Model and celebrity tug of war

From Kim Kardashian to Adriana Lima, has any Hollywood starlet not graced the cover of a magazine? Throughout the last couple of decades, there seems to have been a shift when it comes to the magazine industry. Traditionally, when you would peruse through the pages of Vogue, you would see nothing but nameless and slender beautiful figures. Flash forward to the 2000’s and you’re bombarded with Hollywood’s A-listers.

Recently, the 22-year-old Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence was chosen to be the new face of Dior for the spring/summer 2013

Graphic Jennifer Kwan

campaign. She joins South African timeless beauty Charlize Theron who has been representing the brand since 2004. John Galliano first approached the actress when he wanted to replace Estonian model Tiiu Kuik for the “J’adore” advertisements.

This evolution from model to celebrity has me thinking, which helps increase magazine and fashion brand circulation?

Anna Wintour, famously known for the inspiration behind the movie The Devil Wears Prada has been editor-in-chief of Vogue since 1988. She was first offered the job because, believe it or not, the magazine had been losing ground to ELLE.

Vogue is a fashion magazine, and a fashion magazine is about change,” said Wintour in an interview with Judith Newman in 1990. By 1989, models became too mainstream for her. They were something of the past and she was a woman of the future. She needed someone edgier, more known, more in the now. Someone no one would suspect or even dream of seeing on the front cover, someone like Madonna.

While the other publications remained fixated on models, Wintour dove into a new realm; the world of celebrities. During the nineties, every Hollywood it-girl made an appearance on one of magazine’s semi-gloss pages. Wintour foresaw the celebrity obsession and used it to her advantage increase magazine sales.

Today, even iconic haute-couture brands like Dior and Chanel use celebrities for their

campaigns. Models get the boot while the celebs get the job. That may have been the trend for the last two decades, but it seems like models are making a comeback. With the help of social media sites like Twitter and Instagram, models are extending their fanbase and nudging their way into the pop culture of celebrities.

British model Lily Monica Donaldson has appeared on the covers of Vogue UK, Vogue Australia and Vogue Italia and has represented fashion houses such as Dior, Dolce & Gabbana and Max Mara. In 2011 and 2012 she was a Victoria’s Secret angel and rocked the catwalk at the lavish and vibrant Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.

As for Canadians, no one does social media better than Toronto model Coco Rocha. She was the first high-fashion model to reach one million social media followers. Rocha has been the face of pretty much every designer, ranging from Yves Saint Laurent to Gap. In 2012, Karl Lagerfeld hired her for his Macy’s collection brand. Vogue Paris has included her in the top 30 models of the 2000s.

Glenn McMahon, CEO of St. John Knits, told Women’s Wear Daily that her decision to replace Angelina Jolie with supermodel Karen Elson was based on the need for a clean slate for the fashion company because the actress “overshadowed the brand.”

Magazine editors are also looking for fresh faces, and gearing more towards well-known models rather than the obvious celebrity of the moment. Not to mention that most magazines usually include a three-page feature of the celebrity on the cover, and readers have become quite tired of reading the same stories of the same people.

One of the reasons for this shift is that more industries, with the help of social media sites, are producing their own celebrities that don’t necessarily come from the big screen.

When it comes to modeling, there are just some things that celebs cannot do. Sure, they’re stunning, flawless even, but when a photographer needs to capture that picture-perfect, million-dollar shot, a model knows how to position herself to get it within seconds.


Graphics by Jennifer Kwan 


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