In Menswear, Even Cab Drivers Are Runway Models
The rise of street-cast fashion shows.
BY SCOTT CHRISTIAN | Jul 28, 2016 | Fashion
Just because you don't have a sixpack, a chiseled jaw, and 3 percent body fat doesn't mean that you can't be a runway model. Actually, when it comes to menswear, not having those things might be an asset, at least according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal.
For many designers, the unconventional is preferable when it comes to showing their clothes. Which, in the case of Italian brand Eidos, means that even a 62-year-old New York City cab driver can get the call.
"The days of classic beauty are over," Taylor Hendrich, director of men and celebrity at Wilhelmina modeling agency, told WSJ. "You have to be really special."
In some ways, that's liberating. No longer do we (men at least) have to conform to impossible and homogenized standards of beauty. Now it's all about individuality, about looking different from the herd.
Which sounds great—but it's nothing new. Menswear designers have been doing this for decades now. When Raf Simons launched his eponymous label back in 1995, he cast street kids and students as his models, and Japanese label N. Hoolywood (pictured at the beginning of this story) has long been known for casting non-professionals as well. The truth is, in fashion, men are occasionally allowed to look different.
But with the exception of upstart label Vetements, it's rare for a women's brand to stray from young, tall, skinny (and mostly white) female models. Part of this may simply be due to economics. In the U.S., women's fashion accounts for USD116 billion in sales, while menswear isn't expected to even hit USD40 billion until 2019.
It's pretty standard procedure that when more money is on the line, less risk is taken. Sending a 62-year-old female cab driver down the runway at a Dior show might just be too much for Bernard Arnault to handle.
Eidos creative director Antonio Ciongoli—who cast Ajit Singh Bharth, the New York City cab driver mentioned in the WSJarticle—has no theory to explain why hiring non-professional models is more common in menswear than in women's. But he did tell us why he chooses to do it.
"For me it's all about telling the story and trying to contextualize the collection," he says. "This season it was important for us that the cast feels like the place that inspired the collection. We just felt we had to replicate that impression we had."
Ciongoli also prefers people who look like they have some life experience under their belt, something not often found among 20-year-old models. Then there's street style's influence on fashion, and the fact that people nowadays are looking for more authenticity in new designs and the people who wear them.
"Models tend to project fantasy," says Ciongoli, "whereas a lot of people are more interested in the concept of reality. You see someone with truly great style on the street, it makes you want to incorporate that." Which is one reason why designers have tapped real people for their shows, to bring a bit of street onto the runway.
Overall, it seems like a good strategy, one that hopefully catches on among women's wear designers too. Granted, it might be hard for civilians to pull off this particular ensemble, but it would still be nice to see a bit more diversity in fashion. And also to know that you don't have to be a 6-foot genetic lottery-winner to pull off the latest looks.
From: Esquire US.