The first thing you need to know about the newest edition of Figure
is that it contains no diet ads whatsoever. Nor is it blighted by ads for diet-company products
(which are just as offensive). That already makes it far superior to the previous issue, which was a travesty.
The second thing you need to know is that Kelsey Olson, looking more gorgeous than ever, appears in a six-page layout photographed by Kathryn Gamble.
What Michel Arnaud was to Mode,
Ms. Gamble is to Figure,
having shot many of the magazine's best editorials. And Kelsey is Figure
's good-luck charm. She always brings a heady dose of youth and beauty to its pages, which the magazine very much needs.
Miss Olson's latest story is called "Now & Then," consisting of three "now" looks (career wear), and three "then" looks (evening wear). The finest of the pages is certainly this one:
Kelsey looks absolutely stunning here, in a ruched purple dress that holds her figure in a loving embrace, defining her waist and nether-hourglass curves, and offering a dizzying view of her decolletage. The cut of the dress emphasizes the model's buxom charms, and the ruching allows the fabric to cling to her figure without constricting it. Kelsey looks sensually well-fed in this outfit, yet her pose gives her a dominant quality as well, as does her confident expression. It is as if she realizes that the soft fullness of her figure is precisely what gives her power over her admirers. The floral pin in the jacket is a splendid touch, adding to the overall femininity of the look. The hairstyle is breathtaking--a magnificent mane of golden tresses that is both regal and romantic. In this image, Figure's reader see a woman who knows that she can indulge herself freely, secure in the awareness that her beauty can win her anything--or anyone--she wants.
Scarcely less stunning is this photo, with Miss Olson in a romantic pink blouse. The delicacy of the fabric suggests the soft, yielding nature of the wearer. The ruffles emphasize her femininity, giving her a touch of the princess, even in contemporary attire. Her pose seems relaxed and languid, intimating the effortless nature of the model's beauty. Kelsey need never exert herself to be the belle at any party or social gathering. She has only to dress her opulent figure in a delicate, revealing blouse such as this, and all the world is hers. Note the dramatically plunging neckline; yet the fact that the blouse is so girlish softens the effect, making the allure very gentle (and therefore, all the more irresistible). The expression, and the hat, suggest a touch of sauciness on the wearer's part, but one's chief impression of the model is of captivating languor and indolence, emphasized by the "measured messiness" of her hairstyle. Notice also the kissable magenta lipgloss--a more compelling shade than red, and second only to pink as the most irresistible of hues.
The third evening-look finds the model in a somewhat less interesting top, but Kelsey nevertheless makes it desirable, her voluptuous figure giving the tunic shape.
When we zoom in close, however, we discover the secret of the picture's allure. Notice the intensely sensual detail of Kelsey's dimpled knuckles--one of the most attractive of figure-features on a plus-size model, betokening as it does her soft, well-fed nature. Kelsey's wide-eyed, appetitive expression is mesmerizing. She seems intensely desirous--passionately so. The hairstyle retains some of the romantic curl seen in the purple-dress photo, but appears to be in the process of loosening, as (one imagines) is the wearer's self-control. Miss Olson has a unique ability to involve viewers in her images, completely absorbing their interest.
Turning (reluctantly) from the "then" to the "now," we find Kelsey in a career outfit that . . . well, that accomplishes what it sets out to do. Creative styling touches, like the reptile-hide handbag and the elaborate necklace, do give the ensemble some character.
But once again, it is when we draw closer that we discover what makes the picture so lovely. The sensual fullness of Kelsey's babylike face is now visible. The viewer watches in fascination as her golden hair spills loosely, heavily, over her shoulders. The look in her eyes, the open mouth, suggest her banked-down passions. The "professional" nature of the attire seems merely a disguise. The pagan goddess--Venus herself--is ready to burst forth, to doff her career camouflage and reveal her essential feminine being.
The cover page of the editorial shows Kelsey in another "day" outfit. Here too specific styling details make the ensemble more age-appropriate for Miss Olson: in this case, the beret-like knit hat.
The close-up shows us a model whose joie de vivre is irrepressible, and whose rather serious attire hasn't extinguished her fun-loving side. The feathered, flowing hairstyle is captivating, reminding the viewer of her true feminine nature.
And finally, we see Kelsey in this rather sober getup. On any other model, the outfit would look too severe, but Miss Olson manages to soften even this ensemble.
The roundness of her facial features, the gentle, almost pleading look in her baby-blue eyes, and the shapeliness of her arm show the viewer the girl beneath the wardrobe. Her youthful ponytail helps as well, tumbling over her shoulder in such a pretty way.* * *
This editorial is undoubtedly meant to demonstrate how certain basic pieces can be adapted from day wear to evening wear. However, the fact that Kelsey looks infinitely more attractive in her party/social looks than in her "practical" uniforms communicates a far more significant message.
When she is dressed in genuinely feminine attire, Kelsey is in her element. Such wardrobe exhibits her true nature, and confirms her raison d'etre: to be beautiful, to experience pleasure, to be worshipped.
By contrast, her "career" identity seems artificial, a false front, masking her essential self, like a disguise that she is forced to wear--but only temporarily, before she can doff it and again become a true woman.
Goddesses are not meant for the drudgery of the workaday world. They are meant to be pampered and spoiled, and have all of their needed provided for, all of their whims obeyed, leaving them free to bestow their inspirational beauty upon humanity. Androgynous waifs may disguise this truth, but plus-size models reveal it to the world anew.
(You may click on any of the above images to view them at a larger size.)