Why Do Fashion Models Not Smile

Why Do Fashion Models Not Smile

If you have ever watched a runway show or seen a designer ad in a magazine or on a billboard, you probably have noticed over time that fashion models never smile. This can seem counterintuitive at first. Fashion shows should be glamorous and upscale events attended by only those who have received an invite and can make a trip to Paris. This should create a happy experience for all involved including the models smiling throughout, but this is typically not the case. Let us explore some reasons why fashion models do not smile.

Designers Want To Showcase Their Clothes

The main reason explained by designers and models alike is that the fashion show is for the clothing, not the models. Designers want to create an atmosphere where the audience is solely focused on the garments. A beautiful smile may distract many from the clothing, and thus create a distraction that many designers do not want in a fashion show.

A Straight Face Exudes Confidence

Another reason why runway models do not smile is that clothing should give the wearer confidence. Fashion designers want to portray this with their collections. They want the viewer to think “If the models can be confident wearing these clothes, then so should I.” Having smiling models may make the show more joyful but it also won’t help the clothing sell as well as confidence does.

Smiles Take Away From The “Controversy”

Smiles Take Away From The “Controversy”

Designers need the press and enthusiasts to talk about their latest collections. This is one of the best ways to market new garments. To get people talking, there is no better way than to cause some controversy (in a good way.) Designers like Rick Owens and Comme Des Garcons are great at creating some controversy in their shows and I’m sure you will not find any of the models smiling during these shows. The reason is that they want the audience to take emphasis on the clothes, not the facial expressions.

Stress Factors

A small reason that should be mentioned is the amount of stress many models are under when walking down the runway. Sure they are told not to smile as well as how to walk, where to turn, the pace, etc. But even if they could smile, many would not because of the pressure and confidence it takes to walk down a runway with the audience judging your every move.

why dont runway models smile


Simply, the models are told not to smile and to express a confident straight face almost at every show. Since it is their career to show off the clothes, they need to follow the designer’s vision and needs during the show. Going against the designer’s wishes is not only unprofessional but could also cause the model to lose work and even possibly sabotage their modeling career.

Models Should Not Interact With The Audience

Adding on to the professional aspect of things, it is universally known that the models should not interact with the audience at any time during the show unless explicitly told by the designer. A smile can invite interaction from the audience, therefore a reason why many models do not smile during fashion shows. A straight face elevates the model’s confidence and status as well as limits any interaction.

A Lack Of Smile Creates a Blank Canvas

Designers treat their fashion shows as art, just like any artist, they need to start with a blank canvas and build it up to send their message to the viewers and audience. That is why models walking down the runway don’t show any expression on their faces (a blank canvas). The clothes should be the finished canvas and the art that sends the message and tells a story.

Maison Margiela's Masks

Maison Margiela’s Masks (An Extreme Example)

Maison Margiela took a step further and had his models wear masks while walking down the runway which has now become a signature look for the brand. The masks were created by the brand itself and the purpose was to provide anonymity for the models and to ensure the audience’s sole focus was on the clothing.


These reasons should give you a better knowledge of why models do not smile while walking down the runway. Sure, there have been fashion shows from Victoria’s Secret that have smiling models, but this is not the norm. Designers’ artwork is their clothes and that is what they want to display during their shows, the models are there to exude confidence and walk down the runway wearing the artwork, they are not there to show off themselves.

Connor Goodale

Connor is the owner and chief editor of Archive Avenue, a website dedicated to fashion and lifestyle. Connor has always had a passion for style and fashion. He created this website to share his unique view of the fashion world.

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