Models of Influence

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As long as there has been fashion there have been models. When one thinks of a model they think of a thin, beautiful and malleable woman who can take on the personality of a garment without overshadowing the piece. Until recently, models were nameless with the exception of a few chosen women who traded the term ‘model’ for ‘icon’ or ‘supermodel’. With the exception of a few household names like Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss, models have graced the pages of magazines and catalogues without so much as a reference to their agencies.

Nigel Barker has done something about it. His book, Models of Influence, is much more than a tribute to the women who defined fashion across the eras: it is a love letter. Whether flipping through the pages admiring the brilliantly curated photographs of the likes of Richard Avedon, David Bailey, Herb Ritts and Mario Testino or taking in the stories, one cannot help but be overcome by the influence, grace and character of its subjects. It is so easy to take in a gorgeous photo of an impossibly elegant woman and forget that behind the makeup and silk there is a real person, a story. One with a beginning, middle, and sometimes heartbreaking end.

Did you know that Lauren Hutton would conceal her signature tooth gap with mortician’s wax? She was told that her gap was not beautiful and she would never ‘get the big jobs’ if she kept her ‘deformity’. If Models of Influence were to be summed up in a word, it would be humanization.

Supermodels, like superheroes, will always be slightly out of reach. This is the basis of their allure. However, it is refreshing to receive a glimpse into their lives and learn that, in many ways, they are no different than the rest of us.

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Barker takes the reader on a journey through the eras of style. On this journey we see how much the famous faces influenced and demonstrated not just what was happening in fashion but in the world as a whole. The emergence of Alec Wek brought to light a standard of beauty previously underdeveloped and inspired influencers like Lupita Nyong’o, who is quoted in the book saying,”When I saw Alek I inadvertently saw a reflection of myself that I could not deny.”

Models of Influence is an incredibly well-rounded profile of beautiful women. It also explores the current fashion scene and how the Internet and its endless opportunities for self promotion have changed what it means to be a supermodel.

Without makeup or artistry, Barker has managed to do the unthinkable. He has made the iconic women even more beautiful.

Text by kat Smith

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