Poster Girl: Does the Ubiquity of Cara Delevingne Symbolise Non-Textbook Market Failure?

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We at Mediolana have more than a passing interest in the fashion industry, and when our Creative Director & CSO was made aware of the phenomenon that is London-born model Cara Delevingne, he could tell that she was destined for Really Big Things. On a technical level, her signature eyebrows and unusually curvy silhouette (at least for this particular sector) mark Delevingne out from most of her peers; in a homogenous world, distinctiveness has an increasingly large cachet, even in industries with demanding, rigidly-enforced specifications.

However, in the last year or so we have begun to wonder whether the wild success of Cara Delevingne is beginning to epitomise non-textbook market failure. Walking around the fashion retail hotspots of London, Delevingne’s visage has become so ubiquitous that the uninitiated might plausibly believe that they have stumbled into a personality cult-defined dictatorship rivalling those of West and North-East Asia. Brands quotidian and luxury are falling over themselves to present offerings – mostly in the form of lucrative contracts – to the omnipresent. All Cara, All the Time is the mantra du jour.

But does this actually make any sense? After some contemplation, we believe that this trend could be an error for (almost) everyone involved:

  1. Bland Brands. What links TAG Heuer, Yves Saint Laurent Beauté and Topshop? Pretty much nothing – aside from the fact that at the time of writing, Cara Delevingne is the Ace Face of all three companies. Brand differentiation – one of the most important attributes of any commercial IP portfolio – has gone out of the window. Instead, one model appears to have completely eclipsed the corporate identity of billion-dollar entities.
  2. Saturation Point. Cara Delevingne’s ubiquity is at best a risky strategy. Beyond a reasonable point, fatigue will set in. Pop culture is full of models, singers, bands, and actors who were the biggest thing in the world for three weeks and are then confronted with the dreary reality of planned obsolescence. Even in the context of the short careers that the fashion industry offers most of its subjects, great care must be taken to avoid burnout – and encourage selective exposure.
  3. What About Her? As a global media capital, London is a magnet for talent in every conceivable creative industry. However, it can only remain so if the planet’s best and brightest creatives think that they have a hope in hell of making it to the top. Employing the language of economics, for every marginal contract swallowed up by the Delevingne machine, hundreds if not thousands of wonderful models from across Europe and the world – many of whom have made huge sacrifices to try and make it in the UK’s capital – will ponder contemplating pastures fairer that little bit more intensely.

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