STYLE: Normcore, normsnore, India Doyle bemoans the move away from glamour in Fashion.
Their message could not be more on point. In the last week alone Lara Stone and Kim Kardashian both appeared in the international press, un-airbrushed and over-airbrushed respectively; American Vogue ran the editorial ‘The Best Lingerie comes in All Sizes’; Calvin Klein launched a new campaign featuring ‘plus’ size 14, Myla Dalbesio and British Vogue ran an ‘all shapes and sizes’ feature in their November issue. It seems that size zero is out, and sandwiches are in.
American Vogue editorial, 2014
This shift can be located somewhere around the launch of American TV show Girls, released in 2012. This side of the Atlantic, the locus of change came with the publication of Caitlin Moran’s no nonsense book, How To Be A Woman, also in 2012.
Of course, fashion has always dabbled with the novelty of ‘other’. Most notably when John Galliano and Jean – Paul Gaultier both sent plus size models down the catwalk in 2006. However what Lena Dunham did with Girls and what Caitlin Moran did with How To Be A Woman was to declare in no uncertain terms that to be a woman, in all of her imperfect glory, was, in fact, perfect.
The embrace of ‘normal’ manifested itself aesthetically in the niche turned mainstream trend, normcore. Forget skyscraper heels and tight mini skirts, normcore dictated that it was all about the neon, oh so comfortable and oh so suddenly trendy, trainer. Pair them with baggy jeans and a white teeshirt and you couldn’t be more in vogue. Emmanuelle Alt, Editor of French Vogue, confirmed that comfort was ‘in’, when she entered Palais d’Iena this April sporting a practical midi, as opposed to high, heel.
There is no doubt that the fashion industry has perpetuated insecurity and self loathing in women and young girls for years. With this in mind, this shift away from unattainable perfection towards an understanding that every woman, whether 6ft 2 or 4ft 8, is flawed and needs to be able to run for a bus without fear of breaking her ankle, is a great thing. Indeed, the fact that a non airbrushed, post baby Lara Stone has pasty skin and a couple of creases (just) when she sits down is a comforting revelation.
Yet the problem with Normal is that it doesn’t enable creativity in an industry built on the abnormal, on fantasy and on escapism.
Yes, we want art that speaks to us and reflects who we are, but we also want art that pushes boundaries and inspires new ideas. Revealing the naked truth and celebrating different shapes is positive, but what the industry must not lose is the element of glamour and of artistry that is inherent in it’s history and it’s craft.
Tim Walker's 'A World Sublime' series.
For ultimately there are enough avenues that invite us to explore our inner beauty. Fashion is not one of them. By nature it is an external and surface form of expression. Fashion is about clothing; it’s about covering oneself, dressing up and creating something over the top of your body.The outfits that we wear on a day to day basis are translations and interpretations of what is presented on the catwalks and magazines.
Similarly, fashion photography isn’t simply about depicting what is in front of the lens, it’s about using models and clothing to create a different world, to tell an alternative story to that of the comparatively mundane life that we live.
Of course, there have been many movements that play with normality and make it cool and exciting. Take fashion photographer Juergen Teller's grunge portraits, or Vogue editorials of Kate Moss in the 90's. Normal can be fun, normal can be beautiful but just because it can be all of these things, it doesn't mean that we should be content to stop there.
i-D says ‘Nothing is Beautiful’ but we say, Fashion is! Let us encourage the medium to push beyond the ordinary instead of attempting to constrain it in reality.