The beautiful and the damned.
The last few weeks I have been knee deep (or should I say clavicle deep?) in the quest to find the perfect model for our upcoming fashion shoot in Paris.
"Paris!" you splutter. "Should be a breeze." Not so. In fact, it's about as straightforward as brushing your cat's teeth. Here's the thing: Models are wanted and needed by every fashion editor in the world. Not to mention advertising campaigns and runway shows. Competition is fierce, bloodthirsty and confusing.
I was back and forth with an agent recently about a hot new face. Insert French accent: "You have to take her," she purrs. "She is to die for - all elbow and jaw." Now perhaps I've been in the industry too long - I didn't even flinch.
Because to my editorial eye she was beautiful - every elbow and jaw of her. Why is a whole other story, but to try to explain: fashion editors are simply trying to find something different. We're on the lookout for something unusual, new, someone who grabs. Classical beauties such as Jerry Hall, Cindy Crawford and Elle Macpherson simply don't excite us anymore. We have seen it all before. We simply shrug and go back to filing our nails. Then in comes a 15-year-old with wonky teeth posing like she has some form of scoliosis - now you have our attention.
Don't tell Kate, but ugly is in. It is called shock casting. And that's exactly the point. Vulnerable, dangly, shiny and offbeat simply work in a fashion shoot, even if to the untrained (or perhaps I should say untainted) eye such a model resembles nothing more than a foldaway chair with hair. My point is, the models who make it these days are not ever going to look like us. They are not meant to, because guess what - they aren't made like us. That is why they are models. And before you get all red-faced it's not the whole weight thing. Because when Love magazine put Beth Ditto and all her flesh on the cover it turned out to be one of the most well-received issues of the decade. Nor is it always about age. Remember Inès de la Fressange walking the Chanel runway at the ripe old age of 53?
Our problem lies in the way that women choose to perceive - and dismiss - other women. Remember, it is women, more than men, who demand youth, perfection and beauty in the cover girls.
So perhaps next time you choose to ridicule a new, young model on the cover of your favourite magazine who doesn't quite fit the mould, why not celebrate the fact that "different" can be a good thing?
And if you don't like it, here's a thought: don't buy it.
This week's highs and lows
ONLINE LUXURY The website www.theluxuryemporium.com now delivers to the UAE. Hello, Terry de Havilland wedges!
PLEASE, NO PLEATS! As beautiful as this trend looks on waif- like models, all it does is emphasise our lumps and bumps.
PRINT QUEEN We want Kenzo's boxy bags in extravagant patterned fabric.
BAD HAIR DAY California's attorney general has filed an injunction against the makers of Brazilian Blowout because of its high formaldehyde content.
COLLAR ALERT Forget your classic pointy ones - now it's all about soft, round Peter Pan collars.