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Old 7th May 2007   #1
Join Date: July 2005
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Default Figure (May/June), with Kelsey Olson

After months of remaining static in terms of quality, it is a pleasure to see that Figure's new issue (May/June 2007) shows a marked aesthetic improvement. In fact, this is probably the magazine's best showing since its Spring 2004 entry, which featured the iconic image of Valerie Lefkowitz (then at her size 14/16 best) being tenderly kissed by a sailor. And since that issue was poisoned by the presence of diet ads, and the current edition is not, this may well be the finest all-around issue of the Figure to date (although "Romantic Lines" remains the magazine's single best story).

Without question, the most gorgeous layout in the current number is a spread featuring the breathtaking Kelsey Olson. (How could it not be?) Undoubtedly awed by the enthusiastic response that it received to two ads featuring Miss Olson in its last issue, Figure wisely decided to capitalize on the popularity of this gorgeous model by including her in its editorial pages.

Kelsey's layout is called "Ship Shape," and, as the title implies, it showcases nautically-inspired summer styles. To Figure's great credit (and this is one example of significant editorial improvement), the magazine did not merely shoot the wardrobe indoors, in a bare studio, but had Kelsey photographed on an actual sailing sloop, navigating the ocean blue.

Here is the most gorgeous image from the pictorial, showing Kelsey reposing on the deck of the ship, with sunlight gently illuminating her golden tresses, and bathing her in a celestial light.

Click to enlarge

"American Beauty" is one of the captions that accompanies the spread, and it refers not only to the apparel in this image, but also to Miss Olson's considerable charms--for "American Beauty" was the nickname of Lillian Russell, whose appearance Kelsey, (with her blonde-haired, azure-eyed, fair-skinned attributes,) echoes so very closely.

Click to enlarge

This layout is highly original. Although Mode once ran a story featuring Barbara Brickner aboard a cruise ship, photographing Kelsey on a sporty sailing vessel gives this editorial real energy--which is highly appropriate, given Miss Olson's youth.

The only minor criticism that one might offer about this spread is that it doesn't capitalize on Kelsey's Classical contours to the degree that it could. The most attractive figure shot in the layout is the following--a tiny detail-scan of a larger tear sheet. Kelsey possesses perhaps the most gorgeous curves of any model in the industry, and here we see her shapely legs and rounded arms in all of their luscious glory. The strapless, sleeveless top frames her figure in a seductive way, and also appears to be a very comfortable piece. This outfit richly deserved another, larger image in the magazine.

Fans are already clamouring to see more of Kelsey in future editions of Figure.

* * *

After Miss Olson, the most attractive editorial image in the magazine belongs to Ivana (Ford NY). Figure has featured lingerie spreads in nearly every issue, but most of these have been less than stellar. The following image is a remarkable exception, and is a personal best for Ivana.

The fact that the model is in a state of indolent repose immediately endows the picture with considerable sensuality. The natural surroundings are lush and idyllic, harmonizing with the model's rich beauty. The props add to the dreamy, relaxed ambience: The journal in the model's hand implies that she is in reflective mood (matched by her faraway expression). The lemonade in the background prompts the viewer to imagine the model languorously imbibing a tall glass of crystal-cool refreshment, to offset the summer heat.

If there is any apparel range that Lane Bryant has always understood perfectly, it is lingerie, and this image confirms LB's impeccable taste in this field. The strawberry pattern in the garment is very pretty (as the caption notes) and feminine. Girlish, even. The design gives the ensemble a youthful innocence that makes it far more sensual than if it exhibited the too-obvious, gaudy, "adult" colours (red, or royal blue) in which lingerie is usually produced. Note how the headband picks up the strawberry hue.

Click to enlarge

But of course, the real brilliance of the image derives from the fact that is prominently displays the soft curves along the model's side. Ivana possesses a stunning size-16 figure (38-36-47), and for once, a photographer was visionary enough to exhibit the full measure of her well-fed beauty. That detail, above all others, is what makes this picture a size-positive masterpiece.

* * *

As if the above images weren't riches enough, the issue also features Melissa Masi's "Size Lovely" Fruit of the Loom ad, which we discussed in a recent thread, as well as a photo of Yanderis in swimwear (which we will treat separately, in a forthcoming post).

This is also the first Figure cover in ages that shows an actual . . . figure. The body in question belongs to none other than Mia Tyler, who is interviewed in this issue.

We haven't heard from Ms. Tyler in a while. She initially achieved popularity as a model several seasons ago, then lost fans when she made an ill-advised appearance on an anti-plus TV series. But her Figure cover is quite appealing. It presents her indisputably as a plus-size model, in an image that is "bold" and "sexy" (as the cover line announces), but also tasteful. Ms. Tyler has always had good fortune with her plus-size-periodical appearances, because these innately conservative publications take some of her "edge" off, and present her in a more restrained and classy manner.

Click to enlarge

In fact, the only real visual disappointment in the magazine is the bridal layout. It's not that there is anything particularly wrong with it. (One of the models is even genuinely full-figured, although given the bridal theme, the models probably should have been younger.)

However, bridal editorials are judged according to the highest aesthetic standards. Layouts in mainstream bridal magazines exhibit unrestrained romanticism and whimsy, showing models in extravagant, opulent settings, surrounded by rich furnishings (as seen in these examples),

or in lush natural environments of dreamlike beauty.

The setting of the Figure editorial is far too dull and prosaic, compared to the ornate, elaborate aesthetic that makes great bridal ads and layouts so memorable.

But the fact that Charming Shoppes is now promoting bridal fashions gives Figure a wonderful opportunity. If, in the future, the magazine can enlist the services of a photographer who can match the opulent, Old World aesthetic of mainstream bridal publications,

with romantic locations and luxurious environments,

and if it can feature the gowns on younger (but equally full-figured) models, then Figure's bridal spreads could well become the most gorgeous elements in future issues of the magazine. If these conditions are met, then the opulent beauty of the settings and of the models will be in perfect harmony--and when that happens, Figure will actually surpass the quality of current bridal publications, in which the inappropriate modernity of the models' emaciated figures strikes a note of discord against the Old World elegance of their surroundings, and their dresses.

So, bravo to Figure for retaining its best aspects (no diet ads, and the use of true plus-size models, size 14 and up), and for improving its aesthetic content.

There is still considerable room for growth, of course, but if current developments continue, then perhaps someday, Figure will truly become a worthy successor to the original Mode.

(You may click on the Figure tears to view them at a larger size.)

Last edited by HSG : 7th May 2007 at 13:49.
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Old 8th May 2007   #2
M. Lopez
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Default Re: Figure (May/June), with Kelsey Olson

The Kelsey images are sensational. This is an editorial that Mode would have been proud to run - and if that magazine still existed, Kelsey would definitely be a "Mode girl." I agree that the red camisole is the nicest piece (probably in the whole issue), and it looks great on her.

I hope the magazine continues to include more youth-oriented fashions, and younger models. Looking at those bridal pictures makes me imagine how gorgeous a bridal layout Figure could produce with, say, Charlotte Coyle, or Christina Schmidt - or Kelsey herself.

Mia's cover stands out (in a good way) on the newsstand. She also looks genuinely curvy in the photos that accompany her pages. She makes an interesting point in her interview about how her understanding of full-figured modelling changed over time:

It took a couple of years for that stuff to really sink in, for me to understand that there was a cause in plus-size modeling. Now, every job I take, I think: "...What kind of message am I sending?"
It's a nice thought. I don't think (at least, I hope) that she would ever appear on an anti-plus TV show again.

For me, the only flaw left in the magazine are the number of low-calorie ads. It's not as bad as diet ads (which would be inexcusable), but they still strike a sour note, still send the message that readers should be self-conscious, rather than enjoying themselves to the fullest. Why not just have regular food ads, with delicious treats of any kind - and no talk of calories at all?

Figure has improved, and if it could iron out that last wrinkle, it would be a wholly positive publication.
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Old 13th May 2007   #3
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Default Re: Figure (May/June), with Kelsey Olson

One thing that I especially adore about these images from the new Figure is that they have that distinctive "vacation" atmosphere which was such an enjoyable feature of Mode (as someone else commented in a recent thread).

You feel more relaxed when you see these pictures; and even when you can't take a holiday at the moment, the magazine gives you an escape, for a little while. Let the starving models have all of the grim urban layouts. Plus-size models belong in environments of pleasure and fun and relaxation.

A Kelsey bridal editorial? That would be stunning (especially if it has that Old World aesthetic). I also think a Kelsey cover would help the magazine fly off the shelves...
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Old 16th May 2007   #4
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Default Re: Figure (May/June), with Kelsey Olson

The Figure magazine web site also features a number of extra images from these shoots. There are no additional pictures from the very best layout, unfortunately - which was Kelsey's - but at least they offer a sharper version of the close-up of Kelsey on deck, in that pretty top.

Kelsey may now hold the title for "sexiest legs of any plus-size model." Her soft and curvy figure is gorgeous.

There's also another shot of Ivana in her chair pose. This image also exhibits her luxuriously soft curves, and I love the model's "I want" glance, although I still prefer the magazine tear because it has a warmer tint - which is appropriate, for the apparel and for the setting:

The site also features little graphics of many Judgment of Paris faves, including Megan Garcia, Nadia, and Yanderis:

It's worth a visit.
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