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Old 6th October 2005   #1
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Default Crystal Renn on the runway for Gaultier

Ask and you shall receive.

In a truly enchanting dress that was much reminiscent of the intoxicating tulle gowns that were on display at the Christian Dior Haute Couture show earlier this year, Crystal Renn is shown here walking the catwalk at the Jean-Paul Gaultier Spring/Summer 2006 show in Paris yesterday.

Not only is the dress wonderfully feminine, but it shows off Crystal's plus-size figure in the most celebratory manner imaginable.

(Yes, that is indeed straw on the runway floor.)

Mr. Gaultier was obviously quite pleased that, for the first time in history, a Parisian designer presented a true goddess on the catwalk, because Miss Renn actually accompanied him for his own appearance on the runway, at the end of the show:

The once and future aesthetic is here--today.

We cannot offer Miss Renn sufficient congratulations for this extraordinary accomplishment. And we are delighted to see that the fashion world has finally taken the New Femininity to the next logical and inevitable step, and showcased designs of timeless beauty on the figure type that exhibits them best.

Last edited by HSG : 11th October 2005 at 06:54.
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Old 6th October 2005   #2
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Default Re: Crystal Renn on the runway for Gaultier

Oh my goodness, that dress is so gorgeous and feminine, it deserves to be called a work of art. And I am amazed at how beautiful Crystal looks in these images. She looks so much more womanly here than in her recent Nordstrom images. Was Nordstrom adjusting those pictures, or has Crystal regained some of the curves that she may have lost, of late? No matter what, she looks glorious here -- like the very personficiation of springtime, especially with those flowers adorning that dress.

I would have to say that we are all so lucky that it turned out this way. The designer, like any modern artist, could have made Crystal look strange, in modernistic attire, or weird makeup. But instead, he allowed her to look beautiful. I respect him very much for that. And the "voluptuous volume" hairstyle completes the look so well.

It's all so lovely, in a truly timeless way, that I almost can't believe it's real. If I were to imagine the perfect "debut" of a true plus-size model on the Paris runway, it could scarcely be different than this.
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Old 6th October 2005   #3
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Default Crystal Renn: Persephone on the runway

In fact, the entire show exhibited the palpable influence of "The Old World." And although in some cases the outfits consisted of an uncomfortable pastiche of the modern and the timeless, the overall effect was nevertheless as pronounced an expression of the Aesthetic Restoration as we have yet seen in a runway show from a high-fashion designer.

The collection was strongly pervaded by folkloric elements, and exhibited a distinctly organic quality. The fact that the catwalk itself was covered with straw was no mere "gimmick." Rather, like Galliano's Neo-Gothic runway set from earlier this year, it testified to the ongoing attempt by high fashion to return to first principles, and to find fresh, new sources of inspiration in the cultural legacy of the West, rather than in merely rehashing 20th-century modernism ad nauseam.

Here is one lovely ensemble from the show: a young couple in romantic attire. The peasant blouse has now been a staple of fashion for several seasons--so much so, that we can all safely eschew that 20th-century label "trend" when speaking of this ultrafeminine article of clothing, and acknowledge that it is here to stay, and that its continued popularity testifies to a fundamental change in the very essence of women's fashion.

Note also this strikingly folkloric ensemble exhibited on a clear representation of a mother/daughter pair. When was the last time that motherhood was implicitly celebrated on a high-fashion runway? This, too, testifies to a reorientation of the fashion world's values (aesthetic, and otherwise).

Or, in all seriousness, when was the last time that unselfconscious cuteness (and we use that term advisedly) was allowed to be connected to a creation of the fashion elites, without a trace of crippling irony?

In fact, the show even included a complete family group (father, mother, and two children), although the attire in that set was not as harmoniously timeless as in the above images.

The models' headpieces also testified to the show's celebration of the natural world:

Flowers and berries--the very items that, a hundred years ago (and still to this day, in some vibrant and rural part of Europe, unspoiled by a century of ideological warfare) young maidens would bedeck themselves with, to celebrate nature's cycle, and confirm their part in it, and to symbolize the people's connectedness to the land.

* * *

Looking at these outfits, one might inevitably rue the fact that Crystal and other plus-size models were not showcasing all of them (especially as so many of them were unmodern, and therefore, ideally suited for a womanly figure).

However, there is another way to interpret her presence in this show--i.e., to regard it as a deliberate, thematic culmination of this Old World runway experience.

If we extend our oft-invoked "goddess" analogy past the aesthetic, we can consider Crystal the designer's (or let us say rather, the Creator's) presentation of a goddess of nature.

In the Classical world, this would be mark Crystal as Persephone, goddess of flowers, fruit, and springtime--but she has kin in every traditional European culture, from the Slavonic to the Germanic. (Think of Freia and her "golden Apples," from Wagner.)

The blessing of a goddess was invoked in many of the traditional folk festivals that marked the spring and the fall--and this tradition lived on in Christian Europe, in religious pageants such as the Crowning of Mary with blossoms, as the "Queen of the May."

Therefore, if we interpret this runway event as a kind of folk festival, Crystal's presence here (dressed in a couture-like gown, distinguishing her all the more, in a ready-to-wear event) is like appearance of a goddess amidst mortals--i.e., the regular models who otherwise peopled the show, representing ordinary humanity.

And is this runway event not, indeed, a kind of folk festival for the contemporary age, a way of helping modern mankind reconnect to its cultural roots?

The fact that these shows are seasonal now takes on a deeper meaning . . .

Last edited by HSG : 11th October 2005 at 06:55.
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Old 6th October 2005   #4
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Default Re: Crystal Renn on the runway for Gaultier

It gladdens me to see so much folkloric style. It's as if, after a century of distortion, designers are finally coming back to their senses, in all the meaning of the word "sense" including common sense. The dress has a very turn-on-the-century feel to it, which was the last time of opulence and feminine majesty.

Comparing Crystal to Persephone is lovely, especially when you consider that the goddess spent much of her time in the underworld, then came back to earth in the spring. After a century underground, femininity is re-emerging.

But when looking at the pictures of her walking with Gaultier, I also can't help but compare Crystal to Cinderella, the true-hearted girl who wore the most beautiful dress and was noticed by the prince.
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Old 7th October 2005   #5
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Default Re: Crystal Renn on the runway for Gaultier

I think you could also compare the re-emergence of Persephone to Crystals own rebirth - from the death-like (and potentially fatal) starvation of her straight-size modelling career, to her luscious and healthy beauty today.

I adore these images of Crystal at the show. I agree with Emily - you could not have asked for a better first-time appearance of a plussize model at a major runway show. Its perfect. She is more inspiring here than at any time since her spring Lane Bryant photos. You can see clearly she does not have wiry arms or a waspish waist, but beautifully full limbs and, when she smiles, a rounded chin. (I have never seen a model whose beauty is so transformed when she smiles.) And thank goodness for that, because the designer could have just used a faux-plus model. Instead he chose a gorgeous one, and gave her the perfect dress to show off her figure.

And that dress itself is so symbolicaly appropriate. Crystal is blossoming, like the world in full bloom.
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Old 7th October 2005   #6
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Default Re: Crystal Renn on the runway for Gaultier

Originally Posted by kirsten
But when looking at the pictures of her walking with Gaultier, I also can't help but compare Crystal to Cinderella, the true-hearted girl who wore the most beautiful dress and was noticed by the prince.
Here is an image from the show that vividly reinforces Kirsten's "Cinderella" notion. In fact, this may be the most delightful photograph from the event. If the world currently possessed a great plus-size magazine, this image would surely appear on the cover.

There is something so fitting about seeing one of the top designers in the world, part of the elite that has suppressed full-figured femininity for so long, now paying homage to timeless beauty--and, in fact being so profoundly inspired by it.

Jean-Paul Gaultier as Prince Charming--who would have believed it? This is a shining testament to the power of true beauty.

The photographs from the show ably demonstrate why Crystal is such a marvellous plus-size model. Thanks to her non-Amazonian height (5'9), her proportions are ideally Classical, rather than the elongated look that has been the fashion in the modern age:

And like Barbara, Charlotte, and Christina, she is proudly demonstrating that all curves are beautiful, not merely the ones that plastic surgeons mimic in Hollywood celebrities.

We must also give the designer specific credit for the utterly brilliant move of laying straw down on the runway. Gaultier has experimented with folkloric designs before; for example, in this marvellous piece from his haute couture collection, earlier this year:

But note how jarring the contrast is between the cold black reflective surface of the floor, and that gorgeous organic skirt. It very nearly reduces the outfit to costume.

And since staging a fashion show outdoors was presumably a logistic impossibility, Gaultier did the next-best thing, and brought the outdoors inside.

In so doing, he gave his folkloric collection a context, and seen in its proper environment, the results are simply breathtaking.

A few seasons ago, who would have ever thought that high fashion could experience a creative resurrection, rediscover beauty, and bring it to the contemporary world in such a dramatic way? And yet all this is coming to pass.

It is thrilling to watch this aesthetic restoration unfold . . .

Last edited by HSG : 11th October 2005 at 06:56.
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Old 8th October 2005   #7
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Default Re: Crystal Renn on the runway for Gaultier

I'm especially glad that the dress showed off Crystal's lovely arms, as they are perhaps her most attractive features. And there seems to be a profound symbolism in how Gaultier so revently kissed Crystal's hand at the end of the show.

There was a nice article about the whole event at I don't know if you need to be logged in to read it, but here's the link -

It concluded with the following observtion -

"The biggest surprise for all was the finale, a plus-size model wearing a Jean Paul Gaultier gown. Is this another message from the Paris-based designer?

It is no secret that in the U.S., plus sized clothing is one of the fastest growing segments of the fashion industry. Established houses in the U.S. like Tommy Hilfiger had been catering to it for several years now. But no French fashion house has ever delved into this market.

If Jean Paul Gaultier decides to accommodate this market, he will be making history once again, as he had done before with being the first Paris-based designer to fully utilize the power of the Internet."
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Old 9th October 2005   #8
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Default Re: Crystal Renn on the runway for Gaultier

As Kirsten pointed out, the Cinderella tale does provide an especially fitting analogy for Crystal's triumphant appearance at this fashion show (especially if we factor in touches from the Russian version of the Cinderella story, "Vasilisa the Beauty," which we discussed in an earlier thread at this forum).

Think of the similarities: the most beautiful of young damsels (Crystal, representing all full-figured maidens), is long forced to dress in degrading, ugly clothing (i.e., the frumpy, formless styles of the past), and is not permitted to be seen in public (i.e., in the media). Meanwhile, her thinner and less attractive sisters (the androgynous models) are given expensive gowns, and are allowed to attend the formal balls (i.e., the runway shows).

But then, a contemporary designer becomes fairy godfather and Prince Charming all rolled in one, bestows on her a dress worthy of a princess, and she becomes the belle of the ball.

A genuine fairy-tale come true, no?

(The flower in the hand was the crowning detail--a truly inspired touch.)

* * *

The point that Chad makes about the economic rationale for a Parisian designer to finally enter the plus-size market is well founded. According to statistics relayed in a recent article in,

"Among three sizes of women's apparel — regular, plus and petite — plus sizes saw the strongest sales advance in the 12 months ended this June, rising 4.2 percent to $17.4 billion from $16.7 billion a year earlier."

By comparison, straight-size sales rose only 0.4 percent, as indicated in the following table, which accompanied the article:

However, the potential entry of Jean-Paul Gaultier into plus-size fashion would be irrelevant, if we had no indication that the designer possessed an understanding of, and appreciation for, the plus aesthetic.

But the dress that he designed for Miss Renn proves--astonishingly--that he understands this aesthetic perfectly. For no one could design a garmet such as this who did not believe that the body inside the dress was unattractive.

Consider its size-celebratory qualities:

-it shows off the wearer's arms and decolletage
-it is perfectly fitted to the body's contours
-in every detail of its construction, it follows the principle of the curve, rather than the line
-it is not marred by even a single modernistic touch
-the floral ornamentation is a work of pure beauty

But let's not forget the most important point in Gaultier's favour; the one, fateful decision which ensured that this appearance was a triumph, rather than a disappointment, and gave all of us hope for the future:

Gaultier did not use a faux-plus model to show off this dress--which would have made the whole exercise utterly futile. Instead, he chose a goddess who is at least curvaceous enough to be visibly full-figured, and who possesses a figure that is soft, rather than hard.

And the result was runway . . . history.

- Note the quotation that coincidentally headlines Miss Renn's gallery page . . .

Last edited by HSG : 22nd July 2006 at 22:06.
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Old 12th October 2005   #9
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Default Re: Crystal Renn on the runway for Gaultier

I love the image posted a bit earlier in this thread, which looks like it has the most natural light. It shows that Crystal had really fair features for this event, and had just a trace of a natural flush. That look really fit the theme of the show, esp. the flowers, and contrasted nicely with her hair.

In a couple articles I read about the show, the writer said that "for his finale, [Gaultier featured] a milky-skinned woman of rounder proportions than the usual twiggy models." And I thought that was a really nice way of putting it.

I haven't liked many of Crystal's Torrid covers so far, but I do like the new one, showing off a Halloween costume:

It shows off her fair skin and beautiful, full arms.

Still, looking at the Gaultier pics, I wish Torrid had presented Crystal in as timelessly beautiful a way as he did.
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Old 12th October 2005   #10
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Default Re: Crystal Renn on the runway for Gaultier

Further to the various interpretations that have been offered here regarding the symbolism and theme of this event, we chanced upon the following bit of text at a Paris fashion site. It appears to be an English translation of the official program description that accompanied Gaultier's show:

"All sorts of people, from the maid of honor to gents and children, rush to a wedding in the country, a place for a celebration, with straw on the ground and in the hair. With a bride opening the show in a dress made of straw and embroidered blouses, inspired by the East [i.e., Eastern Europe], teamed with perfectly tailored suits, Jean-Paul Gaultier takes us to a festive and joyous world next summer. The famous marinières are back, the underskirts are voluminous and the light chiffon and tulle dresses follow each other right up to the last run, presented with a full-bodied top, sublime in a tulle sheath embroidered with flowers."

So, if one takes this official statement as definitive, it was a depiction of a folk celebration--and the context of a marriage ceremony is particularly significant. The traditional concept of marriage is nothing less than the bedrock of society, the central rite of all Western cultures, so for a Parisian runway show to be celebrating this institution, in its most organic form, is as boldly unmodern a move on the designer's part as one could possibly imagine.

The reference to "full-bodied" is also noteworthy, as it confirms the fact that having the show climax with a Classical goddess was not an afterthought, but was part of the conceptual structure of the event.

Aesthetically and thematically, this show was at the leading edge of the cultural revival that is transforming contemporary society.

A rare reverse-view photo, showing the princess-like (indeed, bridal-like) train of Crystal's incredible gown:

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