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Sunday, July 24, 2005

It's always fun to read older articles on what the "biz" characters think about models - their "expert opinions" do make some people, who are usually clueless about the real model selection criteria, look silly, but that's life...

Some excerpts from the infamous "Muscles (thank Brussels)" UK Telegraph article from April 18th 2001 - Barbara Amiel, one of A. Wintour's best friends, was running the show, and the paper was (and still is) the mouthpiece of the international Conde Nast fashion empire...

"...A new model army of androgynous Flemish models - all choppy hair and attitude - is taking over the catwalk. Julia Robson reports...
FIRST came the boobs from Brazil; now make way for the muscles from Brussels. Belgium, the home of such avant garde fashion designers as Dries Van Noten, Ann Demeulemeester and Martin Margiela, is the spawning ground of fashion's "new look" models...
...The waifs fared well for a few seasons, but were spectacularly floored last year by the tall, tanned lovelies from Brazil. The reign of these Amazonian creatures with impossibly long legs and surgically enhanced breasts has turned out, surprisingly, to be as brief as their native bikini bottoms. Most of them didn't even bother to show up for castings at the Milano Moda Donna, Italy's fashion week.
..

Notice here the reference to "surgically enhanced breasts" - since the top "high fashion" Brazilians at the time were Gisele, (slightly enhanced) Ana Claudia, Carol Ribeiro, Isabeli and Jeisa, one wonders what the Conde Nasties had in mind - maybe they didn't believe Gisele's glistening "assets" were "100% natural"?

...The models dominating this year's catwalks and glossies are Flemish femmes fatales - a new model army of androgynous, pale-faced girls with knobbly knees, choppy haircuts, tattoos and heaps of attitude...

Of course, the US Elle editrix -and many others- thought it was just another "beauty wave"...they never noticed the "knobbly knees"...

..."There are two looks going on at the moment," explains Massimo Radaelli, European managing director of IMG models. "The strongest look is androgynous and intellectual, as epitomised by Hannelore and some of the other girls who, although not from Belgium, have 'the Belgian look'. The other is a plainer, understated beauty like Stella Tennant and Karen Elson."...

Massimo used to work for Elite before, and was often seen next to Gisele when she was travelling around Europe - notice the two "beauty ideals", where the "plainer beauty" is Karen Elson, Lagerfeld's "mutant alien"...
Obviously, IMG participated fully in the anti-Brazilian campaign at that time, but made sure that Gisele maintained her status...one wonders how everyone suddenly got bored with all Brazilian mods except Gisele- the one with the biggest boobs...
btw IMG Paris was busy hyping their Brazilian lineup just before the F/W 2001 season - French mags carried the PR, with photos of Gisele, Jeisa, Ana Beatriz and Isabeli. Soon after, IMG Paris was effectively shut down and the modeling biz center in general shifted from Paris to NYC, where Elite had collapsed by mid-2000 and new players, ready to promote the new "beauties", were emerging - so there was a lot more involved in all this than just a simple change in model look preferences...

As for the "Belgian look" - Belgian mods always looked more like Jessica van der Steen, but that hardly concerned the "pros"...

...The new models are not conventionally beautiful. However, their style and character has hit the right note with designers and fashion editors, who are bored of girls whose faces and figures score the perfect "10"...

How come all these characters suddenly got bored with "perfect" models in just one season?...It can't be that they were following diktats from the alpha female editrix and her cronies?
..."A model with a unique, individual look - one that fits the mood of the moment - is 'discovered' by photographers such as Steven Meisel or Mario Testino," explains Cathy Kasterine, a British fashion stylist. "When her pictures are published, the 'clones' suddenly appear. This happened with Fanny Bostrom and Erin Wasson. Girls must look like boys at the moment."...

So Erin Wasson looked "like a boy" in 2001...I guess that's news for the beauty companies that employ her - unless they target the "boy-like" girl market...

"...Included in the Belgian school are Wasson, 20, from Dallas, a blonde with an asymmetric bob which is shaved at the back; Omahyra Garcia Mota, 16, from the Dominican Republic - a towering figure with a crew cut;..."
(a bizzare list of mods follows, but they forget Carolyn Murphy with her wild Paris Vogue hairdo)

..."Omahyra walked into our offices with a friend who was coming to see us about becoming a model. The friend was pretty but ordinary," recalls Tori Edwards of London model agency Models 1. "Omahyra looked like a young Fidel Castro. We sent her out on castings with just her passport photo, and she got work instantly."...

That was not exactly the "official" version of how Omahyra was discovered - but notice that what really thrilled the Models 1 person was the resemblance to a "young Fidel Castro". I guess "Commadante" Rowland is not the only model agent who has a crush on Cuban revolutionaries - Londoners also paid close attention to early photos of boy Fidel...

I wonder if the people who gave "instant work" to Omahyra also got the same vision of a young Fidel...or they thought she was the new female "beauty" ideal, like the brain-dead US Elle characters (who still love "Belgian" Fanny Bostrum and An Oost, as they trickle towards "semi-edgy" status)
Poor Omahyra was never really very popular with the NYC "edgy" crowd and got zero "hip" campaigns - but she has become a cult figure in modeling, where most people know her by name, and also appears in a new Ellen v U book with the title "Omahyra and Boyd".

What followed after the Brazilians were blacklisted - Testino was busy hyping a mature Brazilian transvestite in the months before 9/11 (I must say that her legs looked far better than what you see in most öf today's "A-list" mods) and his latest "discovery" for the S/S 2002 show season was a midgety blonde billed as the "alternative Ipanema girl". Tom Ford and friends were in an erotic frenzy (the "Mary Poppins" look wasn't big with NY Times "fashion journalists" at the time) but after September, when Tom had to cancel his tasteful stripper-enhanced Paris YSL show, he lamented that "It's sad, but people now want beauty...". The "Belgians" disappeared after a while (US Elle still uses some of them) the Brazilians eventually came back, and the rest is history...

5 Comments:

At 7/25/2005 1:36 AM, Anonymous r.c. said...

About the reference to "surgically enhanced breasts", i never suspected Ana Claudia's were fake (they're real!!!), but when it comes to Gisele's, i have my doubts, although i wanna believe they're 100% real...why not?

 
At 7/25/2005 9:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's kinda ironic that all the girls that are known for their "beauty" today started out as edgy, tomboy models.. Amber Valletta, Erin Wasson, Carolyn Murphy. I don't think Erin W and Carolyn deserve beauty campaigns (maybe Erin O'Connor deserves a beauty campaign more than Erin W) but Amber is a beauty and a really good model.

About Belgian models.. I think we need a little bit of everything in fashion, some beauty, some quirkiness.. Hannelore remains my favorite Belgian model, and Anne-Catherine is looking cute again. Oh and of course Delfine but we don't see much of her these days. One Belgian who never made it: Greet Germis (gorgeous girl, I guess she was too pretty to fit in the Belgian invasion).

-carola

 
At 7/25/2005 9:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you about Greet -- I remember seeing her pics years ago, and I thought she somewhat resembled Bridget Hall.

The Belgians run the gamut...some of them do nothing for me, and seem very bland, but then Jessica van der Steen, who was born in Belgium (and later grew up in the Netherlands) has the most gorgeous face.

-abby

 
At 7/25/2005 9:48 AM, Blogger FV said...

Hannelore (and Inge Guerts, who has been ignored by NYC modeling) were well-known and quite popular in Paris years before AW staged the "Belgian" swindle - the Antwerp designers saw Hannelore as their top model, since she was already famous in Europe, so AW and Co went along with her - although the response to her Prada campaigns was rather chilly in NYC.
Hannelore and Inge are real models, and they still work today in Euro catwalks - unike Anouck L and various 22+ yo students who were doing part-time modeling and were sold as pro models.
Anne-Catherine was hardly an "Antwerp scene" model - and of course Delfine had nothing to do with the lot, even though people regularly packaged her together with An Oost.

When J Casablancas (and everyone else) thought "Flemish model" the look they had in mind was Jessica vdSteen, Ingrid Seynhaeve, Annemieke vdBerg, etc

 
At 7/30/2005 10:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Call me stupid, but I've never understood where this "Mary Poppins" comes from and what does it mean?

 

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