Made in Britain
By Anna Sopel
The closing ceremony of the London Olympic Games in 2012 was called a ‘Symphony of British Music’ and showcased the brilliance of British music from every rock, pop and hip hop sensation this tiny island of ours has produced. However there was also a segment dedicated to an equally important and influential aspect of British culture- fashion, and more specifically supermodels. As Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss led the fashion pack down the runway to the sounds of David Bowie’s ‘Fashion’, there was no denying that British models have been as important in British culture as have our musicians, actors, comedians and designers.
Obviously the Kate Moss’s and Naomi Campbell’s may not have contributed to British culture or history in the same way as say, Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton or William Shakespeare. But it would be foolish to underestimate the power of a pair of cheekbones and a supermodel strut. Think back to images of the swinging sixties and up there with (arguably the greatest British cultural export of all time) the Beatles, was a model by the name of Twiggy. Her waif, androgynous mod look became globally famous and an editorial of Vogue in 1967 described her as an “extravaganza that made the look of the 60’s.” Twiggy came to be the face of an era and showed that supermodels could be international pop-culture icons in their own right. Since then it is fair to say; no model has proven this to be true more than Kate Moss. Much like Twiggy was the face of the 60’s, Kate Moss was undoubtedly the face of the 1990’s and the ‘heroine chic’ movement. Although renowned for her high profile relationships, hard partying ways and a minor drugs scandal, she is also one of the most successful models to have ever lived. Having appeared on over 300 magazine covers since 1988, and 30 times on British Vogue alone, she is ranked no.2 on Forbes highest paid models. Naomi Campbell also secured her position in history as being the British representative of the ‘Supers’, no not a political convention, but the moniker given to THE four supermodels of the ‘90’s Claudia, Naomi, Linda and Christy. All of these women are as relevant today as they were in their heyday, but now they have the likes of Rosie Huntington Whitely, Jourdan Dunn and Lily Cole joining them, as well as probably the world’s most famous male model David Gandy.
Us Brits (yes, let’s include you and I in this- it’s a group effort) have a knack to producing supermodels who not only represent the biggest brands in the world, but in many respects become bigger than the brand. Flick through the pages of any fashion magazine and chances are you will come across the latest model icon of our generation, Cara ‘big brows’ Delevigne. Sure, these girls have breathtaking beauty on their side, but in order to become an icon of a generation it takes a lot more than just a pretty face. As the founding father of the Olympic Games Pierre de Coubertin said, “the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well”, our models have fought well.