Join Date: July 2005
Renaissance of the blonde
How fascinating (and unexpected) to see that the recession appears to be having a positive influence on the culture.
Previous posts have noted that both femininity
and the fuller-figured ideal
are making a comeback during the economic downturn.
A new article in The Times notes another favourable development -- the return of the golden-haired, fair-eyed look (which was associated with the fuller female figure in the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Victorian Era, and every other past century of Western cultural history).
Here are the choice excerpts:
Recession chic: why blondes are having more fun
May 6, 2009
Advertisers are moving away from ‘quirky’ models and fair-haired, blue-eyed girls are in great demand. Why?
There may be many consequences of the recession for the fashion world: much of the dross should be weeded out of our high streets, for example, and designers will probably have to push themselves to their creative limits in the fight to survive. But one wholly unexpected and rather mystifying development is the renaissance of the blonde.
You can’t fail to notice when flicking through the first 12 advertising campaigns of the May issue of American Vogue, that they feature nothing but platinum-haired, blue-eyed goddesses. It’s a similar story on the pages of Grazia, British Elle and French Vogue. In the past few months, model agencies such as Premier and Storm have observed a significant increase in requests for blonde hair-blue eyed (BHBE) models, something that they put down to a fragile economy and grim financial climate.
Advertisers, they claim, no longer want the quirky faces that have dominated the catwalks, billboards and weekly glossies in recent years. Instead, they’re searching for safe, wholesome-looking girls with flaxen manes who will reassure rather than shock the consumer.
“We have definitely experienced a larger than usual demand for the classic rather than the quirky,” says Carole White, founder of Premier Model Management. “In a recession clients won’t stick out their necks, they know what sells and they want to hire models with wideranging appeal. When every penny counts, they’re much more likely to opt for the formula that sells the best.”
...“If there’s one thing I’ve noticed as the cry of the model bookers’ table, it’s ‘we need more blondes’. That’s partly because it isn’t easy to find a fabulous-looking blonde, as you need someone quite classy looking”.
...Ultimately, blondes are a safer bet for clients who want to hedge their bets. Plus when we’re constantly surrounded by bad news, that blonde stereotype is zingy and upbeat.”
In mythology and fairytales BHBE characteristics are ascribed to heroines, while their enemies are dark and ugly. Blonde hair also has magic powers: strong enough to use as a rope ladder in Rapunzel and as a powerful aphrodisiac in Pelléas and Mélisande.
The traditional theory, according to Dr Lance Workman, an evolutionary psychologist at Bath Spa University, is that “men in the northern hemisphere were drawn to physical signs of youthfulness because women have a limited period of fertility. Fair or lighter coloured hair is one of these signs because hair darkens the older you become”.
Dr Abigael San, a chartered clinical psychologist, says: “Blonde hair and blue eyes are known for appealing to a lot of tastes, it’s a classically beautiful look. The association with blonde hair goes back to childhood: we associate these characteristics with forces of good, honesty and trust. We’ve recently been deceived by bankers and politicians, so the need to trust is even greater”.
...images of healthy bodies encourage us in turn to thrive. “We also live in a predominantly brunette society — so we are naturally drawn to this look, which is seemingly exotic.”
...it’s simply less risky to choose a more approachable or attainable woman. “Perhaps the image of a woman who is more curvy and facially engaging is what people find reassuring”.
It's humorous to hear the writer describe the opposite of the timeless ideal as "quirky." What that "quirky" look really should be called, frankly, is ugly. So the return of the fair (and fuller-figured) ideal is, truly, a return to genuine feminine beauty.
But I was fascinated that the article mentioned the significance of the fair ideal in fairy-tales and folklore. The writer makes a greater nod to Western cultural history than journalists often do, and she does so without a modern left-wing political bias. It's encouraging to see.
Also notable is the point in the article that "it isn’t easy to find a fabulous-looking blonde, as you need someone quite classy looking”. This is so true in the plus-size industry as well. There are quite a few blondes, but only a very few whose look is truly timeless, like Kelsey Olson, Charlotte Coyle, Chloe Agnew, Valerie Lefkowitz, Justine, Kailee (when she is in her blonde phase), and the loveliest of all, Shannon Marie.
I hope this means that models like Kelsey will be more visible in the near future.