Updated with more pictures from the photo shoot.
Sometime ago, in Fashionising.com’s end-of-year podcast I believe, I mused that I saw the next decade as one defined not by the pure celebrity, but by the model. We’ve moved into a period where we know everything about every celebrity. We know all the great things about the people we’re meant to adore, but we also know all their faults. In essence: we know that they’re human. Realistically, that’s not a surprise, but we don’t need to spend our days besotted with people whose lives are little more interesting then our own. We want escapism. Thus, I reasoned, we the public would collectively turn to models as the focus of our affections. Models, you see, have a certain mystique to them. We know they’re beautiful, we imagine they have amazing lifestyles that involve jetting from locale to locale, but beyond that we know little.
Thus there exists the danger for the ‘celebrity model’ – we simply know too much about them. Case in point: Kate Moss. Kate Moss eclipsed what it was to be a model, she even eclipsed what it was to be a supermodel. Instead, for a few years, she was a hypermodel. An utter focus of our collection attentions, we knew little more then the fact that she may have had a penchant for cocaine and had a rocker boyfriend. When all was said and done, few of us knew any more then that: few of us had even heard her speak. Where Kate Moss’ career went right, others have gone wrong. They became ‘celebrity models’, or at the very least their management team experimented with creating that of them. The results have seldom been positive, and in some parts of the industry it’s known as the ‘Catherine McNeil effect’, so named after the Australian model whose publicity eclipsed her body of work making her career a short lived one.
At some stage of the future they may just rename it the ‘Crystal Renn effect’. You see, Renn is better known to us not as a model, but a plus size model. On the face of it, there’s nothing wrong with that, there’s plenty of room in the industry for every shape, size and colour. But when the level of publicity behind a model eclipses their body of work, as we saw with McNeil, a certain danger exists. And I think that danger comes to fruition in Renn’s latest shoot.
It’s a shoot that has all the elements we should pay attention to: a name model in Renn, a world class photographer (and one of Fashionising.com’s favourites) in Ellen von Unwerth, season trends in the guise of the leather harness, and nudity. And yet it’ll take someone who doesn’t know of Renn or recognise her to see any of that. You see, Renn has become known not as a fashion model, not for her work, but for her size. So it is that you’re likely to look at none of the elements of the photo shoot except her size, pondering if she’s skinnier then the last time you saw her, or if she’s still a plus size model. She isn’t, and that shouldn’t be an issue in the least. That’s not what we’re here for. But so much publicity surrounded her, there were so many PR mechanisms going on behind the scenes to create a name out of Crystal Renn, that it’s hard to move beyond that point.
And when you’re a model your career is dependent on helping fashion houses sell clothing and accessories but their target market sees your photos and take in solely the shape of your body, there’s a danger for your career.
The Crystal Renn effect cometh.