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Old 5th August 2005   #1
HSG
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Default ''Thin is no longer in'' (U.K. Guardian)


Charlotte Coyle's arrival on "England's pastures green" is already having the same kind of impact on the fashion industry in Britain that Barbara Brickner's appearances in Germany have had on plus-size retailers in that nation.

The ripples are spreading far and wide.

Directly following The Daily Mirror's profile of Charlotte comes another significant article about the changing shape of the fashion industry, this one published in The Guardian--a rival U.K. newspaper.

Titled "The Learning Curve," the article begins with the statement, "Shock news! Thin is no longer in." And in many ways, the piece represents a significant leap forward from similar articles that have preceded it, because it transcends the mere relativism of size acceptance, and instead, embraces the idealism of size celebration.

At several points, the article underscores the aesthetic deficiencies of the androgynous straight-size standard that has dominated fashion until now, noting with delight that

there seems to have been an unexpected, but long overdue, shift in the fashion industry away from knees that protrude from legs like vinyl albums, toothpick limbs and cheekbones of such sharpness you could slice cheese on them.

More significantly, in discussing the curve-friendly fashions that are coming into style, the writer expresses an aesthetic preference for the fuller female figure:

[P]repare, for a start, to hear much in the coming months about the "new womanly shape", which means dresses and skirt suits that emphasise - nay, require - hips and cleavage spillage.

At The Judgment of Paris, we have often stressed how much better genuinely feminine fashions look on a fuller figure. But this is the first time that we have ever seen this fact acknowledged in the modern media.

And the writer doesn't stop there:

At the Roland Mouret show, for example, hourglass dresses were shown on the requisite skinny models but this only served to emphasise that these kinds of clothes actually look better on women who do eat carbs after 5pm. In other words, they make a virtue of the physical attributes which for too long certain designers seem to have found distasteful to the point of denying their existence altogether.

This is nothing less than the language of true size celebration. This represents an understanding of the relationship between fashion and feminine beauty that existed in every century prior to the twentieth, but has not been evident in mainstream discourse since the days of Lillian Russell.

Another significant way in which the article acknowledges the return of timeless beauty is in the nature of its praise for a straight-size model. The writer acknowledges that

although models are still twiggishly thin, the most popular one at the moment is Lily Cole, who, while certainly no body double for Rosanne Barr, has a lovely round face and rosy cheeks that are flush with teenage health.

What's this? A "lovely round face?" To have the mainstream press celebrating the enchantment of round facial features and rosy cheeks is a triumph of the greatest magnitude. The beauty of soft, rounded facial features has been the definitive hallmark of timeless beauty since time immemorial. But for the past half-century, this aesthetic feature was banished from the media just as assiduously as was the Classical female figure. In its place was imposed the harsh, androgynous visage of a Sarah Jessica Parker, or of the cast members of Friends.

The writer provides many references to support her hypothesis that fashion finally is changing in favour of timeless beauty. Designer Roland Mouret is quoted as saying,

"I think women are tired of feeling bad and now want to show off their bodies . . . curves are really exciting."

And Sam Cookson, a booker at Premier model agency, admits that,

"We even have had occasions when fashion editors have called up complaining that a girl we sent is too skinny. It's a really encouraging trend."

Not only is the trend itself encouraging, but the fact that a booker at a major modelling agency calls the trend "encouraging" is, itself, encouraging!

And it certainly supports the writer's hypothesis that fashion is experiencing a genuine transformation.

Perhaps the most subversive aspect of the article is the fact that the author doesn't send any mixed messages, or pay any lip service to starvation or exercise-torture promotion. Quite the opposite. The article offers the following praise for one particular manner of dress:

the other style for autumn/winter is empire line, that cut that is hoiked up beneath the bust so the fabric flows freely and discreetly around the tummy, allowing a person to eat lunch without showing the world the after-effects.

Thus, the writer is tacitly offering sanction for women to eat lunch in the first place--not at all a customary feature of fashion journalism!

The article also frames one of Charlotte Church's most affirmative statements in a very favourable way:

Meanwhile, Charlotte Church's sudden incarnation as joyous icon of our times owes a good chunk to quotes like "I just love food and hate the gym, and it seems to be a pretty curvy combination. I can be a good influence on young girls"

And the writer in no way undermines this celebratory statement.

The article even ends on a truly radical note, stating that

it is our moral duty to buy next season's curve-flattering clothes. And the accompanying Krispy Kremes, natch.

And even if that last line was written with a smile, it was clearly a smile of delight, not a smirk of irony.

There is perhaps only one "negative" note in the article, but this seemingly negative comment is actually extremely instructive. And it, too, falls in line with what many contributors to this forum have long maintained. The article quotes the aforementioned modelling booker as saying:

"I worked at Marks & Spencer back in 2000 when they used size 14 models in their adverts, and that campaign totally flopped," remembers Cookson.

Did you catch the significant detail in that statement? That's right--"size 14 models." A British size 14 is an American size 10--the typical faux-plus size. The Marks & Spencer case only proves what everyone on this side of the Atlantic discovered years ago: the public does not respond to faux-plus models--size 12, 10, or (god forbid) even smaller--but wants to see true plus-size models, size 14 and up (i.e., size 18 and up, in U.K. sizing), with distinctly and visibly plus features.

Ladies and gentlemen, the return of the Classical ideal is finally at hand.

You can read the full text of the article here:

- "The Leaning Curve"

Jai Femme model (believed to be Heather Shantora, size 14, Ford Toronto). Note the fair features, the "lovely round face," and the exquisitely soft, full limbs. This is the true image of timeless feminine beauty.

How could we have ever lived without this ideal for the past hundred years?

Click to enlarge

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


Last edited by HSG : 5th August 2005 at 23:14.
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Old 6th August 2005   #2
Kaitlynn
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Default ''Curves are really exciting''

For me, the most important point in the article is its suggestion that thinness is NOT the "aspirational" ideal people think it is:


"Jo Carnegie, deputy editor of Heat. "For years, we the public looked to celebrities and just automatically envied how good they looked, but now for the first time our readers are saying, 'We don't want to look like that.' If we didn't say that in the magazines, our readers would write to us complaining.""


It's true. There's an important distinction here. The public may envy celebrities, but for their fame, and wealth, and lifestyles, NOT for their skin-and-bones appearance.

In fact, we're seeing more and more celebrities (Cameron Diaz, Nicole Kidman) saying that they actually envy womanly figures, and that they wish their bodies were curvier. And we've heard actresses' boyfriends (Renee Zellweger's, Charlize Theron's) saying the same thing about their girlfriends.

The only people who do find starvation attractive are the small group of individuals who own/operate the modern media today.
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Old 6th August 2005   #3
MelanieW
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Default ''Curves are really exciting''

What a great quote! Its about time someone in the fashion world went on record as saying "curves are really exciting". They ARE. Minus-model figures all look identical, like they were fabricated on an assembly line. The soft and curvy figures of true plussize models are all unique.

I like the boldness of the article. Its about time someone referred to "the wretched standards of slimness in Hollywood" - because thats what they really are.

If anybody ever plans to create a truly top-level, international fashion magazine for plus, they should be keeping track of people in the fashion world like the writer of this article, for a potential staff - people who operate within the industry, but are capable of expressing a 100% positive theme of size celebration, with a preference for curvy figures - no mixed messges, no second-guessing yourself, and no apologies.

Heather looks very cute in that image. Its too bad the pictures on her online comp card at Ford dont give a very good idea of her actual look.
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Old 10th August 2005   #4
HSG
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Default Re: ''Thin is no longer in'' (U.K. Guardian)


Perhaps this enlarged image of Heather Shantora from her online book will provide a better indication of her appearance:

Another impression may be formed from her Ford video, although the styling in the video is not as figure-embracing as is the wardrobe in other plus-size model segments produced by Ford. However, the video does give a good idea of Heather's lovely round visage, and her enchanting smile.

Still nothing can approach the beauty of that bridal ad. If the model is indeed Heather, note how much the romantic hairstyle and the strapless, sleeveless dress add to her allure, especially in comparison to the casual look, above.

Even if she wasn't wearing a bridal gown, but just a dress or a top with a similar figure-framing cut, it would still be apparent how much a style such as this enhances the beauty of the goddess who wears it.

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