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Monday, June 25, 2018

Supermodels and Superstars

At 43,Mehr Jessia’s magazine cover act takes fashion back to the fashion world.

Written by Namrata Zakaria | Published: January 25, 2012 12:11:41 am

Once each year,our fashion magazines dedicate an issue titled ‘The Age Issue’ or ‘The Shape Issue’ to prove how politically correct they are besides being in tune with the minds of ‘real women’. I don’t challenge their tokenism often,especially when one agrees that the very moot of fashion is to create desire,an aspiration.

But a head-turner this January is Vogue India’s simply brilliant cover. It has on it Mehr Jessia,India’s last and arguably only ‘supermodel’,looking so fine. She’s dressed like a Christian bride,in a white gauze and lace corset dress by Marchesa. Her hair flies from the wind of the studio fan. She appears to wear no makeup or jewellery. And she looks every bit the supermodel even today.

Although some of our magazines have been around for a decade,fashion and luxury is still nascent in India. Our global fixation with celebrities,that started with Vanity Fair and their Diana covers,have pushed models out of the limelight. Where they were once toasted as touch-me-not stars,celebrated for their attitude and elevated lifestyles,models are mere catwalkers these days. If they want to be in the news,models today need to either join the movies,take part in a reality show,or sometimes,tragically,end their lives.

A few years ago,almost every international magazine would have Angelina Jolie on their covers. The tabloids would cook up stories about her,just to have her mug on their top page. There she would be,helplessly sexy,with one or two of her multi-racial brood around,being the earth mother she was heralded as.

This year,Indian magazines can’t have enough of Katrina ‘Superstar’ Kaif and Sonam ‘Super-fashionable’ Kapoor. There are barely any,if at all,professional models on their fronts.

But do celebrities push a magazine’s sales any more than a model does? Nope,say most editors. Vogue Italia’s editor wrote recently that putting Madonna or Eva Mendes on their covers didn’t change their numbers much. And an Indian glossy editor confides that each time they have Deepika Padukone on their front,the sales actually dip.

Several studies have proved that consumers aren’t swayed by celebrity covers,magazines believe it better to put on a face that’s recognizable. In India,nothing sells like Bollywood,but we as a nation are still not buying a product just because Katrina Kaif or Kareena Kapoor are pushing it. What it does is put the product in the campaign or the magazine in an elite bracket. They can proudly state that they’ve had so-and-so model for us.

Sports stars are the new uber models these days. Whether it’s Rafael Nadal selling Emporio Armani underwear,Cristiano Ronaldo and Didier Drogba on a VF cover or MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli on men’s zines covers,our obsession with celebrities remains unfettered.

But magazines have induced a celebrity fatigue. How much more do you want to know about Kareena Kapoor’s love life? Is this beginning of a magazine cover backlash the end of the celebrity moment?

Which is why the taut and beautiful Mehr Jessia,43,homemaker,mother-of-two,fashion choreographer and former model,will always be an icon. Movie stars can come and go,but the model muse shall remain.

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