The old wives have long since known that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the modelling industry has now grasped this adage with both hands. Pretty is OK in today’s fashion and beauty world but quirkiness is the hottest ticket in town. Of course, that’s not news to us at Talent Management: We’ve always represented a diverse pool of talented models and other professionals. “Quirkiness becomes a model” in todays industry.
Whilst there’s undoubtedly still a place for conventional beauty in modelling right now, it is the men and women with quirky features who everyone is talking about. Whether it’s a monobrow, gappy teeth, cross-eyes or a wheelchair, the industry has fallen in love with looks that laugh in the face of traditional views of beauty.
Quirkiness is serious business right now. Fashion reporter Jillian Mercado applied to become a model for a laugh but landed a job working for Diesel. The wheelchair she uses as a result of muscular dystrophy didn’t put the brakes on her ambition. In fact, it has helped propel her image far beyond just the fashion press.
Then there’s Daphne Selfe, the UK’s oldest model. Not only is she still modelling at the age of 85, she’s still modelling underwear.
Daphne has been modelling for six decades and still struts the catwalks for the likes of Michiko Koshino, Tata-Naka and Dolce & Gabbana. Who says age is a barrier to success?
An Eye on the Current Trend
There was once a time when cross eyes would get a young girl bullied in the playground. Today, it could get her onto the catwalks.
Take Storm-model Moffy, a striking supermodel who has built a successful career around her strabismus. This may be considered a physical ‘flaw’ but the fact that her eyes are not aligned with each other, is what sets her apart from the crowd.
Male modelling is also embracing the quirks of humanity. An example of this is the success being experienced by amputee Alex Minsky.
Looking at the former Marine’s chiselled body, it would not be hard to imagine him being a successful model in any circumstances but his prosthetic leg has undoubtedly added to his appeal. The fact that he is a war veteran and looks beautiful, gives a character insight that immediately engages an audience with his look.
The Height of Success
Many models are tall by average standards but the aptly-named Amazon Eve is in a league of her own. At 6ft 8ins, the 34-year-old holds the record for being the tallest model in the world.
She towers above the male and female models she meets but this has only heightened her quirky appeal.
Transgender models are also big news right now, along with those who make sex seem like an interchangeable commodity. Take Casey Legler, who at 35-years-old is a successful female model who only models menswear and has been signed in the men’s department at Ford.
The Plus Points of Plus Sizes
There’s been much talk in the media of size 22 model Tess Holliday but she is not the only woman making a living based largely upon her size.
There would once have been a time when holding the world record for the largest hips, would have attracted little more than scorn. For Mikel Ruffinelli, however, it has led to the forging of a career. The 39-year-old’s hips measure over eight feet around and, yes, she can struggle to fit through doorways, has to book two seats on flights and drives a truck for practical reasons, but there are undoubtedly plus points to her size. She earns around $1,000 a shoot.
Diversity Is Big Business
Many quirky models are finding a plethora of work in niche markets but the mainstream is also reacting to public demand.
Some of the biggest names in the world, from Yves Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen to Debenhams and M&S are shunning conventional beauty in favour of models with a more quirky look.
There is now a place on even the highest-profile catwalks and the pages of the glossiest magazines for fuller figures, gappy teeth and even a few wrinkles here and there. Think of Cara Delevingne and the eyebrows that dominate her face, Georgia Jagger’s teeth and the kooky charms of the likes of Alexa Chung and Chloe Sevigny.
Caryn Franklin, the woman behind the All Walks Beyond the Catwalk fashion diversity campaign, believes that this is a sign of a public demand for less uniformity within the modelling world.
Whatever the reason, this trend opens up a world of opportunity for men and women who not so long ago would never have even dreamed of a modelling career. It also gives models the opportunity to show off their individual styles and personalities without fear of being ostracised.
Today’s most successful models are actively encouraged to demonstrate their individuality. This seems appropriate in an industry where a lack of originality is rarely the recip