View Full Version : Fashion insiders calling for curvier models
26th January 2011, 18:59
Is this a sign of change, or is it just lip service? I'm not sure. The sentiments are the right ones, but can it translate into the return of the full-figured ideal? I honestly don't know.
Either way, a growing number of luminaries in so-called "mainstream" fashion are calling for the inclusion of larger bodies.
A model named Daisy Lowe says that she wants to see curvier models.
Her language (edited here) is crude, but the point is sound:
The socialite told Asos magazine: ‘My dream is to see a lot more female shapes in ad campaigns when I look through magazines.
'Girls are starting to have [a bust] in pictures but I think it still needs to be about the curve.
'Real women have [a bust] and [a rear], yet loads of models in shows seem to have neither.’
Nigel Barker, well known from America's Next Top Model, has a similar opinion.
On the ANTM show, his ideas about models and weight are all over the place, but here, at least, he says the right things:
Q: What do you think about the curvy looks on the runway this past month, especially the onestopplus.com show?
A: I think it is fabulous. I think if more designers designed clothes with a more fuller figure in mind it would represent women in a greater sense. It will show that designers will design for a real woman. I've always found it odd that designers make clothes for walking hangers.
Alexandra Shulman, the editor of British Vogue, is the most significant person speaking out on this topic.
What she says is very right, yet I can't help but regard her claims that she can't remedy the problem as merely an excuse. I certainly think she could have more of an influence if she exerted her power. But at least her efforts to date have been better than nothing:
It's the nation's waistline, and fashion's attitude to it, that really exercises Shulman. The fact that size 14 is a plus size: "What's plus size about it? It's what most women are in the street."
She is furious that when she goes into designer shops the rails are full of size 8s. "If you ask for a size 40  they'll say they're sold out. Either that's because it's their most popular size - so why didn't they buy more? - or it's because they don't like the idea that women are a size 40."
But she's the editor of Vogue; can't she do something about it?
"I can write about it, which I do, and I can talk to them about it, but I can't actually march them to the cutting-room floor and make them cut a bigger pattern. Don't think I don't talk about it to them, all the time."
And finally, Francesca Versace, whose uncle was the famous designer, is in the pro-curvy camp as well.
She recently responded to another designer who issued some anti-plus statements:
Francesca Versace takes issue with Olivia Inge’s claim that designers will always prefer skinny models.
“It’s really great to have some girls who are more curvy, like my uncle used to use in the Nineties,” the niece of Gianni Versace said at the Giles Deacon and M.A.C London Fashion Week party sponsored by Belvedere Vodka. “It’s more flattering for the dresses.”
Francesca's comment is the one that leaves me feeling a bit ambivalent about all of this. I obviously think it's better that these individuals are calling for larger bodies than if they were trying to justify or excuse fashion's pro-anorexia agenda. But their definition of "more curvy" still seems terribly thin, barely even faux-plus. (E.g., Versace never, ever used a true plus-size model. Not even close.)
Only when fashion features genuinely full-figured girls, size 16 or bigger, will it become a force for positive body image and the celebration of true femininity.
11th February 2011, 20:09
The words are good, but indeed they are merely words, with little conviction behind them. Three of the four individuals mentioned could be booking plus-size models for shoots, but they're not.
Also, the real problem is that the individuals in the fashion industry have a severely warped idea of what constitutes "curvier," and this means everyone from photographers to editors to even plus-size-model agents. They're all surrounded by anorexic models all the time, so for them, someone who is "curvier" is still someone who, by any objective measure, is severely and unhealthily underweight.
Case in point: here's an interview with the editor of Allure magazine:
She too says the right thing:
Ms. Wells has had her headaches trying to bridge the great truth-beauty divide when it comes to the impossibly stick-thin fashion models that are the industry standard...
Years ago, as a student at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., Ms. Wells had noticed in a life drawing class how much more gratifying it was when the model had a little something extra or, rather, a lot of something extra.
“I hated it when the model was thin,” she said. “There’s nothing to wrap your hands around. When the model was heavy, there was shape, there was shadow, there was weight.”
Sounds promising? Not a chance. She also says this:
“I don’t want to photograph skinny models,” she said, “but they’re always going to be thinner than everyone else. They’re models. We recently shot Bar Refaeli, who’s more of a Victoria’s Secret kind of model, for the April issue, and she’s a woman with a body. She’s got curves. She’s got thighs.”
1. "They're models"? Well, Kelsey Olson and Katherine Roll are models too. There is no reason whatsoever why models are "always going to be thinner than everyone else." There is no natural law of geology or physics that makes it so. That's just the prejudiced decision of individual fashion designers or editors, which she is adopting uncritically, when she could, with a stoke of her pen, do the opposite and hire plus-size models who are NOT "thinner than everyone else."
There's no reason whatsoever why the statement shouldn't be: "They’re models. They’re always going to be curvier and fuller than everyone else."
2. A Victoria's Secret model has "curves" and "thighs"? On what planet? Those models are also painfully underweight and anorexic-looking, just with implants. The fact that "high fashion" models are even more cadaverous than VS girls doesn't change the fact that the VS models are skeletons who have no "curves" whatsoever apart from a small, synthetic-looking bust.
This is why it's futile to hope for meaningful change from fashion-industry insiders. Their norms are so abnormally corpse-like, that what to them is "curvier" is still underweight.
Only when "curvier" means "over a size 16" will fashion actually be capable of reforming itself for the better.
15th February 2011, 08:30
I also wonder whether statements such as these aren't merely a way for some fashion insiders to provide cover for themselves. The thinking may be, "I'll keep using underweight models, but since I've said the right things, then someone who hasn't, and is also using anorexic girls, will get the criticism before I do."
It might simply be a way of getting good press.
On the other hand, maybe we shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth. It is still better for them to be making relatively pro-curvy statements than uttering insults about lusciously proportioned models.
Here's one British designer who has criticized the industry for its pro-anorexia aesthetic.
His comments are quite forceful:
Fashion industry has forced unrealistic image on women, says leading designer
Giles Deacon, one of Britain's leading designers, has criticised the fashion industry's continued obsession with skinny models.
By Kate Finnigan and Patrick Sawer
12 Feb 2011
THE debate over the size of catwalk models is one that continues to divide the world of fashion.
Now one of Britain's leading designers has criticised the industry's continued obsession with skinny models...
Giles Deacon, the creative director of Emanuel Ungaro, the Parisian fashion house, said women were being asked to aspire to a completely unrealistic ideal of beauty.
In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph Mr Deacon said: "I've seen it in certain studios I've worked in and I've never liked it as a way of working or being with people. At a certain period in time, the fashion industry was portraying this image of a totally unrealistic woman, women who are not allowed to be themselves. It's just all a bit wrong."
He pins the blame for this on the cowardice of many of his fellow designers.
"I think [designers] were probably scared, if truth be out, that if they put someone who wasn't 'right' on the runway or in an ad campaign, that it would be a failure, that women wouldn't want it. Which clearly isn't the case," he said.
The 'size zero' controversy erupted in 2006 when a Uruguayan model, Luisel Ramos, 22, died of heart failure after starving herself in preparation for a show. In November that year another model, 21-year-old Brazilian Ana Carolina Reston, died from anorexia.
As a result of the backlash Madrid Fashion Week banned underweight models. Milan followed suit with a code of conduct to stop anorexic-looking models being used in shows.
The Sunday Telegraph has previously revealed that fashion magazines have manipulated images of skinny models to make them look fuller-figured, in order to deflect criticism of promoting unhealthily-thin images.
Only last year Jane Druker, the editor of Healthy magazine – which promotes "health and wellbeing" – admitted that one of its cover models, Kamilla Wladyka, was so thin in real life that her image was radically retouched before appearing on the cover...
Perhaps that explains his appointment as Ungaro's creative director in May last year. The house has long had a reputation for eschewing austere minimalism and encouraging the more sensual side of fashion.
I applaud Mr. Deacon for placing the blame squarely on the designers. Most critics of fashion emaciation are notorious for passing the buck onto someone else.
And in the rest of the article, he conflates the size issue with the "age" issue, which is always a canard. If anything, there is an absence of youth in plus-size modelling, while older ages are abundantly represented.
Above all, I'm waiting to see Mr. Deacon put his money where his mouth is and hire some models U.S. size 16 or higher for his shows or campaigns. If his design house "has long had a reputation for eschewing austere minimalism" in fashion, then it should eschew austere minimalism in its models as well, and book some plus-size models who will embody maximalism instead.
20th February 2011, 05:52
Here's another one in the pot - writer Bonnie Fuller has this to say about the recent parade of anorexic bodies in the media.
It's regrettable that the girls whom she favourably singles out as having a "pear shape or fuller figure" are still so skinny. However, her outright slam of the look of today's fashion waifs is commendable and encouraging:
Aren't You Sick of Too Skinny Girls?
February 17, 2011 08:07 PM
First, New York Fashion Week rolled out its runways and its models who look like they barely eat morsels. Then Sports Illustrated and its bevy of skinnies in swimsuits hit the newsstands and the airwaves. All week we've had to look at stick-thin legs, and arms barely bigger than insect tentacles.
Why can't Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue have some models who have Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, or Beyonce curves? Why can't designers showcase their catwalk clothes on models who have a J.Lo pear shape or fuller figure like Christina Hendricks?
We, the women who will ultimately buy those clothes, think these women are gorgeous. We aspire to look like them, not like the androgynous sticks on the Fashion Week runways!
Women need to hear opinions like this in the media, so that they finally break free of pro-anorexia brainwashing and recognize that extra weight equals extra beauty.
Her comments about the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue are especially pertinent. Can you even imagine how gorgeous a Sports Illustrated plus-size swimsuit issue would be, one that would feature Kelsey Olson, Barbara Brickner, Katherine Roll, Mayara Russi, etc., in its pages - the most desirable bodies on earth? No one would ever give the scrawny, radioactively tanned girls in the current SI a second look, when offered the alternative to see soft, full, fair and fleshy forms like theirs.
21st February 2011, 05:16
Well, this isn't exactly coming from a "fashion insider," but it was scripted into a prime-time TV program, so it still fits into this thread.
I haven't watched the show One Tree Hill since its very first season. I did think that the main female character, Peyton Sawyer (played by Hilarie Burton), had a beautiful hairstyle and a pretty look. I soon lost interest, though.
At any rate, the show is somehow still going on, and a recent script featured a size-positive line.
The pertinent text:
As Brooke Davis, a character from the popular teen TV drama 'One Tree Hill' enters into her magazine offices she shouts at some editors that the girl on the front of the issue needed to gain some weight before appearing in her magazine and the titular quotation, that "Anorexia is an illness, not a fashion statement."
As an ex-sufferer of this disease I would like to commend Mark Schwahn (the writer of the series) for this bold statement and sentiment. It is a breath of fresh air in this stagnant climate of stick-instect models and 'Size 0' lifestyles and diets. I, like many others, am sick of opening a magazine and being confronted with pictures of emaciated models, diet tips and weight loss schemes. Enough, I say! Enough of trying to...pressure ourselves into this supposedly desirable look. Enough of starving ourselves by choice when others are scavenging for food in bins. Enough of peer pressure and media pressure on innocent teens who are so susceptible to this sort of illness. Enough.
In the spirit of fictional magazine editor, Brooke Davis, I would like to propose to any magazine contributors out there to hire only UK Size 8 models and above with a healthy BMI of 18.5 or above.
Another very fine slam of the fashion industry's thin-supremacist agenda. But the last paragraph is regrettable, as a UK size 8 is tiny. If, on the other hand, she had said that publications could only hire models in a U.S. size 14 or higher, that would have been something.
Still, it's a fine sound bite, and a commendable call for the regulation of models' sizes and the establishment of a minimum size below which no models should be permitted, because the sight of such unnatural, emaciated bodies directly triggers eating disorders.
6th August 2011, 18:09
I just have a small item to add to this thread - a short bio of a couturier from Palestine named Hindi Mahdi.
It's always exciting to hear a statement like this coming from someone involved in "high" fashion:
“I love designing haute couture for women, but now it is my dream to create clothes for plus-size women. They’ve been eclipsed from fashion life for so long that people tend to forget that they, too, can be elegant and beautiful,” he said.
Bravo. Let's hope that more haute-couture designers adopt this mindset and shatter the myth that emaciation is somehow "fashionable," let alone attractive, when it is obvious that the fuller curves of a plus-size woman make every dress look better.
5th October 2011, 04:11
From India comes a new article with the encouraging title
Ban size zero in fashion world
It brings the issue back into the public spotlight, where it should be.
As the article points out, even though Milan Fashion Week is often cited as an example of a show that regulates model weights, this is a myth, undoubtedly repeated by journalists who simply copy statements from earlier articles. The truth is that the fashion industry continues to promote anorexia by fielding starving models, and if Milan Fashion Week ever did curb the use of walking corpses, it has long since stopped doing so:
When extremely skinny models walked the ramp for designer Gianfranco Ferre at the recently concluded Milan Fashion Week, the issue of underweight models returned to the fore. Ferre’s models looked dilapidated as they walked the ramp exposing their protruding clavicles and bony chests. Back in 2006, very thin models were formally banned from the runway shows in Milan, to promote healthier bodies.
There was an agreement signed between the city and its fashion industry, which prevented models with a BMI (Body Mass Index) of less than 18.5 from walking the ramp in Milan’s fashion shows. While there has been so much talk about banning the size zero craze from the modelling world, this resurfacing of lanky models may create a negative impact on women influencing their notions about their looks.
Kudos to the writer for noting that underweight models trigger eating disorders among the general public. This fact has been conclusively established in every medical study ever written on the topic. Also, it's encouraging to find the writer exploding the myth that minus-size cadavers look attractive. Rather, he calls them "dilapidated," as they certainly are.
But the best passage in the article comes from an Indian designer who makes the aesthetic case for fuller-figured models:
While the west has criticised the craze, Indian designers back home too feel that it’s about time that real-looking women walked the ramp. Designer Leena Singh says, “Very thin models look undernourished. The curvaceous models look beautiful and healthy, thus enhancing the beauty of the clothes.” She adds, “Skinny models are not an effective way of showcasing the collection to sell the clothes to other women, as the clothes are sold to the real women who are generally not so lean.”
It's encouraging to find a designer pointing out that larger models are "beautiful" and that they "enhance the beauty of the clothes." Every image from FFFWeek proves that this is the case. Models in size 16 and 18 such as Kelsey, Katherine, and Lindsey make everything they wear look far better than any walking skeletons ever could.
For both health reasons and practical aesthetic reasons, all waifs and faux-plus models should be replaced with genuinely full-figured plus-size models.
30th November 2011, 15:53
While Dita von Teese herself is certainly not full-figured, I give her major kudos for her comments about plus-size models.
This article as a whole suffers from the usual mixed messages,
but her comments in this passage are splendid:
Although Von Teese is about a size 2, carrying plus-sizes in her dress and lingerie lines, which are coming out in 2012, was essential to the formerly blonde Michigan farm girl. “My dress line is a capsule collection of dresses that are my most timeless pieces of my vintage collection. The most-exciting thing for me about both the lingerie and the dresses is we're doing them in plus-sizes, which was really important to me,” she says. “When I saw the dresses on the plus-size models, I got really excited about that because they looked better on them than the other models. I was like, 'Wow, she looks so much hotter than that skinny mini over there.' "
Bravo! It's one thing to affirm that plus-size models look gorgeous in and of themselves, but for Dita von Teese to say that her clothes looked "better" on plus-size models than on the "skinny mini" girls, and that full-figured models also look "hotter" than the minus-size cadavers, is a truly pro-curvy stance.
The only reason why everyone hasn't already realized that clothes look better on plus-size bodies than on corpse-like skeletons is because the media suppresses full-figured beauty. But as soon as anyone, including Ms. von Teese, is exposed to the sight of plus-size models in clothing and can compare their visual appeal to that of the waifs, they recognize the superiority of the Classical aesthetic.
The more the public sees plus-size models, the sooner full-figured femininity will be restored as the cultural ideal of beauty.
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