(Originally posted on The Judgment of Paris Forum, January 9th, 2004.)
"Sacrilege," you say. "No magazine was ever as good as Mode."
Perhaps not. However, surprising as it may seem, there was one magazine which nearly equalled the original Mode in every way--from the beauty of its models, to the joie de vivre of its tone, to the quality of its photography. And the name of this magazine was . . . Yes! (exclamation mark included).
Yes! was a British plus-size fashion glossy which enjoyed a four-year print run in the 1990s, and when Mode debuted in 1997, the influence of Yes! was apparent. Alas, we only received a few issues of the magazine before it folded, and--to our lasting regret--disposed of the bulk of these issues long before The Judgment of Paris went online.
However, we did archive a stunning jungle-themed Yes! layout featuring Lorna Roberts, which later provided the material for her gallery page. We also retained the following extraordinary ad for Evans (the "Lane Bryant of England"), which appeared as one issue's back cover. The model is Leanne Amicucci, a size-16 former Hughes/Wilhelmina girl who also appeared in Mode.
(You may click the image to view the ad at a larger size.)
At the time that this ad was published, the British "outsize" fashion industry had not yet come to the absurd conclusion that the only way to produce glamourous images of full-figured models was to use models who were not actually full-figured. In future years, Evans and the other top British plus-size retailers would shift to a faux-plus standard (to the limitless frustration of their customers). But in 1997, in the pages of Yes! one could still see size-16 models in images that matched the quality of the mainstream fashion glossies.
This ad does everything that an image in a sophisticated plus-size fashion magazine should do: it presents a size-16 model in a seductive way, particularly emphasizing her allure by adding the element of a male model expressing obvious (and surely unfeigned) desire, and it displays a level of technical accomplishment that can stand up to any image from Vogue or Elle. And although the model's outfit is not particularly body-conscious, her full facial features have not been digitally distorted to make her appear slimmer--hence, the image qualifies as size positive.
Is it really so difficult to conceive of a plus-size fashion periodical that would equal any magazine on the racks in terms of its photographic artistry, but showcase fashion on legitimately full-figured goddesses rather than on androgynous waifs? We can reference not just one, but two magazines that "got it right," thus far.
Anyone who creates a similar publication today would do well to follow their example.