Friday, 12 March 2010

American models as virtual imports?

"Rimmel Recruits American Models To Increase Brand Exposure", writes Sara Zucker on brandchannel today. This causes Fashionista to think a couple of thoughts.

First, the use of national labels conjures up many different responses in the human mind, particularly with regard to fashion and models. "French", "Italian", "Russian", "Swedish" spark off mental associations which evoke a variety of stereotypes: complexion, hair colour, body mass, style and even social activities. This doesn't work for "American", since the mix-and-match multi-ethnic culture has done so much to break down those stereotypes. The three models recruited by Rimmel London are a case in point. Zooey Deschanel (of Irish-French descent), Solange Knowles (African-American/Creole) and Alejandra Ramos Munoz (Puerto Rico) – are helping the brand to break that trend.

There's a second aspect to the breaking down of tribal barriers, this time along national and economic lines rather than in terms of ethnicity. Fashionista remembers being told about a dim-and-distant past in which one was supposed to hire locals, only turning to foreign staff when there were no suitable locals to do the job. This caused particular problems in some sectors (the acting profession being the most high-profile) and still does for professional footballers today, where even the richest and most successful clubs have go to through a series of hoops before being able to import some highly talented sportsmen.

In the fashion sector, this should never need to be a problem again: Zooey, Solange and Alejandra can become the best-known faces of fashion in the United Kingdom without ever planting stiletto tracks across the Heathrow runway, so long as the internet works, their names and likenesses are duly protected by trade mark and copyright. Sara Zucker reports Coty CEO Bernt Beetz as saying
"Zooey, Solange and Alejandra each bring a distinct look and personality to Rimmel London, expanding the brand's visibility and strengthening Coty's global colour platform".
She adds:
"Each model will plug an individual collection through television and print placement. The brand, however, may want to have the women also join its social media efforts; currently Rimmel's Twitter account, geared toward American consumers, could use more followers".
Nothing is said about bringing the Rimmel Three over to the UK in person, which is a shame because Fashionista has some simply lovely people she'd like them to meet ...