(a then-15 year old tanya dziahileva, s/s 2007)
michael kors was interviewed recently and had this to say:
“Models, by nature, are not supposed to look like you and me. They are exemplary. They have bone structure and height and lengths of leg that normal people don’t have. But you want that to be based on genes, and if they’re adults, you want that to be based on adults who take care of themselves…I think if you send out an army of robotic 14-year-old children dressed up in their mom’s clothes, I think the reality is that it’s a turnoff, unless you are in fact a robotic 14-year-old. Women say: ‘Well. wait a sec, I wear a bra. I have to go to the office. Where are clothes that I can actually wear?’”
(a then-newly 16 year old jac, f/w 2010)
however, for all of that, he went on to announce that age 16, with adult supervision, is an okay time to get greased up and slapped into some outfits to parade down the catwalk. there is just so much wrong with this picture, i don’t know quite where to start.
(a then-newly 16 year old karlie kloss, s/s 2009)
first of all, just because these girls depicted here are a couple of years older than what he arbitrarily decided was the cutoff line, that does not an adult make. in the real world, most of them would still be in high school & buying cheap jeans from h&m, not representing an ideal of feminine adult beauty. besides, why exactly are models “not supposed to” resemble us? is there any intelligent reasoning behind that, or is it merely that age-old argument about clothes hangers? can’t a person be “exemplary” if she is 5’2” or age 29? do no stunning women like that exist? isn’t fashion supposed to be ‘all about newness’? (yes, i have said it again & again, but…) where is the change when we get each year new teenagers fitting into the same size requirements? wouldn’t it be a bit more interesting to mix things up with a girl who is a size 8, in her thirties, or petite female height? wouldn’t it be more interesting to show “exemplary” within the boundaries of averages, where most of us reside?
(a then-16 year old bette franke, f/w 2006)
to be fair, mk is better than a lot of designers in terms of the ages of the girls he casts on his runway. the lovely estonian model carmen kass, now age 32, has long been featured in his shows and ad campaigns. perhaps she is resonating with women because she’s closer to the age of his actual customers (and probably younger than average), because she represents truly adult beauty. when she wears heels, it makes sense. and, i’m sorry, but a 16-year-old isn’t somehow completely appropriate while a 14-year-old is not. they’ll still be cute in a few years. but it won’t feel kind of like kiddie porn for us to look at them in sexy things by then.
(15 or 16 year old keke lindgard, f/w 2010)
additionally, one ought to consider the point he made about wearing a bra. when choosing models to fit into those “exemplary” physical requirements, one often isn’t considering aspects of fit most average women have to deal with. that doesn’t necessarily correlate to age on the runway, though neither does using teens particularly help. when regular women have hips & breasts & legs not on average six miles long, it can be hard to picture how the clothes are going to appear off the runway. in other words, sure, you could sell me almost anything in a show, because it works on people who have almost no curvature, but factoring in stumpy legs, bum cellulite, or heavy breasts can suddenly throw a look from a ravishing possibility into the ‘there’s no way i’m emerging from the fitting room even to show this to my friend’ pile.
(a then-16 year old gemma ward, f/w 2004)
i guess in the end what really pisses me off is his “i’m with you!”-style attitude, like he is trying to help solve the problems alienating a lot of women looking at runways nowadays. casting girls who are five pounds heavier or two years older isn’t going to do the trick & turn the show somehow into an “aha! now i get it!” moment. even if those little differences are obvious to whomever is packing the girls into the dresses backstage, they don’t come through well enough in fashion site photographs & magazine layouts to exemplify a marked change.
(a then-16 year old toni garrn, s/s 2009)
i’ve said it before, but fashion is the only industry i can think of offhand that uses a totally different type of person in advertisements than their target customer. you wouldn’t see a tv commercial for barbie featuring a bunch of 25-year-olds playing with the dolls & dreamhouse. anyway, the thing to remember is that we have a choice whether to buy into bullshit statements like this one, or send him back for reevaluation. i’m not seeing that he understands what women are looking for at all.
all pictures via style.com