to do this. Lip locked with Kate Moss on the cover of Love magazine’s ‘Androgyny Chic’ issue, and gently head locking a shirted Adonis in Givenchy’s fall 2010 campaign; T’s ‘anti supermodel’ perfectly realises fashion’s duality.
19-year-old Pejic’s ironic appearance as femme fatale in Jean Paul Gaultier’s autumn/winter 2011 menswear show caused for endemic discussion amongst a pleasantly perplexed fashion pack. But we wouldn’t expect anything less from fashion’s enfant terrible, as he leads the way by casting a model that blurs gender boundaries in fashion -and would look just as good in a cone-shaped bra.
Going back to the Pretty-Ugly idea so deeply ingrained in fashion now, casting outcasts has become something of a ‘trend’. Multi-campaign starrer Lara Stone – the poster girl for outcast model recruits – tops my roll call of interesting faces. Bullied at school for being “ugly and weird looking”, Lara’s youth was riddled with insecurities, which she had to conquer fast in order to succeed. Unashamedly endowed with perfectly kept curves, piercingly deep-set eyes and her most famous asset – a gap-toothed smile – Lara has paved the way for other gap-toothed beauties such as Lindsey Wixson and Daphne Groeneveld to land top shows and campaigns without a corrective surgery repeating orthodontist in sight.
Fashion’s nonconformist approach to model recruiting is a boon for industry newcomers who fall just below the ‘perfect’ benchmark. Long live the ugly model and the ‘femiman’, because imperfection is the new perfect.