Degradation of high fashion: Supermodels


Juliette Deutsch, co-editor-in-chief
Sydney Tran, staff writer

Gigi Hadid's W magazine cover for September 2015. Photo by: JULIETTE DEUTSCH
Gigi Hadid’s W magazine cover for September 2015.

The new wave of “supermodels” strays far from the standard set by international fashion icons of the latter half of the 20th century, such as Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Twiggy.
These women revolutionized the fashion industry with their impeccable style and global recognition; however, there seems to be a continuous redesign of the job description of a supermodel.
With the ongoing growth of social media model culture and the increasing importance of networking within the industry, the fundamentals of high fashion are being quickly abandoned.
When talent, style and design become less important than Instagram follower counts in a visually-oriented artisanal industry, a clear shift is apparent. Fashion shouldn’t be a popularity contest, but today it is.
The widespread embracement of this change is a problem for those who recognize and respect what “high fashion” truly means.
Fashion models of today owe much of their success to their existing resources, not to growth in the industry. Despite their objective beauty and style, this group of women, which includes Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid and Cara Delevingne, would not have grown in the business as quickly and substantially as they have without existing money, fame and excessive networking.
For example, Gigi Hadid’s September W magazine cover  still claims that she is “100% Fashion”. It does, however, acknowledge that she is “The World’s Most Connected Supermodel”, displaying the increased importance of a good public relations team and pedigree in order to breach the divide between “model” and “supermodel.”
There are, however, models who have risen to the top of the industry due to their looks, talent and dedication. Karlie Kloss is one of these models, but it seems that she has fallen victim to the fashion’s new popularity standard. There is more talk surrounding Kloss’s partnership with New York City’s Momofuku Milk Bar to create “Karlie’s Kookies” and her friendship with Taylor Swift than there is about her style, whereas those who are have grown in the industry and successfully avoided this fate lack the same level of recognition and admiration.
Kloss has appeared on the runways of Marc Jacobs, Yves Saint Laurent, Hermes and Dior, some of the most coveted high fashion shows in the world and still gets recognized at face value for being in the “Bad Blood” video.
Even high fashion designers, including Karl Lagerfeld the head designer of Chanel, Fendi and his own haute couture label Karl Lagerfeld, have expressed upset over the new standards by which the industry runs.
Additionally, the use of the terms “Brandy Melville model” and “Instagram model” further contributes to the degradation of fashion. Being identified as this limits these girls to modeling in  crop tops and high-waisted shorts in front of a white wall to be posted on Instagram, providing for no valid opportunity for growth in the industry.
Brandy Melville’s Instagram is not modeling, Gigi Hadid is not high fashion and the fashion industry needs to revisit what it means to truly be a “supermodel”.