What Makes Agyness Deyn So Appealing?

Why is Agyness Deyn is so very now? The New York Times, which is always slightly behind, wants to know. Cintra Wilson describes her as "genuinely sweet, sunny and slightly dim." Ouch! Wilson explains:

This dimness, I suspect, is strategic. I've seen this before; actresses sometimes evade answering questions by obfuscating them in colorful fogs of positive nonsense. It is understandable: actual information limits the ability to be all things to all people, so vagaries protect the brand.

The question, of course, is why Agyness Deyn — born Laura Hollins — is so appealing. Why is she so popular? Vogue has called her "the world's next supermodel," and she's landed campaigns for Armani, Mulberry, Reebok, Hugo Boss and Burberry. (In 2008, Glamour magazine named her among seven people "Who Will Change Your Style.") Why do people feel that a punky, lanky, androgynous, platinum blonde new wave model says "2009"?

Wilson posits that it has to do with zeitgeist, and war:

Models with an androgynous look often arise at times when culture is loosening its corset after a socially conservative era. During times of war, cultural trends tend to resurrect traditional gender roles, and obviously "sexy" females emerge in fashion and media imagery - e.g., breast enhancements and hair extensions.

When war fever cools, hot new looks become less sex cue-dependant, and "unconventional" models - Twiggy, Erin O'Connor, Kristen McMenamy, Ève Salvail (Jean Paul Gaultier's skinhead muse) - are free to rise. Ms. Deyn's look captures a collective desire to return to the "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," pogo-punk unisex spirit of the irreverent and permissive early 1980s, when girls could wear combat boots and boys could wear eyeliner, and everyone could wear magenta.

Honestly? I don't know if I'm buying any of this, though clearly the 80s have made a strong comeback in fashion, and Agyness has a retro look. But I think the fact that she has a "look" is actually part of what makes her noteworthy. Unlike some other models, who are ever-changing chameleons, when you see Agyness — and that shock of platinum hair — you always know it's her. The modeling world has been rife with a safe, bland sameness (Vogue can't even match their faces to their names), and against that backdrop, Agyness stands out. She's different. So never mind her legions of Japanese fans, her singing and DJing — isn't part of her appeal just that she is recognizable?

Of the Moment, and Thinking Ahead [NY Times]
Earlier: Agyness Deyn & Boyfrynd Frolyc In Vogue
Gender Bender: Agyness Deyn Mans Up For French Vogue