High Fashion: the ideal model is changing

Image Credit: Tiffany Bailey / flickr

Yes he is a star, but Kanye West NYFW show was mostly notable for its originality and its diversity. Fifty men and women of all shapes were standing in rows as if they were going at war.

Image Credit: Reuters
Kanye West’s models. Image Credit: Reuters

But war against what? High fashion diktats? Maybe… Regular white models, curvy, short girls, Latino, Asian, black women with Afros or dreads, boys, girls… reality was in his uncommon catwalk.

Even if white models are five times more represented in the 2014 fashion world according to the Fashion Spot Report, it is changing. Plus-size models are starting to do their come back and more and more designers are fighting for diversity.

Last Friday, Becca McCharen famous for her label Chromat, featured plus-size models and transgender women on the runway of the Milk Studios in the Meatpacking district. And she is not the only one messing with the gender norm: the brand Hood By Air is also known for casting models that nobody can tell whether they are male or female.


Jamie Brewer walking the NYFW runway. Image Credit: Rhonda Berglas / flickr
Jamie Brewer walking the NYFW runway. Image Credit: Rhonda Berglas / flickr

High Fashion is definitely changing. Last week for the first time in history, a model with Down syndrome walked the runway. Cast by the designer Carrie Hammer, Jamie Brewer, mostly known for her role in American Horror Story, proved that fashion is not inaccessible.

The actress embraces her role as a model and not only in the fashion industry. She made her point to fight for justice. Jamie Brewer was part of the ARC Governmental Affairs Committee for the State of Texas. Speaking with the Senators, she made possible the abolition of the word ‘retarded’ from state legislation.

Fashion industry has long been empowered by plus-size models. At one time, being plump was actually the quintessence of beauty. After years of scandal about too thin models, the plus-size ones are fighting again, not to be the norm but to be part of it. They promote diversity.

A week ago, Tess Munster, also known as Tess Holliday, was the first model in the United Kingdom to be signed by a major model agency. Owner and director of the Milk Model Management, Anna Shillinglaw, said that with her size 24, “she is such an important role model for so many women.”

Tess Holliday. Image Credit:  awesomesuperballs17 / flickr
Tess Holliday. Image Credit: awesomesuperballs17 / flickr

Launched in November 2014, the Pirelli Calendar 2015 unveiled its first ever plus-size model, Candice Huffine. The 30 years old American has already appeared on publications like Vogue Italia and V Magazine.

Many agencies are starting to highlight models who are used to be seen as outsiders in the fashion industry.

The February issue of BUST magazine features ALDA. The successful Ashley Graham, Danielle Redman, Inga Eiriksdottir, Julie Henderson, and Marquita Pring have decided to form a coalition to represent ‘beauty overall’. In this campaign, the five fierce women embrace their curves in sports pants and bras, showing that being a rocking athlete doesn’t mean being a size zero.

Huge names in the fashion world fight for diversity. Jean-Paul Gaultier is one of them. “I always thought that personality was more important than just the look, and that has influenced my choice of models,” he says. “I wanted to show different beauties and personalities on the runway when I started. And I still do.”

'Unadorned' project by Julia  Fullerton - Batten
‘Unadorned’ project by Julia Fullerton – Batten

The ‘Unadorned’ photo project is another work that elevates the beauty of roundness. The photographer, Julia Fullerton-Batten explains: “Throughout most of the last few millennia, the most sought-after female forms were represented by curvaceous bodies… It is only in very recent times, since Twiggy and Barbie came to the fore in the 1960s, that our narcissistic society reinforced by the media and advertising now interprets the ideal figure to be ultra-thin, enhanced by eating disorders and plastic surgery.”

All of these people are encouraging changes so that the fashion world can finally be a mirror of the society but most of all, of reality. They know people identify themselves according to what they see. Being realistic would mean helping everyone to accept their body.

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