Dorian Leigh: The First SuperModel For New Fashion Industry Standards

31 Jan

{Dorian Leigh: The First SuperModel For New Fashion Industry Standards} “Dorian Leigh conveyed not only what women were, but who they wanted to become,” wrote Stephen Fried in Town & Country’s latest issue. 

My framed Richard Avedon print of Dorian Leigh, 33, in Paris, August 1949. Such necklines would never appear in couture fashion photography today.

Dorian Leigh inspires … the January 2011 issue of Town & Country highlighted just how much she inspired the fashion industry as its first supermodel. But as a modern woman wading further, and deeper, into the tumultuous sea of fashion, I take great inspiration from the real woman she allowed herself to be in her most famed images.

Dorian Leigh, Cuba in 1954. Here at 37, she shows a softness of flesh at the high-waist band of her cover-up -- Something today's fashion photos lack.

Granted this is before the advent of the “awe-inspiring” creation of photo-altering programs  and illustration applications which can shave dress sizes and years off a model.

However, society and the industry itself apparently didn’t take issue with Leigh showing real laugh lines, or a little bit of flesh in a hunched and bent pose (which is only natural no matter how few inches your waist measures).

Leigh, herself, didn’t ascend the ranks of supermodel’dom until after she had already had two children and was in her early 30s … In comparison, as a mother of one in the 21st century, yours truly, as a 30-year-old can’t get an agency to look twice — even if my “stage age” is 23.

At 30 in this image, Leigh sports a natural smile with laugh lines. (Featured in Town & Country, Jan. 2011)

The sad thing is that real models like Leigh hardly exist at all, and real women like myself who are athletic, trim and thin, are actually considered “fat” and “heavy” by the industry … And, if I — measuring 35-26.5-37″ and standing 5’10”  — am considered plump, then what alternative does a photogenic girl have for getting into the business then the dire actions which Isabelle Caro took?

Caro rocked international headlines during Milan Fashion Week 2007 when her “No to Anorexia” campaign, endorsed by the Italian Ministry of Health, revealed her naked body in a deeply emaciated state — reportedly weighing 70-pounds at the time of the photo.

Her death has recently made headlines again, as complications from the disease caused the 28-year-old and 5’4″ model-actress to be hospitalized for two weeks prior to her November 17, 2010. The news of her death has just now been released.

Like many, Caro succumbed to the pressures of the industry and withered away — doing so right before the eyes of agencies and photographers. No one noticed that Caro was too thin, because “they were so used to using skinny people,” she said in an interview on Jessica Simpson’s “The Price of Beauty.”

“I thought this could be a chance to use my suffering to get a message across, and finally put an image on what thinness represents and the danger it leads to–which is death.” 
— Isabelle Caro, 1982-2010

French model-actress Isabelle Caro poses in the "No to Anorexia" campaign shown on billboards in Milan during Fashion Week 2007.

Although Caro fought the disease, bringing her body weight up to more than 92 pounds, her struggle was constant, similar to my college roommate’s. As a freshman, my roommate was a recovering anorexic, and an occassional “binge-bulimic.”

I watched first-hand her daily battle between eating, dressing and retaining normal body weight. I also learned of the intense struggle an eating disorder can cause in a person’s life — throughout their entire life — where, just like a recovering alcoholic, triggers and relapses can be an ever-present peril.

Moreover, I became aware of the large numbers of women who face this set of diseases. And, I have become keenly sensitive to my own body image — especially, the negative thoughts that flit about my head.

Admittedly, this blog has really put my body-consciousness to the test … Looking at images will leave me critical of the seemingly wide diameter of my legs or arms.

Discuss this weighty topic over on the Facebook page of Thrifty Vintage Chic.

But my little ego can certainly stand alone in being real and honest in who I am. This is why you will often see images of me without makeup, or glistening with evidence of the summer heat. Oh, it is so tempting to want to Photoshop out the blemishes and elongate the lines … but, this site stands for authenticity.

A real woman, living a real life, and who is going about her everyday routine when she happens to meet-up with her photographer to document this real-life style.

I hope you can support and appreciate not seeing fashion images that are doctored and manufactured until perfection. Seeing iconic greats like Dorian Leigh, further solidifies my stance for “realness” as I aspire to be transparently authentic.

And, in the process, I hope that this little corner of the style world will be an effective barimeter for the industry to hear what consumers of fashion don’t want to see anymore — fake bodies and ultra-thin bodies.

A couple facts about Dorian Leigh … her modeling agency spurred the origins of Ford Models … she was the inspiration behind the character Holly Golightly in Breakfast At Tiffany’s.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: