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Issue No. 17 - Enigma

Miles Ladin: Supermodels at the End of Time at Station Independent Projects

Miles Ladin: Supermodels at the End of Time at Station Independent Projects

by Helena Calmfors

Station Independent Projects is presenting their second solo exhibition with photographer Miles Ladin. Supermodels at The End of Time consists of black and white photos of the legendary supermodels of the 90s accompanied by satirical captions by author Bret Easton Ellis.

Kate Moss at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Gala, NYC, 1995

Kate Moss at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Gala, NYC, 1995

The name of the exhibition truly captures the supermodel era. The 1990s modeling industry can be compared to the golden age of Hollywood, an era of such glamour that generation after generation looks back to it, but an era that is impossible to recreate. The models of the time turned to legends and just their first names, Kate, Naomi, Claudia and Christy, are enough to instantly bring their faces to mind. They are the Marilyn Monroes of modeling and together they have come to represent both their time and the end of the century. It is like one of Bret Easton Ellis’ captions read on a photo of Kate Moss “Even though we’ve never met she looks eerily familiar, as if we’ve known her forever”.

Gilles Dufour, Naomi Campbell, and Marc Jacobs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Gala, NYC, 1995  

Gilles Dufour, Naomi Campbell, and Marc Jacobs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Gala, NYC, 1995

 

On its own the photos portray these women with such an ease that it demonstrates the very unattainability of their lives that so many looked up to. But more importantly, together with the captions these photos scratch the surface of that very unattainable glamour and reveal pieces of reality: the hypocrisy of the industry, and thus of our society. The caption under a photo of Naomi Campbell reads, “You do fur ads and donate money to Greenpeace”. It also highlights a harsh world for women, a world run by contradictions and ideals that can’t be achieved. Under a photo of Helena Christensen one can read “I’m twenty-six. That’s a hundred and five in model years.” The ageism of the model industry reflects society’s demands on women and is certainly still as relevant today. Just like Marilyn, these personas represent another, more tragic, side to the glamour. Not necessarily for the female models themselves but for the society that praises them. With all its nostalgia, the exhibition ultimately raises the question of where we are today. How far have we come almost 20 years later when it comes to impossible ideals that bring harm to so many women? Not very far it seems.  

Jerry Hall backstage at the Vivienne Westwood fashion show, Paris, 1996

Jerry Hall backstage at the Vivienne Westwood fashion show, Paris, 1996

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