PARIS— In a quiet Paris street, model Tamy Glauser, with a shaven head since chopping off her “pretty” long locks six years ago, offers an impromptu demonstration of two very different catwalk techniques.
First, her arms swinging and body rocking slightly from side to side, she strides along jauntily looking every inch the latest in skinny, edgy, male fashion.
Then, with nothing more than a haughty toss of her bare head, shoulders back, hips forward, eyes smouldering, she is suddenly feline and super-feminine.
At 28, Glauser would once have been regarded as past it by the modelling industry.
But only a year after she left her job on the door of a Geneva nightclub, the Swiss model has a string of shows under her belt and a contract with top modelling agency Ford Models Europe.
With her boyish looks, Glauser is the latest recruit to a small group of female models who not only sport an androgynous look but have also found themselves in demand on the men’s catwalk.
Casey Legler, Saskia de Brauw, Jenny Shimizu and Ashleigh Good are among the models who have led the way in what Glauser says feels like a small “movement”.
“I don’t think about androgyny,” she told AFP in an interview in Paris dressed in her off-duty uniform of skinny jeans, vest top, boots and woollen hat.
“I think that right now beauty is a lot to do with personality. I think simply beautiful is still beautiful, but it’s sort of boring,” she said.
A year ago, Glauser, a former Swiss national team swimmer, was preparing to move to Berlin to give university one last go after dropping out twice.
A friend there, who worked as a booker at an agency, suggested she do some modelling to help pay the bills.
However, when the agency sent out her photograph, instead of a few part-time assignments, Glauser found herself snapped up by Ford.
Within months she was on the Paris catwalks for top designers such as Vivienne Westwood and Jean Paul Gaultier and modelling men’s clothes for Givenchy.
“I don’t really know how this all happened. But it (modelling men’s clothes) was always my idea. It made sense because the clothes that I’m wearing are much more men’s fashion,” she said.
Steeven Kanoo, Ford’s women’s division director, says clients have moved away from strictly conventional ideas of female beauty and are now looking for models with strong personalities.
And he attributes the current interest in androgynous-looking models to the skinny tailoring of French designer Hedi Slimane.
The Saint Laurent designer’s models are famously on the thin side — even by industry standards — and he is credited with revolutionising menswear during his stint at Dior from 2000 to 2007.
“In the 1990s there was a common idea of beauty but things have been changing since Hedi Slimane went for super edgy skinny boys. It changed something,” he said.
“Then we got girls with these strong features and everyone was tired of having this common idea of beauty— it goes with stupidity- and so it was like ‘let’s get something a bit more special’.
“Now you can be super weird and look amazing in pictures so that’s why they push on that to get more personality.
“It’s a different time, but fashion is a circle (and) we’re going to come back to the nineties for sure,” he added.
For Glauser, who describes herself as a free spirit who can’t stay in one place for long, it is an opportunity to live a life that suits her better than being an undergraduate.
“The fashion world is very different, completely another planet but that’s why I feel so comfortable,” she added.