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Old 17th July 2005   #1
HSG
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Join Date: July 2005
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Default Kate Dillon: An editorial retrospective


Fans will have noticed that Kate Dillon is once again modelling for Lane Bryant. She is still very thin, and if LB is moving back towards using faux-plus models, it will only hurt them. Customers always deplored the policy of the "old" Lane Bryant of using non-plus models (size 12 and under), and any return to this practice will only yield renewed bitterness.

On the other hand, Kate Dillon herself is wearing her hair rather longer now, which always improves her look. And as we have noted before, Ms. Dillon will always inspire positive feelings among plus-size model aficionados, albeit mixed with a tinge of regret. She has ever been an articulate spokesperson for "the cause," and was instrumental in making Mode what it was. But the fact that she fell off from the goddesslike proportions that she possessed when she first re-entered the world of modelling is a profound shame. As an "extra luscious" size 18, in the early days of Mode, she was a one-woman aesthetic restoration, and if she had remained so, she could have been as instrumental to size celebration as, say, Barbara Brickner.

Nevertheless, Kate Dillon opened many doors for plus-size models, and it is worth looking back at some of her groundbreaking editorial work from 2001, which appeared before this forum set sail, and was consequently never featured here.

We all remember Kate's "Attraction Fatale" layout from the November 2001 issue of Paris Vogue, which prompted considerable discussion at the time:

but few fans are aware that she also appeared in a jewellery-themed pictorial in the September 2001 issue of the same magazine.

The work is quite nice, actually. It possesses a certain James Bond-esque mystique. In the image shown here, Ms. Dillon could be a double agent at the famed casino in Monte Carlo, assigned to beguile the crown prince of Monaco, and to obtain state secrets:

At this particular moment, our femme fatale may have noticed a group of enemy agents closing in on her. But she would not be alarmed at this menace, knowing that whatever their training, these agents would be powerless against her lavish charms.

The second image shows Ms. Dillon bedecked with exquisite emeralds, which contrast vividly with her fair skin, and ruby-red dress. Plus-size models are ideal candidates for showcasing precious stones, due to the innate opulence of their look. Ms. Dillon may not have been at the peak of her Mode beauty here, but she still appears noticeably softer and lovelier than the typical androgynous Vogue waif, such as the one featured on the left:

(You may click on the image to see it at a larger size.)

* * *

And now for something completely different . . .

Surely the last place that anyone would expect to find a Kate Dillon editorial is in a magazine called House & Garden--but seeing is believing. And if anything, the image itself (which you can click to view larger) is even more unlikely than its source:

Yes, that's Kate Dillon wearing . . . a chair.

(And what's even more shocking is that this image appeared in the November issue of House & Garden, whereas everyone knows that you can't wear white chairs after Labour Day.)

But once we get past the initial weirdness of the image, we discover that it possesses some worthwhile qualities. The backdrop has a wonderfully "aged" feeling, like a centuries-old manor house. (One thinks of the setting of Crystal Renn's most recent Saks circular.) And the wallpaper is a marvellously ornate, aristocratic pattern.

And if we concentrate a little more closely on Ms. Dillon herself,

we can easily visualize how stunning this image might have been, if it had featured the model in a strapless, sleeveless wedding dress, or a ball gown, or a even a feminine top. Curvaceous arms and soft shoulders are invariably a plus-size model's best features, and any outfit (any outfit) that shows them off has something to recommend it. The hairstyle is rather becoming, and the black hair accessory is a wonderful touch. Nice pose, and expression, too.

* * *

While these images are each, in their own way, quite interesting, by far the most significant image that Kate Dillon created in 2001 did not appear in a magazine at all, but in a book titled Femmes Fatales.

We have discussed Femmes Fatales here before--a coffee-table hardcover featuring photographs of celebrities dressed to mimic the looks of historical beauties. But when Femmes Fatales initially appeared, Ms. Dillon's page--a meticulously-crafted tribute to Lillian Russell--was considered gorgeous, but seemed little more than a curiosity.

Over the past several years, however, fashion has made tremendous progress in reviving the opulent styles that were dominant in Ms. Russell's day. Far from being archaic or forgotten, vintage is now, vintage is today--so much so that, in hindsight, Ms. Dillon's homage to Lillian Russell must be regarded not just as a nod to the past, but as an exciting glimpse of . . . the future.


Last edited by HSG : 17th July 2005 at 18:24.
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