Over the weekend, a Persian-American fashion designer and perfumer passed away whose name should be familiar to all plus-size beauty aficionados: Bijan
(full name Bijan Pakzad).
In 2000, Bijan conceived of a new campaign for his line of perfume for women, and something about the bottle's feminine curves clearly inspired him:
To promote the perfume, he created a series of three images featuring a very full-figured model whom he dubbed "Bella" (Italian for "beautiful"), whose curvaceous proportions echoed the shape of the glass.
As we recorded on our "Plus ca change..." page at the time (a kind of forerunner to this forum), the ads initially faced stiff resistance from the publishing world, for reasons that no one dared to admit to him. However, once Talk magazine’s editor-in-chief Tina Brown accepted the ads and ran them in her magazine, other glossies quickly followed suit. Bijan himself stated that the images were created as an homage to the "unique colorful style and simple magnificence" of the work of several famous artists of the past. And most significantly, as L.A. Times journalist Barbara Thomas reported when the campaign debuted, "Bijan did not create the campaign as any political statement: 'I am an artist,' he said. 'I did that because [Bella] was beautiful and inspired me.'"
The most effective of the three images was the one titled "Siesta," Notice how the guitar at the left balances the perfume bottle on the table on the right, both having curvaceous figures to echo the proportions of the model. The rich green contrasts with the orange carpet like the vegetable/tomato colour complements of Italian cooking, and the bow in the hair is an adorable touch. The ad feels warm and rich and welcoming.
The original Web page promoting this campaign still exists at the Bijan site. It quotes the designer's concept statement in full, and features all three images:
The creation of my new advertising designs truly have been inspired by several famous artists...I present them to you as an homage to their unique colorful style and simple magnificence!
Despite the fact that many magazines refused to print the ads at first, the editors of the famed Talk magazine were delighted to introduce all three ads in their February 2000 issue
Now that the ads have been published, many television and radio stations have called to interview our beautiful model, Bella! And the same magazines which originally rejected the ads have now decided that they would also be thrilled to showcase my creations!
Quite simply, these images are daring and untraditional. I find them beautiful! I hope that you do too...
One wishes that Mr. Bijan had continued to promote full-figured beauty over the past decade, but we pay tribute to him for his one visionary campaign, which, in harkening back to a pre-modern beauty ideal, was truly ahead of its time.
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