The model and the supermodel

Kaia Gerber in the Versace Summer Campaign 2018

Most creative careers from this era seem to come with an expiry date, now more than ever because we live and operate in a digital period and it has altered the way we view creativity.  This results in us constantly being on the move for the next big thing.

I mean this has got to be the only reason why some climb to the top instantaneously even when there isn’t much talent. Some understand and get the era we function in while some are still struggling to adjust themselves and their talent to reach audiences in new media.

This year, when Versace closed its Spring/Summer show with the supermodel finale strut featuring Carla Bruni, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford and Helena Christensen in gold chainmail dresses as a tribute to mark the 20th death anniversary of murdered founder Gianni Versace, one thing was obviously clear. As much as we have become crowded by the Insta-model era, the originals who honed their talent way before everything became commercial, will always be used as a reference point to when it was great.

Naomi Campbell strutting her stuff in the Versace Summer Campaign 2018

Following the runway show, Versace revealed its summer campaign for 2018 which featured a slew of big names. Harper’s Bazaar called it the supermodel smash up while the Times said it was the New Supermodel mania, but according to Ferdinando Verderi, the creative director of the Versace campaign, it was more than just about bringing big names together but rather emphasizing the Versace DNA beyond family.

But I believe the campaign speaks volumes as opposed to just being about “the Versace family beyond DNA”. Look closely in Versace’s campaign, there is some sort of supermodel influence from different generations that would have represented cultural change in how we look at fashion and models in general. For me, the campaign represents the cultural shift in the modelling industry.

The Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford and Claudia Schiffer golden era represented the glamorous elite fashion houses that all admired but very few could afford. In addition to this, the models from the 90s represented a different era, one which was just on the brink of the digital revolution. A time when it took more than just a pretty face and millions of Instagram followers to attain success. According to Ms. magazine, Versace models from the 90s who were crowned with the title supermodel made their own rules and represented strong ideas. These select few were among the first ever to be titled supermodels. At the end of the 90s, the new wave had seen the likes of models like Gisele Bundchen who were introduced into the industry to oppose the elitism. Bundchen’s era was more about mass appeal and securing larger target markets. The industry had a brief stint with other breakout models the world over before it finally reached its saturation point commonly referred to the Insta-Model Era, which is notable for success stories by Gigi and Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner.

Indeed, the whole supermodel era seems to have diluted itself. These days any and everyone calls themselves model in their Instagram bio. Some say the time title belongs to a different era. In my opinion, the word is remembered as a time in history. I believe it was Veronica Webb who said that the supermodels from the 90s were truly representing a different time and it is key to remember that time before mystery went out the window. Like with every industry a new playing field has been introduced and with a new field we should probably adjust our lexis.


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