Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

1 minute read


Fashion Has A Dead Girl Fetish

So beautiful. So inert.

Fashion Has A Dead Girl Fetish
[Photograph: David Sims/Marc Jacobs]

The fashion world doesn't exactly prize models for their brains, but it'd be great if the industry could at least appreciate their…aliveness? If only.

Marc Jacobs's latest campaign, featuring complete stranger to controversy Miley Cyrus, is just the most recent in a long line of ad campaigns determined to glorify and eroticize what appear to be very dead models. This comes right on the heels of David Fincher's lauded Gone Girl cover for Entertainment Weekly, which used a distinctly corpsy Rosamund Pike to push magazines. (Buzzfeed has collected plenty of other examples here.)

The Guardian's women's blog makes an excellent, if depressing, point about the trend: "This obsession with death isn't so surprising, when you consider it as the obvious and ultimate end point of a spectrum in which women's passivity and silence is sexualised, stylised and highly saleable."

In fashion shoots, where the entire point of an image is to convince people how desirable it is to be the model hawking the designs in question, the dead girl—and it's always a girl—is gold. In the eighth season of America's Next Top Model, aired in 2007, contestants were asked to pose as "crime scene victims" killed by electrocution, stabbing, decapitation, strangling, and more. One model, who appeared beaten and lying at the bottom of a staircase, was told by a judge she looked "very beautiful and dead." Later, that same judge admitted that that particular model "isn't particularly pretty," but man did she look good thrown down a marble staircase! Thanks, fashion industry.

Read more in The Guardian.