Fashion Exposed: The Glamourization of Smoking

Fashion and smoking have gone hand in hand for many years - models lighting up before shows, or
 even using smoking as a sexual device in editorials - creating an air of glamour and mystery, an image that is tied to being carefree, a little bit punk - or on the opposite end of the spectrum, elegant and successful. Think Audrey Hepburn with a slender cigarette burning in the corner of my mouth.

Carmen Kass in Vogue España
Cigarettes are often used as part of editorial - most often to create a certain type of mood, or to juxtapose a sharp outfit, and give it a rough edge. In the photo (left) Carmen Kass poses for Vogue España in a sharp, structured dress, with smoke pouring sensually out of her mouth, as she holds a burning cigarette.

Is this image sexy? undoubtedly it has to be said that it is sexy - it creates a sultry, smoldering vibe to the shoot, and makes Carmen look almost menacing.

However, it can also be seen as negative. There are many 14/15 year old girls who read the pages of Vogue, bewildered by it's exciting content, and highly influenced by both it's fashion and it's ethos. Would a 14year old girl be more likely to want to try smoking? - well it obviously depends on how influenced by these images they really are.

A "No Smoking" Editorial, Vogue

Vogue have poked fun at this topic themselves, (left) in an editorial named "No Smoking" a model poses with a baby, and a lit cigarette. The editorial seems to show the unglamorous side of the issue - and basically highlights what being a smoker is all about - it's a constant confliction of morals and deciding between what's right and wrong for us as individuals - especially as they highlight here, when children are involved.

Of course it would be crazy to blame Vogue on young smoking - there is so many other media outlets that promote smoking and make it look exotic and cool to the onlooker. Film is one such example - it is often that the sexy, daring woman sitting at the end of the bar will be sipping on a vodka, smoking a long cigarette alluringly, looking devilishly at the leading man.

Celebrity culture has a part to play too - so many celebrities often try to cover up that they are in fact smokers, because, especially if they play roles in children's films/programmes, it could be damaging for them to be seen with a cigarette in hand.

One good example of this is the Olsen twins. Both are smokers (I'm pretty sure, Ashley certainly is) but they are never seen in public smoking because they are worried they'll receive a backlash from angry parents who's kids watch their vast selection of titles which were aimed predominately at pre-teens.

The Olsen twins also have a huge following of fans, many under the age of 20, who admire their unique style. These are young women who are already influenced by their fashion sense and could easily be influenced if they saw one of the twins smoking.

This is not just an issue with the Olsens, but tonnes of other secret celebrity smokers, who keep their habit under wraps for this exact reason. Cheryl Cole, Eva Longoria, Salma Hayek, Katherine Heigl and Ashlee Simpson are all celebrity smokers - but it's almost impossible to find a picture of them smoking.


There are of course many smokers in the fashion industry too - many of them models, who will be photographed outside the tents of Bryant Park as fashion week rolls around in New York, spotted having a cigarette as they hang around, waiting to begin their work. Freja Beha Erichsen is one such model - whenever I see a photo of her off duty, she has got a cigarette in one hand and an Alexander Wang bag in the other.

These models are also hugely popular, and many are regarded as excellent dressers off the catwalk - models such as Freja are style icons in their own right, and are looked up to by fashion followers as unique, stylish and interesting individuals. Do they influence people to smoke? Well, it certainly plays up to the glamorous lifestyle that people associate modelling with, and I can image that people who lust after a similar lifestyle could be influenced.

Kate Moss is another such model who has created a glamorous persona around her image. Kate is a famous  smoker and many rumors have circulated about Kate's alleged drug use. Kate plays off these rumors - they add to her rock and roll image, which is what people find so fascinating about her in particular anyway.

Kate has taken her image to the bank - and designs a Topshop collection seasonally, as well as her recent successful collaboration with Longchamp, in which she produced a line of bags named after her favourite hot spots to frequent.

 I don't agree with putting this wholly on the fashion industry. If someone is influenced so heavily by an image or a notion of glamour then I firmly believe that that is still very much their own doing, and nothing to do with the producer of the image, or even the person.

It is a personal choice and shouldn't be up to anyone else, or indeed influenced by a cool girl seen in a film, or a stunning model who sucks on a cig post show.
If we can't make our own choices, and let the media influence the kind of person we are - and then blame them afterwords - then I don't think this is correct.
You have to be able to think for yourself, come to your own decision, and then live as your own person. Glamour will follow.

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1 comment :

  1. Great article.
    Honestly, smoking is a part of the fashion world and i must admit sometimes i wish i smoked just because of the whole image around it of edgy high fashion a la french Vogue. But i agree, i dont think it's right to blame the fashion world for its influences. Smoking is accepted culturally, and not just as a fashion accessory but also a normal part of everyday life. The influences (if there HAS to be one) start with the everyday world. The fashion world is a form of art, but watching your parents or neighbour smoke is a more likely influence for their kids. If you want something to change, it starts in your own world, not the media's. I hate how there is always someone else to blame.


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