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Waif Not : The modeling world is a fickle place. Waifs are out and glamour is in--again. Fashion writer Maureen Sajbel looks at the ever-shifting notion of what the ideal female form should be.

August 25, 1994

Wave goodby to waifs. Those irritatingly gaunt, vacant-looking models so popular last year have disappeared from this fall's batch of ads and editorials.

Their replacements? Two 16-year-olds who can look a decade older, a few healthy girls from next door, and a 5-foot-11, platinum-haired model nicknamed "the Cyber Princess."

"We're getting back toward the glamazon look of the '80s: bigger, taller, busty models. Still no hips," says Valerie Steele, professor at New York's Fashion Institute of Technology and author of "Fashion and Eroticism" (Oxford University Press, 1985). "It's a pendulum back. The difference between now and the '80s is that it's not as excessive. Not as much flesh. Not as much muscle.

"You're never going to see another Rachel Williams, that overly muscular look," agrees Eileen Ford, founder of Ford Modeling Inc. "This is a return to being natural and a return to looking good without looking weird."

What characterizes the post-waif look, says Preston Westenburg, Vogue magazine bookings editor, is accessibility.

"We're now pulling back from that extreme to something that's much more pretty and attainable without being overblown and super-sexy," Westenburg says. "Models like Kirsty Hume and Bridget Hall have it. Then there's Nadja Auermann. She has a very strong womanly image and she's incredible."


Berlin-born Nadja Auermann, 23, leads the pack of new, stronger, sexier, more glamorous models. Auermann scored both the coveted September covers of Vogue (a waist-up shot of her in a hot pink silk dress and yellow shearling) and Harper's Bazaar (a severe, feline, Newton-esque close-up.)

Her movie-star platinum locks, legs that go for a mile and exotic face have been called everything from Dietrich-esque to alien-like. Reportedly, Auermann is always on time, has perfect posture and behaves in a serious manner rarely seen in the immature, egocentric world of modeling. Other models, she complained to Vogue writer Katherine Betts, "take two-hour lunch breaks, never stop talking. I was like, 'I want to work.' "

And she does, appearing currently in high-profile ads for Valentino, Versace, and as one of three vamps in the black-and-white ads for Anne Klein.

Also dominating the post-waif scene are Bridget Hall and the single monikered Brandi, 16-year-olds who follow the old modeling dictum that says you should act grown up--even though you've barely passed puberty. Brandi has been a Chanel print model for the last year, while Bridget Hall's classical looks have recently netted her a six-figure contract with Ralph Lauren's Safari perfume campaign.

Charles Gandee noted in his less-than-flattering portrait of Hall for Vogue that the $10,000-a-day Texas model is a ninth-grade dropout who likes to eat chili from a can.

"I don't need girls who know which fork to use," says the straight-talking Westenburg. "We don't grow models in petri dishes. They come from all different backgrounds, all walks of life, all economic brackets." Hall, she says, sets a standard in approachable, pretty looks--exactly what the magazine is looking for now.

Harper's Bazaar recently anointed Scotland's 18-year-old Kirsty Hume "modeling's new star." Her long, wheat-blond hair, classic good looks and flawless skin captured famed fashion photographer Patrick Demarchelier's attention in Paris. "Right away I could see she had personality. I like the models with character," he says. Demarchelier's photo of Hume appeared on the July Bazaar cover, and since then she's done ads for everyone from Gucci and TSE Cashmere to the Gap.

Comparatively ancient at 22, Oregon-based model Debbie Deitering is CNN fashion maven Elsa Klensch's choice for rising star. Deitering, who made the leap from waif to post-waif, appears this fall in ads for Joan Vass, Ellen Tracy's new Company line and Anne Klein II.

"Deitering is determined to change as fashion does," Klensch rhapsodizes. "She's now glowing with health and happy that she's part of the new glamorous mood for models. The look is more feminine, with more makeup and shine. Models must be able to capture this new mood."


The modeling world's shifting taste is nothing new. FIT's Steele offers a thumbnail sketch of the Ping-Ponging changes in America's dream girl:

"In the '60s, while everyone talked about Twiggy, models like Jean Shrimpton were more typical--a girlish look, girlfriend of a rock star. You could see them being called chicks.

"The '70s started with a wider range of ethnic looks, with Beverly Johnson the first black woman on the cover of Vogue. By the late '70s, things had gotten back to the healthy blond: Christie Brinkley, Lauren Hutton, Lisa Taylor, Patti Hansen. Jerry Hall is very much a '70s model--blond, healthy, not soft. More Helmut Newton looking."

In the '80s, Steele says, Cindy Crawford, Paulina Porizkova and Naomi Campbell epitomized the big, ultra-glamorous look. The '90s began with odd looks that were its opposite--in the form of tiny Kate Moss, androgynous Kristin McMenamy and the waifs.

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