Fashion & the “It” Girl

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By Laura Trask

“How will we get our fashion and style in the new year? Who will wow us? Who will inspire us? Will it be a hot new designer? An entertainer?” These were the questions I was asking myself. I was trying to think of ways we could distract and entertain ourselves while trying to hang on to our new years resolutions!

I ran across an article on fashion’s latest ‘It’ girl. This is the girl who gets front row seats at all the runway shows. The girl who has designers literally delivering the latest fashions (often inspired by her) in stacks to her front door. The girl who gets the iconic title of “Muse”. The question is how do you get such a gig? Who do you have to know? What planet must you hail from? Do you create ‘It’ or does ‘It’ create you?

Well, the ‘It’ girl phenomenon is certainly not  a new one nor is it one that is exclusive to the most notably beautiful women of the moment. As late 19th century English poet and author Rudyard Kipling wrote in his short story Mrs. Bathhurt: “It isn’t beauty, so to speak, nor good talk necessarily—it’s just It”

The girl that all fashion insiders are following at the moment (and I mean literally chasing down the streets of Manhattan) is Shala Monroque. What I find so fascinating about Miss Monroque is—unlike the majority of past ‘It’ girls who seem to have tipped over the edge of human to superhuman and who’ve had a more obvious springboard (typically as either a model, actress or socialite)—this 32 year-old native of St. Lucia seems to have created a frenetic buzz out of the ether. She has come on the scene with a sharp, startling force and yet has a very Holly Golightly affability.

Shala arrived in New York at age 20 and began her journey from virtual obscurity to style icon starting with a job as a photo assistant and leap-frogging over the next 12 years to hostess in some of the hippest downtown restaurants in Manhattan. But Shala found her love of fashion when her aunt, who was a dresser at designer fashion shows, took her to a Jean Paul Gaultier party and she felt immediately in her element.

Over the years Shala’s unique style and ability to mix flea market finds with the few  designer pieces she could afford  made her stand out and made influential fashionistas take notice. She started getting invited to fashion shows and in 2010 she had her defining moment at the Prada show in Paris.

Shala got everyone’s attention in a flouncy black and green banana print skirt straight off the runway. The designer, Miuccia Prada was thrilled to see a young woman who so encapsulated the spirit of her designs and quickly appointed Shala as her fashion consultant at large and resident “Muse,” which translates as a carte blanche entree into everything high fashion—lucky girl!

Shala joins an elite group of past ‘It’ girls that are not to be forgotten starting with Clara Bow, the original ‘It’ girl. A flapper era actress who plays a girl in a silent film called ‘It’. Others who seem to have possessed the essence of innate style are Babe Paley, Edie Sedgwick and Chloe Sevigny. Chloe often garners media attention for her outrageous fashion combinations. Smart ‘It’ girls are using their popularity to catapult themselves into stardom by becoming camera hosts, writers, bloggers etc. The possibilities are endless. When defining this effortless magnetism, Elinor Glyn the author of the 1927 film ‘It’ sums it up beautifully: “She must be entirely unselfconscious…indifferent to the effect she is producing. Self-consciousness destroys ‘It’ immediately.”