Is there really any question that big models with big personalities are back?
For a while there, after the turn of the millennium, it seemed that any sign of personal expression had gone entirely out of fashion among the young women who walked the runways. But now hardly a show goes by that doesn’t encourage the audience to pay as much attention to the girls as the clothes, and that is largely the result of efforts in recent years to celebrate diversity in the industry whenever possible. Suddenly, it’s safe to love models again.
Perhaps the most obvious example of this change of attitude comes from Brandon Maxwell, the young star of the New York collections who cast his February show with a breathtaking lineup of confident women, including faces both fresh and familiar—Maria Borges, Karlie Kloss, Riley Montana, Shanelle Nyasiase, Joan Smalls, and many more.
Wherever you looked during the fall collections, which not incidentally celebrated the style and spirit of the 1980s, there were wonderful appearances by supermodels of seasons past, best exemplified by Natalia Vodianova, Raquel Zimmermann, and a sultry Imaan Hammam tearing up the runway at Versace. Irina Shayk didn’t disappoint at Bottega Veneta either, and Cara Delevingne charmed at Burberry, wearing a rainbow-striped faux fur as part of an LGBTQ+ tribute by departing chief creative officer Christopher Bailey.
There were weird moments too, such as when Russian model Unia Pakhomova opened the Gucci show, carrying a replica of her own head. And there were sweet moments as well: when models in the Sonia Rykiel show laughed and danced in honor of the house’s 50th anniversary, and when Gigi Hadid led the Tod’s show while clutching an outrageously adorable puppy.
“Wasn’t it a beautiful show?” asked Bella Hadid the next day. “There were all these puppies backstage, and it was just the cutest thing.”
Also cute? The fact that designers are citing models as muses and aligning themselves with those who share their values. Here, they identify their latest model crushes.
For more stories like this, pick up the May issue of InStyle, available on newsstands, on Amazon, and for digital download now.