Shannon Marie and Valerie modelling together
(Originally posted on The Judgment of Paris Forum, August 02, 2004.)
It sounds like the ultimate Judgment of Paris fantasy, doesn't it? But believe it or not, it actually happened--and the results appeared (where else?) in Mode magazine (September 1998).
But before you get too excited, we must concede that, unfortunately, it was not an evening-wear layout, nor a lingerie editorial, nor (heaven help us) a swimwear spread. If it had been any of those things, then no plus-size model aficionado could ever have survived a glimpse of such unimaginable wonder.
Rather, it was a two-page casual-wear Lane Bryant promo with a "college campus" theme, shot in the "lifestyle" vein that was popular at the time.
Looking back at these two ads raises a number of interesting points. First of all, although Shannon Marie was not yet at the peak of her beauty, her goddesslike qualities were fully apparent--the qualities that long confirmed her as the most gorgeous plus-size model of all time. The flowing blonde hair, the beguiling face, the decadently curvaceous figure--she was already the perfect embodiment of the archetypal image of femininity that we all hold locked in our hearts.
But who could have known, looking at these images, that the Valerie Lefkowitz whom we see here--the pretty but rather tiny girl, not yet possessing the soft, rounded facial features that would win her so much public adoration just a few years into the future--would someday bloom into the industry's most beloved model?
Indeed, the fact that these two models appeared here together may have been an act of Providence, because it was Valerie herself who took the place that Shannon Marie vacated when the Irish beauty went on an indefinite sabbatical from the industry. Long-time readers of this forum may even recall that a number of viewers mistook Ms. Lefkowitz for Shannon Marie, when Valerie's David's Bridal images appeared in Grace, in 2003.
In hindsight, the transfer of the tiara from one model to the other seems especially fitting, because these two fair maidens are remarkably similar: both 5'8; both sporting long, luxuriant tresses; both displaying "soft physiques" and round facial features; both possessing genuinely Classical, pear-shaped proportions--in short, both exhibiting the full compliment of qualities that define the timeless ideal of plus-size beauty.
We are all of us deeply thankful for the images that Shannon Marie created during her years as a plus-size supermodel, just as we continue to be deeply appreciative of the images that Valerie has created, and continues to create.
But these early Lane Bryant ads also remind us that Shannon Marie and Valerie are contemporaries, and that, strong as the industry is (aesthetically speaking), it would be even stronger if both of these young starlets were currently creating images of timeless feminine beauty.
And who among us can abandon the dream of seeing these two divinities creating masterpieces together, once again?
Shannon Marie's last, most breathtaking campaign--for Fashion Bug, Spring 2001:
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