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Death of the Supermodels

In the early to late 90s the Supermodels ruled the runways. They were statuesque, sassy, wild and at the heart of the fashion industry. No show was complete without Naomi, Linda, Kate, Claudia, Helena, Eva, Christy or Cindy doing a turn up the catwalk draped luxuriously in the latest designer creations of Versace, Armani, Chanel, Westwood or YSL. Why were they loved so much? It was not only their uncompromisingly beautiful faces, slender limbs and womanly figures that made them stars, they were also glamour incarnate. They made clothes look good and they inspired a generation of women to dress up, be independant and take control. They had the poise and the attitude to carry off the designers fantastical inventions. A supermodel could sell an image and a lifestyle that made women want to buy it and when someone bought a Versace gown they didn't just believe they got a dress, they believed some of the Supers magic rubbed off on them.

Supermodels were taking over the world, never far from the covers of magazines, Elle and Vogue, their appearances being the difference between a good show and a spectacular one and leaving everyone else in the dark. That was the problem. They overshadowed the clothes they wore and the designers themselves seemed more like chaperones than key players as they led their stars up the catwalk at the close of their own shows. The fashion world became bored of these women who commanded $10,000 a day to appear in campaigns or even as was famously declared to 'get out of bed'. A Supermodel turn at a show would set the designers back 25-35k. Nobody wanted to pay and there was an all round sentiment of 'Have these girls got too big for their Prada boots.

Cut to 2002 and the Supers have had babies (most recently Ms Moss) they've starred in car ads, brought out exercise videos, tried their hands at music and novel writing, Who can forget the Fashion Cafe? They've even been spotted on the Big Screen, all with moderate or great success but they're all grown up now and there are a new crop of models waiting to take their places. Sure the New breed are Super skinny, quirky looking and almost dare i say it Girl-next-dooresque but that's precisely why we should embrace the cult of the editorial chick.

Designers can reclaim their creations as the stars of their shows and fashionistas can look at models Alek Wek, Devon Aoki and Nina Sarasalo believing that they could be one of us or at least not be faced with the unattainable beauty the supers represent.

Post 9/11 Do we really need a return to the glamour days of Supermodels? Is it really wise for the fashion world or indeed the world at large to go backwards instead of forwards in our ideals of what is beautiful in favour of seeking the kind of beauty that only a small minority will ever possess?

It's time society left perfection alone and embraced it's flaws. So is the Supermodel really history? Well like it or not they're making a comeback. Let's just hope this time around that they can share the limelight with their fellow models and designers, leaving the clothes to be the talking point.

Written by: C. L Johnson.
Date: Oct. 21st 2002

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