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ICYMI, Gigi Hadid did a hammy Melania Trump impression (opens in new tab) at the AMAs, marking the progression of the model from mainstream-awards-show attendee to honoree to mistress of ceremonies. How did network television come to resemble backstage at a fashion show? Ahead, five ideas in progress.
1. The Gravitas Theory
Regular people, especially Americans, expect to see pretty people on TV. Actresses and musicians are definitely pretty, but models are still the prettiest pretty people. They also lend a certain sense of occasion to events that are usually nothing more than a series of cheap thrills because their line of work is walking solemnly while wearing intricate, thoroughly thought-out works of art. Plus, since samples were made for them, they've got access to the nicest clothes, which raises the red carpet game.
A post shared by Gigi Hadid (@gigihadid) (opens in new tab)
A photo posted by on
2. The Social Network Theory
Kendall Jenner took one little Instagram sabbatical (opens in new tab) and came back more well-"liked" than ever. Models have massive followings. More followers = more potential viewers. Therefore, persuading models to come to/host your awards show = basically inviting millions of plus-ones to come with them. (See: the Tonys, which went from an industry do to chichi fashion thingy slightly more people cared about.)
3. The 'They're There Anyway' Theory
Did you catch Hannah Jeter, née Davis, presenting (ish)? Did you see Karlie Kloss introduce Nicki and Ariana? A few years ago, they and their ilk would've been in the audience as guests of guests (or squadettes of squad commanders—we'll get to that next), so why not take advantage of their presence and put them to work?
A post shared by Karlie Kloss (@karliekloss) (opens in new tab)
A photo posted by on
4. The Taylor Swift Coattail Theory
For all her later troubles, everything Taylor Swift touched at one point turned into gold, including her friends. Even the girls known for their commercial work (Lily Aldridge, Martha Hunt), she brought up from relative obscurity to household-name-level recognition. Of course, the Jenners and Hadids needed no such grappling hook, but perhaps some others might not have risen so high, so quickly had it not been for the Great Leader.
5. The Convergence Theory
Is fashion losing its cool, which is really what they mean when they say it's becoming more democratic? There's nothing wrong with wanting to reach a wider audience (to earn their money), so perhaps dressing a Victoria's Secret Angel in Balmain and seating her front-row is not so different from Versace appointing Zayn (opens in new tab) its first "rock star designer." By inserting models into an arena in which they hadn't really stepped foot since the '90s, the two spheres are moving closer and closer together, maybe until they overlap. We, for one, welcome the day teens in every corner of the U.S. know how to pronounce "Olivier Rousteing" correctly.
Chelsea Peng is a writer and editor who was formerly the assistant editor at MarieClaire.com. She's also worked for The Strategist and Refinery29, and is a graduate of Northwestern University. On her tombstone, she would like a GIF of herself that's better than the one that already exists on the Internet and a free fro-yo machine. Besides frozen dairy products, she's into pirates, carbs, Balzac, and snacking so hard she has to go lie down.
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