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Old 24th July 2011   #5
Senior Member
Join Date: July 2005
Posts: 517
Default Re: Our Queen Grace interview

Marina's commitment to size-celebration is truly wonderful, but for me, what really distinguishes Queen Grace from another other label currently offered to plus-size women is its Old World sensibility and its European roots. The passages in the interview that I find most unique are those in which Marina discusses those themes.

For one thing, I love the fact that she uses phrases like "Old World" and even "old-fashioned" in a wholly positive way. I certainly agree with the following propositions:

MARINA: Most people love the old-fashioned appeal of the name.
MARINA: Iíve received a lot of comments other customers saying that what attracted them to the brand, even before they saw the images of the dresses, is that it exudes that old-fashioned, Old-World sensuality.

The designer's European heritage gives her a perspective outside the thin-centric American sensibility:

MARINA: My heritage stayed with me. It influenced me. Itís something that I love, and when I design clothes, I want to bring that back here, and I want the designs to be influenced by that European aesthetic.

Crucially, it's not just contemporary Europe that Marina is talking about, but traditional, pre-war Europe, where the aristocracy was in place and celebrated a beauty ideal of which plus-size femininity was but one expression:

MARINA: I grew up in Europe. Iím going back to the images of the Old World with the beautiful, Rubenesque body, and the light in their eyes, and the beautiful sexiness of their skin, and their body form. This is something that always drives me in my design ideas.

You can see how this enriches her choices both in her gorgeous models and in her wonderful taste in design, when she talks about incorporating "ruffles and flowy skirts and bows" in her forthcoming spring collection, and in how she responds to Vogue Italia's "Belle Vere" editorial:

MARINA: I would love to create the same imagery, with that same sensuality, with the old-fashioned, opulent, glamorous feel, while the women are actually wearing clothes.

I love the passages in which Marina specifically references her European upbringing. I can relate to this personally, because it reflects my own childhood, as it would for almost anyone who was either born in Europe or was the first-generation son or daughter of European immigrants:

MARINA: [In Europe] everyone was accepted for who they were. We had great celebrations. Whether itís an Italian family or Polish or Russian or German, the greatest events happened around the big table. There was always food and drink and wine, and that was part of the greatest celebrations of life.

As Marina describes, models like Kelsey and Katherine truly are the embodiments of the fairy-tale princesses of traditional European lore:

MARINA: Fairy-tale books that I read as a child always showed the beautiful, voluptuous girl. And little girls grew up with that, seeing that this is exactly how see looks. A Russian beautiful girl, she had red cheeks and beautiful, long, blonde hair, and everyone thought, how beautiful she is.

The most important passage of the entire interview, I think, is one in which Marina contrasts this traditional European vision with modern media sensibility:

MARINA: Any child growing up in Russia would go on trips to the museums and see beautiful art, sculpture, and painting. And the history and the stories that we grew up with were very, very different. We were very much influenced by what happened in the past and how we evolved and who we have become. Even during the time of the communist regime, when a lot of these things were prohibited, and the museums were closed down, beautiful works of art were still celebrated.

Here, however, we are so driven by media, and we are so driven by whatís hot and popular on T.V....And our children are growing up with that mentality, that unless you are popular and skinny and have a lot of money, you donít represent much in the society, and you are not recognized.

People in the West today, especially in North America, grow up as deracinated units of a consumer culture with no sense of their own heritage and traditions, no knowledge of the legacy of culture that preceded them. This leaves them vulnerable to mass-media indoctrination, to be taken in by the latest trend or fad, however toxic.

But an awareness of one's Old World roots allows a person to see past modern media brainwashing, to recognize the anorexic ideal as a temporary aberration, a deviation from the true, timeless ideal that European aristocratic culture celebrated throughout the ages. It offers a viable alternative to the degenerate society in which we live, a promise of something better and more beautiful.

With her Queen Grace collection, and the images that she generates to promote it, and the goddesses whom she selects to showcase it, Marina Zelner is helping to restore that healthier, more natural, more noble aesthetic.
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