The women leading the charge against ‘cookie-cutter’ beauty standards


By Stephanie Darling

“I always find beauty in things that are odd and imperfect – they are much more interesting” these word come from designer Marc Jacobs, the man who counts Sofia Coppolla among his dearest friends and muses.

When I met up with another beauty titan, Annie Ford Danielson, Benefit’s Global Beauty Authority, to ask her what would be rating on the beauty radar in 2018 she referenced Jacobs. “A lot of models and brand representatives in the US are being chosen based on really unique characteristics,” Danielson said.

“There is a whole new wave of imperfections being [seen as] the new perfect. Marc Jacobs just did it in his advertising campaign. Whatever you see in high fashion always has a trickle down effect.”

Model of the moment Adwoa Aboah is the new face of Marc Jacobs Beauty. She runs a female-empowered website called Gurls Talk and is contributing editor to British Vogue. Having worked with Jacobs a great deal, she recently has modelled Jacobs’s latest lip product (a crayon and liquid lipstick combination) with her distinctive brow-less look and a gold tooth nugget.

Frances Bean Cobain is also another Jacobs’ favourite, “I first met Frances Bean when she was two years old at a dinner with her mum, [Courtney] and Anna Sui.

“I have always wanted to work with Frances. Her beauty, uniqueness, and strength is something I have long admired and respected., Jacobs wrote on Instagram last year. She fronted his fashion campaign in 2017 featuring a famous billboard that Cobain then got to deface.

“There is a strong backlash against trying to transform yourself into something that you are not” says Danielson, who add that there has been a shift from the “totally done face”

“It’s different now. It’s shifted from everyone wanting to look like a Kardashian. People are wanting to show up their unique imperfections.”

The fascination with unique beauty is not new. Lara Stone as the face for Tom Ford Beauty in 2011 was a departure from the familiar cookie cutter beauty. Her strong cheekbones, protruding brow and gappy teeth were a breath of fresh air.

Nina Porter, with her gamine hair and pixie features; Daphne Groeneveld, Lindsey Wixson (with her insane bee stung lips and gap front teeth) who retired at 23 after a foot injury, Gemma Ward with her wide set eyes, Issa Lish and Esmeralda Seay-Reynolds, Liza Ostanina’s with her crooked nose and giant blue eyes and Saskia de Brauw.

Then there is Molly Bair with her preying mantis (in the most compelling way) features. She first walked the runway in Proenza Schouler’s Spring 2015 show and has gone on to appear for Chanel couture and been photographed by Steven Klein, Fabien Baron and Steven Meisel. According to Dazed’s fashion director Robbie Spencer Blair’s looks have heralded a refreshing shift in beauty.

“For me, Molly Bair best represents modern beauty now,” says Spencer. “She is such a non-traditional model but has a very modern look, captivating and beautiful. She represents something unexpected, a new way of looking at beauty.”

“In the same way Twiggy’s look shocked in the ’60s, Molly gives the same kind of wake-up call, breaking away from the classic ideals of beauty and instead embracing something different.”

But the final word goes to Natalie Westling who is in campaigns for Miu Miu and Saint Laurent and was nominated “Face of a Generation” by i-D. “Looking different somehow makes you feel less lost in a business that can so easily swallow you up if you don’t have a real sense of who you are.”



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