Friday 4 February 2011

Gilded Beauty

Fashion is a world that is perceived to be a glamorous and fierce place, dominated by beautiful people.  Indeed, the front rows of the world's major fashion shows back up this image. But the magazine editors who adorn their pages with the likes of Kate Hudson, Mary-Kate Olsen and Kristen Stewart to name but a few, sitting with concerted expressions pondering how they can fit the latest trends into their mammoth wardrobes, fail to mention the other side of fashion.
Fashion weeks see journalists, models and designers practically mainlining coffee, clutching their trusty sunglasses to hide bags a panda would be proud of and avoiding human contact as much as possible for fear of an episode of sleep deprived murder. Such are the effects of sleepless nights. And, yes, these may be but a few weeks a year but there is a constant pressure that is put upon people in the fashion industry to live up to a standard that has been set largely by myth and Photoshop.
Possibly the hardest hit in the general fashion stereotype are the models themselves. There is no denying that eating disorders are rife, enhanced not only by designer's preferences for the slimmer creature (samples are much cheaper to produce in a UK 4) but also though an ever-changing ideal body shape. In the real world, the ideal body shape is a natural one, achieved though a healthy diet and lifestyle with perhaps more than a little influence from photographs of flat stomached celebrities and television (think of the current trend for 1950s clothing that best suits a curvier shape). For a model her body shape is her livelihood. If the clothes don't fit her, she won't be booked. Simples.
Supermodels are a slightly different kettle of fish, but still face the same pressures. Although they can get away with being a little less restrained around the canapés because designers will book them on the basis of their name, their fame means money to the paparazzi.  Celebrity gossip magazines thrive on photographs of supermodels where they are drunk and humiliating themselves or simply have had a late night, haven't worn make up and aren't looking up to their air-brushed perfume ad image.  Have a moment's thought for Lily Cole; a photograph of her stumbling out of a Cambridge club could have a negative impact on her work. She may be rich, she may travel a lot and she may know Karl Lagerfeld and other fashion Demi-Gods   but she can't have the true experience of being a student.
This isn't to say that models should be pitied or felt too sorry for; they choose to stay and it often pays off for them. Modelling gave Natalia Vodianova her fairy tale escape from Russian poverty into a Tom Ford wedding dress at her wedding to the wealthy London property developer, Justin Portman.  Fashion does have its ugly, dark facets but it has a reputation of beauty and glamour and there is never smoke without fire.

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