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Monday, September 19, 2005

Those who follow the Blog know what I think about Kate Moss, but I'll try to put everything in a nutshell for all the rest...
Kate was popular in the fashion world in the early and mid-90s for a number of reasons - the main one was that the early 90s turned into an era of grunge and teenage rebellion. Of course, it was a fake marketing-driven rebellion, promoted solely for the benefit of increasing consumption. Katie was seen as some sort of an anti-establishment figure, coz she was different from the modeling norm - "waifs" did not really matter much in fashion before she appeared, whatever you may have read about Twiggy and Co. Even at the peak of her popularity, in the mid-90s, waifs were a sideshow, even inside fashion - most people, inc the agency bosses, were interested in promoting conventional "supermodels" with mass appeal. Katie, along with "heroin chic" and the like, was seen as a rather amusing distraction - another product of delightful British eccentricity.
The truth is that Katie was -and still is- only relevant in the Anglo-Saxon world (and not even in places like Australia) - whereas in markets such as France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Russia, or pretty much anywhere else, she has close to zero selling power or mass appeal. She was always closely associated with the Calvin Klein campaigns, which drew a lot of public critisism for presenting a less than "wholesome" teen image - after the "heroin chic" debacle in early 1997, advertisers turned to "healthier" role models and she became irrelevant anywhere except high fashion. Katie clones did appear in the mid-90s - in France it was Audrey Marnay, in Germany Diana Gartner. Still, only Katie expressed the image that French mags describe as "sexy trash" - a not very feminine woman who readily flaunts her not particularly appealing (to straight men) features and seems to shop mainly at flea markets for trashy but flashy clothes (fleamarket shopping for cool fashions is apparently a big thing in the US/UK, but is seen as totally gross most anywhere else)
Katie does have a strong fan base in certain markets- with effectively anorexic teenagers who seem to be more neurotic than the world average - something that is evident in shows such as the "Gilmore Girls", where Rory seems to be in constant need of anxiety therapy. The teenagers of the early 90s who embraced the "waif" image grew up and became the "It girls"- and the high fashion business model after 1995 was built around the "It girl". As I mentioned elsewhere, the unfortunate thing for the big high fashion conglomerates, which replaced stuffy but talented designers like YSL and Ferre with AW's London "fur trim on everything" buddies, was that "It girls" were wiped out with the stock market crash - by late 2000, that market segment had vaporised. This became evident as high fashion mags, like US Vogue, changed their focus towards selling to the "older woman" again - which was why Linda Evangelista was on the Sept 2001 US Vogue cover (looking like her real age, not "10 years younger" like today). In parallel, high fashion tried to create an extreme snobbish market with the Antwerp designers (and "Belgian" models) - the Antwerp designer fashion stores that opened in Moscow were said to be focused on the wealthy snobs who wanted to look different from the Vercace/Prada clientele of similar affluence and cared little about style, elegance and the like. That part of the equation collapsed after 9/11, but despite all the changes and detours, Katie still remained outside the picture, with no campaigns except Rimmel in the UK, where many people complained that her eyebrows in the ads were really fake.
Even if it may offend some, the truth is that Katie always appealed to fashion people who tend to appreciate the "elegance" and fashion sense of Lady Bunny or other transvestites and care little about conventional feminine qualities. The collapse of the big modeling agencies of the 90s led to a situation where any model who looked feminine or remotely sensual was effectively shut out of the high fashion game - even mods who fit the waif/quirky pattern but prove to have mass appeal, like Cintia Dicker, are little liked by AW and her lackeys and are quickly removed from the so-called "A List". The stage was set for industry greats like Lagerfeld and Valentino to come out of their fashion closet and express their true feelings - that all along they were being opressed by a burgeois society which demanded they should champion the "drop-dead gorgeous" woman. Finally, with that woman out of the picture, even in European campaigns and editorials which are mostly produced in NYC nowdays, they could finally talk about the "new elegance", how "trashy" is really so cool and why "poor taste" is so much cooler than burgeois "good taste" - and use Kate Moss as their authentic trashy, fabulous icon. All this suddenly brought Katie - who was probably also surprised about the newfound biz attention on her - to the high fashion forefront about a year or so ago, as the mod who epitomises this mentality.
Most people are perplexed as to why Katie is suddenly doing so many top campaigns - of course Karl and Co can't reveal to the majority of their clients that they really despise their burgeois notions of "good taste" and "elegance", so the NYT "fashion journalists" and the like will keep blabbering about old-style taste and elegance - although the "drop dead gorgeous" female is now Katie, whatever the wider public thinks about the concept...

Kate never regarded herself as a real model - ten years ago, she said that she was really an "anti-model". All the theories about her recent success, like old models vs new models superiority, Katie being seen as some sort of sophisticated woman (Hello !!! Need reality check...her hairdresser was her stylist since she lived in Croydon) and the like, only attempt to offer weak, supermodel era justifications.
The plain truth is that the high fashion biz is saluting their real icon - the trashy, poor taste, anti-elegant anti-feminine anti-model.

Of course, there are always the people who think Katie is really the epitomy of elegance and style - but there are also people who believe that they just saw the real Elvis in their local shopping mall...


At 10/11/2005 4:03 AM, Blogger StonePearl said...

Bravo great commentary


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