By Jordan A. Harris
New York Fashion Week is over, and with its close comes a fresh perspective for defining personal style. There were innovative silhouettes, unexpected collaborations, and countless photos of Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of American Vogue, sitting front row at the most influential designers’ shows. This year, however, attention shifted from fashion to the models chosen to wear spring and summer’s must-have looks.
Before the styles start to trickle down runways and into retailers, The New York Times published an article on the trend this season of choosing models with unconventional beauty, as evidenced by casting sessions. The look is beautiful with a defining characteristic that marks that individual as complex and more importantly, rare. It’s the woman who has all of the makings of a supermodel, who then gives a reason to look at her for just one more second.
Jolie laide, the French expression for ugly-beautiful, is commonly used in describing well-known actresses and models who don’t fit the stereotypes of ideal female beauty. Often, they exhibit some level of androgyny. Although these models are typically favored among avant-garde designers, it’s clear they were in high demand at most shows this season.
Interestingly, The Times featured an article in October 2005 that mirrors a number of the observations made this season. In providing possible explanations for resistance to jolie laide, the author illustrates commercial images of beauty in America as, “blue eyes, small noses, pretty-pretty,” calling the reader to “think Texas.”
Although I thought everything was bigger in Texas, the description does match the more conventional depictions of an American “girl next door.” This leads one to question how people will respond to the shift toward augmenting flaws, especially because this season’s trend can’t be picked up at the local mall.
It appears the movement has already taken hold across the U.S., and the impact of reinventing oneself doesn’t end with an online makeup tutorial on creating English fashion model Cara Delevingne’s dark, full eyebrows. The cosmetic enhancement industry also responds to beauty trends, and plastic surgeons evolve to meet the changing needs of their patients. If Texas exemplifies conventional American beauty, what are its plastic surgery patients requesting from their surgeons?
Turns out, there are a number of requests that fit nicely into the small-nose stereotype, but there are also surgeons who seem to be advocating for a more advanced understanding of beauty.
One of these surgeons, Dr. Camille Cash, takes a less conventional approach to enhancing patients’ appearances at her cosmetic plastic surgery practice in Houston. As the only female African-American plastic surgeon in Texas to be certified by both the American Board of Surgery and The American Board of Plastic Surgery, she knows a thing or 2 about being unconventional.
Dr. Cash’s website emphasizes a dedication to personalizing treatments and creating natural-looking results. She is among a group of highly trained plastic surgeons who accentuate defining features, and she reflects a movement that extends much further than fashion week.
Good plastic surgeons enhance what The Times calls a person’s “quirks,” or characteristics that define individuality. Thinking outside the implant, however, requires a certain level of skill. Plastic surgeons who successfully enhance a person’s unique beauty and avoid creating a “worked on” appearance are highly trained and often have extensive experience.
Although you may be able to name the designer who created a person’s dress, you shouldn’t be able to name the plastic surgeon behind a person’s enhanced physical appearance. The days of an “ideal nose” are well behind us, and enhancing a person’s natural beauty, as opposed to recreating it, is trending.
American fashion designer Tom Ford, whose models this season “looked like they might manage Russian mines or own petroleum plants in Baku,” is open about his use of non-surgical cosmetic treatments, and he’s even drawn parallels between cosmetic surgeons and fashion designers.
Whether we’re talking doctors or designers, the cosmetic enhancement and fashion worlds certainly overlap, and this season they’re in agreement: Flaws are in.
Jordan Harris is a copywriter for an elective healthcare marketing firm. He specializes in emerging surgical and non-surgical cosmetic treatments.