What makes Lara Stone one of the “most beautiful women in the world” (and why the rest of us aren’t)

Lara Stone courtesy of LOVE magazine and Fashionista.comLara Stone is just one of 12 “gorgeous” women who appear naked in the 2012 calendar for Italian tire-maker Pirelli  Yet the 28-year old Calvin Klein model admits that she doesn’t like “most” of her body….

Just like the rest of us perhaps??  Even though she’s got an extremely lucrative modeling contract, appears in magazines all over the world, and, well, certainly isn’t built like the rest of us….

Now, I won’t go so far as to say that I “hate” someone like Stone.  I really don’t.  Why hate someone for what they were born with? That’s stupid.  And yes, she’s human like the rest of us, which means she gets bloated, catches a cold, and the like.  Most of us would look at her and figure that out all on our own, so the little tid-bits about how she feels about her body don’t necessarily work to humanize her…

Because in many ways, she is Not Us.

What is it, then, that makes her so “beautiful.”  Consulting wikipedia, I found that Lara is 5 ft. 10 inches tall, wears a 32D bra, wears a size 4 dress and size 7 shoe. …

Now, I did wonder what kind of size 4, as  sizes vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.  I also wonder if she’s a size 7 narrow shoe.   Whether her shoes are a narrow width or not would tell us one major difference between her and the rest of us:  small bones (or, frame.)  A small frame does not necessarily mean the person will be short.  Rather, it could mean that he or she could be very tall and what we’d call “lanky.”

Which, let’s face it, ain’t a whole lot of us mere plebeians……

More than likely, Lara, like many models, are part of an elite group of women whose height is more Amazonian than Average.   Over the years, the heights of models and ideals of beauty have changed.  The 1950’s gave birth to the first

Revlon "Fire & Ice" ad, 1952. (courtesy of Flickr)

supermodels (regardless of what Janice Dickinson says) with sisters Dorian Leigh and Suzy Parker.  Leigh stood only 5 ft. 5 inches in her iconic ad for Revlon’s “Fire and Ice” lipstick and nail polish, which launched a revolution in red lipstick.  The photo was taken by Richard Avedon, who would go on to become one of the greats of fashion photography….

Although Leigh’s sister, Suzy Parker, was 5 ft. 10. , a certain kind of beauty could make it being a “short” model.  Leigh was also in her 30’s when this photo was taken…

A couple of months back, I read something about some famous deceased fashion icon of another era, who, as a young woman was told by her lover that women didn’t reach sophistication until they were in their 30’s.

That doesn’t seem to be the case today, when everyone over 30 seems to be trying to look like they’re 20-something….

But I digress…

I imagine that it’s easier to show clothing on a woman who’s very tall, with smaller bones.  Or is it that, perhaps a woman with these proportions represents a certain ideal of Western Beauty?  Perhaps we can find a clue if we look at art history.  Some of the most beautiful figures in art, and that have left the most lasting impressions, are those from the Mannerism, a 20th century term coined for a movement in Late Renaissance art.  Some of the characteristics of  Mannerist paintings include figures with “abnormally elongated limbs…and and bizarre themes that combined Classicism, Christianity and mythology.”

Courtesy of the Heilbrunn TImeline of Art History, Metropolitan Museum of Art website

Hmmm….knowing art history, I’d say I could be on to something with this hypothesis…. here’s Bacchicca’s “Leda and the Swan” for comparison.

So, I think it’s fair to say that underneath our current fashion industry’s desire for super-tall models lies an artistic ideal of figure that dates back to the 16th century of Western Civilization…..

No wonder different body types are missing from the world of fashion.  Perhaps it’s that fashion, in some respects, sees itself as a form of art, and that it chooses to show its creations on bodies that are considered ideals of Western beauty.

Does that, then, make the rest of us less than beautiful and models the only truly beautiful women because they represent some fantasy ideal?  No, not at all.  Most of us–and most men–don’t live in a fantasy world of Mannerist art figures, not to mention that they’re not going to be creating clothing. Most of us live in a world more like that of a Revlon ad from the 1950’s.  Not to mention that a lot of us can find ways of looking sophisticated, even among the cacophany of crappy fashion that’s out there today….

However, it would be nice if, even in perhaps only ready-to-wear collections, that designers started to include different ages and body types.  I can understand the need to keep costs corralled for couture work, but there’s some leeway in RTW.  This *may–and I’m wildly speculating here–give all women a better idea of how a particular designer’s clothing would work on different body types, thus making their designs more desirable to a wider customer base.  This could be a boon in bad economic times…..

Just a thought….