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Old 18th March 2006   #1
Join Date: July 2005
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Default "Hand-made" beauty (Valerie at dressbarn)

DBW regularly produces lovely seasonal booklets, and their Spring 2006 publication is no exception. Featuring Valerie Lefkowitz and Jordan, it calls to mind some of the better Addition-Elle campaigns of years past, thanks to a lush, exotic setting that exudes the beauty of nature.

The booklet itself includes a statement to this effect from a company official, who enthuses that

"we chose San Miguel de Allende, a village in the mountainous region of central Mexico, as our location to illustrate our point of view this season, because it reflects the natural colors as well as the hand-made feeling of our clothes and accessories"

How interesting to see mass-produced fashion being positively described as having a "hand-made feeling." It testifies to a growing romanticism in our culture--a turning away from machine-age modernism, and a reawakening appreciation of the folk craftsmanship of the Old World--which evolved naturally over the centuries, and created designs that were in harmony with essential human characteristics (e.g., the generous curves of a woman's body).

The entire booklet is well worth a look, for seldom have fashions and settings been so beautifully matched. Here, however, are some highlights.

The prettiest image in the booklet is surely its cover. Fans of Valerie will forever miss the luscious, size 14/16 beauty that she exhibited several seasons ago, especially in her Junonia and early Reitmans campaigns, when she was quite simply the most gorgeous model in the industry. Today, she may at least be deemed prettier than any other model of a comparable size. In this image, showing the model in profile, one sees a hint of a curve at her midriff, thus exemplifying a positive trend in plus-size photography--i.e., showing that all womanly curves are beautiful.

The natural warmth, heavily-saturated colours, and organic building material of the town's colonial structures provide an ideal backdrop for the campaign, as is especially evident in the following image. Note how the pink wall harmonizes with Valerie's lovely top, and how the hue of the fabric brings out the rosy colouring of her complexion. The attire and the settings combine to create a relaxed, comfortable ambience.

The following image is positive in an entirely different way. How delightful to see plus-size models proving that, yes, "Sexy girls do have dessert." To see Valerie and Jordan enjoying ice cream subtly remind viewers that indulgence is no vice--that it is, in fact, the means by which beauty is attained. A cheeky image such as this helps to break the stigma that modern society has imposed on women, in terms of their relationship with food, and recasts relishing dessert as a perfectly natural act. Note again how the pink touches, in the attire and in the background, compliment Valerie's fair complexion.

Although Valerie's dress may be rather on the long side in the next image, note how a curvaceous body type endows the garment with some shape, which it would not possess if displayed on an undernourished frame. Having the dress come in at the knees, rather than monotonously draping straight up-and-down, prevents it from looking like a wall-hanging. Valerie's fair features glow like the morning sunlight.

Congratulations to Dress Barn for producing yet another gorgeous seasonal campaign--one which recalls the timeless beauty of "hand-made" design, as well as full-figured femininity.

You may peruse the rest of the booklet by clicking on the link below:

- Click here to view DBW's "naturally beautiful" campaign

And for those of you who become enchanted by the colonial beauty of the location, San Miguel de Allende--which stands as a testament to the beauty that the European powers dispersed all around the world, in their imperial adventures--you can visit the town's official site, at the URL provided below. The link takes you to the site's image gallery, where you can see the wonder of La Parroquia, the gorgeous Neo-Gothic church that dominates the town centre.

- Click here to visit San Miguel de Allende

Last edited by HSG : 18th March 2006 at 16:25.
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Old 18th March 2006   #2
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Join Date: July 2005
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Default Re: "Hand-made" beauty (Valerie at dressbarn)

Valerie is very pretty, but it's a shame that she isn't the goddess she once was, when she was fuller figured.

But I'm impressed with some of the Dress Barn styles, and especially encouraged to see that at least one plus line is incorporating the "hand-made"/handcrafted/Old World look. It's very popular right now, and it really suits my tastes.

A great fashion article that I recently read talked about how the New Femininity is becoming more and more popular:

Here's the most interesting segment:

"Thereís something very girlie about spring collections arriving in area stores. Soft colors, ribbons, lace and ruffles evoke an overwhelming sense of femininity, but itís the details that keep these looks casual, yet decidedly flirty.
"Graceful dresses with empire waists and demure necklines look dainty until they reveal a deep V-back. A-line skirts are embellished with lacy trim or pleating, while suits are showing up with ribbon closures, all of which add softness to everyday wear.
"... consider the sexiness of a hint of skin showing through an eyelet skirt, or the way the body is skimmed by ruffled sleeves or a sheer blouse.
"Designers were careful to go for subtlety, leaving spring clothing sweet and romantic."

And it's true -- I have been seeing ribbons everywhere, even to make career wear less severe and more pleasing to the eye.

I also received a Saks mailer the other day that showed a dress with a very "hand-made" or handcrafted feel, also very romantic, in the trust sense of the word (bringing back the beauty of a bygone age):

I love this trend, and I hope it continues, especially in plus sizes, because these designs are all tailor-made for fuller, more feminine figures.
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Old 26th March 2006   #3
M. Lopez
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Join Date: August 2005
Posts: 587
Default Re: "Hand-made" beauty (Valerie at dressbarn)

I also found a piece at Nordstom that has a "hand-made" feeling, like something from European folk culture. Tragically and inappropriately, though, it's displayed on a skeleton:

The dressbarn booklet is a joy to look at, even though it's impossible to forget what a full-figured goddess Valerie once was.

The colonial setting adds so much, that I wish more companies would pay attention to location. Leafing through the pages is like espcaping into another world, and the mixture of plus-size models with such gorgeously unmodern architecture is perfect. It's a view of the world the way it once was - and the way it should be, the way one would want it to be. The straight-size companion booklet from dressbarn has even more gorgeous pictures of the town, but the underweight models ruin the effect.

I think dressbarn really made a discovery by locating their campaign in this dreamlike town. It has all the magic of a true Old World setting - and they managed to locate it on this continent.
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