Is It Cool to Smile Now in Fashion?
It’s no secret that smiling isn’t really a big thing in the fashion world. If you look around at the typical front row or the models stomping down the runway, you probably won’t catch too many smiles. And in magazines, the campaigns and editorials are pretty much smile-free. The same goes for Instagram, where cool-girl vibes are the rule and a teethy, grinning face is the exception—or at least that has always been my observation. And it’s often made me think Where’s the joy?
Recently, though, I’ve been picking up on a shift. Granted, it’s a small one—but a shift nonetheless, where happy faces are working their way into the world of fashion. I first took notice on Instagram. Scrolling through my feed, I observed the bright smiles of street style stars and influencers like Emili Sindlev, Devon Carlson, and Sabina Socol, which made me pause. Their smiles were infectious and made me grin in return just to see them. When I asked Socol about it, she explained, “Fashion is not that serious. It’s an industry; for some people it’s a job; but still, it’s meant to bring beauty and fun to the world.”
Have you noticed brands using more photos of smiling models?
And then, when it comes to brands, labels like Réalisation and Reformation are tapping into this as well. Many of the models they cast—and the girls they’re regramming wearing their clothes—have giant smiles plastered on their faces. And I have to say, it’s really refreshing. It feels like we’re being invited into a positive community that values happiness and joy, as opposed to the exclusive “You can’t sit with us” messaging that has long ruled the fashion community.
When I asked Alexandra Spencer, co-founder of Réalisation, about why she chooses to use photos of happy girls on the brand’s website and Instagram, she simply explained, “Dream girls always have a smile on their face.” It didn’t sound like she considered an alternative.
For me, the idea was really cemented during Paris Fashion Week at Jacquemus—one of the most joyful shows of the season, in my opinion. Normally it’s clear that designers have instructed models to wipe any expression from their faces, with signs reading “no smiling on the runway” posted backstage. But at Jacquemus, we instead saw a beautiful cast of inclusive models walk out in the Petit Palais in flowy knits, playful hats, lots of colour, and with contagious smiles on their faces—smiles that were mirrored by the audience. Right now, I think we’re all ready for more joy and optimism, and I’m sure happy to see it making a return.
SHOP PIECES THAT MAKE US SMILE
Jacquemus La Robe Sol Off-the-shoulder Ruffled Canvas Midi Dress ($1090)
Available in sizes FR34 to FR40.
Roxanne Assoulin Hip-Hop But Not Mismatched Swarovski Crystal Clip Earrings ($120)
Le Specs Adam Selman The Last Lolita Cat-eye Acetate Sunglasses ($120)