Aliens in Pretty Dresses, Part 3

I would have been perfectly happy not to do another blog entry under the heading above, but then a friend sent me a preview spread of J. Crew’s Spring 2010 catalog that is causing some distress in the blogosphere:

Of course, the J. Crew crew are not particularly unusual now. They are models who are either perhaps 14 with make-up or who have used starvation, arresting hormones and other tools to make themselves continue to have the body shape of a 14-year-old girl, giving them that distinct stick alien look. All I can hope is that these women have indeed been airbrushed, that some art director or photographer decided that it would help if their legs looked like that, rather than that their legs actually look like that, in which case I certainly hope that they had I.V. drips at the photo shoots on stand-by.

Perhaps what we are actually witnessing is a type of model war in the fashion world. Underwear and swimsuit modeling continues to be a very big deal, seeing how it has a soft porn appeal for guys, and those models, while still quite skinny and tall, have to have more curves in the hips and breasts. So we have two groups — the ones who do Victoria’s Secret ads and the ones who do the clothes as concentration camp refugees. In the past eras of supermodels, the supermodels were the swimsuit ones, and even a model like Iman, with her bone-thin, lanky Somalian heritage, had actual thighs. And these supermodels also did the fashion and the womens’ magazine covers. But now, seriously, it’s gone beyond even Kate Moss’ heroine chic, and certainly beyond Twiggy’s leggy willowyness. We are down to the aliens and bikini bottoms.

So in the past, we had this:

And this:

And this:

And now, we have this:

And this:

But we also still have some of this:

Which is a tad better on the human side, if not exactly on a women are not just sex objects side. It’s at least visually appealing — hey, I’ll admit that. So why has it been put largely off to the side, for lingerie and Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit fest? Maybe it really is a matter of aliens.



Filed under Life, Women

3 responses to “Aliens in Pretty Dresses, Part 3

  1. Because the audience for J Crew is not reading Sports Illustrated?

  2. Yes, but it does raise questions about the people who are putting together the catalog and what they think the audience for it wants. I mean, the Victoria’s Secrets model, I might go ahead and buy that (probably not in yellow,) but does it make the J. Crew clothes that attractive if you’re more focused on the model’s clavicle?

  3. I don’t think the art directors/marketing directors for J Crew know any better than anybody else in similar positions (be it for books, music, clothes, or anything else subject to trends) what works or why. If somebody else seems to be successful with something, they’ll copy it. If sales still don’t pick up, they’ll experiment. Maybe it will work, or maybe it will cause an uproar. But uproar is better than no reaction at all. When dealing with national-level volumes, a controversial approach will at least garner some sales (there are people who respond to anything, no matter how outlandish).

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