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Old 5th January 2011   #1
Join Date: July 2005
Posts: 1,784
Default VIDEO: Lane Bryant 2002 runway show

Ladies and gentlemen, we have something very special to share with all plus-size modelling fans.

Just over a year ago, we posted the pricelessly rare official footage of the first-ever "Cacique" fashion show from February 2000. Lane Bryant produced four of these annual events, which became increasingly expensive and celebrity-laden until they were finally cancelled.

The 2002 incarnation, the third in the series, was probably the biggest in terms of celebrity count, and was fronted by none other than the heavy-metal rock band Kiss. It has acquired something of a legendary status in the history of the industry.

Now, thanks to our friend D. Trull, we are privileged to offer a three-part video of the event: two clips of the complete runway show itself, and one of the press coverage surrounding it.

The videos are embedded at the foot of this post, but first we will offer some commentary and screencaps.

* * *

For all that Lane Bryant's runway shows are famous for the press that they received, they are also notorious for infecting the industry with the faux-plus standard that continues to blight it today. When the first Cacique show debuted in 2000, the industry was still predominately comprised of authentically full-figured girls (size 14 and up). However, the initial Lane Bryant extravaganza set a terrible precedent by not booking the industry's most publicly beloved models who wore a size 14 or better.

(There has always been, and continues to be, a yawning gulf between the models whom the public loves--e.g., Shannon Marie, Barbara Brickner, etc.--and those whom industry insiders champion.)

By the time that Lane Bryant's 2002 show rolled around, even the girls who were marginally curvy in 2000 had further diminished themselves. Thus, what you are about to see is actually a faux-plus runway show, not a plus-size runway show. And sadly, there is a direct line from these Cacique events to Elena Miro's biannual faux-plus disappointments, and from those to last year's show, which only featured two authentically curvy girls, with the rest being far too thin. The 2003 Lane Bryant show, the last one in the series, finally recognized public disappointment in the models' sizes and booked larger girls, but by then it was too late. The new LB owners, Charming Shoppes, determined that these annual extravaganzas were simply too costly, and ended them forever.

If, from the very beginning, these shows had exclusively featured true plus-size models (à la FFFWeek) and had booked everyone's favourite girls, then they would have been far more beloved by the public, and might still be going strong today.

* * *

On the other hand, although we ourselves find modern music of the Kiss sort to be utterly repellent, one has to concede that this "Rock the Runway" show has a certain Dionysian energy. Last year's show seemed comparatively muted.

Furthermore, some of the hair and makeup artistry in the 2002 event is quite attractive. The wardrobe styling is hit and miss, given the rock theme, but the fact that the Lane Bryant shows were primarily lingerie presentations meant that they had a built-in level of size-celebration.

Too bad the models didn't have more size to celebrate.

* * *

In the absence of catwalk goddesses with opulent figures, we will focus this post on LB models with lovely facial features, and in that regard, the adorable Lara Johnson is the star of the show. Not even her modern wardrobe can disguise the fact that she is a fairy-tale princess. Who can fail to marvel at those crystalline blue eyes?

True, there is nothing the least bit plus-size about her. (She is even tinier in this show than in 2000.) But she has a fawn-like softness and a gentle sweetness which makes her captivating.

At one point, when she emerges for her runway turn, she provides a dramatic visual antipode to the batwinged demon on stage--a creature of darkness versus a princess of light. The following image also displays the only aspect of Lara's figure that exhibits even the slightest bit of curviness: her shapely legs.

In this delicate pink outfit, she appears especially doe-like, irresistibly helpless and in need of protection.

Watch how gracefully she reascends the inclined runway, with a gazelle-like skipping step. She calls to mind an angel entering the underworld.

One of the reasons why Kelsey Olson has become the most popular of all plus-size models in the industry today is because she represents a full-figured version of Lara Johnson. Fans always hoped that Lara would blossom into an authentically curvy size, but tragically, that never happened. Kelsey, however, has explored similar emotional territory in her work, likewise evoking attractive neediness and soft vulnerability, thus realizing fandom's dreams of a fuller-figured Lara Johnson.

Another model who deserves to be singled out for the beauty of her facial features is the girl in the following set of screencaps. She also appeared in the 2000 show, and in the absence of any contradictory information, we maintain our educated guess that this is former plus-size model Alice Barstow. (Corrections are always appreciated.)

Although her figure is extremely tall and regrettably faux-plus, she has a beautiful visage that looks distinctively Saxon, with broad facial features. The voluminous hairstyle adds to her appeal.

In this show, she seems rather more confident than in the 2000 event, but still exhibits a soft demeanour.

Readers may have noticed the "L" earring that Miss Johnson sports in an earlier screencap. That is not a reference to her first name, "Lara," but a nod to Lane Bryant, with a matching "B" gracing the other ear. Several of the girls in the show wear these initialed earrings. In this still from the final runway turn, the "L" is visible on Kristin Briscoe and the "B" on Alice Barstow.

We are pleased to note that at least two models at the show do exhibit authentically curvy figures, one of those being the late Anna Nicole Smith.

We have avoided references to Anna Nicole over the years because her life appeared sad even while she was living it. Now, in retrospect, it seems a pitiable tragedy. But on the basis of pure aesthetics, she is one of the most attractive girls in this show--and one of the curviest, as is evident from her rounded arms and womanly hips.

This image shows her contours even more visibly, with a seductive swell at the waist. Observe the highly sensual detail of her armlet pressing into the soft flesh of her upper limb.

Interestingly, although her Guess campaigns made her famous, Anna Nicole did far more modelling work for Lane Bryant, both runway and print. Notice the seductive curves spilling over the lip of her light-blue top.

Sadly, though, one can already see the detrimental effects of her lifestyle in this video. In the 2000 show, she modelled very professionally, with poise and restraint, yet exhibiting a calculated sexiness. In this show her gait is unsteady, and her focus wanders.

Nevertheless, her flowing blonde hair and legitimately curvaceous figure make her one of the few girls in this show who is full-figured enough to deserve to appear in a plus-size runway production. Notice the attractive swell at her waist.

The only other authentically plus-size model in the show is Mia Tyler, although unlike Anna Nicole, she is slightly smaller here than in 2000, when her hands-in-the-hair moment was the high point of the entire event, and when she had the best figure of any of the models.

However, as this image shows, her physique is still attractively soft and untoned. (We resisted the temptation to erase the lettering.)

The beehive is quite an attractive look for Mia. And remember: this is years before the repellent Amy Winehouse appropriated this hairstyle.

Naturally, Kate Dillon also participates in the show, but the inexorable decline of her figure is already well underway.

Some images offer faint echoes of her prior fullness,

but on the whole, she is already entering faux-plus territory, never to return. Still, she generates a fascinating expression in this still, an almost wolf-like, predatory gaze.

This 2002 runway show coincided with Carré Otis's brief career as a so-called plus-size model. No one can deny that Otis was an attractive girl . . . for a waif:

The idea that her reed-thin, underweight appearance can in any way be deemed "plus size" is laughable. This is the skinniest that a minus-size model should ever be, let alone a plus-size model.

We end our screencap series with a former plus-size model (or rather, a former faux-plus model) named Amy Graham. Amy is the textbook example of an attractive but exceedingly thin girl whom everyone wished would blossom into a larger size, but who never did. The aristocratic Amy is almost a metaphysical opposite of Lara Johnson. Whereas Lara evokes qualities of innocence and sweetness, Amy conveys the darkest of passions. She seems excitingly wicked, even cruel, and imperiously disdainful of the audience who is enthralled by her beauty.

The extreme thinness of her figure is deeply regrettable, because she appears almost evil in her regal beauty, greedy and spoiled and selfish--irresistibly so.

Watch for one moment in particular when she turns her head and fixes the camera with a haughtily disdainful look, as if indicating that the audience isn't even worthy to be gazing upon her statuesque beauty. Above all, it is her cruel, beautiful mouth which makes her appear so seductively sinful.

One senses that she would take pleasure in the suffering of others, especially if they suffered out of an infatuation with her. And truthfully, it would be right to suffer anguish because of so desirable a goddess. (If only she were even remotely full-figured . . .)

* * *

Although Lane Bryant's "Cacique" shows blighted the industry with their faux-plus standard, these events do have their place in the history of full-figured fashion.

This particular incarnation is far too celebrity oriented, and could have done without many of its so-called "stars." The music is decidedly incongruous with Classical beauty. However, the show has an appealing boldness and energy, as well as a real sense of scale, along with top-notch production values and brilliant camera work. Present-day runway shows could benefit from its example.

The following videos are of the very best quality that could be eked out of the venerable VHS source tape. Be sure to set the playback to 480p (or to 720p, if your computer can handle the bitrate) to view the clips at a higher resolution.

Now, site back and enjoy a bit of plus-size fashion history.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3 (media coverage):

- YouTube channel
HSG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13th January 2011   #2
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Join Date: August 2005
Posts: 352
Default Re: VIDEO: Lane Bryant 2002 runway show

Fascinating show. The music is an acquired taste, but I have to give the members of Kiss a lot of credit for the fact that in all of their interviews, they really voiced their enthusiasm for the curvy girls on stage. "Thank God for healthy, all-American women," the singer says at one point. Bravo to him for realizing that plus-size models are better embodiments of health than typical runway waifs, and that they personify the "all-American woman."

What a pity that the models weren't fuller-figured. But I have to say this - at least Lane Bryant tried to have the models look attractive, even sexy. When plus-size models are put on the runway by "mainstream" designers, they're often dressed in freakish and ugly modern ways that make them look awful. Here, at least, the emphasis was on celebrating the girls' beauty and showing off whatever curves they possessed.

Lara Johnson was an angel. I do regret that she never became curvier. That definitely stands as a terrible missed opportunity for the industry because she was lovely and very popular, even among those of us who prefer bigger models.

And I remember Amy Graham from years ago - another case of a slim girl who should have become a true plus-size model, but never did. Her looks and poses are thrilling. If I may be permitted to use this word, she personifies a kind of bitchy beauty that's absolutely thrilling to view. She's undoubtedly a very nice lady in real life, but in this show, she creates a dark persona that's wickedly seductive.
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Old 18th January 2011   #3
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Join Date: October 2010
Posts: 133
Default Re: VIDEO: Lane Bryant 2002 runway show

This is a minor point, but one other aspect of the show that I appreciate is that in selecting the male models to accompany the girls, at least Lane Bryant chose GQ types. I don't really know if incorporating male models benefits such a show or not, but if one is going to do this, then the models should conform to the male equivalent of the Classical ideal, just as the full-figured female models conform to the feminine Classical ideal.

One of the worst libels against plus-size women occurs when they are associated with "more to love" men. There is no equivalency here. The traditional male ideal was a warrior look; the traditional female ideal was (and should be) a soft, well-fed appearance. This show at least recouples this timeless aesthetic pairing.

Having said that, I strongly agree that the models are almost universally too thin in this event. Anna Nicole Smith is the only girl in these videos who has a genuinely full-figured physique. Models on plus-size-fashion runways should at least be as curvy as they she is, in this show. Otherwise, these parades just become a duplicate of straight-size catwalks, which is pointless, and frankly offensive to full-figured customers.
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