Ireland is known for producing the creme de la creme. We have the ritual of producing monumental sportsmen and sportswomen down to a fine art; setting the standard high around the globe from football and hockey to tennis, boxing and athletics. Then there’s our fixation with food and drink: only an Irish man would contain that kind of precocity to take out a one-hundred-year-old lease on a brewery. Producing international models for major fashion houses, on the other hand, is something that we’re not entirely accustomed to. Naomi Campbell once tried to do the whole “I have Irish roots” thing, but I’ve yet to meet an Irish person with beautiful mocha skin or legs that are as elongated as hers. Where our tiny island lies on this gargantuan planet has a lot to say about how we look, and our genes have developed accordingly in response to our disappointing climate: freckles, fair skin, thick hair, often androgynous asymmetrical features etc.
Yet our tiny island is beginning to make waves in an industry that’s so foreign to us. The industry has for many years been a female-dominated ball-game. In fairness, it was a woman who was first recognised as a “supermodel” (Lisa Fonssagrives, later taken over by Janice Dickenson). Industry leaders today continue to be women; whose careers tend to span for decades, but there are marginally fewer male supermodels with as much career longevity as their female counterparts. Only last month did The New York Post publish a piece about the world’s first male supermodel – fifty-year-old John Pearson – thirty years after his career began.
This February Dylan Moran from Not Another Agency walk for Alexandre Wang at New York Fashion Week and has been invited to castings for Kenzo and Prada. And what about Aidan Walsh, the eighteen-year-old dance prodigy and model from Co. Clare who appeared on the front cover of Vogue Italia in October 2015. By namesake we can also claim the undisputedly beautiful Dudley O’Shaughnessy too; most known for playing Rihanna’s lover in her hit song ‘We found love’ in 2011. Born to a Saint Lucian father of Afro-Caribbean-Irish descent and an English mother, O’Shaughnessy struck lucky in the gene pool lotto.
Male supermodels earn a lot less too: according to Fortune Mag, in 2014 the highest paid female model was Gisele Bundchen who earned $47 million, while the highest paid male model Sean O’Pry earned a mere $1.5 million in comparison.
And then there’s Doutzen Kroes who earned a whopping $8 million, while the equally talented David Gandy earned a minor $1.4 million (minor in comparison to $8 million; not minor for us normal folk). Kate Moss racked up $7 million in 2014, while Arthur Kurkov tallied a total of $905,000. Alessandra Ambrosia who earned $5 million, and Ollie Edwards; $410,000. The list goes on but my point is that if the wires were crossed, every feminist and anti-misogynists group in the world would be raising hell. Gender equality ey? It’s worth noting however that female models are in higher demand, and there’s something less appealing about a male version of Victoria Secrets. In saying that, fashion is changing and menswear is closing in on womenswear in terms of popularity. Change is happening slowly, however, and even Tyra Banks has accepted the gender bias within the industry and has altered her hit television franchise ‘Americas Next Top Model‘ to include both sexes – 13 years later (better late than never, right?).
What filter is that?
The fashion market as a whole is in a constant state of flux. Advances in tech mean that everything is churned out at a larger and faster pace – including models. But this isn’t a new phenomenon; what is new, however, is the way fashion houses are casting the faces and bodies of their latest campaigns and get-ups. Fashion houses are using social media platforms to host global model searches; saving time and money, and opening up the industry to an entirely new market that would be otherwise unreachable. Marc Jacobs was the first designer to test the venture on Instagram in 2015, after launching a campaign to find the new face of his brand. Anyone who used the specific-generated hashtag – #CastMeMarc – was in with a chance of becoming the next ‘it’ girl or boy. Social media has proven to be an excellent platform for aspiring models to showcase their look to potential agents, as well as gain a reputable following to rival other competitors. If Instagram isn’t appealing you could just wait for a chance encounter like Italian model Alessio Pozzi (if you’re good-looking enough that is). The provocative Mediterranean was scouted while at a dentist appointment, and six weeks later was signed to Elite Models: one of the world’s most prestigious model agencies.
Girls, grab life by the balls
In light of there not being enough male supermodels, those who have achieved success have brought about positive change to the industry. In an environment that is dominated by skinny models, David Gandy’s muscular build was a more normal and healthier image to mimic for younger aspiring models. After winning a modelling competition in his mid-twenties Gandy was quickly scouted by Dolce & Gabbana. In 1991 Mark Wahlberg upheaved the Calvin Klein runway in his 1991. Halfway through his walk, Wahlberg’s poorly-secured jeans come loose revealing his Calvins underneath. What does he do? He struts and grabs his balls. His cheeky(!) stunt continues to be duplicated by both male and female models around the world.
Alas, lest we forget to pay homage to our own home-grown beauties who are dominating the Irish market at the minute including. Check out our gallery above to see some of our favourite Irish models at the minute.