Monday, July 23, 2012

Model Monday: Model or Supermodel?

The word supermodel was first used in the 1960s and it was used for Twiggy. At that time Twiggy had several covers of Vogue magazine to her name. She was also featured in several editorials for several high-fashion magazines. Till this day she is known as the most talented and respected supermodel of her time. She has even inspired actresses like Keira Knightley and Carey Mulligan, who have done editorials in honor of Twiggy. Even her pixie haircut is so everlasting that this generation is copying it. Celebrities like Ashlee Simpson, Emma Watson, Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightley have cut Twiggy-like pixie's.

Carey Mulligan as Twiggy
Keira Knightley as Twiggy
A supermodel is more than just a modeling contract or a few photo shoots. It takes years and lots of hard work to actually get the supermodel name tag. Lately I feel like the world is misusing the word supermodel and I'm not the only one! Especially the media is throwing the word supermodel around like it means nothing anymore.
Coco Rocha recently tweeted:
 Apparently you just need one cover under your belt to call yourself one RT “: word 'supermodel' is being used very loosely these days.”
It happens a lot lately that when a model is in the business for a year, he/she gets called a supermodel. This is confusing, because now we don't have a word that separates the real supermodels from the "supermodels". Plus it's not fair to the real supermodels of the generation before us if we call all models with one important modeling contract supermodels.
Coco Rocha on the cover of Harper's Bazaar Russia
In theory you are allowed to call a model a supermodel when:
- he/she is well known internationally
- he/she does high-fashion
- he/she has an outstanding portfolio that features work with leading fashion designers
- he/she has multi-million dollar contracts with internationally based agencies
- he/she must have been on and in high-fashion magazines such as Vogue and Harper's Bazaar
- he/she must have walked the runway for multiple well-known designers
Coco Rocha for YSL
Coco Rocha for Balenciaga
Under these circumstances the real supermodels are: Naomi Campbell, Claudia Shiffer, Cindy Crawford, Kate Moss, Chanel Iman, Coco Rocha and Agyness Deyn.
Coco Rocha is the perfect example of an amazing and respected supermodel of this era. She has been on the cover of countless well known magazines. In 2007 she was on the cover of 8 Vogue magazines for Italy, Japan, Korea and the U.S. (2 for Italy, 2 for Japan, 3 for Korea and 1 for the U.S). She has been on the cover of American, Mexican, Korean, Italian, Japanese and Brazilian Vogue, Flare, Fashion, Numero, W, i-D and Harper's Bazaar. Coco has also been the face of Versace, Balenciaga, D&G, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Lanvin, Gap, Tommy Hilfiger, Yves Saint Laurent, Calvin Klein, Zac Posen, Diesel and many more. To put the cherry on top: Vogue Paris has declared her one of the Top 30 models of 2000s. If this doesn't scream supermodel what does?
From left to right: Coco Rocha on the runway for: Badgley Mischka - Oscar de la Renta - Zac Posen - Dior

Apart from her impressive portfolio and editorials Coco is also famous for her charity work (along with James) and on social networks such as Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Pose and Google+. She has over one million Google+ followers and that makes her the first high fashion model to reach that goal! Even her personal life is going pretty awesome. Coco is happily married to James Conran. 
Coco Rocha and James Conran on their wedding day
Yes it's difficult to be a model and it's even more difficult to become a supermodel. Once you're there the designers and contracts will keep knocking on your door and all at once. Even Coco, who has been in the business since she was 15, had to face a couple of bumps along the way. She was told many times that she was too fat (she's a size 6!). She refused to lose weight and even though she lost a couple of runway opportunities, she stayed true to herself. In an interview she said that she refused to lose weight, because she already felt too skinny, so losing weight would make her a size zero and that's not her goal.
It is truly impressive to read that a model can have such a big impact on the fashion world:
- Coco Rocha was given Marie Claire's Prix d’Excellence as their model of the year in Paris, France
- Coco was awarded the Seventeen Body Peace award by Seventeen magazine. Rocha contributed a number of articles to Seventeen magazine on the topic of girls body image and self esteem.
- Coco was awarded the Elle Style award for 'Model of the Year' by Boy George in London, England.
Coco Rocha in Seventeen magazine for Body Peace
I'm guessing that even non-models want to be her or at least in her presence. People love her and not the hate-to-love kind, which is really important. What makes Coco even more special to me is that I keep thinking: "models have done Twiggy, Michael Jackson (Agyness Deyn for Harper's Bazaar), James Dean (Agyness Deyn) and even Edie Sedgewick (Sienna Miller in Factory Girl), but who's going to do Coco?". I can't even imagine anyone looking so radiant, beautiful and eccentric all the time! She's even got the personality and charm people can't ignore. Celebrities, designers and fellow models keep raving about how nice and humble Coco is. I think this upgrades her to Top Supermodel?

Coco Rocha in Vogue U.S.
Coco Rocha in Vogue U.S.
Coco Rocha for Nordstrom
Coco Rocha for H&M
Coco Rocha for Chanel
Coco Rocha for Balenciaga
Coco Rocha for Balenciaga
Coco Rocha for Balenciaga
Coco Rocha in Vogue U.S. 2008
Coco Rocha in Vogue 2007
 Aside from the supermodels who have earned their title, some models who are famous cannot be seen as supermodels for an amount of reasons. One of those models is Gisele Bundchen. When you think of Gisele Bundchen, you immediately think of: Victoria Secret. Which is a problem. The problem is that a model can't be known for one gig or one memorable moment, they need to be versatile at all times. Another reason why this Brazilian model can't really be seen as a supermodel is because any guy would want to have her editorial on their wall. She comes off a bit too sexy a little too much. A magazine even called her the Brazilian Sex-bomb, which is impressive but it's not a supermodel earning name tag. Yes Gisele was the highest paid model in 2004, but according to the facts she doesn't suit the supermodel name tag.
Some may argue that Gisele is a swimwear and lingerie model, but I find that a supermodel should be able to do anything and she should have done her "anything" already. To compare Coco and Gisele, I thought: "I have never seen or I can't remember Coco ever in a bikini" and I wasn't the only one. Of course I was proven wrong, I barely found a couple of pics of Coco on the runway and in an editorial. The thing is even if Coco barely has clothes on she doesn't look particularly sexy, she looks "supermodel wearing a bikini for a runway show" sexy, while Gisele always looks sex-bomb sexy. Some may find that Coco isn't the "typical" bikini/lingerie model, because her skin is so pale and when you think of beachwear you think tan. It is questionable if lingerie is really in the category of high fashion. High fashion means Haute Couture (French) and Haute Couture literally  means high dressmaking (Haute: elegant, feminine, high). So if we're going by definition no lingerie and swimwear model is truly a supermodel!
It is also questionable if Adriana Lima and Miranda Kerr are supermodels. Adriana and Miranda are also famous for VS.  Miranda Kerr is the new VS girl to watch, she wore the million dollar bra last year for the VS runway show. Miranda has not had enough experience to be on the supermodel list. Although she is set to have a bright (modeling) future she's not there yet.
Gisele Bundchen
Coco Rocha on the runway in silver bikini with silver jacket
The thing that makes a good model a great supermodel is a combination of talent, luck, hard work and perseverance. The right place at the right time should be the motto of a model who wants to be a supermodel. You need to stand out. You either have to do or have something that sets you apart from others. I will agree that nowadays it is tougher to become a supermodel, because the amount of models is increasing more and more everyday. That makes it even more interesting to become a model because you have to be so different that every magazine and designer wants you to make their product look even better! Back in the day (yes I said it and no I wasn't born then) supermodels were up to anything. They had to have the whole package: they had to be athletic, they had to be good at beauty shots as well as full-body shots, they had to be nerds, they had to be sexy, they had to have a million dollar smile and they had to be fierce at all times. If a designer asked to pose with exotic animals, they had to deliver! The best part about it: they didn't have to be so skinny, they had to be lean and glowing. 20 years ago a plus size model was between the sizes 12 -18, now a plus size model is between the sizes 6 - 14. The average woman is a size 14. That means that a lot of models from back in the day would have been considered as plus size models at the moment.
Their size had nothing to do with their performance, in fact they were better then than now, because they had more guts then.
'80s model
'80s editorial
'90s British editorial
Looking at old editorials and fashion magazines, I see big hair and I-know-what-I'm-doing-models. Very few "new" models have that at the moment. Maybe that's because there are so many types of models these days. They have categories and selected models for different ads and editorials. Years ago you were known as model, now you're known as a swimwear model. If you only do swimwear, it never really shows if you're only good at swimwear or if you can do anything. So who's to blame for the lack of supermodels these days? Society! Society started to make different categories of models, because they needed more models. More designers, more magazines, more people on the planet, more interest in Fashion! People asked so they delivered.
Jourdan Dunn and Cara Delevingne
Cara Delevingne for Chanel
Cara Delevingne in Vogue

Jourdan Dunn in Elle
Jourdan Dunn and Chanel Iman in Teen Vogue
The models to watch are Burberry's golden girls Cara Delevingne and Jourdan Dunn. Both have had an impressive year. They were both featured in Burberry Prorsum's Runway shows, Burberry Beauty ad and multiple ad campaigns. My favorite supermodel is Coco Rocha. She has an amazing and outstanding face and I have seen her do almost everything! She's so versatile yet I always recognize that not-so-common face. I also like Agyness Deyn, Cara Delevingne and Chanel Iman.
Who are your favorite models and supermodels?
Leave a message and let me know what you think.
Much Love,