Beyond the clothes and shoes and bags and ‘dos of the spring collections this past month, one thing became very, very evident — American models are having a moment.
This may not seem so novel, there has never been a shortage of American models, and ones who are household names at that. But since the birth of the modern modelling era in the 1970s, there has seldom been a large influx of American beauties snagging spots on the big runways and all the major editorials and ad campaigns.
The last time we saw this was roughly ten years ago in the early aughts when the” It girls” of the late ’90s and new American faces all seemed to thrive over a four year period.
Erin Wasson, Frankie and Missy Rayder, Bridget Hall, Maggie Rizer, James (now Jaime) King, Angela Lindvall, Carolyn Murphy, Amber Valletta, Guinevere van Seenus, Amanda Moore, Jessica Miller … just a few of the American beauties who could be seen in every magazine, fronting every campaign and on every runway.
What’s more, Wasson, Lindvall and both Rayders are still thriving. 36-year-old Frankie lent her picture perfect face to both the Alexander Wang and Givenchy shows this season, blending in seamlessly with models who were literally almost half her age. Wasson, 29, also popped up at Givenchy and Michael Kors and Missy, 33, turned out to support pal Giles Deacon and his eponymous line.
This is not to discredit American supers like Christy Turlington, Stephanie Seymour and Cindy Crawford, but these girls were more a part of an international crew that included Linda, Claudia, Naomi, Tatjana, Nadja, Helena and later on Kate. It must also be noted that these ladies, most now in their early forties, are also still scoring some very major, and some season’s every major, campaigns.
Cut to now and there is an almost endless rooster of established American girls like Heidi Mount, Arizona Muse, Sessilee Lopez, Jacquelyn Jablonski, Lindsey Wixson (a vet at 17), Britt Maren, Chanel Iman, Ruby and Lily Aldridge and Hilary Rhoda being joined by some very, very strong newcomers.
Arizona native Kelly Mittendorf, 17, managed to score perhaps the most amazing debut gig ever. While the all coveted Prada exclusive has always been the ultimate in the industry, Mittendorf decided to just skip over that and book the campaign for Fall 2011. Did we mention she had yet to walk a runway at that point?
Maria Bradley meanwhile scored an exclusive for a little line called Balenciaga this past season. That in addition to stopping by Versace (another exclusive), Alexander Wang (she opened), Tommy Hilfiger and Proenza Schouler. Not bad for a 17-year-old kid from Kansas.
And there is more national pride to be had in the form of 16-year-old wonders Josilyn Williams and Court (just “Court,” like Cher), 17-year-old free spirit and pink coiffed Charlotte Free and Long Island gal Allaire Heisig, another old soul at 17, who closed the fall Marc by Marc show, scored a spot at the Valentino couture show this past July and found herself in the pages of the September issue of Italian Vogue – without the aid of being the victor on a CW program. Not bad work if you can get it. And balance it with your high school schedule as well of course.
But we saved the best for last. Britain has Kate and Naomi, Canada Linda and Daria and Brazil Gisele and Raquel. At this point the two American names that come to mind for most are Christy and Cindy, stunning beauties both but 20 years removed from the height of their fame. Enter Karlie.
19-year-old Karlie Kloss has everything going for her. Debuting as a Calvin Klein exclusive at the very tender, and now outlawed, age of 15, Kloss has managed to somehow become more and more gorgeous with age. So gorgeous that it sometimes seems when flipping through the pages of industry bible Vogue that the the almighty Anna Wintour has forgotten there are in fact other models with editorial availability.
The problem is, no other model can do what Kloss can do. She can be the All-American girl at one second, a seductive sultress the next and even, despite her just having graduated from high school, the urban working woman to close things out. It would be easier to list a mood or persona this teen can’t nail down rather than run through how pitch perfect she is in absolutely everything she does.
Editorial not enough? Let’s take a look at her walk. Kloss has one of, if not the, best runway walks ever. A testament perhaps to her years of ballet, when Kloss catwalks in a designer’s wears stylists want to snag it, creative directors want to shoot it and, best of all, every woman, and no doubt some men, want to find a way to buy it in hopes they too might look like the leggy beauty. It’s no wonder Kloss tends to only hold two slots in most every runway show she does – open or close.
And there’s more! Have you ever seen an interview with Kloss? Modelling is an incredibly, incredibly difficult world, even more so for a girl of 15 to enter. Kloss however is the most pleasant, cordial and unpretentious girl in the business. A huge credit no doubt to her parents, but an even bigger credit to a girl who had booked campaigns for Christian Dior, Marc Jacobs, Chloe, Oscar de la Renta and a feature article, yes article, in Vogue before she turned 18. That is the kind of resume that allows one to play darts with a BlackBerry and their assistant’s head should they so desire.
Kloss, much like the original ppa seems to be well on her way to forming her own international posse as well, like her idol Christy, with pals Toni Garn, Frida Gustavsson and best bud Jourdan Dunn filling out the crew. What’s more, her debut on another coveted catwalk seems almost guaranteed later this year as, now no longer a minor, Kloss will surely be tossing on a pair of wings for a certain lingerie company that another pal, Iman, joined last year.
So keep an eye on all the American gals kids, and Kloss specifically. The girl managed to move beyond even fashion mags this September when Life made her one of just a handful of models to have ever graced their cover, joining the ranks of the iconic Veruschka, Suzy Parker and Naomi Sims.
So all that is missing now is her music video debut. Think George Michael is up for a “Freedom ’11?”