New York Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn is answering reader questions this week. Many aren't that exciting. A highly abbreviated example: "Q: Why do you write about clothes we can't afford all the time? A: Because no one wants to read about the Gap all day." Duh. Another: "Q: Is fashion art? A: Sometimes, slash you bore me." We just saved you two minutes of reading! But this question is entertaining:
Q. Could you maybe explain why the models are walking as if they have to go to the bathroom and why their facial expressions are furious? ... It's frightfully hard to pay attention to a garment when the model is tripping over her knees and wearing a "hate you" look.
— P.H.T., Michigan
Cathy explains that backstage designers have boards with instructions on how models should look — which can range from nonchalant and girly to tough and bossy — but some models like Jessica Stam don't seem to pay attention to those and do whatever they feel like on the runway. Also:
I don't know if this accounts for the angry looks, but we've seen waves of models from Eastern Europe and Russia in the past five years, and the complaint among editors is that they seem to have little or no personality. They're stick-figure automatons. Do I find them distracting? Not really, but I do mind that the constant turnover of new faces means that fewer and fewer models have a chance to get involved in the business and have long careers and thus build a connection with the audience.
So she went there. If we were to assess why models look so angry, we'd say it's because they have their faces poked at and their hair pulled all day in tiny rooms where they're expected to change in front of total strangers and dozens of photographers, some of them creepy. Not to mention the fact that walking down a runway in shoes today is sometimes as perilous as trying to ice skate with rollerblades. And then there's the whole matter of, uh, really low blood sugar.