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HindustanTimes Sat,02 Aug 2014
Yesterday's fashion flaws are today's draws
Karen Kay/The Guardian
September 11, 2013
First Published: 01:05 IST(11/9/2013)
Last Updated: 01:11 IST(11/9/2013)

We have been a fashion journalist for more than two decades, yet one of the things I abhor about the industry is its very name. Fashion means the decree that a particular look is in vogue and is thus dismissive of anything else.

Thankfully, over recent years the politics of women's appearance have become less dictatorial and more democratic, as we discover a desire to express our own taste and style through our visual identity. And while there are still inevitable "trends", most of us are capable of giving them thoughtful consideration before taking our pick.

The result? A joyfully diverse array of stimulating sartorial styles in cities around the world and an explosion of "street style" blogs that has opened up a new public appreciation of individuality.

Fashion is no longer about adopting transient uniformity, but about expressive personal style and hand in hand with that goes a more expansive approach to our perception of beauty.

I don't think anyone would argue that the great supermodels - Claudia Schiffer, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, Christie Brinkley, Elle Macpherson, et al — weren't utterly gorgeous.

All boast exquisite proportions, features and colouring that define them as classical beauties. Yet somehow their ubiquity only served to make that untouchable physical perfection feel bland and uninspiring.

And, in the era of digital re-touching, society has become cynical about the images we see in magazines, on billboards. So, subconsciously, we began searching for something different, something more real: something to challenge our ingrained notion of beauty.

The very "flaws" that would have seen aspiring models turned away from agencies in the past suddenly became their trademarks: idiosyncrasies such as bushy eyebrows, edgy haircuts, angular features, marked them out as individuals in a sea of luscious blond locks and lissome sunkissed limbs.

And, in a very real interpretation of the demand for quirkier models, I love that Marks & Spencer is celebrating the true diversity of womanhood with its latest campaign: artist Tracey Emin, author Monica Ali, nurse Helen Allen and boxer Nicola Adams would be unlikely to be described as classic model material, but their beauty runs deeper than the superficial ideal of the supermodel era, and we love it.


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