“Coolness” is being defined in a new way: as a “ethos” — as an attitude that holds a society together.
That’s what Carol Hirschfeld, an authority on the “cool” phenomenon, writes in a new New York Times article, following up on a much-discussed New Yorker profile of Lara Stone, the supermodel who is openly bisexual.
“Be cool — embody coolness — as if by embracing your true self you become a phenomenon,” Hirschfeld argues.
“Passionately, unapologetically, passionately — go be a whole other person, and the world will nod, say, ‘Yes, definitely’ and then give you their money,” she quotes the top model as saying.
In the same way every nip and tuck of Tom Ford’s makeup does more than allow his clothes to flatter an individual body, every internal change is part of the maker’s desire to establish them as a singular phenomenon. It’s a reflection of a distrust of superficiality that’s “been embraced by sophisticated individuals both youthfully and wizily and covertly enjoyed by countless youngsters willing to advance the hip status quo with abandon,” Hirschfeld writes.
In a way, Lara Stone just gets this as a way of describing herself and her approach to modeling and life. It may be her context, but she’s only notable because she’s been in a prominent high-profile relationship with the British musician, David Walliams, who she described to Hirschfeld as being “normal,” “normal” being something a lot of successful people want to be.
This also illustrates something important about the “epidemic” of the selfie in recent years, as Victoria Aveyard describes in a Rolling Stone piece about how we have been manipulated by a cult of narcissism. As our ability to communicate with each other has grown, so has our narcissism. We are all obsessed with nothing in particular, at least at the moment, because we want everyone to find something. It’s all this questing — believing that the only way that other people might find us is if we “go and be alone with them” (as Lara Stone said), and observing that everyone else is always, always trying to copy the “street styles” of people we admire.
In this way, self-identification and self-consciousness are the causes of the cause of all of this “coolness” in the first place, as Hirschfeld points out.
“It is being cool and it is also being social in an addicting way,” she writes.