Yesterday, I covered Kate Upton’s introduction to the big league – she garnered the cover of this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, which will likely be her biggest calling card for years to come. While I was doing five minutes of research on her, I grew to like her a little bit. She’s only 19 years old, she’s cute, she’s blonde and she has big boobs. She’s not trying to be “deep” or “high fashion” and she’s not trying to convince us she’s something she’s not. It is what it is. Anyway, I was shocked to see that Kate has haters. The day her SI cover was revealed, the New York Times had a judgy piece full of bitchy quotes, all about how Kate isn’t all that and a bag of chips. For the love of God! You can read the full piece here, and here are some highlights:
There was a time, not long ago, when the surest path to modeling stardom was down the runway of a top designer’s show, when it would have been unthinkable to find among the industry’s top ranks a swimsuit girl whose main claims to fame were ad campaigns for Guess jeans and Beach Bunny Swimwear. But that was before social media altered the paths to fame.
Unlike the many little-known beauties now on view at New York Fashion Week — women seldom identified by more than one name (Agata, Hanaa, Frida, Joan) — Kate Upton, just 19 and resembling a 1950s pinup, but with the legs of a W.N.B.A. point guard, has arrived on the scene as a largely self-created Internet phenomenon. It is not just that she has a respectable Twitter following (170,000 people at last count), or a YouTube video with over 3 million viewers, or marketing potential perhaps best measured by her rocketing from obscurity to No. 2 on a list of the world’s 99 “top” women compiled by AskMen.com, an online magazine with 15 million readers. (Sofia Vergara, of the ABC sitcom “Modern Family,” is No. 1.)
“We all know that social media now creates its own reality,” said Wayne Sterling, the publisher of Models.com, an industry Web site. “If you become a YouTube star among teenagers, you have even more recognizability than a TV star,” he said. “Kate Upton is the perfect example of that.”
It was soon after the Dougie video went viral that a seasoned scout, David Cunningham, brought Ms. Upton to the attention of Ivan Bart of IMG Models, the company behind the multimillion-dollar careers of women like Gisele Bündchen, Ms. Klum and Kate Moss.
“When Kate first came in, everyone at the agency thought I was crazy,” Mr. Bart, the “superagent” who heads IMG Models, said of Ms. Upton. “She wasn’t ‘fashion’ enough.”
Mr. Bart signed her anyway. And soon, to the surprise of some in the industry, Ms. Upton was being sought out for editorial sittings with people like Carine Roitfeld, the French fashion eminence known for her prophetic eye, and by Katie Grand, the influential stylist and editor of the fashion-forward British magazine Love. Wholesomely proportioned at 5 feet 11 inches with a 36-25-34 figure, Ms. Upton was a long way from the coolly robotic Eastern European beauty ideal that has dominated the catwalks for many seasons. “Kate is bigger than fashion,” Mr. Bart said. “She’s the Jayne Mansfield of the Internet.”
Those dubious about Ms. Upton’s crossover potential, or of any career driven toward the stony heart of fashion from the do-it-yourself fringes of the blogosphere, include Sophia Neophitou, editor of the English style bible 10 and a creative force behind the casting of the Victoria’s Secret shows.
“We would never use” Ms. Upton for a Victoria’s Secret show, Ms. Neophitou said by telephone last week from London. And, while Ms. Upton has, in fact, modeled on occasion for the company’s catalog, her look, said Ms. Neophitou, is “too obvious” to be featured in what has become the most widely viewed runway show in the world.
“She’s like a Page 3 girl,” Ms. Neophitou said, referring to the scantily clad voluptuous women featured in The Sun, a London tabloid. “She’s like a footballer’s wife, with the too-blond hair and that kind of face that anyone with enough money can go out and buy.”
“For a long time, fashion has been going to celebrities,” Kate Upton says. “Celebrities are on the magazine covers, and nobody wanted models. But why not have a model celebrity? Why not a girl who comes with her own following? Social media brings a personality to models. That’s how consumers today decide what to buy.”
“I studied this,” added Ms. Upton, a Michigan native who was raised in Melbourne, Fla., and who began work at 15, spending her first few years toiling in the lucrative but unglamorous salt mines of catalog modeling.
What Ms. Upton learned was that before Ms. Bündchen grew Angel wings and became Mrs. Tom Brady and a business impresario overseeing a multimillion-dollar empire built on the licensing of everything from lingerie to shower shoes, she was just another runway girl from the first wave of then-new Brazilians, a woman routinely informed she would never make it big in high fashion because her figure was too curvy and her nose was too long.
“People told me I couldn’t be fashion, that I’m just an old-fashioned body girl, only good for swimwear,” Ms. Upton said. “But I knew that I could bring back the supermodel.”
“What can I say?” she added. “I’m relatable.”
[From The NYT]
“She’s like a footballer’s wife, with the too-blond hair and that kind of face that anyone with enough money can go out and buy.” YIKES! That was one of the bitchiest things I’ve ever heard. Even Karl Lagerfeld is like “TOO FAR.” But you know what this reminds me of? Blake Lively and her Chanel contract. Everybody thinks Blake is so down-market because she’s blonde and has nice (fake) boobs and she smiles a lot. Kate Upton = Blake Lively. They’re very similar, aren’t they? Lots of ambition, great figures, both are “accessible” and both are NOT “high fashion.”
Here are some photos of last night’s SI party. I like this girl, but she looks kind of busted here, right?
Photos courtesy of WENN.