Naomi Campbell's reality show, The Face, held open casting for its second season in New York City on Sunday morning. It was the middle of a heat wave, and by the time we arrived at Chelsea Studios, it was 11 a.m., an hour into the proceedings and the line extended past the end of the block. Outside, it was rowdy and restless, everyone was sweating and hot; the mood couldn't have been anymore different inside. In the waiting room, which represented the front of the queue, model hopefuls waited for their casting appointments, often with their mothers beside them, everyone sitting in absolute silence, their faces tense.
We were ushered into one of the studios to meet the wonderful Devyn Abdullah, last season's winner.
Image: Massimo Campana/Pottle Productions
Earlier today we jumped on a conference call with fashion publicist and TV personality Kelly Cutrone. Even if you skipped The Hills and The City and Kell on Earth (the reality shows that brought her national fame), you probably know Cutrone's basic schtick: powerful lady who founded the immensely successful fashion PR firm People's Revolution; has strong opinions, not afraid to use them.
She made herself available to take questions on her judgeship situation on America's Next Top Model's twentieth cycle, which premieres on August 2 at 8 p.m. For the first time in the show's epic history, both male and female contestants will participate. Or as the teaser spot put it: "The women of America's Next Top Model will face their biggest challenge yet: MEN."
Of course, the men have their own big challenges. They are, after all, aspiring male models in the fashion industry, one of the only areas where the traditional wage gap is reversed. Male models typically earn significantly less than their female counterparts and it's rare that a guy becomes a household name like Kate or Naomi or Gisele.
Cutrone does not necessarily see it the same way:
"There are plenty of male models who become supermodels," she said, citing Marcus Schenkenberg. "Of course, women's advertising and women's beauty are huge. Women do make more money than men in fashion, it's one of the only industries where that's true and we celebrate that. But you know, when you have a hot male model and you're doing an ad for Dolce & Gabbana, any brand, the combination of male and female model can really push a brand's reach."
For aspiring models, Cutrone offers solid, sensible advice: "Don't quit your day job, go to a reputable agency. Do NOT listen to people in the shopping mall who promise they'll get you work after you spend $1,000 on a modeling portfolio. [She runs through a list of well-known agencies — Elite, Wilhelmina, Next, Ford, etc.] Go to them and say, 'I'd like to be considered for your agency. At that point, you'll be asked for a photograph, you should make it as natural as possible. Hair down, light makeup, jeans, a T-shirt, no nipples showing. Sometimes when people think fashion they think, DONE, but really you want to be as minimalist as possible, a blank canvas that people can project lots of different looks on to."
But some people should just stay home: "If you're 5'6", just stay home. Don't pretend you're 5'8" or 5'9". If you want to be a beauty model, I guess that's fine, you can do glamour, but you're not going to do runway. If you're over 29 — 26 even — I would suggest you work regionally and not try to work nationally. These are the things no one ever wants to say, because they're mean, but it's true. "
Later on in the conversation, Cutrone returned to fashion's rigid body standard, explaining why there's a difference between swim and general fashion models: "It's really about the breasts. Fashion models are a size 34A or 34B, and their hips are the same, 34 [inches], so essentially you're looking at a very straight body. So for swim, a girl who's more curvy or more busty, a 34C — a full C — that's really what we look for. Someone with ample curves."
Elaborating on thinness in the fashion industry, Cutrone says, "Most fashion models do not look good in bikinis, because they're too thin. Society has a hyper emphasis on thin and that trend comes from the consumers — it does not come from the fashion industry. The fashion industry needs to make money, that's what we do. If people said, 'we want a 300 pound purple person,' the first industry to do it would be fashion. You look at the Dove campaign in Times Square — it sticks out like a sore thumb. Those girls in the white T-shirts and underwear, next to Calvin Klein [and all the other fashion ads]. As a consumer, it doesn't make me want to buy Dove. I'm all for the real look, but as a consumer it doesn't make me want to buy clothes."
Alexa Chung wears Valentino for mytheresa.com
Aspirational style icon Alexa Chung
has fronted more than her fair share of fashion campaigns, and this season sees her lending her immaculate fashion sense to yet another. Designer emporium, MyTheresa.com, is currently evoking upon a campaign that’ll see an array of our favourite style icons share some of their fashion advice, and Alexa is just the first of a select few.
The campaign features a mix of portraits, films and exclusive interviews which aim to teach us some unknown facts about their enviable dress senses. A quote that really does stand out from Alexa’s interview is: "I don’t let other people’s opinions dictate the way I dress. I really don’t care what other people think." Could this be the ultimate secret to being an international acclaimed style icon who can seemingly do no wrong? Maybe the real key to possessing an effortless dress sense is to be fearless and wear whatever you feel like, that way you set your own fashion rules and others are just naturally inspired to adopt your new trends.
Alexa’s photo shoot for MyTheresa took place in New York and she was styled in some of her favourite designers from Saint Laurent to Valentino, with each look naturally encompassing her own signature look. Alexa explained that her favourite outfit from the shoot was the pastel blue and pink scallop edge Valentino dress (shown right) which isn’t currently available to buy online or in their store, but rest assured, it’s set to arrive soon.
If you want to read Alexa’s interview and pick up a few of her style tips or shop the collection, head over to MyTheresa.
MinkPink couldn’t have picked a more appropriate face for its trippy Global campaign than human kaleidoscope Chloe Nørgaard.
The Coachella-apropros Global collections are MinkPink’s extension into the U.S. market. Last season, they featured an all-Australian lineup of faces including Montana Cox, Rachel Rutt and token Kiwi Zippora Seven, with styling and photography courtesy of Sydneysiders Pip Vassett and Elvis De Fazio respectively.
For this season's 'Lala Land,' they’ve tasked New York-based Nørgaard to pose as a modern-day Venice Beach flower child with her lavender-tressed actress girlfriend Daveigh Chase: Best known for playing Rhonda Volmer on HBO’s Big Love, but who we’ll always unwittingly remember as The Ring’s nightmare-inducing Samara Morgan.
Last month, Chloe was profiled on WWD’s Model Call as one to watch. She’s been prominent on the blogosphere for a while, but has recently hit the runway for Rodarte, Nicole Miller, Ashish and Roksanda Illincic’s Fall 2013 collections. MinkPink has been kitting out Sydneysiders since 2005, but in recent years has found stockists in overseas retailers including Harrods, Urban Outfitters, Shopbop, Aritzia, Barneys NY and Nordstrom. So it’s a match in more than just the colour department.
The campaign was shot by California native Mike Piscitelli, with multi-talented Sydney man Mark Vassallo responsible for the full-on styling. Check it out in its polychromatic entirety at MinkPink.com.
In the past, Style.com has taken a relatively idiosyncratic approach to expansion (remember: this is the fashion website that launched an offline counterpart
at a time when most people believed print media was on life support), but its latest venture is solidly attuned to the Internet's driving trends.
Style Map, a new channel on the fashion site, launches today with 60 international contributors, ranging from big-name celebrities (Nicole Richie, Courtney Love, Kylie Minogue, Jason Schwartzman) to creative professionals with niche appeal (such as MOCA director Jeffrey Deitch, Stil in Berlin blogger Mary Scherpe and Ukraine's fashion matriarch, Daria Shapovalova).
Contributors will submit dispatches from their work and life, covering a variety of subject areas not limited to fashion. It's a cleverly conceived project, tapping both celebrity headliners and lesser-known, but still influential tastemakers (many are presumably avid social media users and will promote their Style.com content across a variety of networks) to contribute hyper-local content from over 30 cities worldwide.
(And this is just the first phase of the initiative. Later in the fall, Style.com will launch "a community platform" — fashion forums! Sounds familiar…)
During a phone conversation last week, Editor-in-Chief Dirk Standen told me he hopes that the new channel will help grow Style.com's existing international readership: "We already have a global audience, just the fact that fashion is global in nature, we've always had global to a degree, but we felt we could exploit that much more fully."
Asked for a rough sense of the website's geographic breakdown, Standen told me, "U.S. is the biggest market, the U.K. comes second. Followed by France, Italy, Hong Kong. But after the U.S., it's all evenly distributed across those different cities."
But the channel's localized content is designed to appeal not just to local populations, but also to an increasingly cosmopolitan creative class: "There's this new class of creative people that have to travel all over the world for their jobs. People don't necessarily stay in one place. Hedi Slimane is designing Saint Laurent for Paris, but his studio's in L.A. And even if one doesn't travel that much, you know there's all this energy coming from all these different places, and you want to know what's going on in Paris and Beijing — this project really brings all of that together."
Standen notes that, with 60+ contributors posting once a week, Style Map will be "a pretty robust source of content. Of course, depending on what's going on in people's lives, if they're in an interesting place or have an interesting project going on, they may submit more regularly. Courtney Love's on a U.S. tour at the moment, so she'll be posting quite regularly from the road."
Although Style Map's content areas seem broader than the flagship site's fashion-heavy main coverage, Style.com will remain primarily a fashion website: "This is our first move [in the direction of expanding our coverage areas], but fashion will always be our main focus. We're always looking to expand our coverage in related areas, but we're certainly not going to become equally an arts site as we are a fashion site. We're focused on fashion."