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Old 2nd January 2007   #1
Join Date: July 2005
Posts: 1,784
Default The European fit

We frequently refer to "Old World" culture on this forum, but it is worth noting that this phrase does not refer to the Europe of today, but to pre-war Europe. The traditions of the Old World were largely severed and destroyed in the wars of the 20th century, replaced by artificially-imposed political systems on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Even today, Europe has not yet re-established links to its own past.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the case of women's fashion. Although Europe was the birthplace of the Classical ideal, and nurtured it throughout Western history, full-figured femininity has been conspicuously absent in European fashion over the past fifty years. The European plus-size industry, lacking an inspiring publication such as Mode, has generally lagged behind its U.S. counterpart, and Europe's greatest plus-size models have invariably been American imports (Barbara Brickner for Elena Miro, or, more recently, Charlotte Coyle in Britain, who came there by way of the U.S. fashion industry.)

Much as modern Europe has lacked indigenous full-figured supermodels, it has also suffered from a dearth of body-conscious, youthful, plus-size style. Much of the apparel offered to European women of size exemplifies the ugly, curve-denying approach of "flowing formlessness," which renders voluptuous goddesses shapeless and invisible.

However, a look at the current campaigns of several out-of-the-way European vendors suggests that size-positive change may finally be on the horizon.

The models in these promotions may still be unremarkable, for the most part, but these campaigns suggest the emergence of an approach to wardrobe that is predicated on accentuating and revealing womanly curves, rather than hiding or disguising them.

First, here is the current cover image of a company called Zhensi, out of Denmark. The dress effectively frams the model's decolletage, with its plunging v-neck cut, and has an agreeably high hemline. The photograph is rather good as well, situating the model in a domestic context, but a pretty and feminine one (with those potted flowers adding colour to the image, and a touch of natural beauty).

For something a little more overtly sensual, here is an image from the current campaign of a Spanish company called Kanak. Again, the model is an unknown face, but she does possess an attractive, well-fed figure, which the clothing is designed to accentuate and reveal, not downplay or camouflage. Observe how closely the halter top and slacks embrace her sumptuous curves, in a fit that is worthy of Reitmans's best images. Also, note that the photographer shot the model in such a way as to play up her generous contours, including the soft fullness of her arms. This is a significant advance over the shapeless, apologetic, figure-denying approach that has characterized most European plus-size imagery in the past.

Finally, and most notably, the following is a series of images from the current campaign of another Spanish plus-size retailer, named Sabela Mourelle.

The clothing varies from so-so, to downright unappealing, but what makes this Sabela campaign so remarkable is the extraordinary fit. This is some of the most size-positive and celebratory wardrobe styling (in terms of fit) that we have ever seen, and matches the perfect fit that one sees in Christina Schmidt's best Torrid images.

Note how the ultra-close fit enables even unremarkable attire to look feminine and alluring, and makes the most of this model's shapely figure:

Actually, this model is a tad more notable than the girls in the aforementioned campaigns, and in particular, she may have the best legs of any model in the industry--soft, full, and shapely. Whatever its other shortcomings, Sabela Mourelle's clothing does, at least, make the most of the model's great legs.

Beyond the curve-adoring fit of the clothing, what makes this campaign so progressive is a dressing strategy that is incredibly alluring on plus-size goddesses, and is frequently seen in the "real world," but which fashion campaigns have hitherto avoided: the "deliberately accidental" glimpse of a bare midriff:

This coy visual tease by voluptuous vixens is infinitely more sensual and attractive than all-out disrobing by their underweight rivals. Even outfits that are not intrinsically feminine become transformed into chic and seductive attire, though the irresistible visual recipe of an ultra-close fit along with a glimpse of the waist.

At some point in their lives, most curvaceous women will be forced to don "career wear" of one sort or another. The daring approach to styling seen in these images (the snug fit, and the tease of the visible figure), which is modest yet alluring, is the means by which goddesses can employ their voluptuous curves to transform even unfeminine outfits into seductive style.

If the same dressing strategy were employed with overtly feminine attire, the effect would be intoxicating. Sabela Mourelle's more girlish pieces are, however, somewhat more conservative in their fit, even though they do exhibit attractive qualities. This top, for example, is wonderfully sheer, and the image was commendably shot in such a way as to acknowledge and celebrate the softness of the model's figure beneath.

This top is somewhat looser, but still fits well enough to flatter the model's curves, and although it might have been better paired with a skirt, note that the slacks do hug the body admirably well.

And finally, while this top may be somewhat confused in its design, at least the photographer posed the model in such a way as to showcase her womanly profile.

While European plus-size fashion may still lag behind its American equivalent, and while Europe lacks indigenous plus-size superstars, at least the models in its campaigns are geting younger, photographers are shooting them in a curve-accentuating ways, and the fit of the clothing is improving dramatically.

Perhaps in the near future, plus-size styling will become yet another hot European export.

[NOTE: We subsequently discovered the Sabela Mourelle model's name: Leticia Herrero, a gorgeous girl who, sadly, has recently diminished herself.--HSG]

Last edited by HSG : 19th January 2010 at 15:39.
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