(Published on lipmag.com)
The fashion industry is bored with its own air-brushed perfectionism. Now, gap-toothed models are all the rage, moving away from traditional ideals of beauty to celebrate the authentic and quirky.
Open up a recent issue of Vogue, and you’re likely to see Georgia May Jagger, the full-lipped, goddess-haired daughter of Mick, flashing her gap-toothed smile. Or Jess Hart, Australia’s latest sweetheart, her gapped pearly-whites striking against her bronzed skin. Or the glamorous Lara Stone, declared by W magazine as the most-wanted face of the moment, proudly showing the imperfect smile that has somehow become the hottest thing around.
From advertisements, to fashion spreads, to runway shows, casting directors are going crazy over girls with a distinctive space between their two front teeth. High-end labels like Chanel, Marc Jacobs and Miu Miu have all embraced the trend, and runway shows are prominently flaunting models with unusual physical features.
Gapped teeth aren’t the only distinguishing characteristic currently in demand. This season’s runway shows have seen a significant influx of models with scars, tattoos, piercings and even albino colouring.
Strange? Perhaps. But some suggest that the trend towards embracing physical quirks is a backlash against unattainable beauty standards, and the fashion industry’s traditional obsession with perfection. It’s a move away from cookie-cutter beauty, changing the aesthetic of the modern woman to celebrate distinguishing features as unique and beautiful, rather than something that needs to be fixed or hidden.
As editor-in-chief of W magazine Stefano Tonchi says, “It’s a love of for the imperfect, and the authentic.” In a world that is becoming increasingly digitally enhanced, Tonchi suggests that young people are now valuing originality and authenticity more than ever. Seeing models with natural imperfections is refreshing, helping to broaden perceptions of what is beautiful.
When Jess Hart first started modelling, her gap would often be retouched, or she would be asked to wear a prosthetic insert to cover it. Now, it’s being increasingly recognised as something cute and quirky, and she refuses to cover it up for work. “If they don’t like my gap, I don’t want to work for them,” she says.
And for many younger models, having an unusual edge is helping to get them noticed, giving them a point of difference from all the other hopefuls. Just ask Lindsey Wixson– the sweet and pretty (and gap-toothed) 16-year-old is currently featured in an exhibition at Sotheby’s, with a series of photographs following her as she attended casting calls and prepared for runway shows last year.
While it’s easy to be cynical and say this is just another ridiculous standard of beauty set by the fashion industry, any trend that embraces the unusual and encourages women to be proud of what makes them different is surely a step in the right direction. And good news for the 95% of us who don’t quite look like Jennifer Hawkins…