Kibbe: An Introduction (Sort of)

It’s hard to know where to begin with Kibbe. So I suppose I will just start at the beginning and explain who he is.

In 1987, a man named David Kibbe published a book Metamorphosis: Discover Your Image Identity and Dazzle as Only You Can. In the book, he outlines 13 image identities, all on a yin yang scale and also on a scale from blended to contrast. Confused already? I don’t blame you. He basically took McJimsey’s categories and shifted some things around and added some subcategories. He got rid of Ingenue completely, and Gamine is now not the most yin expression–Romantic is. Gamine is a contrasted mix of yin/yang now, and Classic is a perfect blend of the two.

In the book, his categories are Romantic, Theatrical Romantic, Classic, Soft Classic, Dramatic Classic, Natural, Soft Natural, Flamboyant Natural, Gamine, Soft Gamine, Flamboyant Gamine, Soft Dramatic, and Dramatic. Anything with “Soft” in the name is a more yin expression (basic category mixed with Romantic) and anything with “Flamboyant” or “Dramatic” in the name is a more yang expression (basic category mixed with Dramatic). I suggest reading the Kibbe libraries at Seasonal Color and Color Connection, which have a lot of the information from the book. I plan on discussing all of the types in depth (save three, which I’ll get to in a moment) on this blog, but for now, I think that your best bet is just to read the info there if you’re unfamiliar with Kibbe.

Okay, now that you know about the different types, I want to talk about the three I won’t be discussing and why. David Kibbe is still providing style consulations, and according to recent reports, he has gotten rid of Classic, Natural, and Gamine, and only the Soft and Dramatic/Flamboyant versions of these remain. If you identified yourself as one of these base types, I am sure it was disheartening to learn he no longer uses those. Reading about it, though, it became clear to me why. Nobody is going to be perfectly balanced. Everybody is going to lean slightly yin or slightly yang.

The thing to concentrate on is not matching the description perfectly and using it as a checklist, but identifying your yin/yang balance. I suggest watching the movies of the original, classic stars listed to get a good feel for the Image IDs–contemporary stars don’t have images in quite the same way. Try to see yourself objectively. Are you long? Compact? Soft? Do you look open? Aloof? Still? Animated? That is where I would start with David Kibbe’s Metamorphosis.

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