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Old 16th July 2006   #1
HSG
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Default Figure Magazine: Romantic Curves


Change is in the air. Starting with the current (July/August) issue of Figure, the magazine is in the hands of a different editor and publishing firm, and is even sporting a revised masthead.

So how do these changes bode for the quality of the magazine? It is probably too early to tell, but the prognosis is quite good.

Let's answer the most important question right away, the make-or-break issue for this (or any) plus-size magazine:

Does the new Figure run diet ads?

The answer, thank goodness, is NO.

And while the two most recent issues of the previous incarnation of Figure also banished diet ads, it is reassuring to see the current version continuing this policy. Apart from a completely unnecessary promo for a low-calorie snack of some sort, the advertising is basically unobjectionable.

The magazine's new motto, emblazoned on the cover, reads "Celebrating the plus-size woman," which is an excellent slogan indeed, with its prominent use of the phrase "plus size," and its employment of the affirmative verb, "celebrating." The cover lines further advertise "63 plus-size fashions," and invite you to "Find your sexiest self"--all of which sounds most inviting.

B.J. Towne, the magazine's new editor, encouragingly states that the new Figure will be "fashion focused," with "more fashion features"--which is precisely what readers have been hoping for. She promises that the experience of reading the magazine will be like "the warm embrace of a good friend," and while that doesn't initially suggest the intense emotion that readers experienced in their love affair with Mode, who knows what the future may bring? After all, a "good friend" can sometimes become a great love.

But the magazine's success or failure will ultimately depend on one crucial factor: the quality of its fashion editorials. And in this respect, the new Figure is off to a promising start.

If the last issue of Figure belonged to Anna Loukachenets, the star of this issue is Yanderis Lodos. She appears in a marvellous layout titled "Romantic Lines," which is, quite frankly, one of the most gorgeous fashion spreads that any plus-size magazine has ever produced. It equals the very best stories published by Mode, and is no less attractive than a spread in Vogue or Elle.

In fact, "Romantic Lines" could serve as a model for how to create an ideal plus-size fashion editorial, because each and every element merged harmoniously, in this layout, to produce a bona fide fashion masterpiece:

-the model is gorgeous, and genuinely full-figured,
-the fashions are romantic and feminine,
-the setting (Oak Alley Plantation) is beautiful and timeless,
-the photography is exquisite, and
-the layout is enhanced by poetic text--in the form of quotations from Emily Brontė's masterpiece, Wuthering Heights.

In short, this is the kind of layout that readers have been asking to see for years, and it finally answers the question, "What kind of editorials would Mode be creating now (if it still existed), to showcase today's ultra-feminine fashions?" Answer: editorials like this.

One look at the title page is enough to "make hearts beat faster" at the sheer beauty of it all: the model's gorgeous lace blouse, so ornate that it testifies to the loving craftsmanship of a past age; trees so mighty and venerable that they are living links to a more elegant era; the well-born proprietor of the land, fiercely proud of his noble heritage; the stately mansion in the background, home to generations of an aristocratic family with roots as long as those of the towering oaks--it all seems to exist purely for the pleasure of the opulent goddess relaxing so dreamily and languorously in the foregroud, to give her a setting worthy of her luscious, generously-indulged beauty.

Click to enlarge

And although the respective environments of Wuthering Heights and of a Southern plantation are somewhat different--one dominated by the barren, windswept heath of northern England, the other a lush, verdant paradise--they harmonize together extraordinarily well. The Old South was a civilization unlike any other on this side of the Atlantic. It was the most Romantic culture that North America ever produced, the closest that the New World ever came to having a true aristocracy. It was a dreamlike world of noble gentlemen and passionate, pampered, beautiful ladies, living in harmony with the land, just as the nobility of the Old World had done for centuries.

This editorial successfully bridges the two worlds with literary and visual links--i.e., Bronte's romantic text, and a plus-size goddess who revives the timeless beauty of the past in her very being (for in her images, Yanderis truly seems to be channelling the spirit of a richer era, adopting poses and expressions of the most intoxicating indolence).

Click to enlarge

Not even on its most sweltering days does the climate of the South reach the kind of temperatures that Yanderis generates with her steamy expressions. Exhibiting a slight flush, damp curls, and parted lips, the model successfully conveys the unbridled passion of the Brontė novel which provided the inspiration for this shoot.

Certainly this, or one of the other gorgeous images from the editorial, should have been employed as the issue's cover, to give passers-by a taste of the beauty that they would find within.

Click to enlarge

It is the languid, luxuriant quality that Yanderis conveys in her poses that makes this layout so successful. The persona that she creates is that of a goddess who is fully aware of her own allure, of someone who knows that her lavish beauty entitles her to the finest things in life, to be waited on hand and foot, and to have her every desire gratified, her every whim obeyed. And, like the insatiable Cathy of Wuthering Heights, even in the midst of incalculable opulence, she appears to desire even more.

The lace trip and ribbons in this top, its silk-like material, its split sleeves, and its generous cut for a curvaceous waist, makes it the ideal piece to be featured in such a spread.

Click to enlarge

Somehow, even in denim, Yanderis manages to look regal. Perhaps it's the way in which she appears to be looking out dreamily into the distance, like a princess surveying her realm. The texture in the top is fabulously ornate.

Click to enlarge

And finally, the goddess graces us with a bewitching smile. A skirt would have been much more fitting with this lace-detailed top, but the mood is still one of lassitude mixed with irresistible allure.

Click to enlarge

Figure should take pride in having created a visual masterpiece in "Romantic Lines." On the basis of this spread, we surmise (with cautious optimism) that the new direction of the magazine is an entirely favourable one.

Are there opportunities for improvement? Of course. One hopes to see more editorials in future issues of Figure that equal the artistic quality of "Romantic Lines." More attractive covers would also be a boon. (It's been ages since Figure produced its two cover masterpieces, featuring Valerie Lefkowitz and Megan Garcia.) Also, the magazine is still skewing rather too old in some of its model choices and content. However, at least Figure appears to be maintaining the one policy that readers have appreciated from the magazine's inception: a preference for true plus-size models (size 14 and up).

We look forward to seeing Figure develop--and earnestly hope for the best.

(Be sure to click on the above images, particularly the first, to view them at a larger size.)

- Click here to visit the Figure site


Last edited by HSG : 16th July 2006 at 17:20.
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Old 17th July 2006   #2
MelanieW
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Default Re: Figure Magazine: Romantic Curves

I was in a Lane Bryant recently, and the cover of this issue didnt stand out at all. But then I looked inside, and was stunned by this layout. It really is like a dream. An entire issue with images like this would be everything I have ever wanted from a fashion magazine.

Everyone who contributed to this layout clearly had the right idea about plussize beauty and fashion. I just adore the earrings in the second image, and that ivory ruffled blouse is so pretty, that I can hardly belive its from Charming Shoppes. Even the text of the editorial that isnt by Bronte is perfect. Here is what one caption says about the kind of hairstyle that you should wear with a blouse like this:

"Enhance the romantic quality by wearing your hair long and loose".


The layout transported me to different world - a world of beauty, tranquility, and indulgence. The best issues of Mode gave me an escape like this, and Ive missed that feeling very much.

I also thought the lingerie editorial was fairly nice, if only because it made no attempt to minimize the curves of the models.

Sadly, Figure is basically impossible to find in Canada. I used to have a subscription, but let it lapse due to perpetual diet-ad disappointment. Now I think Ill take a chance, and re-subscibe.
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Old 18th July 2006   #3
Emily
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Default Re: Figure Magazine: Romantic Curves

Quote:
Originally Posted by HSG
the model's gorgeous lace blouse, so ornate that it testifies to the loving craftsmanship of a past age; trees so mighty and venerable that they are living links to a more elegant era; the well-born proprietor of the land, fiercely proud of his noble heritage; the stately mansion in the background, home to generations of an aristocratic family with roots as long as those of the towering oaks--it all seems to exist purely for the pleasure of the opulent goddess relaxing so dreamily and languorously in the foregroud

I finally found my way into a Lane Bryant today, to pick up a copy of Figure. I have to agree about how indescribably perfect this layout is. I never expected to see something this beautiful in a plus-size magazine, ever again. It's especially welcome at a time when most depictions of plus-size beauty, at least on television, veer more towards vulgarity than a classy, romantic presentation.

As others have stated on this forum before, the way to envision an ideal plus-size fashion editorial is to copy the style of the finest ads and layouts in bridal magazines (especially now that fashion is so appropriately feminine), and that's exactly what this story reminds me of -- a bridal editorial, perfectly adapted for plus-size fashions. And while it's true that Yanderis's ivory blouse is mass-produced, it does have a convincing vintage look. Wardrobe like this makes it possible for anyone to introduce a little poetry into their lives, even if they don't have the financial status of plantation owners.

That initial two-page spread is as gorgeous as a great painting. And symbolic, too? This may sound a little fanciful, but with the way in which Yanderis seems to be cradled in the limbs of that great oak -- and her dressed in such a feminine way, with a languid gaze -- it's almost as if the tree is a symbol of a powerful...masculine presence (the Southern aristocrat?), holding her protectively in his mighty arms.

I hope this is the beginning of great things for Figure.
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Old 19th July 2006   #4
M. Lopez
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Default Re: Figure Magazine: Romantic Curves

The above editorial came to mind when I stumbled on the following item at the Elle magazine site:



It shows how even straight-size fashion IS finally changing, for the more romantic. Notice what the article finds wonderful about this particular design house:

-it's an "ultra-feminine fashion house beloved by grown-up girls"
-it purposes "to eschew the minimalism of the standard industry showroom"
-it's set in "a romantic, rustic" space
-it evokes "a distinctly non-New York state of mind"

Just a few seasons ago, the fashion world acted as if New York was the centre of the universe, and believed that brutal minimalism was the only way to go, and avoided the "rustic" and "ultra-feminine" aesthetic like they were afraid of it. All that has now changed.

But better yet, we would usually be talking about a feature like this and saying, "If only these elements were part of a fashion spread featuring a plus-size model!" Well, that's exactly that Figure's "Romantic Lines" editorial gave us: "ultra-feminine" fashions that "eschew minimalism," photographed in a "romantic" and "distinctly non-New York" setting! I'm absolutely delighted.

Incidentally, when I was recently in a Lane Bryant, I was impressed by quite a few of the fashions, which had the sexy-yet-vintage-looking style of the New Femininity. It's a shame that the LB site mostly shows fashions on plastic mannequins. If it displayed its wares on true plus-size models, the way Torrid and Nordstrom do, I think they'd get a lot more "buzz" about their styles.

Maybe Figure can make up for LB's recent deficiency in images of plus-size beauty.
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Old 2nd August 2006   #5
vargas
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Default Re: Figure Magazine: Romantic Curves

I decided to check out Tocca. I had never heard of this fashion house before but I am impressed with the femininity and beauty of the apparel. The collection is mainly comprised of dresses (most appropriate for the wholly feminine look) and the clothes seem to be made out of soft, delicate fabrics - silks, lace, gauzy, organza-like fabrics and soft patterns and muted colors. Not muted as in the harshly sterile colors one often encounters in minimalist art and fashion, but soft and inviting, gentle. Romantic, indeed!

Now if only they made fashions for fuller-sized customers, as the designs they have created would look best on such women!
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Old 4th August 2006   #6
MoonGoddess
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Default Re: Figure Magazine: Romantic Curves

I've just purchased this issue of Figure, and was enthralled with the romantic theme presented. To witness such a fine presentation of the New Femininity and fuller figure was truly heart-warming.
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