There’s been a longstanding debate on the difference between fashion modeling & beauty pageantry. Many argue it’s the same, but they couldn’t be any more wrong. Here’s my take on it.
Many pageant girls desire to be successful fashion models but very few would be. Fashion modeling requires a certain edge & skill that not many pageant girls possess. Though, some pageant girls do possess the ability to be great commercial models, posing for department store catalogs, advertising swimwear, appearing in commercials for beauty products & such like but rarely have what is required to do editorial/fashion runway modeling. And there’s nothing wrong with that because they have their own niche.
I’m sure you all may even notice a difference in the way pageant girls walk & they way fashion runway models walk. Pageant girls tend to have more sway & pizazz, for lack of better words, than fashion runway models do. Equipped with spins & twirls to dazzle the audience & judges. Partly because as a pageant girl the focus is on YOU, but as a fashion runway model the focus is on the clothing. Some fashion models do have a signature walk, but in recent times that practice has dwindled due to the end of the so-called ‘Supermodel Era’ (80s-90s) when pageant girls & supermodels had a very fine line between each other. This was a time where supermodels usually had a signature walk, usually smiled on the runways while displaying skillful spins & twirls to show off the clothing. Most importantly, they were not the stick figures we see today. They had curves & ‘meat on their bones’ as some would say. The demand on model size stipulations during the end of that era was what put an end to that. And as the demands from designers to hone their artistic integrity rose, all the spinning & twirling was also stopped. Designers have different styles & techniques & wanted to showcase that more on the runways by giving clear commands on how the model should walk (enter & exit), pose & even their overall mood on the runway. Clearly, the models are not in control, like pageant girls are, of themselves. Things have also changed as cultures & societies evolved over the decades.
Even the training in pageantry is different to that of fashion modeling. Contestants are taught to flirt & charm the audience in their favor. Some may say, much like the models of Victoria’s Secret (VS). VS seems to have crossed the aesthetics of the pageant girl & the fashion supermodel, but that is due to the sexual/flirtatious element to the product at hand. Their lingerie collection. A proven marketing success due to their over five BILLION dollars in sales each year. The VS Fashion Show is the one show where known fashion supermodels & the theatrics of pageantry are combined with the help of musical performances to create an extravaganza anticipated by millions each year. However, unless requested, a fashion model generally does not interact with the audience.
Now, femininity may be an asset in pageantry, but androgyny is welcomed in the fashion industry. Femininity can be a disadvantage in fashion editorial/fashion runway modeling. Pageants are mainly about the feminine beauty & glamour of the contestants. Though fashion editorial/fashion runway may have glamorous elements, the key focus is the details of the clothing; the theme, the fabrics, the cuts, the lines, the fit, the color palettes/patterns etc. In beauty pageants, contestants wear clothes that accent & make them look better. However, it is a fashion model’s job to make THE CLOTHES or WEARABLE ART(in cases of haute couture) look good & to convey whatever persona/look as requested by the designer/artist.
Another difference is physical criteria. In pageants, they usually look for the most perfect looking woman. The one whose feminine beauty is so commanding & poised that it stands apart from the rest of the pack. Fashion models do not have to be conventionally beautiful. In fact, sometimes it’s much better for their career if they are not. Clients are usually looking for the next fresh face. A unique face. A face that commands attention. Sometimes a bit weird looking, but one that photographs well. Taking into consideration the bone structure, angles of the face, the symmetry, the width of the eyes, the shape of the lips etc. Being a fashion model also has height restrictions, where pageantry does not.
Pageantry & fashion modeling may have their similarities but their differences have grown to outweigh those similarities since the turn of the 21st century. So don’t be left in dark. Pageantry & fashion modeling are two vastly different things.