Next to the return of disco inferno (!!) the spring collections made something else clear (as clear as the PVC coat on the Chanel runway): model royalty Kaia Gerber is here to stay. During her rookie season, the 16 year old daughter of Cindy Crawford and Rand Gerber, walked the biggest shows in each fashion capital, most notably Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, Valentino, Burberry, Saint Laurent and Chanel. Although only her debut season, Gerber proved herself as a natural with an already signature prowl, securing her status as a force to be reckoned with. I am sure I am not the only observer who has noticed that each season – apart from the trends – there is typically a singular “it” girl who dominates the collections and becomes the protagonist of our social media feeds. Last season that hype belonged to Bella Hadid who followed the hype of her older sister Gigi. Before the Hadids, the spotlight belonged solely to reality TV starlet Kendall Jenner overtook the baton from Cara Delevingne. What made Cara so significant, next to her killer brows, talent, and light-up-the-room personality, was that particular point in time when Instagram became mass, forever changing the speed and presentation of fashion. Suddenly a model’s life was fully transparent – instead of paparazzi pics, the model became in control of her own narrative.
This disruption transformed the sphere of modelling, where today financial worth and prospective jobs and – albeit inaccurately – perceived influence, are largely based upon a numerical social media following.
So what does it mean to be a fashion model today?
The supermodels of the 90’s, including Claudia, Naomi, and Linda, opened the doors for models today to speak out and to embrace their sense of self. Modelling has since flourished into something greater than acting as a passive mannequin or being likened to a living clothes hanger. Modelling today is about embracing individuality and the development of a personal brand, incorporating naturally external looks and personal style but increasingly (and refreshingly) values. Unlike the “supers” of yesteryear, modelling is starting to provide a greater sense of authenticity and a deeper more genuine connection to the consumer (or fans).
Additionally, modelling is more like a journey towards a destination – excuse the cliché – but it is becoming a platform for motivated individuals to achieve perhaps other meaningful goals. When I think of today’s most accomplished “models” they are true polymaths in their own right achieving greatness off the pages of glossies and the runway, most notably Karlie Kloss and Adwoa Aboah.
Aboah can be found on the cover of Edward Enningful’s first British Vogue cover as editor in chief introducing a new era in Vogue history. Next to being one of the most in demand models from the world’s biggest brands she is the founder of Gurl’s Talk, a global initiative which provides an open space for girls to express and empower each other through a collective support system. Also passionate in empowering girls to reach their fullest potential is Kloss who of her many achievements built “Kode with Klossy” inspiring girls to learn to code and become leaders in tech. Like countless others, these “models” are leaders in creating change and have built a voice in directing the conversation on relevant topics. For example, only today, British supermodel Edie Campbell penned an open letter calling for a cultural change within the fashion industry in order to tackle abuse of power. And we are listening.