''Goddess is no waif''
[Originally posted on the Judgment of Paris Forum on November 14th, 2004.]
Regular readers of this site will recall that in our interview with Angela Samuels, co-owner of Canada's "Voluptuous" clothing chain, we noted how the sight of a full-figured mannequin in the store's shop window attracted considerable attention from passers-by.
It turns out that Ms. Samuels may have been on to something when she purchased that particular store prop. As widely reported in the press over the past few days, retailers are increasingly showcasing their wares on plus-size mannequins.
Better yet, the articles that have appeared in conjunction with this publicity campaign have been admirably free of the "scare stats" and related "weight epidemic" nonsense that taints most media coverage of size-related stories.
(Plus-size fashion retailers, take note.)
Instead, not only have the articles been surprisingly positive, but, in what must be considered something of a breakthrough, they have emphasized the fact that the mannequins' more generously-proportioned shapes are more attractive than those of their pencil-thin predecessors.
A article published in The Independent includes the observation that "These mannequins look great, and there is a real sex appeal about them." And while that is very nice to hear, the article goes one step further and comes out entirely in favour of a curve-embracing approach to plus-size fashion:
"J.Lo was the first to stress that women shouldn't be afraid to show their curves, and the popularity of rap made that shape more acceptable," said Critchfield. "And it is about these low-riding jeans looking good on a sexy, tight fit."
One could point out that Jennifer Lopez was hardly the first individual to encourage women to "show their curves," but why quibble? It is truly refreshing to see an endorsement of closely-fitted wardrobe on womanly figures.
The article also includes this revealing, if self-contradictory, statement:
"It is a serious sociological trend that is positive for retailers and customers in that the tyranny of the undernourished perfect model is over," said Rich Rollison of Lifestyle Forms and Display.
How promising to have someone come out and say, point blank, that fashion models are "undernourished." But why call such models "perfect" in the same breath? This is a lingering myth that needs to be shattered. There is nothing "perfect" about sunken cheeks, jutting clavicles, bony arms, etc. "Perfect" is Rubens's Venus at a Mirror. "Perfect" is Lillian Russell. "Perfect" is Shannon Marie at a size 18 . . .
Before we leave this topic, we should offer a few excerpts from a related story (linked below), this one from the New York Times.
Consider the article's opening:
In his Manhattan workroom, Ralph Pucci is putting the finishing touches on his latest mannequin collection for department stores, "Goddess." As the name suggests, Goddess is no waif. Mr. Pucci said he wanted hot and sexy, so she is two to two and a half inches more curvaceous than his standard form and takes her cues not from runway models but from Beyoncé and Jennifer Lopez.
Ladies and gentlemen, the future is now. The "once and future aesthetic" is here--today.
Not only is it a triumph to have a reporter point out that the term "Goddess" is antithetical to the concept of a "waif," but consider how far we have progressed when the press acknowledges that a "hot and sexy" look is achieved by adding size to a female form--not decreasing it.
"Everybody is looking for more," the article quotes one mannequin maker as saying. "The pants just look better when they're filled out."
The piece also makes a reference to the mannequins' "treacherous curves" (a splendid phrase), and includes the following, captivating vignette:
Still, the sight of a voluptuous mannequin can come as a shock. Mr. Knoth, of Goldsmith Inc., said that people seemed bewitched by the Sex line mannequins at a trade show in Las Vegas last March.
One could be a tad cynical here and speculate about why the media seems more prepared to enthuse over plastic goddesses than the real thing (i.e., flesh-and-blood plus-size models). But the tone of these articles is so positive that we regard this as a genuinely encouraging development, as well as a telling indication of how far society has progressed in its appreciation of the Classical female figure.
Now, if only the out-of-the-mainstream fashion elites would catch up . . .
(Thanks go to Suzanne for bringing this topic to our attention.)
Crystal Renn modelling for Lane Bryant, featuring the aesthetic term which best describe the "treacherous" allure of plus-size beauty:
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