America’s blind obsession with celebrity life doesn’t just motivate the tabloids – it’s also steered fashion to the point of artistic degradation. Where statuesque models once graced the covers of fashion magazines, movie stars and various other famous figures have stepped in to show off the work of prominent designers. For the past decade or so, the media has driven the fashion industry to deliver familiar faces to a gossip-ready public at the unnecessary expense of the garment industry’s integrity.
Fashion is an art form, but it’s also a business that relies heavily on its product’s marketability. By attaching a celebrity’s name to a design label – or even an entire style – the brand is exploiting pop culture’s inexhaustible cache of likeable personalities. But clothing should lend its own quality to a model’s body, not vice versa. When Louis Vuitton turns to someone like Jennifer Lopez to boost its image, the design house is sacrificing the very elements that make her a fitting woman to dress in the first place – independently successful, stylishly bold and sexy to an extreme. Fashion’s power lies in its ability to make a woman all of these things, without the help of manipulative advertising tactics.
There’s no arguing that celebrity endorsements have the ability to exponentially increase sales, but will a purchase based on fame begin to replace the reasons we’re passionate about what we wear?
Even Vogue has jumped on board; the glamorous high-fashion magazine, made famous for cutting-edge design and haute-couture editorial spreads, used actresses as cover girls for nine of its issues last year alone. Though many actresses are beautiful – as well as recipients of solid public backing and net worths ranging in the millions – should that give them the authority to advertise innovative fashion?
Besides being silhouettes of physical perfection, models intrinsically possess something that remains unattainable to even the highest-profile celebs – neutrality. A model’s body exists to be adorned and transformed by the fashions, much in the same way that a character role should transform the actor or actress assuming it. By using a celebrity who has an established image in the public’s eye, a designer is stripping its clothes of their ability to recreate the body without a preexisting bias.
Great fashion should be like a Mondrian: conceptually elusive but emotionally and intellectually evocative, tangible in expression but untouchable in its beauty. The recognizable face of a movie star simply cannot accomplish this.
Though the necessary objectification of models is in part what qualifies them for a photo shoot over an actress or singer, let it be known that personality is by no means expected to be absent. Neutrality is not a measure of indifference. Supermodels that have hit the mainstream have landed at the top for a reason – and even their specific personas are starting to get in the way.
The supermodel face is nearing banal superficiality. Recent years have seen a pattern in highlighting models from an era now long passed. From Cindy Crawford and Janice Dickinson to Christy Turlington and Kristy Brinkley, the names of supermodels are now so well-known that their fame has reached a similar point of trivialization. Women from the Age of the Supermodel are no longer revered for their unique ability to display fashion as it’s meant to be seen. Instead, the very nature of their hard-earned success is what warrants recognition well beyond their glory days of groundbreaking runway shows. Figures like Kate Moss have entered into dangerous territory, suspended in a kind of fashion purgatory between her skills as a model and inescapable tabloid attention.
From a more practical viewpoint, models have a career to maintain that the current market will not continue to support. When I heard Beyonc