Models as muse to a generation?

The current exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art examines the supposed ideal of the feminine physique from 1947-1997. Molly Young reviews the show for More Intelligent Life. The follow paragraphs caught my attention in particular:

    The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion, an exhibition organized by the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (and sponsored by Marc Jacobs), features photographs and works of haute couture dating from 1947 to 1997. The aim is to demonstrate the way “a truly stellar model can sum up the attitude of her time–becoming not only a muse to designers or photographers, but a muse to a generation,” explains Harold Koda, the institute’s head curator.

    As the curatorial notes put it, models are those “whose elegant poses and gestures” evoke the attitudes of the day. The show makes clear that this is partly something a model can control and partly something she is simply, ineffably, born with. In a sense, all top models are naturals.

Are such models (the article goes on to note how models in the 80s and 90s essentially became their own brands) actually muses to entire generations? Or even most of a generation?

That claim is a bit hard for me to stomach, although — like I’ve said already on the blog — I’ve never been attracted to any of the models which supposedly represent the attitudes of my lifetime. Is this just a difference in personal aesthetic, or is the claim that a “top model” represents a generation just a stretch?


Image from Wikipedia.


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: