Flawed or fabulous? Models smashing fashion stereotypes
There’s a quiet and concerted revolution underway and its happening in the world of fashion. Conventions are being turned upside down and beauty is no longer the “slinky blonde” stereotype; it’s diversity at its best. Men and women brave enough to transform physical flaws into eye-popping attractions are hitting the runways in Paris, London and New York. Here are four top models who are bucking the trend and banking more money than all the payouts of all the Vegas online games in cyberspace:
Tall, bald and partially blind Melanie Gaydos is the poster girl for next-generation fashion. She is so atypical of the mainstream that she’s set her own benchmark of what it means to be beautiful. The young art designer from Connecticut has shrugged off the physical defects of the rare genetic condition that defines her – ectodermal dysplasia – and carved a successful ramp and photographic modelling career for herself in one of the most unforgiving fashion capitals of the world – New York.
Her distinctive facial features are textbook “abnormalities” of the hereditary condition that only affects approximately 7,000 people in the world. But the noticeable protuberance of the frontal skull bones, complete lack of teeth and more pronounced chin have not stopped Gaydos from reaching her dreams. Although she started modelling for the sheer fun of it Melanie has become an icon of “the different people” who are shaking up the fashion industry.
Melanie Gaydos may not be the conventional “pin-up girl” but she’s appeared on dozens of covers, walked the runway at the New York Fashion Week and been featured in multiple music videos. She’s the epitome of personal triumph over adversity and the enduring gift to herself is soaring self-confidence and a deeper love of herself exactly as she is. Flawed? Maybe… but she’s brave, bold and seriously fabulous too.
Ralph Souffrant is a hunk. His coffee-coloured skin, beautifully toned body and short ginger hair make him the perfect centrefold for top fashion magazines like Vogue Homme and Vanity Fair. What differentiates the charismatic young Haitian-born New Yorker is the “rash” of dark freckles that populate every inch of his face and body.
In his younger days, Souffrant was teased for being a freckly geek. Now he looks like a stealthy apex predator – a leopard or jaguar – with rippling muscles and a sleek skin covered in dark rosettes. Despite the fact that he has a dermatological condition similar to vitiligo, where the skin loses pigmentation in patches, the student and fitness fanatic started turning heads from the age of 13.
Today Souffrant has a dazzling modelling career. His big break was at the Yeezy Fashion Show where he was signed up by a major New York modelling agency. In addition to posing for Adidas, Calvin Klein and Diesel the decidedly different young man has worked with luminaries like Kanye West. Is Souffrant flawed? Quite to the contrary… we think he’s absolutely fabulous!
Moffy Gathorne Hardy is a young olive-skinned beauty who is redefining what it means to be gorgeous with a capital “G”. The London-born student has all the conventional attributes of a model. She’s tall, slender and has soulful green eyes and radiant flawless skin. She also has strabismus, an ophthalmological condition that’s more commonly known as “cross-eyed”.
Interestingly enough it is exactly this small imperfection that first set Hardy down the road of fame and fortune. A photographer friend who was looking for “asymmetry as a spectacle” asked her to pose for him without make-up and in nothing more than an England football shirt and a pair of corduroy jeans.
It was this fresh-faced look that captured the attention of the powers that be at cult magazine Pop. She was prominently featured on the cover of the magazine and almost instantly snapped up by Storm Models, the very same London modelling agency that discovered the likes of Kate Moss, Cara Delevingne and Eva Herzigova. Brunette Moffy may have slightly unconventional good looks but that hasn’t prevented her for challenging the norms in the fashion industry. She’s near flawless and fabulous.
Rick Genest refers to himself as the “Illustrated Man” but to the rest of the world he is a hyper-tattooed living skeleton. The tall rangy Quebecoise has defined his anti-establishment lifestyle by adorning his face, skull and torso with thematic representations of a body in decomposition.
To some, Genest may have pushed the boundaries of what’s acceptable too far but to millions of followers he’s a walking living representation of art – and that’s exactly what propelled him to stardom. First discovered by a fashion director to Lady Gaga, Genest has gone on to become a global icon.
He’s appeared alongside the Lady herself in one of her music videos, headlined the Thierry Mugler men’s collection and featured in Vogue, GQ Style and Vanity Fair. At the height of his fame, he was even the inspiration for a limited-edition character figure called Zombie Boy that was launched at ComicCon and sold out within weeks.
The man with the bodysuit of tattoos is due to become immortalised by a 3.5-metre sculpture that’ll soon become a permanent fixture in London. Genest has successfully challenged what it means to be beautiful and for that we he’s fabulous: with or without the ink.
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Photo: Ambra Vernuccio