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Are It-Girls The New Supermodels?

            A former model making the transition into ‘it-girl’ status is nothing new. Rather, it almost seems to come with the territory these days. The latest phenomenon, however, is a complete role-reversal from that traditional evolution: the it-girl turned supermodel.

            Celebrity spawn have been attempting to make themselves relevant by piggybacking onto the careers of their parents for decades. Some have done so successfully (Kate Hudson, Miley Cyrus, Angelina Jolie…) while other endeavors ended up being complete train wrecks (remember when Rumer Willis tried acting? Or when she tried to put out that album? Probably not). What is especially compelling about the latest trend is it’s potential impact on fashion industry norms.

            The incentive behind this crossover stems directly from social media. The idea of luring in a girl like Kendall Jenner, who already boasts an impressive online following (18.4 million followers on Instagram), to pose for your brand is the end goal of getting her to share it with her followers. Thus allowing the brand to reach a new audience of potential customers.

            Besides Kendall, the most prevalent faces of this group of girls are Gigi + Bella Hadid, and Hailey + Ireland Baldwin. These girls are all undeniably attractive and slim, but there is no doubt that it was ultimately their family connections/preexisting social media followings that gave them a leg up in the modeling world - despite Jenner’s claims otherwise.

            I thought it was just a flash in the pan trend at first, but these girls have been at it for over a year now and show no signs of slowing down. Kendall and GiGi solidified their standing recently when they each scored major cosmetic campaigns with Estee Lauder and Maybelline, respectively. 

Known for being an extremely lucrative endeavor and a major career opportunity, the cosmetics contract is known as the holy grail of modeling. Kendall shares the honor with numerous other top models such as Joan Smalls, Doutzen Kroes, and Hilary Rhoda. Former Maybelline girls include Christy Turlington, Emily DiDonato, and Frieda Gustavsson. These associations equal major modeling credibility, and prove they’re playing in the big leagues.

It’s clear why commercial brands were so eager to start working with these girls initially. But it was a mystery to me, at first, why they were also scoring editorial work with respected industry publications. After a while it became clear that this was because of the industry-vets who took the girls under their wings.

One leader who’s played an instrumental part in their assimilation to the fashion world, especially in the case of Kendall and Hailey, is Katie Grand. Grand, the genius but infamously hard to please stylist/creator of LOVE magazine, was the first to cast Kendall for the runway when she included her in the lineup of Marc Jacobs’ AW14 show (in a scandal-educing transparent top no less). The two have continued to work together seemingly every chance they get- including her appearance on the next cover of LOVE, opposite Cara Delevingne, another one of Grand’s favorites. While Baldwin isn’t exactly cover material yet, there’s also a sizable profile on her featured in the current issue. 

Another major supporter is Kaiser Karl Lagerfeld, who has cast both GiGi and Kendall in previous Chanel shows. Kendall took on the esteemed role of closing the Métiers d'art show in Salzburg hand-in-hand with Cara (in custom Chanel wedding gowns, no less).

GiGi’s own industry godmother is none other than Carine Roitfeld. Roitfeld was one of the first to use her in a high fashion editorial when she put her on the cover of her magazine, CR Fashion Book Issue 2, back in early 2014. Most recently she included GiGi as one of the twelve models featured in the annual Pirelli Calendar (as Miss November), which was shot by Steven Meisel and styled by Roitfeld.

While these girls are successfully making waves for themselves in the industry, the role-reversal has potentially negative consequences. This backlash is spurred by accusations against them for stealing jobs from other hard-working but non-famous models. Modeling is becoming an increasingly difficult industry to break into as brands have begun requesting their instagram stats from agencies along with a girl’s head shots and measurements. This development makes social media an official part of the job description.

Gigi and Kendall out and about in SoHo, NYC with GiGi's boyfriend, Cody Simpson. 

Then there is the consideration of who exactly these jobs are being stolen from. While Kendall and GiGi are thin, they represent a more athletic, curvier (relatively speaking, of course) body type than the typical newbie. The shift towards more commercial faces- as opposed to the usual bone-thin, Slovenian 15-year old aesthetic- is a potentially healthy development in the modeling world, but at what price to the fashion industry as a whole? Right now all we can do is sit back and watch to see how it plays out…

Kendall and GiGi (far right) backstage at Marc Jacobs

You Know You Go To Fashion School When...

Friends from school... none of which I met @ school. 

            I grew up dreaming of going to a fashion school like FIT or Parsons. In fact when it came time to applying to colleges back in high school, I never even considered the option of attending a state university or basic liberal arts school. When I did eventually land at my top choice, it was great. And it continues to be a great fit… but I am the first to admit that fashion school is also a little bit (mostly a lot) ridiculous.

            Fashion schools, at least the ones I’ve had personal experience with, are not at all regular schools. Fashion students don’t spend late nights cramming for finals at the library, and we don’t have crushes on boys from math class. When people do get drunk and go crazy it’s most likely a result of too much champagne consumed at a downtown nightclub, not from the jungle juice or a keg stand in the basement of a fraternity.

To this day, as a junior in college, I don’t really have any of my own ‘typical college experiences’ to tell at family dinners or share as anecdotes at parties.  The most I can do is relate things back to stories my friends have shared from their big state schools or films or TV shows that I’ve seen. Somewhere in the back of my mind I genuinely believe that if I were studying at Duke or UNC right now I would be living the same lives of the characters on Greek.

These thoughts have been especially prevalent in my mind as I decamp to London for the next few months to study abroad. While I’ve heard it’s quite different over there than it is here, I will technically be attending my first large, liberal arts college (or ‘Uni’ as they call it). I’m excited to see what it will be like, but a bit anxious considering my complete lack of know-how when it comes to campus life.

Another thing I’ve been thinking about recently is just how absurd fashion school in New York really is. It’s truly incomparable to any other academic enterprises. True, I don’t have stories of basketball games or sitting on the quad with my sorority sisters, but I definitely have some impressive tales to tell as would anyone in my **designer** shoes. There’s no telling what you could witness on any given day in my halls, but there are certainly a few universal situations fellow-classmates can identify with. 

Basically, you know you go to fashion school when… 

·      Every time you go outside someone is conducting their own personal photoshoot.

·      The number of gym classes you are required to take depends on your major. As in, if you’re after a visible role in the industry (PR or Merchandiser) you must take extra gym, but if you’re more behind the scenes we don’t really care what you look like.

·      There’s an entire section in your textbook dedicated to the styles of Sex and The City.

·      Fashion Week is a legitimate and excusable reason to not attend class.

·      You meet more people from your school through ‘promoter dinners’ than you do in the classroom.

·      You’re only allowed one piece of French toast on the meal plan. If you decide to get really crazy and eat two, not only with the cashiers charge you extra, but they will shoot you death stares and occasionally ask if you really need that extra piece?

·      Cosmopolitan rated your school #1… for worst colleges to meet single guys

·      “Professor? I need to leave class an hour early every week so I can get to Penn Station in time to catch my train back to Jersey.”

·      Professors actually apologize for assigning homework

·      When the weather is warm you are treated to very graphic scenes while standing behind someone on the escalator who decided that a super short skirt, extremely high heels and no undies is a good look

·      It regularly takes you weeks to decide if the person sitting in front of you is actually a girl or a boy (and often times you’ll never know for sure).

·      People still wear Jeffrey Campbell Litas. These shoes have always been atrocious. Even when they were cool back in 2012 for about two days.

·       Many students name Michael Kors as their favorite designer. They also believe he is the ultimate in luxury. Do they know the names of any other designers? Only if CoCo Chanel counts (coincidentally this is usually also the name of their tiny dog).

·      The professor hands back your exam. You got a 57%. By the time he is done explaining the curve, removing questions, and adding bonus points you have a 93%. Nailed it!

At a party freshman year with some friends from school... in the elevator on our way to PHD, a nightclub that was essentially our version of a frat house. 

Brow-Beating The Mean Reds

            As someone who is prone to melodramatic mood swings resulting from changes in the weather, I’ve contracted a slight case of what Holly Golightly so eloquently described as, the mean reds, a condition more commonly known as a case of the winter blues. When this time of year inevitably comes along (post-holidays, but too soon to seriously consider Spring), I find myself itching try new things as a way of adding some excitement to my seemingly mundane routines. Past years have seen me with dramatic hair cuts, blackened eyebrows, and one time even dyeing my locks blue. This year, inspiration for my remedy comes from the catwalk of Rodarte SS15.

            Thanks in part to the likes of Lily Collins and Cara Delevingne, the beauty industry has begun to place a newfound focus on the importance of eyebrows in recent years. Bleach them, dye them, or stop plucking them altogether… there are endless ways to edit them.  The whole thing has ostensibly run its course. Or so you would think.

            Kate and Laura Mulleavy, along with their go-to makeup guy, James Kaliardos (working this season with NARS) took brows to the next level by resurrecting the brow ring trend of the mid  ‘90s. Rooted in the grunge-era street style movement, the look is clearly a scene-stealer and a surprisingly low-maintenance one. With these above your eyes, there is minimal need for more makeup.

            Having first noticed the adornments during fashion week, I was intrigued, but not enough to make the plunge. While struggling to come up with a less-basic Halloween costume, I pulled up some backstage images of the perforated models. Using these pictures as a visual aid to describe the look I was going for, reactions were mostly concerned-looks from attendants at various drugstores and hardware stores around the city. Short of actually piercing my brows (a very expensive proposition), no one could help me. Eventually I gave up and settled for a very unoriginal Brigitte Bardot in ‘…. And God Created Woman.’

A few weeks spent people watching in London however has inspired me to try my lucky at recreating the style once again. Here, people think nothing of offbeat facial piercings or other eccentric extremities for the sake of achieving a certain look. Generally I would consider New York to be a more ‘modern’ city, but in the case of fashion I would agree with the stereotype of London being the creative innovations hub of the world. Possessing this unorthodox appearance for the next few months- accepted in this foreign city, but enough to shock some people back home, might be just the thing to rid me of my winter blues. 

A City Full of Magic

(above at The Frick Collections)

I’m actually writing this post from London, where I will be doing my spring term abroad until returning to New York for the summer. I haven’t been in the UK long enough to feel qualified to write about it just yet, but I will say that I was expecting the two cities to be much more similar than they actually are. (I'm still aghast at the fact that the underground is not 24/7 and that there isn't at least a pharmacy or two on every street.) The mini-move has made me painfully aware of how high-maintenance of a person I am, especially when it comes to my living situation/space.

I’m missing New York terribly- it’s my hometown after all, and while I can’t watch Gossip Girl or even the new season of Girls without beginning to tear up (incredibly overemotional over here), I’m enjoying the change for the time being and I am excited to see what adventures lie in store for me on this side of the Atlantic.

In my last week before leaving the city I tried to do a number of my favorite things for what felt like the last time (I’m such a city kid- just six months feels like forever). The week started with a night at the cinema, sharing multiple bowls of Nitehawk popcorn with my best friend while marveling at the beautiful and talented specimen that is Eddie Redmayne. I’ll miss the flannelled-hipsters of this Willaimsburg establishment, but I am excited to try out a number of the concept-driven theaters over here: Pillow Cinemas, Prince Charles Cinema, and Electric Cinemas to name a few.

New York Fashion Week will be a sorry one to miss, but thankfully London does has it’s own edition… even if it is mostly just a glorified Weekend. And who knows, I might just have to train over to Paris for PFW to make up for it all.

While brunch in New York is close to being its own culture, it’s mostly just another meal over here. But no matter, there are hundreds of new whimsical places to satisfy the near-constant hole in my stomach. And if I am feeling homesick, I can always watch an episode of Friends, which has gratefully been added to my Netflix queue. The above photo was taken at my last brunch in NYC at The Little Owl in the West Village, the café underneath the apartment set where Friends did their exterior shots (a fun fact until hordes of tourists decide to stand on the corner, blocking your view, seemingly dumbfounded by the concept of anything and everything).

Alas, I am missing the giant bowls of goodness that I basically inhaled on a weekly basis at Dimes on the Lower East Side. Maybe it's time I learn to make my own? 


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Caroline Mason: 20. Native New Yorker (and one time North Carolinian). Assistant to Derek Blasberg. Just a girl who is OCD about all things fashion, drinks way too much coffee, and has an affinity for late night talk shows and travel books. FIT class of 2016. Previously with Karla Otto PR, Lori Goldstein and Lester Garcia.

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