Should magazines use fatter models?
David Ibison and Fionnuala McHugh
NO I was flicking through a magazine the other day when I came upon a picture of a refugee - barely any clothes, soup-bowl hips, wee ribs poking desperately through her flesh, a sneer of suffering. Naturally, she was a highly paid model and the money spent on the bikini she was almost wearing would have fed her and 14 villages in Bangladesh for a month. Let me tell you, darlings, she looked dreadful. But you know something? It was great. It's good to be reminded that despite the mysterious deification of Kate and Jodie, skinny is not always absolutely fabulous.
On the other hand . . . Last month, BritishVogue had a spat with one of its advertisers who decided to pull out of the publication because it featured too many anorexic models. This dispute went on for, oh, about a day, garnered lots of publicity and everyone (not least the advertiser who is back in the magazine) was tremendously happy. Now I hear that Vogue is looking for fatter models: 'women with lovely curves, big buttocks and double chins'. Which makes me think, whoa, let's just hang on a minute.
When I look at interior design magazines, it's not because I want to peer into Mr and Mrs Deeply-Ordinary's apartment with its ashtrays full of last week's fags, mouldy sofas and that hideous fluorescent strip in the bedroom. I want to see beautiful rooms, full of desirable objects and soft lights - something that I can aspire to, not something I have. And it's exactly the same with fashion magazines. I didn't get a chance to chat up Prince Albert of Monaco when he was here a couple of weeks ago, dammit, so my chances of ever having a couture gown are negligible but, hey, a girl can dream. And when I dream of wearing Lacroix or Chanel, my accessories are not a huge behind and a multi-storied jaw.
Leaving aside the knobbly Kate, it's usually a pleasure to look at high-gloss models in divine clothes. Slender female bodies are the pegs on which designers hang their creations because they look terrific. Who would you rather see in Givenchy - Audrey or Roseanne? I don't know a single woman who aspires to a double chin or who would be delighted to see one wobbling at her in an expensive magazine. Do you? 'If I want to see that sort of sight,' as a friend observed to me last week, 'all I have to do is look in the bedroom mirror.' Fantasy is what fashion is about. Sometimes it goes too far and you get wispy androgynes running round in their knickers advertising scent and everyone shrieks in proper dismay. But when it's right, it's wonderful. There's a 1950s picture in this month's Vogue of a model in Chanel. She's got laser cheekbones and a waist the size of a bedpost, and both she and the suit look completely and utterly gorgeous.