x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Katie Trotter: Modern muses break the beauty mould

Modern muses who break the standard beauty mould and create a fashion moment.

Tina Chang / The National
Tina Chang / The National

Fashion moves fast, and, so it seems, does a trend. While yesterday was all about tall, slim and beautiful, today is all about the "muse". 

According to history, a muse, predominantly a woman, is the source of inspiration for a creative artist, someone with unique style - a presence, someone with a bit of je ne sais quoi. Which is all very well, but what does she actually do? 

Well, for a start, in order to succeed she must remain unusually silent about the whole thing - which is exactly the point - creating an air of mystery, staying untouchable. That, or perhaps the burden of being too beautiful, makes it hard to function on any sort of normal level? 

In history, I suppose we could say Mona Lisa was right on trend - the aloof eyes, the squint smile - half inviting, half "Forget about it, buster" (not to mention the fantastic drapery). Today's muses, in comparison, are rather a disappointment. While Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn at least picked up a few Oscars, all Lily Allen and the like offer is a slightly odd appearance (they call it shock casting) and a regular influx of moronic tweets.

But at the recent Paris shows, much to everyone's shock, Karl Lagerfeld sent Inès de la Fressange, Chanel's house model in the Eighties, back down his runway at the ripe old age of 53 - a surprising choice for a man who normally dismisses anything that doesn't conform to the regular definition of beauty out of hand. Bear in mind that last year he sneered at the "size zero" debate, saying it was simply "fat mummies sitting with their bags of crisps in front of the television".

La Belle Inès looked lovely - it was exactly what they call a fashion moment. Of course, your catwalk aura at 53 is greatly helped when you're tall, thin and so utterly stylish in that inimitable French way, but still - she was right up there, holding her own alongside all the twenty-somethings.

And Lagerfeld wasn't the only one to break the mould. Jean Paul Gaultier sent Beth Ditto (the Gossip front woman whose excess flesh is something of a curiousity) out singing Ike & Tina Turner's River Deep - Mountain High in a corset and a pair of fishnets to mass applause. And again, she brought the house down.

These must be hard times for your standard model - those blessed with insurmountable beauty - because unless you've got muse value, you're so last season.