I've spent a lot of time thinking about what my role in the fashion industry would be. Since I was 14 and declared to my parents that I wanted to go to FIT instead of Julliard and they asked me why and then told me to prove it to them I went on to spend the next 8 years "proving" that my calling was the fashion industry and simultaneously figuring out for myself what my role would be within it.
At 16 when I had started modeling I was asked why I wanted to be a model? What did it mean to me? That was a very deep question for someone that was literally thrown into the industry and I took it very personally. For me I saw myself as a model becoming an image of representation for my generation just as Twiggy was with the 1960's or Naomi and Kate for the 1990's and so on and so forth. Whether I wanted to or not as a model I became an icon for a group of people and for me it was important that that icon stand for something more than just a girl who looked a certain way and posed for pictures I went on to model for 5 years while getting Bachelor degrees in Photography and Art History with my primary goal to use those degrees to better educate how my role would be played in the fashion and art industries (seeing them one in the same).
Since moving to New York I have created exponentially better work, met the most amazing, creative and intellectually challenging people of my entire life, been broken down and built back up and learned more about the fashion and art industries than I ever would have in school. However despite all of the positives I still find myself being short-sided with my experience of the fashion industry, or rather the fashion publication industry.
I went to school in hopes that one day I would be able to create my own fashion - art publication. Growing up it was the biggest present to be able to Barnes & Noble and spend hours going through all of the strange publications with the most obscure and striking images, luxurious paper, heart throbbing words and on-point layout. For me that was Christmas, or my birthday, or a present after getting a really good grade in school. It was the epitome of a celebration of art and life and creativity and inspiration. It was everything I ever wanted to be involved in in any way possible.
Today when I walk into massive magazine stores in New York, where all of the best of the best is said to be, I am at a point where I find myself spending less than an hour there flipping through magazine after magazine, page after page and leaving with nothing in my hands because everything looks exactly the same or isn't saying anything at all other than "I'm a pretty girl with pretty designer clothes on."
Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of GORGEOUS pictures of pretty girls with pretty designer clothes on that are striking, emotionally driven images but what I find myself looking at more often than not these days is not those images like Tim Walker or Avedon or Bassman. They are empty and vapid saying nothing beyond the pretty girl in pretty clothes.
This whole rant is being driven by a recent publications new issue I came across that significantly infuriated me. For a bit of backstory the publication was one of interesting, sometimes simple by still striking editorials intertwined with poetry. The paper quality was shit, just as they wanted it to be, and there was something beautiful about how ephemeral it was in its essence.
For their newest issue it was completely dedicated to "New Faces" in the modeling industry (just in time for fashion week). For those of you that are unaware New Faces is a term used to describe models that were just recently signed with a modeling agency and essentially have little to no experience. The only meaningful text found within the issue is the Editors Note where he goes on to explain how he also used to be a model and it was "frightening" and how "..it's even easy to lose your own identity when assuming so many others." But on a more reassuring note he left the New Faces with words of encouragement such as "try not to change too much" and "to not give a fuck" but mostly "don't let the industry make you cold." Ironic how those were his closing words and as I flipped through the next 45 pages I felt nothing.
Each double page consisted of a 3/4 shot of a new face model who is somewhere between the ages of 16-25 and then a close up of her face. The close-ups were meant to be portrayed as hopeful, looking towards a window of light, but all the girls themselves didn't look very hopeful. Some were cheerful, others were transparently sad, tired and melancholic. They're polaroids were washed out and out of focus, "classic" in the modeling industry but in a photographers eye's rather shitty and careless.
The reason for my extreme disappointment in this magazine and why I feel that it is the epitome of what is wrong with the fashion industry is that the biggest stigma I have faced in regards to my involvement in the fashion industry is that people think everyone within it is shallow and materialistic. For example, when I went to art school and tried to convince my professors that for me getting dressed was an art they didn't take me seriously and literally told me that clothing can not be an art and held me back. I had to spend 4 years convincing a group of people why clothing and performance and design was just as culturally and artistically relevant as a painting or sculpture. So when I see a magazine that has a name and a platform to say something interesting or show beautiful art or challenge my perspective of the world and instead they dedicate 45 pages to pictures of girls that haven't necessarily done anything other than be born the way they were and get signed with IMG or Ford or whoever the fuck and that's what we should be admiring. Not their achievements or art but the way that they look....
As someone who truly considers the fashion industry and art industry to have the potential to be one in the same it is infuriating to see the continued promotion of shallow skin-deep vanity promoted within the industry when there is so much more to say. If you are going to do an issue totally dedicated to New Faces in the modeling industry why not also write about what else they do in their life, who they are, what they care about? I see a face, I see skin, I see some clothes and a white washed out wall, but do I see a soul, an emotion, a point of view, a passion? The girls are so washed out and edited with one model back to back against each other that I forget who one is versus the other. They end up blending together and become nothing more than bodies of meat and hair.
I'm probably being far too harsh but I've reached a point of being done with being passive and being done with mediocrity. It is unacceptable and should not be supported in any way, shape or form. Be the change you wish to see in the world.