Auntie Fashion

I’m the fashion world’s most-enduring muse.

Archive for the ‘Supermodelfragilisticexpialidocious’ Category

Guinevere van Seenus

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Guinevere

Fifteen years is a long time to linger in the fashion business without becoming a household name.  But since her first “W” cover appeared on newsstands in 1996, Guinevere van Seenus has not only been a lingering presence in the industry, but also an omnipresent force.  She never seems to go away.

Many other models in their thirties and forties make their mark by making comebacks.  Guinevere, on the other hand, just works and works and works.  It’s no wonder, though — she looks as fresh as she did fifteen years ago when Steven Meisel featured her on two consecutive “Vogue Italia” covers.  Click the link above to check out her most recent work for Bergdorf Goodman’s 2012 resort catalogue.

Kudos to Bergdorf Goodman, too, for putting a thirty-four-year-old model in the sort of clothes that a thirty-four-year-old woman might be able to afford.  That’s a concept that’ll never grow old!

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November 23, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Stephanie Seymour

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Stephanie Seymour

I found the photo I was looking for!

When Stephanie Seymour first arrived on the scene as a sixteen-year-old in the mid-80s, she was already the most controversial girl in fashion.  Dating Elite Model Management’s John Casablancas (who was twenty-five years her senior), Seymour seemed to garner more attention for her romantic entanglements rather than her work as a model.  Warren Beatty, Axl Rose and Charlie Sheen all dated Seymour.  So while the rest of the supermodels were gaining fame for being super models, Seymour was attempting to distract the media from all the gossip about her love life by exercising her overacting skills in the video for Guns N’ Roses November Rain” video.

Yet Seymour continued to work as a model, carving out a niche in the newly-emerging market for girls who appealed to men just as much as they appealed to women.  She did “Playboy.”  She did “Sports Illustrated.”  She did “Victoria’s Secret.”  Linda, Christy and Naomi may have been able to turn their noses up at her, but Seymour was laughing all the way to the bank.

In fact, she’s still laughing.  The girl who was just a little too rough-around-the-edges to be the editorial darling of her era seems to get work despite herself.  Like Elle Macpherson and Tyra Banks, Seymour bridged the gap between high-fashion and cheesecake that has models such as Miranda Kerr and Isabeli Fontana raking in the dough today.

Now if only she would have kept that gap between her teeth, I could have been praising her for blazing a trail for Lindsey Wixson and Lara Stone, too.

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May 7, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Kirat

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Kirat

Much was made of Lakshmi Menon when she appeared on the modeling scene a couple of years ago.  An Indian model?  Get out of here!

How soon we forget a fabulous face like Kirat Bhinder.  Discovered by a journalist while she was on vacation in Paris in 1976, Kirat was introduced to Yves Saint Laurent.  The designer was looking for new models to present his revolutionary Ballets Russes collection, and there was no one quite like Kirat.  Tall, dark and exotic, Kirat seamlessly became a part of the unique tapestry of models that defined the time.  In the era of Dalma, Iman, Marie Helvin and Jerry Hall, the one thing that kept a girl working was a face that could handle a lot of makeup, and Kirat definitely had that, along with an androgynous edge and a sharp jawline that gave her a look all her own.  Kirat continued to model throughout the 80s, eventually using her experience in the fashion business to move into jewelry design as Kirat Young.

Learn more about Kirat here.

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April 24, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Audrey Marnay

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Audrey Marnay

When model Audrey Marnay first arrived on the scene in 1997, the waifs were beginning to become a thing of the past.  Nevertheless, her look appealed to the designers and editors of the time, and she was able to book work with several high-profile clients, including a fragrance campaign for Clinique’s Happy — the sort of major exposure that moves a model onto the A-list.

Not long afterward, however, I read that Marnay was pregnant.  I didn’t really expect to see much more of her after the birth of her child because the Brazilians were taking over the runways of the world.  Her look didn’t exactly scream “current” to me.

Then something very strange happened.  I was watching the “Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show” on TV, and there was Audrey Marnay.  Her waifish appearance made her the last model I expected to see on the runway, but pregnancy had treated her well.  All of a sudden, the skinny girl from France had one of the best butts in the business.  What a comeback!

I just read that Marnay is ready for another foray into fashion, this time as a designer.  Click the link above to read how the supermodel is ready to reinvent herself once again.  I guess when fashion is in your blood, you find a way back — even when most of the people working in fashion today have no idea who you are or what you’ve done.  Way to go, Audrey!

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February 2, 2011 at 7:03 pm

Kinga Rajzak

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Kinga Rajzak

I’m very happy to see that Kinga Rajzak’s star is rising.  The Slovakian model has been a fixture on the best runways for about six years running.  However, her body of work has never really been appreciated as much as it should have been.

With S/S 2011 campaigns for both Lanvin and Prada about to make Kinga a star, she’s probably the luckiest twenty-four-year-old model in the business (her birthday is just a few weeks away).

It’s always nice to see the industry discover a girl who has been — for lack of a better term — forgotten.  It happened to Daria Werbowy, too, and look at her now.

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January 16, 2011 at 9:19 pm

Elaine Irwin

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Elaine Irwin

I never knew what to think about Elaine Irwin.  At about the same time as models like Tatjana Patitz and Estelle Lefebure were getting almost all the work, along came this beautiful American girl who looked like a hybrid version of the two of them.  She walked a couple of runways, and although I don’t remember seeing her on one, she was getting the prized covers without putting in a fraction of the effort.  Next thing I know she was getting married to John Mellencamp, and soon afterward she would disappear from the modeling world altogether, leaving me wondering what happened to her.  Of course, I recognized her right away when she reappeared as a model for Almay several years later, just as gorgeous as ever.

Irwin is in the news again, but not because of her modeling.  Yesterday she announced that her marriage with Mellencamp is over.  According to the media, she’s planning on staying in Indiana to raise her two boys.  I get the idea that Elaine Irwin was never really a supermodel because she didn’t want to be a supermodel.  If her heart wasn’t in it, who could blame her?  Nevertheless, the body of work that she amassed in a very short time is amazing.  But when you have a face like Elaine Irwin, what else could you expect?

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December 31, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Jacquetta Wheeler

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Jacquetta Wheeler

The first time I saw Jacquetta Wheeler I was taken aback.  Her brown eyes were so huge and expressive for such a tiny face with such refined features.  She reminded me of a porcelain doll — and then I saw her body.

She may have had a doll’s face, but she was built like a giraffe.  It was such an odd combination of features at the time.  The Gucci ad from the photo above was shot in 1999 at the height of Wheeler’s career, when bombshells like Gisele Bündchen were coming into style.  Wheeler shared the campaign with Liisa Winkler, a Canadian model who resembled a classic California blonde from the early 80s — perfect for a sexy label like Gucci.  Despite her undeniable beauty, however, I remember thinking that the editorial darling of “Vogue” and “Bazaar” wasn’t quite right for the brand.

Nevertheless, by 2005 everyone looked like Jacquetta Wheeler, including the sexy girls.  Doll faces were in style and the bombshells were out.  And what was Wheeler doing?  She was still working, finding ways to make herself more versatile so that she could stand out from all the younger girls who looked just like her.  Her body of work shows a range that would shame most so-called supermodels.  Although she didn’t become a household name like Gisele, Carmen Kass or Karolina Kurkova, of all the faces launched around the turn of the century, Wheeler was probably the most versatile of the bunch.

Mark my words, in another decade or so, people who write about style are going to rediscover the era that spawned Tom Ford’s Gucci — just because that’s how fashion works — and they’re going to rediscover the exceptional portfolio of Jacquetta Wheeler.  She’s a model’s model, and she deserves to become as legendary as the bombshells with whom she shared the spotlight.

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November 1, 2010 at 4:04 pm

Kim Alexis

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Kim Alexis

People who weren’t around in the early 80s when Kim Alexis ruled the world probably don’t appreciate how big she was.  If she wasn’t on the cover of “Vogue,” she was on the cover of “Cosmopolitan.”  If she wasn’t on the cover of “Glamour,” she was on the cover of “Mademoiselle.”  And if you didn’t see her on a cover, you only had to flip a couple of pages until you found her hawking every product imaginable.  She was modeling’s money machine, earning contracts galore, including Maybelline, Revlon, Noxema, Silkience and Chantilly.  With great skin, great hair, and a look that was as all-American as they come, Alexis was as good as gold.

Yet the most memorable contribution Alexis made to modeling was how easily she could go from ingenue to tramp.  Tyra Banks has admitted that she herself has a face that can handle a lot of makeup.  Alexis was no different.  Makeup artists could paint it on an inch thick while still leaving a recognizable countenance under all that product.  Scrubbed-down, Alexis was just as pretty.  It was that versatility that landed the model over five-hundred covers in her career.

While she’s often dismissed as a “commercial” girl today, it’s only because the people dismissing her have no idea how huge she was in her heyday.  She was the Gisele Bündchen of her era, and she had the bank account and the editorial clout to prove it.  Models don’t get much bigger than Kim Alexis.

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August 26, 2010 at 4:02 pm

Kirsten Owen

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Kirsten Owen

I suppose that every model wants to be associated with a particular designer.  You sort of elevate yourself above the rest of the pack when someone appoints you as their muse.  I don’t know if Ann Demeulemeester ever actually appointed Kirsten Owen as her muse, but she often had the model open and close her shows.  In fact, it happened so often that when I think of Demeulemeester, I think of Owen.

Born in England and raised in Ontario, Owen first hit her stride in modeling in the late 80s.  Her career quickly fizzled-out, though, and until she was cast in a 1996 Prada show, she might as well have been a footnote in fashion history.  Soon the jobs started coming fast and furiously, including A-list campaigns and the sort of work usually reserved for a girl ten years younger than Owen.  The momentum continued through the turn of the century, as Owen became a staple on runways including Helmut Lang and Jean Paul Gaultier.

Emanuel Ungaro even took a special interest in Owen, which was surprising considering Owen’s greatest strength as a model was her androgyny and Ungaro was known for his flowy, flowery designs.  She seemed an unlikely choice for an Ungaro campaign, but the final product speaks for itself.  I remember exactly two Ungaro campaigns, and this is one of them.

Yet I can’t think of Owen without thinking of how she was born to be on the Ann Demeulemeester runway.  Again, I don’t know if the collaboration between the two was deliberate, but it was just one of those things that was meant to happen.  You can’t have fashion without fit, and you don’t often get a fit as perfect as this one.

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March 6, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Delfine Bafort

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Delfine Bafort

For a few seasons, around the turn of the century, models seemed to be getting signed to agencies because there were no other girls who looked like them.  I remember how distinct a few of these girls were, including Anouck Lepere, Hannelore Knuts and Delfine Bafort.  How could I forget Anouck and Hannelore?  They never went away!  But Delfine did.  I hadn’t seen her for ages until I watched her open the Mark Fast F/W 2010 show earlier this week.

There wasn’t a fashion magazine in the world that didn’t have dozens of photos of Delfine gracing its pages in 2001 and 2002.  Frankly, I remember gettting a little weary of seeing her face.  She was the Karlie Kloss of her era; the girl whose ubiquity was starting to become a bit of a nuisance.  She was doing couture shows, ready-to-wear, magazine covers, eyewear ads, fragrance campaigns, editorial, commercials, etc.

On the positive side, she was one of those girls who could change her look on a dime.  I actually found the cover shot that I posted above to be quite a startling image of Delfine because it’s gorgeous in that California-girl way, and I never thought Delfine looked like a California girl.  She made a better punk, or an androgynous Amazon, or a strapping Nordic goddess, or the brainy muse of one of the equally brainy Belgian designers who rose to prominence during this era.  At her best, though, Delfine reminded me of Tatjana Patitz, whose sleepy eyes still seduce me to this day.  She did sexy in a way that wasn’t as overt as her contemporaries.

A moment later Carmen Kass and Giselle Bündchen were doing sexy in way that none of us will ever forget, and Delfine’s career sort of faded out.  I don’t know if she retired or if she just stopped getting jobs.  All I know is that I’ve wondered what she’s been up to for years.  Thank you, Mark Fast, for letting me know.

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February 24, 2010 at 10:25 pm