|28th June 2007||#1|
Join Date: July 2005
ELLE: Cover & editorial with plus-size models
No, the subject heading of this post is not a fantasy, nor a "might be," nor a "could be," nor a "should be."
Actually, these days, it is all of those things--but it is also an accomplished fact.
Once, just once, it really happened.
Although Vogue has occasionally featured token editorials with plus-size models, Elle has never done so--or so we thought. And even in the case of Vogue, no plus-size fashion model has ever made the magazine's cover. (Sophie Dahl's two Italian Vogue covers do not count, because the model had already diminished herself below plus-size standards when they were published.)
But yes, a magazine with the title Elle did feature a six-page editorial with plus-size models--and authentic plus-size models at that, all size 14 and above. Moreover, it actually put one of those plus-size models on the magazine's cover.
Specifically, it was the Quebec edition of Elle (a.k.a. Elle Quebec) which took this bold and unprecedented step, in its May 1997 issue.
1997 might be called the "turning point at which history failed to turn," because never has it seemed likelier that size-celebration would make a breakthrough in mainstream fashion. 1997 saw the debut of Mode, the publication of Nick Knight's British Vogue editorials featuring plus-size models Sara Morrison and Sophie Dahl (who was still truly plus, at this time), and the appearance of this unique edition of Elle Quebec.
Without any further ado, here is the issue in question. As you will see, it's a pity that this particular image was chosen as the magazine's cover, since the other images in the issue's curves layout are all far superior. Nevertheless, what you are looking at is a plus-size model on the cover of Elle:
The cover lines suggest that the magazine approached this experiment very much in the right frame of mind, i.e., as an attempt to evoke an unmodern aesthetic, entirely different from the harsh, androgynous style that dominates all fashion magazines today. The words on the cover translate as:
In other words, every component of timeless beauty.The cover girl is a model named Natasha NoŽl, who was then signed with a plus-specialty agency in Montreal called "Mannequins Plus." That agency still appears to be in business, but it doesn't have a Web site, and we have no idea if Ms. NoŽl is still modelling.
Feminine beauty has ever been associated with water. In Antique iconography, the goddess of beauty, Aphrodite/Venus, is invariably depicted rising from the sea, inasmuch as Classical mythology held that the sea itself gave birth to the goddess.
The model looks well-fed and womanly, and evokes a certain nurturing quality. The delicate nightgown and lingerie contribute to a sense of the model's alluring vulnerability, and impart an attractive suggestion that she needs to be pampered and protected.
The text translates to something along the lines of:
A bouquet of sensuality, divine like a kiss, for romantic beauties. Here is spring with all of its promises, and the curvy girls are given the honour.
(Note the reference to the flower imagery.)
And finally, here is the page that Elle used for its cover. Perhaps with natural lighting and a different cosmetics approach it would have been somewhat more successful, but any of the layout's other pages would have made better covers.
Although the layout is not perfect (Mode in its heyday produced superior images every month), it is still an attractive presentation of plus-size beauty, and the fact that it appeared in a magazine with the celebrated name of Elle makes it particularly noteworthy.
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