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Old 2nd October 2006   #1
Join Date: July 2005
Posts: 1,784
Default Big Girl Knits (review)

Aficionados of plus-size beauty will be delighted to learn that there is currently a publication on the market in which they will find pages upon pages of gorgeous, genuinely full-figured plus-size models.

This publication is not a magazine, however, but a hardcover book. And yet, it exhibits more of the size-positive Mode spirit than any magazine currently in print.

* * *

One of the most exciting pages that ever appeared in Mode was Barbara Brickner's immortal "knock-out knits" image, featured below:

From the Fall 1997 issue of ''Mode'' magazine; click to enlarge

With this one tear sheet, Mrs. Brickner immediately became the most popular of all plus-size models. The page epitomizes Mode at its very best, distilling the essence of size celebration into a single, steamy image. Barbara looks irresistibly seductive--and well aware of her own sensuality. She is indisputably beautiful--but just as significantly, she is visibly and proudly full-figured. Barbara strikes the kind of pose that only true plus-size models can carry off, exuding the type of allure that only they can generate.

She also vividly demonstrates just how sexy knitwear can be--on a sufficiently opulent figure.

And yet, in all of the years that Mode was in existence, the magazine never again created an image quite like this one. Nor has knitwear ever again been exhibited in such a size-positive, sensual way.

Until now.

We stumbled upon the book titled Big Girl Knits just the other day, and were dumbfounded by the beauty of its images. If you have ever wondered what Rubens's models would look like, dressed in knitwear, you will find the answer in Big Girl Knits. You will also encounter a predominantly size-positive text, governed by the belief that generous curves should be accentuated and emphasized, rather than minimized or disguised. All this adds up to a truly groundbreaking and inspiring publication.

The model who steals the show in Big Girls Knits is identified as Natalie Hull. We have no idea if Ms. Hull is represented by an agency or not, but if she isn't, she should be. Her look might be described as a blend of Barbara Brickner and Megan Garcia. (Could there possibly be a better combination than that?) Beyond her physical charms, Ms. Hull is also an extremely adept model, with a real knack for effective posing.

The photography in Big Girl Knits luxuriates in the opulence of this model's beauty, showing off her soft, curvaceous figure, and intoxicatingly shapely arms (exemplified below). The lush settings compliment the model's natural attractions, and the resulting images represent the kind of fashion photography that one forever wishes to see in plus-size fashion magazines and campaigns, but seldom does.

Click to enlarge

Ms. Hull's expressions are extremely effective. She beams with confidence and self-satisfaction--even permitting herself to display an irresistible touch of vanity. Her every image reveals that she knows just how delightful she is--encouraging readers to feel the same way about themselves (and about her). The "bedroom" hairstyle in the following image, with the tantalizing wisps of hair falling over the face, add a touch of real sensuality.

Click to enlarge

The model's poses are beguiling and daring, constituting an unapologetic celebration of womanly curves. Everything comes together in the following image--the pose, the fitted attire, the verdant setting, and especially, the self-assured expression, worthy of Christina, Charlotte, or Barbara.

Click to enlarge

Another key ingredient in the beauty of the pictures is the arrangement of the model's tresses. Each photograph shows a unique, voluptuous hairstyle that exhibits just the right blend of length and "measured messiness," perfectly complimenting the model's sumptuous facial beauty. And since this is a fashion book, it is worth pointing out that the clothing is integral to the effect as well. In the following image, the low cut of this knit top (which employs the body-as-fashion-accessory principle of styling) beautifully frames the model's gorgeous arms and soft neck-and-shoulder area, betraying no hint of a visible clavicle.

Click to enlarge

Many of the book's images--and the following photograph in particular--show off the attractive fullness of the model's facial features. Ms. Hull looks entirely comfortable with herself, and adopts a romantic, faraway gaze. The profuse spill of blonde curls enhances the effect, and the knitted sweater makes the model look adorably . . . cuddly. (Don't knock it--"cuddly" may be, in certain cases, a more alluring look than any other.)

Click to enlarge

As indicated earlier, the tone of the book is generally size-positive. The authors wisely discourage the wearing of oversize pieces, pointing out that a baggy item will simply "swallow" a woman's curves, and will rob her of her shape, "because, for all anyone knows, you could be filling up the whole thing, even if you aren't" (6).

In fact, Big Girl Knits offers full-figured women a knitting principle that could serve as a mantra for plus-size design in general: "We've got curves and our knitting should wrap those curves lovingly--not hang like a sack" (6).

Unfortunately, the authors do cling to a regrettable belief in certain body "flaws"--a fact which renders this book less than 100% size positive. But considering how much of an attitude improvement Big Girl Knits exhibits over, say, the curve-hatred of Figure It Out, this publication warrants our enthusiastic praise and support.

Big Girl Knits is a fine guide to knitting, of course, but it is also much more. By featuring so many lovely, size-positive images of an attractive and genuinely full-figured model, it provides a shining example for other plus-size publications (in any medium) to follow, when choosing the look and size of their models, the fit of their fashions, and even the settings of their photoshoots.

Click to enlarge

- Big Girl Knits, official site

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Old 3rd October 2006   #2
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Join Date: July 2005
Posts: 517
Default Re: Big Girl Knits (review)

I vividly remember the effect that the top image of Barbara Brickner on me, when I first saw it. The moment I discovered it in MODE, I thought, "This is the magazine Iíve been waiting for, my whole life." I was elated. I still consider it one of the all-time-greatest images of plus-size beauty. It's just perfect -- the definitive steamy Barbara gaze (with clenched teeth, and feline eyes), her pose, her full figure, and that wicked touch of the dark nailpolish.

I wish MODE had remained true to that vision throughout its run, instead of diminishing its models in size. If the later MODE had featured images like that, it might still be in business.

I think Natalie is gorgeous, and it's so refreshing to see a model who can be used as an example to say, "See? True plus-size models work. Fashion looks terrific on them." I'd love to see her, or models like her, in fashion campaigns more often.

I picked up a copy of Big Girl Knits at my local bookstore, and was impressed by another point the authors make -- that full-figured knitwear should always employ thinner rather than bulkier threads. This is important for the same reason that plus-size women should opt for thinner fabrics over heavier ones: because thinner fabrics and yarns embrace the body better, following its contours, and giving a shapely, body-conscious, womanly silhouette, while thicker fabrics and threads create that awful sack-like "skimming" effect, which robs the body of its curves, and results in a formless, shapeless mass.

The romantic hairstyles add so much to Natalie's opulent beauty. Funnily enough, there was an article on this very point just the other day, talking about how big, "voluptuous" hair is in style this season (as it should be every season, for full-figured women):

It even associates this style with the popularity guessed it...knitwear. Here's an excerpt:

The curls have it: Fall hair is all about volume and glamour

Joanne Sasvari, CanWest News Service

Published: Friday, September 29, 2006

Big hair, smoky eyes, red lips -- this fall, fashion is all about volume and drama, and so is hair and makeup. Here we show you the tips, tools and techniques you need to get the season's hottest looks. This fall, think Hollywood's golden era. Think '80s-style colour and volume. And above all, think glamour.

Better dig out your hot rollers and stock up on setting lotions. Hair this season is big.

"Fullness. Volume. Voluptuous hair," says stylist Greg Silvaggio of Salon Escape in Calgary, describing what's fashionable for hair this fall.

"We take our cue from fashion. There's a lot of...textures, knits," he says. Hair should, of course, complement the clothes, and this season that means hair that's styled, hair that's curled, hair that has movement and depth.

"It's not that uniform corkscrew curl. It's something that looks like you can do it yourself or you've done it yourself. There should be an easiness about it, an easy sex appeal," says Silvaggio...
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Old 7th October 2006   #3
Join Date: March 2006
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 71
Default Re: Big Girl Knits (review)

The above lilac-colored knit sweater is especially lovely. I like the fact that instead of dull drab colors, or hideous patterns of the kind that designers used to push on full-figured women, there is now a plethora of colorful clothes. The cut of the sweater sits right on her curvy hips and there is a deep enough neckline to suggest a full bosom. And the color compliments her skin tone well.
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