Models of Influence: 50 Women Who Reset the Course of Fashion

Image of Models of Influence: 50 Women Who Reset the Course of Fashion
Release Date: 
January 31, 2015
Harper Design
Reviewed by: 

Models of Influence will provide the reader with a more than reasonable representation of those models who have influenced or have been major players in the world of fashion since the 1950s. Without question, Nigel Barker has struck upon so many who were and are as ubiquitous as you can imagine during their careers. For those who concern themselves with this facet of fashion, the book will prove to be both keepsake and directory.

What struck this reader were some somewhat glaring omissions. Granted, the menu of models can only be deemed a personal selection as some entrants seem rather questionable (Sophie Dahl, Tatjana Patitz) and then there are those who seemingly should been included and are left out (Pat Cleveland, Vendela, Karen Graham, Suzy Parker). These instances will not affect most readers unless deeply steeped in the history of fashion.

While on the subject of possible deficits, let’s talk about a very questionable photograph that is attributed to Naomi Sims but strikes a more than passing resemblance to Mounia, which is strange as the two women bear no resemblance other than race. While this might not be germane to the subject matter, it is also odd that both author and editor needed to invent vocabulary when discussing a model’s stature or rise to fame . . . iconize or iconicize. One would think there are far better words or expressions to describe the idea.

What is also quite interesting in this wonderfully photograph-laden volume is that while most of the photos are by some of the greats of 20th and 21st century photography, so many of the images are less than iconic or legendary. The older the model, the more iconic the image; the more contemporary the model the level of memory or interest is drastically lessened.

The take away is that the book more than lives up to its title, and Barker even offers ups some intriguing tidbits of information. On an entertainment and “dishy” level, Models of Influence will surely not disappoint—unless you are a deeply educated and informed fashion reader whose context might be broader than the ordinary fashion lover’s.