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Old 18th March 2008   #1
Join Date: July 2005
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Default Karen Vermeiren: ZJ S/S '08

Fans of European plus-size model Karen Vermeiren will be delighted to see her new Spring 2008 campaign for the Dutch full-figure label ZJ. This company's shoots are invariably situated in unappealingly urban environments, and the clothing is seldom pretty, but the promotions are resolutely size-positive, and unabashedly celebrate Karen's full-figured beauty.

The most gorgeous picture of the campaign, and one of Ms. Vermeiren's best ever, is the following. Note how the closely-fitted top defines her curvy waist, yet the model appears completely comfortable with her appearance. In fact, her glance is suggestive, as if she knows that the contours of her figure will entice the viewer. Observe the many luscious details in the image, such as Karen's rounded arms, and even her full fingers. This is another example of the encouraging trend that we have recently marked, of European firms pushing the boundaries of size-celebration.

The next image also displays Karen's generous, rounded waist. Instead of posing the model to minimize her figure, the ZJ photographer celebrates her curves, which are perceptible even beneath the loose clothing.

In fact, although much of the wardrobe tends to be formless, one always senses the luxurious weight of Karen's figure in these fine images.

Even in a motion shot, such as the one below, the viewer perceives the rich, alluring heaviness of her proportions, most notably her full waist.

Again, in the following picture, note the enticing breadth of her silhouette, and observe the fullness of her facial features, exhibiting the "slight rise" of a "slope toward the throat."

The ZJ attire is not particularly appealing, but Karen nevertheless makes it look seductive. Here, she achieves this effect with her somewhat vain expression. Notice the details--the belt which embraces her midriff gently, so as not to compress her sumptuous waist, and the wisps of hair falling coquettishly over here eye.

Above all, it is Karen's innate sensuality that gives the images their frisson. There is something intensely passionate in the following close-up, a hint of the model's wilder nature, hidden beneath her serene expressions.

In this pose, the expression is more playful, but the effect is nevertheless one of display, a coy suggestion of invitation.

Stunning as Karen's figure is, her facial features are equally captivating. Observe, in the following close-up, how alluringly well-fed she appears. There is a richness in her face, a look that can only be achieved through unashamed self-indulgence. Her expression is fittingly passionate.

The attire in this campaign may have an urban feel, but Karen's own look is innately glamorous, as seen in this close-up. Again, note the softness of her face, the seductively "fed" look of a true opera diva (which she is). The slight pout that she adopts gives her a pampered, spoiled quality, and her flowing tresses complete the effect.

* * *

As if the above images weren't treasures enough, the ZJ site also features a number of interesting behind-the-scenes pictures from the shoot.

Two photos present Karen in the fitted top of the initial picture in this thread; first, showing her in a standing position,

and next, sitting for the final photo. Notice that her midriff appears even curvier in these images than in the published picture.

But most eye-catching of all for Karen fans will be the following snapshot, offering a glimpse of the model with . . . a bare midriff. This remains the most daring of all styling choices for a plus-size model, especially one with a figure as sumptuous as Karen, so to see ZJ even considering such a look for its promotion is extremely encouraging.

Let us hope that in their next promotion, such a picture makes it into the published campaign, and will not merely be glimpsed in the outtakes.

* * *

You may click on the link below to visit the ZJ site and peruse the Spring 2008 collection. While there, be sure to visit the "Downloads" page to obtain high-resolution, non-cropped versions of each of the above images.


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Old 18th March 2008   #2
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Join Date: November 2007
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Default Re: Karen Vermeiren: ZJ S/S '08

A gorgeous woman with a gorgeous body, but those pictures really do a disservice to her beautiful face. The lighting and photoshopping makes it look unnatural.
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Old 18th March 2008   #3
M. Lopez
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Default Re: Karen Vermeiren: ZJ S/S '08

I agree - I wish the photographer had omitted the photoshopping and just left the pictures in their natural state. Plus-size models tend to have fair, rosy complexions, which look terrific on film. There's no reason for any colour-filtering. The previous ZJ campaign, Fall/Winter of last year, wasn't so heavily processed.

Having said that, I love the size-positive nature of the images, even if I don't care for the clothing or the settings. (They should take a lesson from Torrid's book and pick up some prettier looks.) The pictures really celebrate Karen's curvy figure - especially the first, which is quite daring.

I hope the European pro-curvy trend spreads to other companies and retailers who are still stuck in faux-plus model.
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Old 28th May 2008   #4
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Join Date: July 2005
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Default Re: Karen Vermeiren: ZJ S/S '08

I received this e-mail ad in my inbox the other day, featuring Karen in two casual outfits from Zizzi/ZJ:

It's such a boon to see a genuine plus-size model working regularly. I only wish more U.S. retailers would feature Karen in their campaigns. She's beautiful and curvy, and I'd love to see her in a romantic-themed promotion.

Of the ZJ images, I like the first one best, since it's the most size-positive; although I agree that a softer, less "industrial" setting would have improved the images.
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