Carine Roitfeld’s been at the front of what’s shaping up to be a sort of fashion revolution. The former editor in chief of Vogue Paris has featured plus-size model Candice Huffine, reality star Big Ang (who posed in a bikini at 54 flaunting her size 36 J chest), and a then little known model named Kate Upton on the pages of CR Fashion Book. And with the magazine’s forthcoming sixth issue, it’s expanding the idea of fashion inclusiveness with model Kitty Hayes on the cover — wearing braces.
The 17-year-old, who recently signed with Ford models, is young, beautiful, and fresh-faced. Hayes’ exceptionally attractive looks and unblemished face caught the attention of both casting agents and fashion editors, but her silver braces make her relatable. Smiling wide and showing off her aqua orthodontics, the joy Hayes evokes displaying an imperfection, and what used to be an embarrassing accessory, sends a message to awkward teens everywhere to embrace themselves (because one of the most prolific people in fashion could pluck you for a cover story).
“Carine teased me by telling me that she had a surprise for me,” Hayes said in CR. “She told everyone else in the room that I was the cover girl, but she said it in French so that I didn’t understand! She then took me into the studio and told me. I was so shocked that I could hardly speak, I am so grateful to Carine and all of her team. This is so exciting for me!”
But it’s also exciting for the fashion industry as a whole. While it’s a dog-eat-dog world that has historically picked apart people’s bodies and held a certain unattainable standard on a pedestal, Roitfeld’s using her magazine to revolutionize what the industry calls beautiful. Nicola Formichetti, who is the creative director at Diesel, recently cast Chantelle Brown-Young, a model with vitiligo, in the company’s Spring campaign. “Classical models don’t represent our culture,” he said of the decision to feature her. “We believe in showing different types of bodies and beauty, celebrating uncommon and unconventional beauties.” Formichetti, who worked with Lady Gaga at the beginning of her career and heralded her unique sense of style and self that, explained that Diesel wanted to convey a message of inclusiveness and positivity. And that’s not all: Jamie Brewer, an actress with down syndrome walked in New York Fashion Week; Jillian Mercado, a model with muscular dystrophy, has starred in multiple fashion campaigns; and Andreja Pejic, who was once Andrej and had sexual reassignment surgery, made her debut in London Fashion Week are just a few examples.
Bringing relatable models into the fold decreases the negative connotations historically attached to fashion. Skinniness and traditional baby-faced beauty has been valued for years, but social media’s ability to make public opinion louder than ever has forced brands seems to pay attention to what everyone’s saying.
Most people—if any—could relate to traditional models, but now brands are casting role models. It’s good for business, but it’s even better for self-acceptance.