Continuing the tradition of fashion’s love affair with all things French, Constance Jablonski is the latest model to make a global impact.
Born in Lille on the 29th of October 1990, Constance Jablonski began her modelling career in 2006 when she entered the French Elite Model Look contest. She signed with Elite Models the same year, and had her big break in September 2008.
She had her first run of fashion shows, opening shows for La Perla and Blugirl by Blumarine, plus appearances for Christopher Kane, Diane von Furstenberg, Dries Van Noten, Elie Saab, Gucci, Hermes, Lanvin, Marchesa, Rachel Roy and Versace.
In October, Jablonski shot her first editorial (for Italian Marie Claire), and her first cover in November. In December, the buzz surrounding the new girl was sufficient to land her an editorial in Italian Vogue, photographed by Steven Meisel. Often recognised for his star-spotting ability, for any model getting to work with Meisel is an incredible coup.
In January 2009, Constance did a beauty editorial for Italian Vogue and her first couture season, walking for Givenchy. She also landed her first major campaign, signing up to represent D&G along with Imogen Morris-Clarke and Ariel Meredith.
The campaigns kept coming, with additional work for Topshop and Donna Karan: you couldn’t get two assignments more different, but Constance landed both. Still considered a newcomer, Jablonski was showing huge potential in terms of range. Multi-tasking is an essential in fashion where no trend rules a season, and you have to convince the client that each one is a perfect fit.
Constance proved that she was able to command the attention of the world’s best designers in February when she signed up to take part in 54 shows including Derek Lam, Jason Wu, Louise Goldin, Matthew Williamson, Preen, Richard Nicoll, Twenty8Twelve and Wunderkind. Her booking sheet was a snap-shot of the latest breakthrough talent all vying to work with fashion’s newest kid on the block.
In March, she did two editorials for Teen Vogue, following that with editorials for Chinese, Italian, German, French and Japanese Vogue, making her an international hit. The work paid off in September when Jablonski became the most requested model of the season, chalking up an amazing 72 shows. She walked for Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Chloe, Dior, Isabel Marant, Louise Goldin, Marios Schwab, Mary Katrantzou, Proenza Schouler, Stella McCartney, Thakoon and Valentino. It was an eclectic mix of blockbuster brands and cutting-edge talent like Goldin and Katrantzou. Constance was now steadily making her way through the fashion ranks.
At last, the press took note. Constance was named a Top Ten Newcomer by http://www.style.com/, scoring further editorial work with Allure, French and Russian Vogue, and in November, http://www.wmagazine.com/ featured Jablonski as their ‘This Week’s Model’. If anyone was in any doubt, Constance Jablonski had now made the transition from rising star to established model.
2010 is already proving to be the biggest year of Jablonski’s career to date, with two campaigns already out there: a ck by Calvin Klein campaign (photographed by Craig McDean) and the Alberta Ferretti S/S campaign by Steven Meisel, also featuring Kasia Struss, Hanne Gaby Odiele and Dorothea Barth Jorgensen.
Constance had an epic A/W 2010 show season in February, including appearances for Alberta Ferretti, Fendi, Giles Deacon, Louis Vuitton, Nina Ricci, Oscar de la Renta, Ralph Lauren, Roberto Cavalli and Sportmax. She was not only commanding runway time with the newer designers, but also doing catwalk for the brands that are recognisable in three syllables or less: Hermes, Fendi, Chloe, Vuitton and Ralph Lauren. Making appearances for these labels isn’t a guarantee of future success, but it helps.
But the most exciting development came in April this year when it was announced that Constance would be joining Estee Lauder as a campaign model, becoming the first French model to do so. She will be joining forces with Liu Wen, who also made headlines as the first Chinese model to be signed to the brand.
It’s a marked departure for the cosmetics giant, whose previous signings include Hilary Rhoda, Carolyn Murphy and Gwyneth Paltrow. It’s a seismic shift in Estee Lauder’s marketing strategy and judging by the positive press so far, it’s being widely anticipated for all the right reasons. Between them, Constance and Liu will be representing a more international image of the beauty brand. Despite what the name suggests, the brand is resolutely all-American, and Constance will be fronting that campaign with that aim in mind, but if the brand wanted to be seen as more inclusive, mission accomplished. Globalisation isn’t just for big business anymore: Dior means the same in any language, and that’s what brands are moving towards – an international language of commerce. Sounds dull, but the repercussions (how good models can really clean up in this market) are anything but.
Even a cursory glance at recent fashion magazines tells you one thing: models are in, and celebrity endorsements are on the decline. As a trend, labels are choosing to move towards actively selecting models over celebrities to represent their brand. Just five years ago, things were very different: actresses routinely scored high-profile campaigns for major designers. Their image plus the product equalled big bucks. So what has changed?
With celebrity comes speculation. Gossip may be good for business in Hollywood, but in fashion, designers don’t want their latest handbag or must-have dress tainted by association. All celebrities (even the well-behaved ones) come with baggage (for example, being in ‘that’ film) and designers who are struggling to make their presence known in an already overcrowded marketplace don’t need that extra hill to climb.
The solution? Hire a model. Thanks to the death of the term ‘supermodel’, the latest batch of names rocking the fashion world aren’t necessarily names that the public will be familiar with. As a result, a model in a campaign can absorb the brand and become it completely. It’s what separates them from celebrities – and in this era of fight or flight commerce, those distinctions are important.
The move away from asking ‘names’ to represent labels is part of a wider movement in making brands trans-global. It means no translation necessary: Liu Wen and Constance Jablonski are the new faces of Estee Lauder because they will appeal to the widest demographic possible. With models, there’s no risk of consumers rejecting the brand’s latest product because they didn’t like the spokesmodel’s last single or newest haircut. There’s no front: the model is the image plus the brand, minus the drama. It’s a perfect combination of message and method.
The sheer volume of campaigns this year that have models fronting them is quite extraordinary. It’s the biggest turn-around since the late Nineties, and those models are getting those lucrative signings because they can embody a trend or a mood more completely than a celebrity, however comfortable he or she may be in front of the camera.
It’s all part and parcel of the fashion world reaching out to its consumers. The age of un-innocence; the knowing wink that accompanied many celebrity-endorsed campaigns is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.
The newest trend in advertising is story-telling: whether that’s a matador fantasy in Chanel or told simpler, with zesty hits of colour in Balenciaga, adverts are becoming more literal and that’s no bad thing. It doesn’t matter what’s being sold – if it’s a Prada bag or a bag of frozen peas – the message remains the same: keep it simple. It’s advertising that translates across language and culture and it will direct how fashion campaigns will take shape over the next five years.
When Constance makes her debut for Estee Lauder later this year, prepare yourself for a campaign that speaks a truly international language.