|Supermodels Are Lonelier Than You Think!|
Friday, 31. January 2003
Natalia would like you to meet her husband
And this is the first glimpse of Natalia Vodianova, complete with weirdo husband, in the feature about her in February's Vogue US. Not your usual underground fellow passengers even in NYC, I presume. The bigger scan is (hopefully) here.
It's not that I don't like her husband. In fact, there's something refreshing about a supermodel in love with an artist, instead of the usual rock star. It's just that she looks so young there's something strange, almost comical, in their exposure as a married couple.
The feature is 17-pages long (!). I'm talking of the feature that's exclusively about their relationship, because Natalia solo has much more appearances elsewhere in the issue. She is, after all, the main star of the main project, entitled "Couples". Let me quote the editrix' wonderful prose:
We all know Natalia Vodianova has the most romantic face in fashion -- but how sweeter to learn her real romance with British artist Justin Portman is nothing short of a Cinderella story.
And the absurd continues in the article (written by Sarah Mower, but evidently heavily edited by Anne Wintour herself), beginning with the following remark: "See her, and the similarities start scrolling: Kate Moss in the nineties, Brooke Shields in the eighties, Jean Shrimpton in the sixties".
Now, this humble weblog might know less about fashion than the Vogue's editor (although sometimes I'm not so sure), but feminine beauty is not her strongest field (just look at the cover, featuring Debra Messing). There are absolutely no similarities between Kate and Natalia. Kate was the epistome of youth, teenage angst, a natural rebel, going topless because she feels so. She was certainly much more Jessica Miller than Natalia, whose clear and disturbing appeal is her childlike features (just have a look at her ed in Vogue UK this month, here).
As for Brooke Shields, in the eighties she was a young, independent woman. Natalia looks a bit like Brooke in "Pretty Baby" of Louis Malle, filmed in 1976. But that's the seventies. So why the eighties reference?
Elementary, my dear Anne. In the eighties Brooke was a Calvin Klein model, as was Kate Moss in the nineties. That's the similarity. e're not talking beauty here, we're not talking couples, we're talking sucking up to a major advertiser. This giant Natalia project is nothing more than a build-up to the upcoming Calvin Klein campaign.
Still, the issue is full of models, Natalia looks wonderful and most of the pictures are pretty interesting. So why whining? I'll have more for you soon. Have a great weekend!
Good news at last
The Little Skirt Tries Its Latest Comeback
Some women wore miniskirts when they first appeared in the 1960s and again when they reappeared in the 1980s. Now miniskirts are back again, and so are some of their original fans. "That's a fashion I will always follow," says Gisela-Carolin Lehmkuhl, a 50-something Duesseldorf homemaker. "Miniskirts look beautiful, and I don't mind showing my legs."
That's the kind of fashion fortitude designers and retailers are counting on as the mini launches its latest comeback. Skirts ranging in length from just short of the knee to little more than a wide belt feature prominently in the spring and summer collections of nearly all the top designers. They fill pages of fashion magazines and are making their way to store racks from Milan to Manhattan. The fashion houses and stores are expecting the little skirts to be a big hit -- not so much for the teen crowd but for women in their 30s, 40s and 50s.
Why expect these more-mature shoppers to go for the mini? For one thing, they've worn them before and may find them easier to stomach than the hip-hugging jeans and belly-baring crop tops now favored by the young. And there seems to be a demand for youthful styles among older shoppers. Working to stay young-looking with exercise, cosmetics and plastic surgery, they are continuing to wear tight, bright clothes far longer than their mothers did.
"The feeling is 'I've done all the work in the gym, I've done all the surgery, now I want to show it off,' " says Cynthia Cohen, who heads Strategic Mindshare, a U.S. retail consulting firm. The company's market research, which is based on surveys and focus group interviews, shows that older women increasingly find clothes made for their age in moderate styles and large sizes uninspiring and unfashionable.
And the mini has a nostalgia factor. Although the short skirts had a revival in the punk era of the 1980s, they remain associated with the 1960s when miniskirts were born, shocking society in the same way that ladies in trousers did in the 1920s. In Europe, women marched in the streets specifically for their right to wear the skirts, at that time still effectively taboo at offices and public functions. In Tennessee, high school girls fought a court battle to wear short skirts to school. Baby boomers, now the fashion majority, may be happy to recreate the look of those youthful days.
"Everybody has rosy memories of the 1960s," says Pamela Gibson, a senior lecturer of cultural studies at the London College of Fashion who has written extensively about older women's increasingly bold approach to dressing. More importantly, she believes older shoppers will buy the mini because it is a strong fashion trend that they can participate in. "The legs are the last part of the body to give in to gravity," says Ms. Gibson, who is 57 and wears her skirts no shorter than knee-length.
Sales of spring and summer clothes have only just begun, so it's too early to get a reading from the street on how women will take to the new style. And most grown-up miniskirt fans admit that wearing them requires courage. "You have to feel happy and confident," says Nadine Schatz, an elegant blonde in her 30s who divides her time between Duesseldorf and Monaco and spends most of her time traveling with her husband, a biotech executive. "It is definitely a power statement." Even the bravest may balk at squeezing into skirts that look as though they were made for teenage tennis players. Some will merely shorten their hemlines slightly to what they feel comfortable with at their age. At the worst, the short skirts could flop like the midi or pouf skirts when they were first invented.
Among the doubters is Klaus Ritterskamp, owner of a designer store in Duesseldorf. "Maybe we will sell a few, but we have to think economically," he says. "We only carry the most expensive labels. Our customers are older and they will not buy miniskirts in great numbers."
Nevertheless, many designers and retailers seem to be aware of the hurdles and are hoping to make the new shorter style accessible to older women. Fashion folk are increasingly aware that as populations age, older shoppers are becoming more important to their business. And, after all, they are the ones with the means to buy pricey designer wares. "Showing legs has nothing to do with age," says London designer Hussein Chalayan. In the runway shows of his spring collections, he put decorated minis over leggings in matching colors and presented short skirts in several layers, which makes them more wearable for those who are past the scrawny teen years.
U.S. designer Marc Jacobs combined the minis in his Marc collection with thick black tights. Some short skirts by French fashion house Chanel have borders of lace or chiffon that add a few centimeters to their length. Other designers are even more deliberate about making the new style accessible to mature women. As a rule, Italy's Gucci makes the skirts shown on the catwalk 10 centimeters longer for stores. And Germany's Jil Sander sells skirts in two lengths -- an extremely short runway version and a longer (though not truly long) retail version.
Some retailers are using similar tactics to sell the new style. "It is not the very young women who buy miniskirts," says Trudie Goetz, owner of Trois Pommes, a chain of 35 designer stores in Switzerland. "It is older women with the right figure. And if they don't have the right figure, we help them with the right accessories." The 40-something Ms. Goetz, who wears minis herself, has her salespeople bring out matching accessories such as tights, leggings or overknee boots when they show short skirts to older customers.
Harrods department store in London has ordered miniskirts both for the trendy sections of the store and for the high-priced international designer room where more affluent and mature women shop. For that department, Harrods has ordered fewer skirts than for the less expensive and youth-geared parts of the store. But it plans to promote miniskirts aggressively in window displays and in all areas of the store. For older shoppers, Harrods salespeople recommend skinny satin pants, which are fashionable this season, to go underneath miniskirts.
On Duesseldorf's fashionable Koenigsallee shopping street, Albert Eickhoff, the owner of a large fashion store that bears his name and caters to women of all age groups, ordered around 300 miniskirts for the beginning of the season. Two short, sexy Gucci skirts were sold on the day they arrived. Among the buyers was Maria Mertens, a math and English teacher in her 40s who selected a short black silk skirt with a flounce. "I have always worn miniskirts, but I will do it more now that they are back in fashion," she says.
Most of the mature women jumping on the new trend are fashionable to begin with. But even those style addicts have their limits when it comes to miniskirts. Ms. Mertens, for instance, says she wouldn't feel comfortable wearing them at her school. But she's already put on her new Gucci purchase with high-heeled boots for a ladies' luncheon.
Fashion fans may be more likely to wear miniskirts at social events than at the office. But Duesseldorf's Mr. Eickhoff, who has been in the retail business for 42 years, says minis are such a major trend this year that fashionable women will have to adopt it regardless of their age or occupation. He predicts miniskirts are here to stay for at least two years -- a small eternity in fashion terms. Like others in the industry, he sees the mini's comeback as a turning point in fashion, away from the somber, modest styles of the past decade toward the sexy and glamorous look that increasingly invades the catwalks.
"It was time for a change in fashion, and such change can't always be accomplished with cuts and color alone," Mr. Eickhoff says.
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