Landing the cover of Italian Vogue, starring in a Brigitte Bardot shoot for V Magazine and being dressed by Michael Kors for the legendary Met Ball – sounds like the classic trajectory for a top catwalk model a la Karlie Kloss right? Well not this time – because this story is about a girl who represents a brand new direction for the modelling industry.
Kate Upton’s high-fashion rise has been extraordinary for many reasons. Firstly Ms Upton is a curvy ‘body’ girl who launched her career as Sports Illustrated’s Rookie of the Year in 2011. Secondly she’s built much of her following off the back of a couple of scantily-clad You Tube virals (most infamously the Terry Richardson ‘Cat-Daddy’ film, currently stacking up 11.25 million views and counting) and a strong social media strategy. Finally sexy-girl Kate’s looks are more girl-next door smouldering than strikingly androgynous. Hardly typical ‘edgy’ industry credentials.
So it’s little wonder the 20 year old bombshell has encountered plenty of naysayers along the way. First up was a Victoria’s Secret booker who said that Upton would “never” walk for the brand (although she was featured in catalogue shots) because her face was “Too obvious”. The booker went on discribe Ms Upton as “Like a footballer’s wife, with the too-blond hair and the kind of face that anyone with enough money can go out and buy.’ Ouch!
Kate Upton - Vixen to Vogue
Then there was the infamous fallout from her catwalk appearance for Beach Bunny earlier this year. Dressed in only a tiny bikini she was labeled ‘well-marbled’, ‘thick’ and ‘lardy’ by a ‘thinspiration’ site – an assertion which set the blogosphere alight with outraged supporters and adamant detractors all passing judgment. While it’s true Kate’s 34-25-35.5 vitals are larger than typical straight size models, Upton’s catwalk turn was praised for bringing a more realistic body shape into the fashion spotlight.
Proving that all publicity is good publicity Upton’s notoriety has now translated to bona fide high fashion buzz. Along with this month’s Italian Vogue cover and V spread, she’s also scored a CR (Carine Roitfeld’s new magazine) cover, a Muse cover and two American Vogue editorials. Simultaneously the former Guess model has also covered Cosmo, GQ and Esquire – combining both commercial and editorial title success. Talk about having the last laugh.
So what does Upton make of the fashion industry receptions? “People told me I couldn’t be fashion - that I’m just an old-fashioned body girl, only good for swimwear. But I knew that I could bring back the supermodel. What can I say? I’m relatable.” Further proving her savvy Ms Upton asks “'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.” Whatever’s next for Kate Upton, we – along with her 580,000 twitter followers – will be sure to be watching!