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Shelley
10th June 2011, 12:11
The first major article about this year's Full-Figured Fashion Week has now been published, appearing in the New York Daily News. It's well worth a read.

http://www.nydailynews.com/lifestyle/fashion/2011/06/10/2011-06-10_full_figured_fashion_week_in_new_york_city_shows_off_the_talent_of_plussize_desi.html

The article indicates why FFFWeek is so very necessary: exclusion, the exclusion that the minus-size industry perpetuates against full-figured women:

The third annual Full Figured Fashion Week is all about the sizes that are largely ignored by the mainstream fashion world and snubbed during the hoopla of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week.

"Plus-sized women's fashion is virtually ignored by society," said [Deb] Malkin. "Full Figured Fashion Week is a chance to pay respect to the creativity in plus-size design."
The article also indicates why the fashion that is presented at FFFWeek is so significant. It represents the most body-positive aspect of plus-size fashion, clothing that showcases feminine curves rather than hiding them, clothing that is beyond tired old "career" wear:

"Plus-size women in America want fashionable, well-made clothes," said [Gwen] DeVoe. "We have money to spend. and we're happy to give it to the designers and stores who help us celebrate our curves."

"A lot of clothing for plus-sized women is just really ugly," said Rachel Kacenjar, the Cleveland-based designer of Sweetooth Couture. "There's a lot of business-casual apparel but really not very much for women who want something different or unusual."
But the main raison d'etre for the show, and its highest distinction, is that it features models who are authentically plus-size (over a size 14).

"It's been crazy," said Devoe. "It's just exploding. Women are finally getting a chance to see fashion come alive on models with bodies they can relate to."

[Jill Alexander] said she hopes women who feel uncomfortable in their clothes feel hopeful after seeing her designs on the runway, modeled by women who look like them.

"I hope these women realize that they can feel beautiful and that there is clothing out there that can make women feel confident," she said. "It's really true that putting on the right outfit can help you be your best self."
The very sight of models this size walking the runway is the most transformative aspect of FFFWeek, regardless of what they wear, because it puts plus-size beauty in an identifiably fashion-oriented context.

I cannot wait to see which Judgment of Paris favourites will participate in this year's show!

Hannah
15th June 2011, 14:09
More news coverage about FFFWeek is appearing today. Here are a couple of items with some interesting passages.

http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/163341/20110615/full-figured-fashion-week-plus-size-clothing-women.htm

This comment puts the significance of the event into perspective.

Let's face it, the mainstream fashion world mostly ignores the needs and styles of woman of certain sizes; and by certain sizes I mean sizes over 12. That is what Full Figured Fashion Week is all about; showing the fashion world that just because a woman has curves does not mean she cannot own good quality, designer clothing at great prices.

Most plus size women either have to pay extra for trendy clothing in their size or just settle for just plain ugly clothes that do not even flatter their figure. Full Figured Fashion Week features sexy swim suits, curve-hugging skirts, cocktail dresses, shoes, tops and high-end evening wear that make any plus- size woman feel like a goddess, which is how every woman should feel in their clothing.
Another article offers a few insights from Gwen DeVoe, the event's founder.

http://www.istockanalyst.com/business/news/5231841/full-figures-in-fashion-at-n-y-c-show

I like the emphasis on how FFFWeek differs from a standard, minus-size show:

Unlike traditional Fashion Week, which is all about beautiful models and edgy clothing, this gathering is about boosting real women's self-esteem and body acceptance. Panel events will include open discussions of issues affecting plus-size women and teens.

"It is empowering to be at an event with like-minded individuals," said DeVoe. "It makes them feel good to be in a room with high energy and such self-love."
Actually, I'd say that mainstream fashion week is about "ugly models and freakish clothing" whereas FFFWeek IS about "beautiful models and attractive clothing," and, yes, definitely about "boosting real women's self-esteem and body acceptance."

No doubt about it - the most size-celebratory endeavours in fashion are always those that are plus-specific.

Tanya
16th June 2011, 15:42
I think the main reason for FFFWeek's success is the vision of its founder, Gwen DeVoe. Ever since I read the interview with her on the Judgment of Paris, I have admired her point of view. Perhaps alone among all of the high-profile individuals who speak on behalf of the plus-size community, she expresses a truly pro-plus philosophy.

Glamour published an interview with her yesterday that's a must-read:

http://www.glamour.com/fashion/blogs/slaves-to-fashion/2011/06/gwen-devoe-director-of-full-fi.html

The passages that really stood out to me:

STF: Do you think there's a stigma around the term "plus size," or are you fine with it?

GD: I am fine with it. And I agree with a lot of my colleagues that the recent attempts to eliminate the term "plus size" is an appalling effort to marginalize plus size consumers. From a business perspective, plus size consumers react positively to ads and catalogs that feature plus size models in them. Plus size consumers are loyal customers whose buying power should no longer be taken for granted.
Bravo! Instead of a mixed message, Ms. DeVoe delivers a clear and positive message - because "plus-size" IS positive. The only people who argue against the plus-size label are those who are trying to eliminate the plus-size body.

Better still, Ms. DeVoe is unambiguous when it comes to defining the size of the plus-size model:

STF: Speaking of, there is some debate or cloudiness in the market about what constitutes "plus size." As an expert, what's your definition? What size does it begin at?

GD: When I think of "plus size", I think of someone with a curvier body and usually wearing a size 14 and up. Sometimes it's difficult to pinpoint because there are so many different body types, which can make women look bigger or smaller than they actually are. For instance, a size 14 that is 5'9" may appear to be much smaller.
This is why FFFWeek is so exciting and so positive, whereas all other attempts fail. Instead of faux-plus models, FFFWeek features gorgeous and genuinely full-figured goddesses on the runway. That, above all, is what makes it a truly empowering event.

Another publication agrees:

http://clutchmagonline.com/2011/06/full-figured-fashion-week-2011/

What is also refreshing about Full Figured Fashion Week is the fact that many of the models actually wear plus sizes; often times, full-figured models are only “plus” in comparison to the super-slim traditional models and wear sizes 8-10, which are readily available in non-plus clothing stores and collections.
As Lindsey Garbelman said in her interview, if a model doesn't wear plus-size clothing she has no business being a plus-size model. Full-figured models must actually be full-figured (in addition to gorgeous and talented).

I am excited that the plus-size community has at least this one major event every year, FFFWeek, which is a true celebration of womanly beauty.

M. Lopez
17th June 2011, 19:35
Here's a charming story about FFFWeek - on ABC News, no less.

http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/full-figured-fashion-week-style-burgers-hold-judgment/story?id=13859229

The opening sets the affirmative tone for the piece.

You knew it was different when the sliders came out.

"You don't get this at fashion week," said Gwen DeVoe, the founder of Full Figured Fashion Week. "We have burgers and fries. We're not evil because we're full. We've eaten."

But beyond the food -- plates of fried calamari also circulated around the rooftop lounge -- Wednesday night's kickoff party for New York City's third annual showcase of plus-size style felt unlike any mainstream fashion week bash. Designers and models exchanged hugs, not air-kisses. They beamed. They laughed. Finally, a party of their own.
It reminds me of what Lindsey said in her interview about plus-size models being much nicer than the minus-size waifs, because curvy models actually eat normally instead of starving themselves.

I love the spirit of celebration that surrounds this empowering event.

Meredith
21st June 2011, 16:13
Full-Figured Fashion Week was mentioned today on CNN! It's more of a challenges-facing-the-industry article than a celebratory overture, of the kind that Robin Givhan wrote for the Washington Post last year, but still, it's wonderful to see FFFWeek getting such prestigious coverage, thus making people aware of its existence.

http://www.cnn.com/2011/LIVING/06/21/full.figured.fashions/

It features, naturally, some excellent comments by Gwen DeVoe

FFW was created on the premise that plus-sized women are generally ignored by American designers, every trendy mall store, all the glossy magazines -- and they're tired of it.

"Let's call it frustrated," said DeVoe.

DeVoe has not appointed herself the spokesperson for all plus-size women in America, but she could.

Her goal three years ago in putting together FFW was to get fashion designers and their customers together because she just didn't think the people who are paid to do that in this country were doing it very well.

She thinks the designers and retailers don't get it. She thinks they don't respect the plus-size customer. Furthermore, she thinks they are leaving gobs of big-girl cash on the table.

"They say we don't spend money on clothes? That's bananas," DeVoe says. "We're a very loyal customer. But we don't buy the magazines because we don't see ourselves in them. We don't go to their shows because we aren't invited -- and by the way, neither are you."

FFW's Saturday night finale brought together 1,000 of those previously uninvited designer-friendly customers who are ready to buy. Showcasing more than 25 designers, the event was what DeVoe had imagined -- a toast to the curvy figure, proof that women can eschew the cultural norm of model-thinness and wear the best clothes and be worthy of Italian Vogue. The fact that the show looked like a million and could rake in likewise was not to be lost in the shuffle of any such runway extravaganza either.
Nice to see the comment that the show "looked like a million," because it really did! It set an all-new high standard for plus-size fashion shows that no one has ever reached before; not even close.

And while the article says that Ms. DeVoe has "not appointed herself the spokesperson for all plus-size women in America," I would be quite happy if she would.

Gwen's answer as to why full-figured women currently spend less on fashion than their underweight rivals is exactly right -- because they don't see themselves represented in fashion imagery. But FFFWeek is changing that.

Oh, and clicking through to number 11 in the slideshow presents a gorgeous picture of Lindsey Garbelman, shot by Richard Lew, walking the runway for (I'm told) the Sonsi show. She looks fantastic!

MelanieW
22nd June 2011, 18:12
Northern Virginia Magazine published a write-up about FFFWeek yesterday by Camille Leverett, the owner of a local plus-size business.

http://www.northernvirginiamag.com/health-and-beauty/swag/2011/06/21/style-report-2011-full-figured-fashion-week/

The piece offers an enthusiastic account of the grand finale:

The finale fashion show and awards ceremony, held Saturday evening, was a spectacular showcase of beautiful fashion forward designs specifically made for a plus size woman’s curves. There were 13 independent designers, boutiques and retailers represented from around the country.

The highlights of the show were the collections by Queen Grace Designs, Jill Alexander Designs and Sweetooth Couture. Designer Marina Zelner of Queen Grace Collection debuted her first collection which will launch in the fall of 2011, Marina’s approach to design included the use of multiple textures with a touch of feminity. Jill Alexander of Jill Alexander Designs, whose background in stage costume design is evident, walked models down the catwalk in unusual fabrics and patterns. And Rachel Kacenjar of Sweetooth Couture “deemed the plus size Betsy Johnson” showcased her unique and innovative style of bright colors, plaid and stripes for the fall.
From the pictures Ive seen, I would agree that the designers she mentions had the most eye-catching collections, though every single image from the evening has completely WOWED me.

The article even comes with a number of photos that the writer herself took at the show. Two are of Kelsey - so she was clearly impressed by her beauty!

Kelsey in Jill Alexander Designs:

http://www.northernvirginiamag.com/wp-content/gallery/full-figured-fashion-week/jill-alexander-designs-1.jpg

Kelsey closing the Queen Grace show, with designer Marina Zelner:

http://www.northernvirginiamag.com/wp-content/gallery/full-figured-fashion-week/marina-zelner-and-model-queen-grace-designs.jpg

There has never been an event in plussize fashion as amazing as this. Thank you to everyone who made it a reality!