Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Too cool to smile?

Calvin Klein
Alexander Wang
Marc Jacobs

Despite the glorious concoctions designers create season after season, the catwalk is looking sombre. Watching the models teetering up and down the runway you would be forgiven for mistaking some shows for a funeral. Because, alas, sultry seems to be the expression of choice. Where did this vogue for grumpy teenagers come from and what I want to know is, what's wrong with a smile?

Many models walking the runways today look like they would frankly rather be elsewhere. Nonchalant seems to have been taken to the extreme. To me, it just looks a bit careless. At the end of the day models are there to sell the clothes they are wearing, and looking bored just doesn't give the right impression.

Freja Beha Erickson, model of the moment, seems to have perfected a constant expression of slight confusion. "What is this that I am wearing?" she seems to say, "Harem pants? Really, what ARE they?" and on the Chanel runway, "Are these black trousers made of fur? Fake fur?" Actually, at Chanel some of the models did muster a few half smiles. But then they were dressed as grizzly bears.

Worse than the frowns, however is the expressionless face. This blank mask labels the model as a clothes horse, nothing more. Perhaps that is the case, yet to me the clothes would seem far more enticing if actively modelled by a woman, rather than simply hanging on her back. Imagine a runway where the women seemed to, shock horror, enjoy wearing the clothes.

Possibly my favourite runway show of all time was John Galliano's Spring/Summer 2008 collection, which saw models prancing down decking in floaty fancies, frolicking in florals and strutting their stuff in front of a fairytale merry-go-round. The models skipped and swished their skirts, and told a story of sunshine, holidays and glamour that you immediately wanted to be a part of. Fashion writer Tim Blanks described it as a "deliriously happy celebration of fashion" and the models were a key part of this. Significantly, they had fun with the clothes they were wearing. And at the end of the day, fashion should be fun. If not, what is the point?

Watch the video of John Galliano's Spring 2008 collection


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