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Thread: Female fashion models and stereotypes

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  1. #1
    rilu
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    Default Female fashion models and stereotypes

    Here's a question that's been puzzling some of us here for a while now, and which Lumina and I talked about yesterday in a nice cafe in Antwerp :)
    How come that the majority of designers discussed on here - who work at the frontiers of fashion design and who dare to challenge various aspects of it - don't dare to challenge the type of female models that represent their clothes on a runway? While with male fashion models this has already taken place (see, for example Yohji Yamamoto's SS 2009 show), hardly anyone dared to do the same when it comes to women. If I remember right, Vivienne Westwood partially challenged this habit with less slim models, and MMM recently had some more senior female models, but aside from these exceptions, the situation has mainly been unchanged.

    The main question here is not why not diverging from the mainstream for the sake of certain ethical or political reasons (though that's an interesting question as well). What I am primarily interested in is the question, why are slim, young, tall, conventionally pretty models aesthetically more appealing for this niche in fashion design than other female types? Wouldn't a real challenge be to make a not-so-conventionally-beautiful person looking in an interesting way? And in any case, wouldn't, for example, an older, gray haired woman make an incredible impression on a runway? Why has this aspect of fashion, even in this niche, remained so incredibly mainstream?

  2. #2

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    I find this question very interesting.
    Even if the question can be asked also for "regular" brands also (and I don't even talk about magazines), the question here is mostly adressed towards the designers discussed here. Why designers deviating from the "mass tastes" or regular fashion in regard to concept, construction of clothes, fabric, creating new silhouettes, building personal universes, challenging gender, the notion of fashion itself, of what is beautiful to wear, of what a clothe is, or should look like, WHY do these same people keep being totally enslaved to the fashion's beauty diktat by keeping on showing their clothes seasons after seasons on models very tall, very (too?) slim, very young women ?
    They challenged all these notions, were called avant-garde, revolutionized the history of fashion, they stood against all, but they conform to this whole narrow fashion view ?
    What about all the smallest, tallest, curviest, regular, out of the ordinary, older, but nevertheless pretty, women ?

    To take Yohji Yamamoto as an exemple, I know that he did some runways with more diversified models a few years ago, but especially for him, with his books, his thoughts, his view on fashion, against imitation, about being oneself, it is so frustrating and seems even contradictory, why doesn't he show his clothes this way ? Him, the lover of one size and non-perfectly fitting clothes ? Why does he do it for his men runway (old men, bigger men, smaller men), such a great diversity of shapes, and silhouettes, and body, faces, personnalities, and not for women ? Marketing and financial pressures ?
    He did it recently for his runway at the V&A taking couples in the streets in London, and it was so great, much more alive, playful, warmer, honest, so much more true to the spirit of his clothes. Seing them displayed season after season on regular all look alike models has something almost hypocrite, no matter how beautiful the clothes are.

    And Comme des Garçons ? With such a playful and daring view on clothes and fashion, why not show more the diversity of bodies as they showed us the diversity of view on clothes and what beauty can be or not be ?

    I understand that for designer like Rick Owens, enhancing sport and care of the body from what I understood, with a kind of body ideal, it may be a bit different and sounds a little bit more like a conscient choice of models, not just a soumission to runway's way of doing.
    But for others, I find there's really an "off" feeling. It doesn't feel right.

    Sorry if it feels a little agressive, but I really wonder and would love to have the view of the designers on that point, know what people here think about it, male and female, and it would be interesting from those here who are designers themselves too.

  3. #3

    Default

    This is an interesting subject matter, but to be honest and this might sound weird coming from someone like me. in some ways I really don't care...........well, at least not too much to want to change the system. personally,i don't like too much of a slim woman, its not personally attractive to me.

    Ive seen a lot of designers who have done alot in this regard, for example, Junya did it one season early in this career using unconventional models. Margiela when he was around made a point of using unusual models.........there have also been fuller figured models like Sophie Dahl, who has been very successful in the mainstream modeling industry. McQueen once used a lady (i dint remember her name) for whom he made special prosthetic legs to do his show.


    I think an there are several factors important to consider.

    1. its easier to make a wide assortment of clothing fit better on people who are less curvy that those who have curves
    2. designers generally use samples for press, editorial and other shoots over which they have no control. having garments made in a size that's closer to the standards used by the industry (regardless of how reprehensible this is) is easier to deal with than veering from the norm.

    essentially, I did womenwear for seven years, and I've been doing mens for three seasons, and I feel more fulfilled designing menswear than I did women. not because didn't love women swear and wasn't good at it, but then, there were some aspects of the work that was always against my personal convictions..............
    “You know,” he says, with a resilient smile, “it is a hard world for poets.”
    .................................................. .......................


    Zam Barrett Spring 2017 Now in stock

  4. #4

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    skinny girls will interfere with structured or highly styled garments less, while simultaneously looking better in fitted clothing.

    you also have to look at the marketing side of the fashion industry. Most luxury brands are trying to sell an idealized "perfect life" through their advertising in print, video and showcases. Now what fits better with the idea of the perfect life- a thin, glamorous, 20 year old model photographed in an opulent apartment, or a slightly overweight, average looking 30 something woman photographed in her clean family home?

    it's more about fantasy than reality, and as long as people want something better than what they have, people will be sold products by people who look better than they do.


    but maybe I'm just getting defensive because we're discussing my profession here.
    Last edited by kirie; 12-12-2011 at 07:39 PM. Reason: rephrasing

  5. #5

    Default

    ^^ You can sell fantasy without super skinny models. With that said, the ideal (fantasized) woman changes over the course of time. The question is, who shaped the preferences of the masses? Is it the media, or is the media merely responding to that people truly want? Chances are our preferences are subsconsciously shaped by what's shoved down our throat, not vice versa, so in that case the media has the power to change the trends in modelling as well, no?

    Quote Originally Posted by Patroklus View Post
    Better too adventurous than not enough
    everyone should strive towards ballsiness

  6. #6

    Default

    Simply a business decision to save money?
    Just design one size fits all (+/- minor alterations after acually casting the models). Then wait for the preorders after the show and evaluate what actually goes into production. Hell they save money by not providing fitting shoes quite often.


    The beauty aspect is another thing... symmetry especially in the face, waist to hip ratio... those are some evolutionary conserved measurements.
    However I don't think it is that important in fashion anymore, the androgyny trend is common for both sexes. And I remember the same complaints that "actual men" should be more often present on the runway and not only those "drug addict" types.

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Rosenrot View Post
    ^^ You can sell fantasy without super skinny models. With that said, the ideal (fantasized) woman changes over the course of time. The question is, who shaped the preferences of the masses? Is it the media, or is the media merely responding to that people truly want? Chances are our preferences are subsconsciously shaped by what's shoved down our throat, not vice versa, so in that case the media has the power to change the trends in modelling as well, no?

    Yes, I think the fact that our ideological vision of beauty changes over time, and with our lifestyles, is not to be dismissed. Robust women used to be considered sexy, maybe it had something to do with the survival instint, big meant healthy, you didn't want some skinny girl who was gonna die during the first winter (LOL but true)...Today we have a life of leisure, relatively speaking, and maybe its a naturally evolved consensus that thin women are more desirable. Is the media a mirror for society, or does it dictate society? I think we can certainly see with fashion that some things are dictated to a certan extent. You show people something enough times, they will start to like it, no matter how ridiculous it is...

    That said, I think that designers have no real desire to change the body type that they use to model their clothing simply because they are looking for a frame for the clothing itself...

    For the record, the whole skinny model thing started with Twiggy in the 60s... I saw a documentary on it not too long ago...

  8. #8

    Default

    Could you please tell what docu it was? Thanks.

  9. #9

    Default

    Perhaps Twiggy is credited with the initiation of the super-skinny model as a standard, but I was very interested to read in this link Gracia (Rosenrot) posted on twitter http://www.businessoffashion.com/201...e-times-3.html an excerpt of which:

    And in that Jean Patou was not mistaken. His eyes were raised to a distant dress horizon which he understood thoroughly, making him the only couturier in Paris able to claim to have seen fashion’s first future shock of the twentieth century: the modernity of the streamlined, svelte silhouette.

    We are talking of the dress revolution called sportswear, whereby good taste in fashion was to be about elimination and simplification. Based on a modern cut that gave women freedom and made them more conscious of the importance of the slim shape than ever before in history, it was a radical and permanent change of step.

    Which begs the question - which came first, the chicken or the egg? Is it the skinny model we should blame or is it the fashions that force the figures?
    some do it fast, some do it better in smaller amounts.

  10. #10

    Default

    Looks like Rick Owens in today's SS14 RTW finally did some...

    Quote Originally Posted by rilu View Post
    Here's a question that's been puzzling some of us here for a while now, and which Lumina and I talked about yesterday in a nice cafe in Antwerp :)
    How come that the majority of designers discussed on here - who work at the frontiers of fashion design and who dare to challenge various aspects of it - don't dare to challenge the type of female models that represent their clothes on a runway? While with male fashion models this has already taken place (see, for example Yohji Yamamoto's SS 2009 show), hardly anyone dared to do the same when it comes to women. If I remember right, Vivienne Westwood partially challenged this habit with less slim models, and MMM recently had some more senior female models, but aside from these exceptions, the situation has mainly been unchanged.

    The main question here is not why not diverging from the mainstream for the sake of certain ethical or political reasons (though that's an interesting question as well). What I am primarily interested in is the question, why are slim, young, tall, conventionally pretty models aesthetically more appealing for this niche in fashion design than other female types? Wouldn't a real challenge be to make a not-so-conventionally-beautiful person looking in an interesting way? And in any case, wouldn't, for example, an older, gray haired woman make an incredible impression on a runway? Why has this aspect of fashion, even in this niche, remained so incredibly mainstream?

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