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Friday, May 24, 2024

Fashion Icons Like Linda Evangelista and the Fantasies Who Make It Sell

After revealing in 2021 that a cosmetic treatment known as CoolSculpting had left her deformed, the supermodel Linda Evangelista re-emerged this week on the cover of British Vogue. This has been hailed as a victory by a large number of people.

The picture session that was published in the September edition, which included several compelling photographs of Ms. Evangelista and was shot by Steven Meisel, the photographer who was responsible for making her famous for the first time, has also been praised and commended.

There she is, her body draped in leopard print by Alexandre Vauthier, tweed by Chanel, and baby pink mohair by Fendi, her head swathed in matching scarves and jaunty hats, and all of it perfectly framing a face that looks as radiant at 57 as it did at 27.

According to her, she also cannot tolerate having someone touch any part of her body. It was also revealed that in order to achieve a tight appearance for the photographs, her skin had been pushed back using tape by the makeup artist Pat McGrath.

She has been reinstated to her old pedestal via the illusions of cosmetics and dress as well as digital postproduction and with the imprimatur of Vogue. Indeed, looking at the images, you would never realise that Ms. Evangelista had any kind of physical difficulty at all.

That is a component of its promise as well as its appeal. It gives an escape into gorgeousness, into a world where clothing may, like a fairy godmother, wave their wands and change; where women are taller, leaner, and fitter than even seems imaginable; where women are more poreless and peerless than even seems possible.

Than is in fact feasible, at least in images, owing to a retouching procedure that allows waistlines to be shrunk, legs to be stretched, and bulges to be removed. It’s a deception that’s agreed upon by both the people who make things and the people who buy them, and both parties willingly participate in it. This is the response that is used whenever the industry of fashion is criticised for presenting a picture of women that is unattainable, overpriced, and unrealistic. Beauty is its own reason. It’s an essential part of being human, and we can’t live without it.

At this juncture, the debates that are most pressing to conduct are those that are about the acceptance of diversity and plurality, as opposed to the monolithic and the homogenous. It’s a time of realising how important it is to be transparent, as well as an opportunity to share contrasting perspectives and experiences.

Not to mention the many meanings of beauty, which reject the racism, ageism, and sexism that were formerly ingrained in the fashion industry. The airbrushing of vulnerabilities, which fashion has always engaged in, appears more like a relic of another period when seen in the perspective of today. Perhaps it is preferable to consign it to the dusty archives of academics rather than preserving it on the covers of magazines.

Aside from that, the world of fashion also presents one with the opportunity to pursue a different sort of goal, one that is not based on the unattainable appeal of perfection but rather on the possibility of self-expression. It is perfectly feasible to revel in the pleasure of dressing up while yet seeming to be oneself in a natural way. while at the same time seeming more like yourself, or more like the version of yourself that you would want the rest of the world to see.

A new generation of fashion designers is increasingly building their names, businesses, and communities on precisely this kind of message. They are populating their runways not simply with traditional models, but with friends and family of all shapes, sizes, ages, and gender identities; with wrinkles and bulges and the signs of a life well lived. In addition, their attire, together with their confidence and authority.

It is the visual embodiment of the appeals for the restoration of “family values” and old-fashioned gender norms; of the mind set that views inclusion as a danger rather than an opportunity, and seeks solace in the familiar out of dread of what the future may hold. You may either look back at the past or move on with your life.

This conflict is not one that Ms. Evangelista is tasked with resolving. The fact that she has brought up her experience with CoolSculpting in the context of the public discourse about being stuck in the past is a significant step forward. And without a doubt, she has always been an advocate for and a symbol of fashion’s artifice. When she was at the height of her career, she was famed for her hair colour changing all the time and for her willingness to do whatever it needed to get the photo. She is honouring her own hopes and points of view by acting in accordance with her Vogue shoot.

Imagine, however, the impact that would have been made if Vogue had featured someone on the cover of the most important issue of the year, flaws and all, and had framed those flaws not as flaws at all, but rather as simply part and parcel of a new kind of beauty that was worthy of being elevated and adorned in the most fabulous fashion. Magnificent in its present form.

Jonathan James
Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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