Also personifying the 80’s, Duran Duran. They were the picture of sleek, stylish superficiality. They weren’t the exact apotheosis of mindless prettiness – that would have been the boys of Wham!. Eventually, the grunge revolution would vilify the glossiness of bands like Duran Duran and Wham!. It would come to seem that bands who put so much thought into their dressing and blow drying were just ciphers with nothing real to say and no message to offer. But not delving too deeply into emotional terrain or thinking very hard about a message isn’t a crime. It’s still held that highly produced, highly commercial pop artists are less important than serious minded emo/poetic types, and in many cases that’s a point I agree with. But credit should be given to the value of an extremely effective pop sensibility like Duran Duran. They were a pop band through and through, and at that they excelled and their hits remain indelibly, durably appealing long after their fluffy hairstyles entered fashion extinction. Duran Duran were probably the best major pop band of the 80’s; in their heyday the were leaders in misguided fashion, teenybop idols, tabloid fixtures and, of course, chart-toppers. So fashion were they, that they not only earned a reputation for their cutting-edge videos, which they filled with comely models in various states of undress, but went so meta as to write songs about videos and the models in them. You might think it’s dumb, but I think a band known for their videos writing songs about videos to engender more videos is actually a pretty neat joke. I’m also pretty sure Girls On Film isn’t a parody and contains no signs of irony or self-awareness. They just honestly think filming girls for videos is the neatest thing. And they’re still up to it. Though their relevance in the wider world faded somewhat after grunge rendered hairspray and man-rouge obsolete, they never stopped making their videos and casting them with every supermodel they could find. In fact Duran Duran sowed the seeds for the supermodel phenomenon, being one of the first bands to cast models in their videos, combining fashion and pop music into a single glamorous fantasy. In 1997 their kinky video for Electric Barbarella, starring Myka Dunkle, Sophie Dahl, Devon Aoki and others, looked like an anachronism. Today the pendulum has swung back in favor of shiny, glamorous pop. Duran Duran’s most recent video, Girl Panic is an orgy of self-reference, starring Naomi Campbell as Simon Le Bon, alongside Cindy Crawford, Eva Herzigova, and Helena Christensen. They don’s sound a day out of Rio, and they sound like the next big thing.
If there’s a trend today of models resembling porcelain dolls (and there is), then Gemma Ward is the apotheosis of that trend. With her round pumpkin head and huge wide-set eyes, she looks more doll than human. It is downright eerie. It is, also, charming. It’s the girl-doll look in extremis. Besides looking for all the world like a broken doll, Gemma can portray an astounding variety of characters. Her face lends itself to an endless supply of fantasies, from Manga robot to Stepford bride to bride of Christ and of course, Lolita. Like always, it’s the unusual looking girls who make the best muses.
with Lily Cole
Why did I wait this long to feature Cindy C.? Because she should need no introduction. When I was growing up, Cindy’s picture was in the dictionary next to the words beauty, glamor, and sex appeal. Still is. It’s no exaggeration to say Cindy Crawford is one of the most iconic women in history. If you don’t find her instantly recognizable, I don’t know what cave you crawled out of. She’s in a class of her own, and that’s that.
Jacquetta Wheeler comes from a very specific breed of models. The coltish, boyish, fun-loving cool chick. The mold forged in the sixties by Twiggy, and exemplified today by Agyness Deyn. Cool Brittania girls. Low maintenance girls. Girls you think you’d want to hang out with. Short haired, big smiles girls. You know the type. I adore how radically unsymmetrical her face is. One eye is notably higher than the other. She’s gorgeous. I’ve also heard that she’s left modeling to pursue higher education, which is always commendable.
with Carmen Kass
with Anouck Lepere
Nadja Auermann wasn’t born – she sprang fully formed from the brow of Helmut Newton. Or so it would appear. Because she is fashion’s most surreal Valkyrie. A woman whose proportions are superhuman. Nadja’s famous legs are longer than her head and torso combined. That and her white hair, and steely blue eyes and granite cheekbones all come together to form Newton’s oversexed Teutonic ideal. Besides being the incarnation of Helmut Newton’s scary Aryan dominatrix fantasy, she also did the opposite and became one of the scrubbed bare faces of early grunge. Looking disheveled and natural in photos by Peter Lindbergh she showed a completely different side of herself. Avedon and Meisel loved her too.
with Amber Valletta and Kate Moss
If you subscribe to Bazaar you will have received your first 2011 issue with a cover of Lily Donaldson cuddling a baby leopard. Me, I’m very happy about it – movie stars just about make me puke at this point. A want to see clothes worn by real professional clothes-wearers. Speaking of that…models today, I do complain about them, do I not. How they’re not as great as they were back in my day. Well, here we see Lily, who represents the cutting edge of trends in modeling, not least because a lot of models nowadays seem to be named Lily. She is, on her own terms, a great beauty and a fine model. She’s a dewy blonde-haired English rose. Her face is so white and perfect it’s like she’s made of porcelain. And the eyes – the eerie, huge blue eyes that look like something out of a creepy Victorian child painting. She looks like she’s waiting for some much older gent to come along and write her a fantasia about hookah smoking caterpillars and white rabbits whatnot. Looking like Guy Bourdin‘s re-conception of Alice in Wonderland is not, in and of itself, a bad thing. Neither do I get ruffled when I see yet another borderline Lolicon high-art magazine spread of frilly-dressed sylphs wandering about in the big bad woods with their nipples hanging out. But when that’s all there is, I do get offended. All the models look like this. There they go marching down the runway like an army of Madame Alexander dolls. And it’s always the same shoots of babes in the woods. Oh and now there’s this retro-Studio 54 thing, where it’s the same girls made to look like Alice Liddell grew up to be Jerry Hall. How can Lily become a star if everyone looks like Lily?
with Jessica Stam
A memorable willowy blonde. Kirsty Hume was famous at first for her endless mane of hair. Then she cropped it down to a bob, which made her even more desirable. Her haircut was a Vogue cover story when it happened.The hair makes the girl, as always. Also, she’s famous for marrying the younger Donovan Leitch. Match made in heaven, ’cause they’re both Scottish, of course.