Style VS. Fashion.

If you could be fashionable or stylish, which would you choose?

One incorporates fluro, Sass & Bide rats, digital prints and oversized tees; just some of the trends in the past few years that flatter most no one. The other consists of a personal style that transcends the trends. Think Kate Moss, Audrey Hepburn, Nicole Richie and Kate Middleton.

I know which group I would rather belong to, however, when people comment on my clothes, they usually call them trendy. Personally, I can’t think of a bigger insult!

Most of the clothes I buy, or want to buy, are things I’ve been lusting over for years, and are usually vintage or from a myriad of outlets, from “old-lady stores” like Brown Sugar and Blue Illusion, to second-hand markets, to Target, to Sportsgirl. I will admit to buying a plain red cami from Dotti a few weeks ago, but it’s the kind of item I’ll wear for years to come and is quite timeless… well, as timeless as Dotti can be!

One of my friends, whilst rifling through my closet, even commented that I really don’t have that many clothes. I asked why, then, can I not fit them all in. (I have several bags full of clothes hiding at the back of the wardrobe, which I alternate between seasons.) Said friend attempted to recover by saying, “well, you wear the same outfits a lot.” Like the Duchess of Cambridge?! (I wish!)

This is true, though. My favourite pair of shoes are five-year-old electric blue ballet flats that are hanging by a thread. My staple black trench coat for winter is also five years old. Long time Scarlett Woman readers might remember the fantastic mustard yellow dress I picked up at a vintage fair for $30, which is one of my most prized sartorial possessions. I have a marcasite leopard brooch that is permanently affixed to my pleather bomber jacket (about three years old), which I paid a pretty penny for at an antique store… Shall I go on? ;)

Really, the only things I buy frequently in the clothing department are plain white, black and grey tees, jeans, and underwear.

I do like to look good (and my walk to work, where I’m confined to the limits of an unflattering uniform, is always a fashion parade!) but, when it comes down to it, clothes are just clothes, as the sometimes-fashion victim, but usually stylish, Whitney Port said on The Hills.

And you can still have a personal style without subscribing to the skinny jeans, crisp blazer and ballet flat norm of Kate and Nicole.

I have a few co-workers whose style I don’t necessarily like, but who remain true to it. One favours printed tees, badges and Etsy jewellery. Another likes to match her dress to her boots to her tights to her scarf to her hat to her bag. The third is hipster through and through, and has the most amazing collection of bright coats and bags from her grandmother.

These are the items of clothing that quintessentially “belong” to them and their personal style: you can’t find them in Bardot or Myer or Sass & Bide. And even if you could, they ain’t got nothin’ on the original: priceless.

So what I’m trying to say here is that money can’t buy style. Or that fashion fades, style is eternal. Or something. What do you think the difference between “fashion” and “style” is? Can you have both at the same time? Which camp would you rather belong to?

Related: The Way We Wear Vintage Market.

Images via Hills Freak, Saskia 4 Fashion, Franc Trunner, People Style Watch.

Minus Two & a Half Men.

 

Girl with a Satchel featured an excerpt from a Washington Post column about body snarking at the Oscars:

“I would like to note that more space was devoted to photographs of ladies wearing dresses… than for the last two weeks’ coverage of the events in Libya.”

This is also true of the news coverage in Vietnam, where a colleague of mine (whom I mentioned as the friendly workplace Big Issue provider earlier this week) is spending five weeks. In a recent email, he said that the hot topic on the news there is Charlie Sheen, not Libya, Egypt or Japan, which bore the brunt of a 7.3 magnitude earthquake yesterday afternoon.

A story on MamaMia written by publicist Steven Murphy echoes this:

“His weakness for drugs and alcohol is… well documented and he has been fodder for the tabloid press for years.

“But this latest incident is front-page news like no other. But why? Why is this incident haunting our news services day and night?”

The article somewhat-annoyingly glossed over the fact that his drug and alcohol problems are put at the forefront of his negative publicity, when his hatred of women and obvious mental illness are shoved to the back.

Jezebel hasn’t forgotten, however, with a no-bullshit article entitled “Charlie Sheen’s History of Violence Toward Women” published last week. The article also dealt with John Galliano’s disgraceful display of anti-Semitism, and what the news stories don’t tell you:

“Galliano allegedly grabbed gallery curator Geraldine Bloch by the hair and said, ‘Shut your mouth, dirty bitch, I can’t stand your dirty whore voice.’”

I, myself, didn’t even know that happened until I read the article, and I usually take a vested interest in these sorts of things.

On the plus side, Galliano has been fired as head designer of Christian Dior and—finally!—Sheen’s been fired as head douchebag on Two & a Half Men, to be replaced, allegedly, by reformed bad boy and fellow brat pack member, Rob Lowe.

While I couldn’t be happier about the latter (let’s shout it from the rooftops!), Galliano’s reign at Dior produced some of the finest garments the fashion world has seen, and it’s unfortunate it had to come to this.

But I applaud the fashion house for ousting the anti-Semite, and stars like Natalie Portman, who have publicly spoken out against him.

Both men’s firings show that there is a zero tolerance policy against these kinds of abhorrent behaviours, and hopefully other companies, in the entertainment industry and otherwise, will follow suit.

Although Michael Specter of The New Yorker doesn’t think so, writing that:

“the fashion world has a remarkable ability to shrug off the odd deeply flawed human being, as long as he or she can cut a dress like Galliano can or wear one like Kate Moss, who, despite behaviour that sets a disastrous example for millions of girls, including issues with drugs, is forgiven because, well, she is really very pretty.”

I haven’t always been innocent in providing double standards to those I like, think are talented, and should be forgiven for their indiscretions.

Just yesterday, some co-workers and I were talking about Catherine Deveny’s tweets at last year’s Logies. Personally, I didn’t find them to be offensive, and sorely miss her column on the back page of The Saturday Age’s Life & Style (formerly the A2). But, looking back on it, The Age did the right thing by sacking her. At the time, both Deveny and I used the excuse that she’s a comedienne; that’s her job. I guess it takes the disgraces of people you don’t like to understand the repercussions of (the disgraces of) those you do.

Once such repugnant crime committed by professional wrestler Chris Benoit in 2007, when he murdered his wife and son and killed himself, gave me lots to think (and write) about. On the one hand, I felt his legacy as one of the best professional wrestlers ever to grace the squared circle shouldn’t be forgotten, however, Benoit took three lives and sullied the reputation of professional wrestling (okay, there wasn’t much of a reputation left to sully!) and sparked a debate on steroids and drug testing that raged for years; the smoke of which still lingers today.

I’ve written several articles on that story and, with a new frame of mind to cast a different light on the story, I think I may just revisit said articles. (The anniversary of the double-murder suicide is June 24, so watch this space around that time.)

Benoit was obviously seriously mentally ill; the (not-so-) funny thing is, his friends, family and co-workers never picked up on it.

Charlie Sheen, however, has a long history of violence and drug use, and there’s no telling what he’s capable of.

Related: The Big Issue Review, 1-14 March 2011.

The Anatomy of a Douchebag.

Guilty Until Proven Innocent: Charlie Sheen’s Witness.

Why Are Famous Men Forgiven for Their Wrongdoings, While Women Are Vilified for Much Less?

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] Advice to Charlie Sheen from Australia’s Top Publicist.

[Jezebel] Charlie Sheen’s History of Violence Toward Women.

[The New Yorker] John Galliano’s Implosion.

[Girl with a Satchel] Body Snarking is So No Funny But Jacki Weaver is Fab.

Images via NY Daily News, The Gloss, Pop Culture Madness.

The Changing Face of Beauty.

I’ve been meaning to visit Modelinia for a while now, and their History of Models timeline got me thinking about beauty norms across the ages since models became mainstream. Modelinia’s timeline begins in 1928 and follows the top faces (and bodieshello, Elle “The Body” McPherson), such as Twiggy, Iman and Lauren Hutton, through to today’s most famous faces.

Modelinia’s timeline begins with society girls like Dorian Leigh, who was perhaps the “world’s first supermodel” and appeared on the cover of Vogue seven times in 1944 and earned $300,000, “an amount that was unheard of during that time”. Leigh’s partnership with famed photographer Richard Avedon paved the way for future “model as muse” photographer-model dynamics. Leigh was also one of the models who inspired the classic, Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

The late 1940s and ’50s ushered in the age of “Hollywood glamour”, when Leigh appeared on Broadway in The Fifth Season, and “Million Dollar Baby” Lisa Fonssagrives married photographer Irving Penn. These women also proved there was life after modelling, with Fonssagrives “designing a line of leisurewear for Lord & Taylor”, and Leigh opening her own modelling school in Paris, much like Tyra Banks and Heidi Klum today.

The period beginning in 1960 was known as the “awakening” and spawned the births of McPherson, Linda Evangelista, Paulina Porizkova, Cindy Crawford, Stephanie Seymour, Christie Turlington, and Naomi Campbell, the women who would later become known as the über-models of the ’90s.

The ’60s were the years of Twiggy, whose picture was discovered hanging in a hairdresser’s window, and in 1965 she appeared on the cover of Vogue in three separate countries, landing the American edition thrice. She was also the subject of three separate documentaries that year, following on from her radio debut, with the single “Beautiful Dream” in 1964.

Around this time, Hutton refused to close the gap in her teeth, paving the way for the gap-toothed everywhere, like Madonna and Aussie model Jessica Hart.

It was a period of firsts for Hutton, which carried over into the ’70s, who was the first model to front a fragrance campaign, the first to sign an “exclusive cosmetics contract” and the first to reach $1 million in earnings.

The days of disco saw the birth days of the second wave of ü ber-models, like Klum, Shalom Harlow, Banks, Kate Moss, and Laetitia Casta, and the juxtapositioning of the all-American girl next door, Christie Brinkley, with the exotic beauty of Iman. In 1974, Brinkley signed a cosmetics contract with Covergirl, which resulted in a 20-year partnership. Iman served as muse for Yves Saint Laurent, who released his African Queen collection in 1978. While Brinkley appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition three years in a row (19771979), Iman proved she has commercial appeal, fronting “the June cover of Italian Cosmopolitan” in 1978.

The era of the “poster girl” (commencing with Brinkley’s aforementioned Sports Illustrated cover in 1987 and culminating in the permeation of models in the mainstream) sees models on the covers of all major magazines, from Life to Cosmo to Vogue to Playboy.

And if the saturation of popular culture in the ’80s seemed extreme, the ’90s sought to solidify this with “the rise of the supermodel”, coinciding with “the waif” ideal popularised by Moss’s “heroin chic” look (or as we would find out in 2005, cocaine chic), which was perhaps named for Calvin Klein’s Heroin Kids campaign, which Moss fronted in 1994 .

George Michael’s classic Freedom ’90 featured a bevy of supermodels, including Crawford, Turlington, Campbell, Evangelista, and Tatjana Patitz, in 1988. To accompany this, said models appeared on the cover of British Vogue, followed by the iconic group runway walk for Versace in 1989.

The rapid rise of Seymour began in 1989, when she appeared nude in Playboy, began dating Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses and appeared in their “Don’t Cry” video clip, followed by “November Rain”. She became the first major model to sign with lingerie empire Victoria’s Secret in 1990, followed by her runway debut for Valentino.

It is interesting to note that the über-models of this time worked primarily in beauty campaigns and magazines before debuting on the runway, whereas now it’s the other way around. There are a lot of nameless and faceless models who walk on the runways and act solely as “clothes hangers” for the garments. It is rare that a model will move beyond that tag and permeate the zeitgeist, but those who have include Gisele Bündchen, Agyness Deyn, Daria Werbowy and Miranda Kerr.

Crawford’s star also rose even higher during this period, with her marriage to Richard Gere and her constant presence on magazines cover of all kinds, including a sexy 1991 cover of Vanity Fair, in which a bathing suit-clad Crawford shaves k.d. lang in a barbers chair.

But Crawford had some competition rapidly rising alongside her: Moss. In 1991, Moss fronted the Calvin Klein Obsession for Men campaign, as well as the Calvin Klein jeans ad together with Mark Wahlberg.

1992 was also a year for sexy magazine covers, with Seymour gracing Playboy for a second time, and McPherson making her debut for the magazine.

In other mag news, Crawford was asked to posed for the cover of the groundbreaking first edition of John F. Kennedy Jr.’s publication, George, aswho else?George Washington.

19941995 was surely Harlow’s time, as she added to her resume of film roles in In & Out, as well as gracing the cover of February W, March’s Paris Vogue, and June Harper’s Bazaar US in 1994, and March W, and December Vogue with fellow model-turned-actress, Amber Valetta.

That year Banks appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, the first black model to do so solo.

With Bündchen’s appointment to Vogue cover girl in July 1997 the “heroin chic” era allegedly ended, and the championing of healthy bodies like Bündchen’s began. Maybe in the modelling world, but the “heroin chic” movement has wrecked havoc on the notions of beauty, body image and popular culture.

On a side note, recently Playboy.com profiled the changing of women’s breasts over the years, and Jezebel was quick to counter that its not our breasts that have changed, but the media’sie. Playboybelief of what they should look like (NSFW). It is not dissimilar in the case of beauty magazines aimed at women.

By the turn of the millennium, the age of the supermodel subsided, which was noticeable on magazine covers across the world, which began to, and still do, feature actresses and singers on their covers.

With the retirement of the most beautiful faces and bodies in the business, models almost ceased to be relevant, and women who made achievements for something other than their looks were championed. Obviously, there is still a large gap between women on magazines and television and in advertising campaigns and movies in correspondence to how they look rather than what they do, but looking back on the dominance of beauty in the ’80s and ’90s, we are slowly starting to celebrate diversity.

In addition, there’s the whirlwind surrounding plus-sized model Crystal Renn (is she plus-sized, isn’t she plus-sized?), and the model as somewhat of a prop for photographers, magazine editors and designers making a statement, as seen on Evangelista’s November 2009 cover for W magazine’s “The Art Issue”, or Claudia Schiffer (who, interestingly, was not featured in Modelinia’s timeline) and Karl Lagerfeld’s collaboration.

While it’s always nice to look a somethingone beautiful, it’s also nice to realise that there should be more to a model than what she looks like, and in a lot of cases, there is.

You only need to look at the aforementioned Banks and Klum’s careers in television (America’s Next Top Model and The Tyra Banks Show, and Project Runway and Germany’s Next Top Model, respectively), Erin Wasson’s foray into designing, and Kerr’s championing of a healthier life to see this in practice.

But I guess the question is, is this timeline representative of the success of certain types of models in response to our changing attitudes, or are our changing attitudes representative of the success of certain types of models?