Supermodels – Then and Now
Berlin | Germany
Until 6th September
On the Storm modelling agency’s website, British model Kate Moss’s simple description, height: 5ft 8in / 173cm, bust: 34B, waist: 26 in / 66.04 cm, hips: 35.5in / 90.17 cm, shoes: UK 6.5 / EUR 39.5, hair: blonde light, length: mid-length, eyes: hazel, belies the fact that this week a David Bailey portrait of the supermodel sold for £80,000 at a charity auction in London. Although, aged 16, she had begun modelling for The Face four years before, Moss was barely known when the cult of the supermodel was established in 1990, when Linda Evangelista infamously told US Vogue, ‘We have this expression, Christy (Turlington) and I, ‘We don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day.’ When Evangelista later quipped to People magazine ‘We don’t vogue, we are Vogue,’ it was pretty much the truth.
One of the most accomplished models of all time, Evangelista remains the most featured model on the covers of Italian Vogue, was the muse of photographer Steven Meisel and of fashion designers Gianni Versace and Karl Lagerfeld. Strange then that among the generous selection of 24 press images available for Supermodels – Then and Now at Berlin’s CWC Gallery, there is not a single picture of her, an oversight which explains her absence here. Evangelista, however – who, as well as her work with Meisel, has been photographed by Richard Avedon, Gilles Bensimon, Gian Paolo Barbieri, Patrick Demarchelier, Arthur Elgort, Nick Knight, Sante D’Orazio, Norman Parkinson, Irving Penn, Herb Ritts, Paolo Roversi, Francesco Scavullo, Bruce Weber, and Ellen von Unwerth, to name but a few, many of whose images appear in this exhibition – is certainly present in the show itself.
In the 1980s and early 1990s, Canadian Evangelista, together with Brit Naomi Campbell and American Christy Turlington comprised a triumvirate that was dubbed The Trinity. The trio, augumented by another American Cindy Crawford, with German model Tatjana Patitz, were photographed together by Peter Lindbergh for the cover of the January 1990 issue of British Vogue, and thereafter became known as The Supermodels. There had been big name models before, of course, pictures of whom contribute to the story behind the exhibition – Jean Shrimpton, Penelope Tree, Veruschka, Marie Helvin, Jerry Hall – but while their names may have added a certain cachet to the designers’ clothes they were photographed in, often by great photographers, only Hall crossed over successfully into runway modelling. Nor did they – aside from perhaps, some years later, Twiggy, and again Hall, both via acting – become world famous personalities in their own right. The names of The Supermodels became as big as those of the biggest movie stars and they were just as big a target for the paparazzi and the gossip columns. Other would-be supermodels followed hot on the heels of the originals, but only Elle Macpherson and Claudia Schiffer achieved a similar level of fame and success.
Paradoxically, Kate Moss, if anything an anti-supermodel at the start of her career, rose metiorically, reaching undreamed of heights in supermodeldom. Gracing 17 W covers, she was named as the magazine’s muse in 2003. She has been the model of choice for more than 30 covers (and counting) of British Vogue, and has modelled major advertising campaigns for almost every high end fashion house in the world. During the past 25 years she has been photographed by every great fashion photographer worth his salt. She has designed clothes for high street brand Topshop – her 2014 collection for the brand, inspired by her own wardrobe will be sold in 40 countries – and handbags for Longchamp, has fragrances named after her, and been the subject of sculpture by Marc Quinn. A model for the mutability of the supermodel, through portraits and nudes by Patrick Demarchelier, Dominique Issermann, Paolo Roversi, Ellen von Unwerth, and Albert Watson, Moss is given a special focus in the CWC exhibition.
Photographs courtesy the photographers and CWC Gallery
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