By Noreen Flanagan
Aside from the fact that they won the genetic lottery, have you ever wondered why some models become hot properties, while others are relegated to the back row? Ashley Mears, a former model and sociologist from New York University, has studied the behavioural economics behind fashion show buzz to expose why pack mentality, rather than exceptional beauty, explains most supermodels’ meteoric ride. In a piece she wrote for 3QuarksDaily (an excellent read) Mears explores what she calls the “great sociological question”, which is… how did Canada’s Coco Rocha enter the business at 14 and rise to runway fame and fortune? In her piece, Mears describes the fashion modeling market that options models in order to create hype. “During castings, clients are likely to ask models, “Which shows are you optioned for,” thereby letting them know their competitors’ tastes. Modeling agents drum up buzz using options as selling points too, as in, “Russell Marsh [Prada’s casting director] just optioned Coco Rocha for Prada!” To most fashion designers’ ears, such words sound like warm honey; they greatly reduce the anxiety of having to sort Coco from 599 other striking teenagers…” Mears goes on to say that Coco’s success has less to do with her, than the fashion industry’s “habit of thinking collectively when faced to made decisions in the face of uncertainty.” So, if beauty is in the eye of what Mears describes as the “socially dominant beholder” we hope for Coco—one of our fave models—that her market value remains fashionably inflated.