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Old 1st April 2010   #1
HSG
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Join Date: July 2005
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Default Jessica Biffi launch at LG Fashion Week


Those who read our recent interview with Jessica Biffi about her new line for MXM will remember her referring to a "visual presentation" that was scheduled for Toronto Fashion Week on March 31st.

A few days ago, it was our pleasure to receive an official invitation to this event.

Click to enlarge

Curiosity got the better of us, so we decided to attend.

Alas, Jessica's clothing was displayed on dress forms, not on live models. The publicist for the event, Celia Love, explained that the costs of employing live models would have been prohibitive, owing to Fashion Week stipulations that would have charged a full-price runway-show fee for any use of models, even in a strictly promotional capacity.

The V.I.P. Lounge where the event was held was thronged with people once the presentation began, but we snapped a few pictures before the crowds descended on the space.

Click to enlarge

The MXM side was dominated by a poster of the designer and, naturally, of Kailee. We regretted having to take flash photography, glare and all, but the venue's darkness (great for atmosphere; ruinous for non-flash photos) required it. We took great pleasure in seeing that Kailee's posters were the tallest in the display.

Click to enlarge

It was genuinely interesting to see this coin-embellished grape outfit up close, which everyone knows so well by now from Kailee's iconic picture.

Click to enlarge

The Addition-Elle offerings looked quite attractive as well. The red/yellow colour palette was quite striking, genuinely evoking a sensation of fire, just as the designer intended. The small photos in the collage to the right showed glimpses from the photoshoot with Candice.

Click to enlarge

Off to the side, the lounge also featured two video monitors which played Kailee's and Candice's Biffi videos in a continuous loop.

Every member of the press received the following helpful media kit, which included a press release about the launch describing Jessica's inspiration for her line, along with a list of AE and Penningtons stores that will be carrying the pieces, a disc with high-resolution versions of Kailee's and Candice's pictures, and, best of all, an elegant 8x10 poster of Kailee--which is a prize indeed.

Click to enlarge

However, the most intriguing aspect of the evening was the opportunity that we were given to chat with Janice LeClerc, Addition-Elle's Merchandise Manager, and Trudy Crane, VP of Marketing for Addition-Elle and Penningtons. Naturally, yours truly took the opportunity to ask if the Reitmans group will ever organize a plus-size fashion show, and while the answer to that question wasn't quite as encouraging as one might have hoped, it was Janice's follow-up question to us that we found most encouraging.

* * *

HSG: Will you ever do something spectacular like a runway show featuring plus-size models?

TRUDY: We would love to do that.

HSG: Elena Miro--if you've heard of them--

JANICE: Yes, we have.

HSG: --gets a lot of publicity from its biannual plus-size runway shows. It would be wonderful if you created a runway show of your own. It would be an exciting presentation.

TRUDY: It absolutely would, so one day we hope to do that.

HSG: [chuckles] I can't get a stronger commitment than that?

TRUDY: I can't give you a time and a date, but we really would love to do that. We have talked about it.

JANICE: One thing I'd like your opinion on--

HSG: Sure.

JANICE: One of the things that our customers are not loving about the things we do in marketing is the size of the models.

HSG: Yes! Not only do I concur with that, I hear the same thing myself. There is always a desire on the part of the public for fuller-figured plus-size models. They love the youth of your girls--especially for MXM, of course--but even the difference between, say, a size 12 and a size 16 makes a tremendous visual difference to the customer. It's not that they don't want aspiration. They just want aspiration as a fuller plus size.

JANICE: They want to recognize themselves.

TRUDY: They want to relate to that person. They want to see themselves in that model, and a size 12 is not--

JANICE: They literally tell us: "Well, that's not a plus-size model. She could shop anywhere."

HSG: What that what you wished to ask my opinion about?

JANICE: Yeah--do you agree with what our customers are telling us?

HSG: Of course! But what I wonder is, why does that surprise you?

JANICE: It doesn't, actually.

HSG: Perhaps this is not a fair question to ask you, since you're much better than many plus-size companies in terms of the models whom you feature. But where does this idea originate that women want to see size-10 or size-12 plus-size models?

TRUDY: Agencies who have plus-size models, that's what they're supplying.

* * *

How wonderful to learn that marketing directors of Addition-Elle/MXM/Penningtons recognize that the public does wish to see fuller-figured plus-size models. But how dismaying to discover the main reasons behind the continued use of faux-plus models: agency offerings. Modelling agencies claim that they don't sign fuller-figured models because clients don't want them, yet here is a clear case of a major client who does.

We advised Janie and Trudy that the agencies do feature a few fuller-figured models. And there is cause for hope. Each branch of the Reimtans group has proven, over the years, to be considerably more receptive to the wishes of its customers than other companies tend to be, so if there is any plus-fashion entity that may improve the standard size of its models in the near future, it is this size-positive firm. Let us hope.

* * *

All in all, this event was an auspicious success for the MXM/Addition-Elle team. The one way in which it could have been improved is if the six garments on display had been featured on live plus-size models, especially if Kailee had been featured at this event, as she has represented the Bold Biffi line so effectively.

The entire promotional effort for the Bold Biffi line, from the use of popular model Kailee O'Sullivan to the special microsite to the behind-the-scenes videos, has been top notch. We hope that the MXM/Addition-Elle team continues interacting with this public in this manner in the future--and especially, that it listens to its own customers and features fuller-figured plus-size models in the future.

We wish to thank Jessica Biffi for granting us an interview, Celia Love for securing us an invitation, and the marketing team at MXM/Addition-Elle for their candid and thoughtful insights into the promotion of plus-size beauty.

Click to enlarge

- www.MXM.ca

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Old 5th April 2010   #2
Meredith
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Join Date: January 2010
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Default Re: Jessica Biffi launch at LG Fashion Week

Quote:
JANICE: One of the things that our customers are not loving about the things we do in marketing is the size of the models.

TRUDY: They want to relate to that person. They want to see themselves in that model, and a size 12 is not--

JANICE: They literally tell us: "Well, that's not a plus-size model. She could shop anywhere."

I find it remarkably candid and honest of the AE/MXM/Penningtons group that they would acknowledge this; that they would broach the topic themselves. If it were a different company, I would be skeptical, and would think that they were merely trying to deflect criticism in advance. but these affiliated brands have made a sincere effort to be at least a bit better than other full-figured labels, so I believe that they're being sincere.

Miss O'Sullivan just qualifies as genuinely full-figured at a size 14, and she's so pretty too, but I would definitely love to see more plus-size models of a fuller-figured variety in the company's promotions in addition to Kailee.

That was the one glaring shortcoming of the LouLou fashion supplements: some of the ads were good, featuring (slightly) curvier models, but the editorial content was mostly comprised of faux-plus girls, which was disappointing.

I appreciate that AE/MXM/Penningtons is paying attention to this crucial issue, and I hope that they will take their customers' comments to heart and feature larger models in the future.
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Old 5th April 2010   #3
Courtney
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Default Re: Jessica Biffi launch at LG Fashion Week

What an interesting insight. The public wants fuller-figured models. The brand doesn't appear to have a problem with the idea of using fuller-figured models, but they have no options because the agencies are pushing faux-plus models.
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Old 5th April 2010   #4
Kaitlynn
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Join Date: July 2005
Posts: 633
Default Re: Jessica Biffi launch at LG Fashion Week

WOW. I am absolutely stunned by that ultra-close-up of Kailee. Is that frost-pink lip colour that she's wearing? She looks amazing.

I love the pictures of the Bold Biffi display at the event, but it's definitely a shame that the presentation didn't use live models.

I also find if very encouraging that the 1 Plus representatives voiced a desire to feature fuller-figured models. True plus-size models do exist! Janice and Trudy simply have to tell the agencies, "No, I'm afraid that we don't want your 10s and 12s. But we know that you also represent Kelsey at a size 16, or Katherine [or whoever], and that's who we wish to book." The client ultimately has the power, not the agency, and the client needs to stand up for the wishes of its customers.

I came across this today- an invitation showing the various places that Jessica will be presenting her Bold Biffi and Jessica Biffi lines. It would be fun to attend one of these events. Below is the link with the form to fill out, if anyone is in the vicinity.



http://www.1-plus.com/moduleimages/...nvitesBG-en.jpg
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Old 7th April 2010   #5
Hannah
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Join Date: November 2008
Posts: 417
Default Re: Jessica Biffi launch at LG Fashion Week

Quote:
HSG: Perhaps this is not a fair question to ask you, since you're much better than many plus-size companies in terms of the models whom you feature. But where does this idea originate that women want to see size-10 or size-12 plus-size models?

TRUDY: Agencies who have plus-size models, that's what they're supplying.

How candid of Ms. Crane to acknowledge this. I earnestly hope that the company takes its customers' comments to heart. There are fuller-figured plus-size models signed with the top agencies, as we all know on this forum, because they're the ones who are the most popular with the public. Perhaps the agencies just "push" their thinner models to build up their value - and that's a real shame. I wish Addition-Elle would stick to their guns and say to the agencies, "We specifically wish to book [name of model], whom we know you represent, because she is a size 16 [or 18, or whatever], and that is what our customers are looking for."

If that happened more often, I think the agencies would start representing fuller-figured girls all around.

I came across a good article about Jessica here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/maris...s_b_527774.html

I found the following passage interesting:

Quote:
INTERVIEWER: What do you think of plus-size model Crystal Renn walking in last night's Joe Fresh show? There was a lot of hype, and she definitely didn't look like a size 12.

JESSICA: I knew she was here and I'm sad I missed it. The plus-size models in the industry are on the smaller side of the plus-size spectrum. They're plus-size but they're so much smaller.

So even the Huffington Post writer was disappointed and wanted a fuller-figured girl, and I think Jessica recognizes this too. I'm glad that for her Bold Biffi collection she used Kailee, who just makes it as a true plus-size model, at a 14.

By the way, the various Bold Biffi pieces are available online at the MXM site:


http://www.1-plus.com/viewcategory....tegoryId=550918
http://www.1-plus.com/viewcategory....tegoryId=550917


http://www.1-plus.com/viewcategory....tegoryId=550916
http://www.1-plus.com/viewcategory....tegoryId=545220
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