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Chad
24th January 2007, 01:46
This is couture week in Paris, the twice-annual apex of fashion, when an elite few designers show off what they consider to be the best of the best of their designs, the summit of their art.

In reality, while the craftsmanship is always impeccable, the clothing itself runs the gamut from the sublime to the ridiculous, and the models are...just what you'd expect. Cadaverous.

But what's this? From the "things you never thought you'd hear" department, one of Frace's top designers - one of the select few who present during couture week - is actually calling for an end to fashion's "parade of skeletons" (his own phrase).

The article, from Britain's newspaper The Daily Mail, is here:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/text/print.html?in_article_id=430939&in_page_id=1879

but it's so astonishing, that the full text, posted below, deserves a hearing:

...................

Skeletons go out of fashion

23/01/07

Fashion designer Valentino yesterday called for an end to the 'parade of skeletons' in catwalk shows and urged a return to curvy, full-figured models.

The Italian stylist is the latest couturier to hit out at ultra-skinny models.

Experts say girls with size-zero figures encourage impressionable teenagers to develop eating disorders.

Spain, Italy and Brazil have banned extremely skinny models from catwalks.

Valentino Garavani, 74, made the comments at this week's Paris catwalk shows after French fashion bosses refused to ban size-zero girls from modelling.

He said: "I want a more fuller woman, proud of her femininity, with fuller sides, more life and a fuller bust. Elegant but with more emphasis on the curves.

"I think enough is enough with thin models. Recently we have not been watching women on the catwalk but a parade of skeletons."

After his Paris show, he said his models included some who are a British size ten, adding: "The models I used were far fleshier, more like normal women."

Fellow Italian designer Giorgio Armani has said the fashion industry has a duty to "work together against anorexia".
...................


Okay, a British size ten is still very, very thin, but just to have a designer express this degree of exhaustion with the androgynous look, and a preference for a fuller-figured models, is extraordinary. Even the two designers who have used plus-size models in their shows thus far never criticized the dominant, underweight aesthetic that their industry has imposed.

Just words? Perhaps. But very good words - and more importantly, a praise-worthy point of view.

M. Lopez
24th January 2007, 14:06
"Calls for"? If he wanted "fuller" models, he should book them.

The statement may be a good one, but "actions speak louder," as they say. Apparently, the models in the show were just as pointedly thin as ever - "malnourished" and "undersized" with visible signs of "undereating":

http://news.yahoo.com/s/fwd/20070123/en_fashion_fwd/coutureapalershadeofvalentino

Interesting to see the fashion press criticizing him for it, though. The writer claims that there is "an industry attempt to, at the very least, address the issue over anorexia in modeling." I'll believe it when I see it - that is, when I see some results on the runway. Until then, it IS only words - meaningless.

HSG
25th January 2007, 02:57
<br>The day when a Parisian fashion designer makes a comment that could have been penned by a Judgment of Paris contributor is a good day indeed:<p><blockquote><i>[Valentino] said: "I want a more fuller woman, proud of her femininity, with fuller sides, <strong>more life</strong> and a fuller bust. Elegant but with more emphasis on the curves.

"I think enough is enough with thin models. Recently we have not been watching women on the catwalk but a parade of skeletons."</i></blockquote><p>If we take the statement at face value, it is nothing less than a size-celebratory observation. It is far more substantive than a meaningless evasion about "inner beauty," or an empty platitude expressing "eye of the beholder" relativism. It genuinely makes an aesthetic case for plus-size beauty.

The linking of femininity with womanly fullness is a timeless aesthetic value, but to have this expressed by a Parisian couture designer is unprecedented. Particularly telling is Valentino's statement that a <i>"fuller woman"</i> has <i>"more life"</i>--i.e., that there is a profound aesthetic difference between the androgynous look and timeless femininity, and that the soft fullness of womanly beauty evokes qualities that the thinner standard does not. This is a complete conceptual turnabout for the fashion industry.

That said, the <i>FWD</i> reporter is right in pointing out the glaring absence of any significantly curvier models in Valentino's show. As an assessment of designer's actual collection, however, the <i>FWD</i> review seems a little harsh, and insufficiently appreciative of a show that had considerable aesthetic merit. Anyone who is interested can visit style.com (linked below) or elle.com, to see a slideshow of the complete collection for themselves. (Elle.com also features a runway <a href="http://www.elle.com/runwayvideo/10191/valentino-spring-2007-haute-couture-video.html" target="_blank">video</a>, which demonstrates how the white garments were lit so as to appear ethereal and translucent.)

Our favourite piece was the following, very feminine design, which, with the gentle, natural colours of its print, stands out even more vividly when viewed in the context of an all-white collection:<p><center><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/valentino01.jpg"></center><p>One could easily imagine this garment in a Victorian context. A photo shoot presenting this dress in a formal garden, with the sun shining through the thin fabric, moving in the gentle beeze, would be enchanting. The "tied" details are especially nice, as are the floral embellishments:<p><center><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/valentino02.jpg"></center><p>However, like all of the more feminine pieces in Valentino's show, it would have looked far more appealing if the designer had taken his own words to heart, and presented it on a plus-size model, whose figure would have given it shape. On Valentino's androgynous waif, it looks rather too cylindrical and formless.

Chloe Agnew in white, who is everything the designer ostensibly asked for: <i>"a more fuller woman, proud of her femininity, with fuller sides, more life and a fuller bust. Elegant but with more emphasis on the curves."</i><p><center><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/ca/cap314.jpg"></center><p>- <a href="http://www.style.com/fashionshows/collections/S2007CTR/complete/thumb/VALENTIN?trend=&page=3" target="_blank">Valentino's couture collection</a>

Emily
27th January 2007, 04:59
Many of the pieces in Valentino's collection are actually quite feminine and pretty, and could easily be adapted for plus-size figures. There are many ideas here for youthful, feminine plus-size retailers to adapt for their own designs.

In fact, these styles would definitely look better on curvier bodies, like Chloe's, rather than on the models whom the designer employed -- who mostly look like walking telephone poles. Not very flattering, for these attractive outfits.

I especially enjoyed the video because it revealed the overall environment of the show in a way that the still images do not. The pure white drapes at the sides were a brilliant touch, and made the entire presentation seem like a runway show in heaven (except for the fact that angels have traditionally been depicted as soft and full-figured, not skeletal).

Incidentally, it's sobering to realize that whether Valentino did use models who were a "British size ten" or not, that is approximately the size of many of the models used by a certain Italian plus-size retailer, in its twice-yearly runway events. Hopefully, if straight-size designers do start using larger models, it will encourage said plus-size retailer to start using models who are more genuinely full-figured in its own shows.