Is there really a Zoolander Blue Steel Look?

Since there’s not many films out there about modeling, if you wanted to get a glimpse of that crazy world, Zoolander (2001) is pretty much it. Now that the sequel, Zoolander 2 (2016) is also out, there’s even more jokes and gags thrown around.

But Zoolander is a spoof about modeling. We can’t take their jokes seriously right?

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Yes, it’s meant to be a joke and it’s meant to be silly and goofy.

The “Blue Steel” look is a facial expression a top model like the fictional Derek Zoolander would give, to the camera, for a cool pose. I remember when I saw the film for the first time, and when the Blue Steel look was performed by actor Ben Stiller, I laughed my @$$ off and didn’t take it seriously for one bit.

june top model blue steel asian zoolander

And yet… years later… I find myself giving this look occasionally at some fashion shoots.

Does this type of look really exist in the modeling world?

The answer is Yes,

there is a Blue Steel look but most professionals in the modeling industry refer to this look as the “Cool” or “Fierce” look. This particular look was very popular in the 90s and can be found in many magazines. It was popular because it conveys the attitude of coolness.


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Fashion models are expected to be skinny.

Having low body fat causes facial features to stand out.

This means areas around the cheek and jawline are sharp, which also highlights the model’s cheekbones.

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Nowadays, when a photographer or a magazine editor use the term fierce, they are usually referring to the high amount of style and attitude in both the model and the setting. Even Gucci had their model give this type of look for their Spring collection.

The Blue Steel look however, died down much since its inception because amateur models started to constantly use this look in their photo shoots- making them appear unnatural and contrived. Model agencies and photographers alike were so tired of this exaggerated look that if an unsuspecting model were to use it, he or she would immediately be labeled a fool.

supermodel squirrel blue steel look modeling lifeThe reason being,

if you are already skinny with sharp facial features, further sucking in your cheeks and pouting your lips will make you appear weird and silly.

My grandfather just the other day called this the “Squirrel” look. LOL 😀


Are you curious about what other kinds of looks are popular in the modeling world?

Let’s take a look at the other looks (pun intended). Remember, it’s the facial expressions and not the makeup and styling that we are focusing on.

The Glamour Look

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The “centerfold” look.

Glamour is about beauty. Many think that this look is about the fancy hairstyle, make up, and lighting. It is, but more importantly, it’s about the eyes. There is usually a special lighting equipment that the photographer uses to make the eyes glow.

The model looks into the camera with a piercing gaze. The result is a powerful stare that you can not ignore.

The Edgy Look

The “I’m too cool for school” look.

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The famous high fashion look that makes models appear full of attitude is used by many ad campaigns. It’s as if the models are saying, “What are you looking at?”

This look is usually achieved by tilting your head upwards or downwards but keeping eye contact.

The Seductive Look

The “dreamy eyes and ecstasy” look

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Remember, fashion modeling is about elegance and class. Even if you are selling lingerie or intimate apparel, it is done tastefully. The models are not selling sex but style. Adriana Lima, the sexy Victoria Secret model, is a master of this.

This look has the model in an almost dream like state, as if they are just getting out of bed- barely awake. The look is soft and vulnerable, which draws the viewer in.

The Preoccupied Look

The “caught in the moment” look.

preoccupied look modeling poses and expressions

I agree, the name may sound funny but it’s definitely among the most popular fashion looks out there.

This is David Beckham’s signature style.

He tenses up his eyebrows and looks away from the camera, as if something has caught his attention or that he is deep in thought. The result is a cool and sophisticated feel.

This style is great for fashion because since the model is not looking at us, we can concentrate on what they are wearing and not be distracted by their gaze.

The In-Motion Look

The “hey I am having fun” look

in motion action look modeling life

And finally, one of the most difficult looks to pull off… is the in-motion look.

Used by sporty designer wear like Lacoste, this look shows off the model as if they were caught in slow motion. The idea is, if slow motion sequences in movies are cool, why not use them in advertisements?

Although the models look like they are having the time of their lives, they may in fact not be that comfortable. It takes a lot of self control to jump and move through the air without tensing up your body and face. To make it look natural and fun…. (even if this is the 16th jump and you start to hate modeling)… is not as easy as you’ll think.

There you have it. The popular looks that models know like the back of their hands.

Stay tuned and subscribe to our newsletter for other looks we will be covering in the future.

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You don’t want to miss the I sold my soul to the devil for an underwear ad look.

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or there is also, the Don’t look at me but look at my watch look.

See you soon!


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