The model model

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The New York Times ran a recent story on, ‘semi supermodel’ Karolina Kurkova. Aside from being a former Victoria’s Secret ‘Angel,’ she’s graced 52 magazine covers, and among other things, been called an idiot by Naomi Campell on “The Face,” TV show. Ms. Kurkova is now in the midst of a career transformation, The Times informs us. Attempting to go from supermodel to celebrity/personality.

At one point Albert Watson, cover photographer for Vogue and Rolling Stone, says of Kurkova, …she’s a much better model than Kate Moss ever was.” Which got me to thinking, what exactly is the role of a model? Sell goods, obviously. Then what makes Kurkova any better than Moss? She’s less recognizable? She doesn’t distract from the product? She shows up sober? The point of the article is Kurkova is working hard to become a celebrity with the recognition of say, a Kate Moss. “Your strengths are your weaknesses,” my father used to say.

It got me to thinking about the dichotomy of the modeling business, and it’s a real mindscrew. The conundrum of the supermodel. Shouldn’t models be invisible? Perfectly invisible? Isn’t that the ‘good’ model Mr. Watson asserts? Because once we start to notice the models, the clothes, jewelry, cosmetics, whatever their pitching, fades away, giving rise to the supermodel.

The NYT makes the obvious point that the glory days of the supermodel are over. No one knows who Joan Smalls, Liu Wen, Karmen Pedaru, or Cara Delevingne are. (They’re todays top models according to models.com.)

So now the story comes full circle. Karolina Kurkova may have been a ‘semi-supermodel back in the day, but she’s now working hard, very hard to becoming the supermodel she never was, when supermodeling is dead.

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