"One of the positive things . . . "

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Posted by HSG on August 13, 2004 at 02:38:32:

The other day, in an otherwise unimportant article about fall fashion, we came across this rather interesting statement from the manager of a "Goody's Family Clothing" store in Mississippi:

"One of the positive things we carry is plus-size fashions for the teenager," Martin said, citing junior-plus fashions "in sizes 13 to 18 that are the same as what we carry in the junior department."

How encouraging to see an ordinary retail manager describe the advancement of plus-size fashion as something "positive." This is part of a trend that we are seeing in the better press coverage of full-figured style--i.e., an awareness that curve-friendly clothing is not only good for business, but is also a social boon.

Just as the more enlightened plus-size models understand that they are not merely working for profit, but are genuinely inspiring cultural renewal, so the plus-size fashion industry as a whole is beginning to realize that its importance extends beyond the "bottom line," and that it can impact the lives of full-figured women in a dramatically beneficial way.

A visit to the Goody's Family Clothing site (linked below) provides further indication of the company's positive approach to plus-size marketing. The store's clothing brands carry affirmative names such as L.e.i. ("Life, Energy, Intelligence"), and "Self Esteem." Here is one example of a "Self Esteem" top, modelled by none other than Valerie Lefkowitz:

Could any plus-size teen fail to experience a dramatic boost in self-esteem when she sees Valerie modelling this feminine, sleeveless top? This is exactly the kind of image that can help a young girl realize that, yes, she really can look every bit as attractive as her underweight rivals. In fact, it may help her realize that she can look better than her peers, if she glances at the site's straight-size junior offerings, and discovers that none of the skinny models can hold a candle to Valerie--the plus-size model who represents her.

* * *

Before we leave this topic, we would like to examine another photograph from Valerie's new junior-plus campaign. This image is significant for two reasons.

First of all, it is a wonderful example of Valerie's "signature" modelling mode. Just as Barbara Brickner's most captivating modelling manner is a "feline" demeanor--a look that is uniquely hers, that no other model can duplicate--so Valerie's signature modelling mien is "rapture," or pure passion--i.e., her ability to convey, in certain images, the sense that she is experiencing a kind of Dionysian euphoria, or channeling a nameless energy. In these images, the camera seems to disappear, and Valerie becomes a conduit of surging emotion.

The effect on the viewer is similar to watching Anne-Sophie Mutter perform Beethoven, or Karajan conduct the BPO. At this level, modelling takes on the qualities of a true art form, More than just "frozen acting," it incorporates elements of ballet, and even sculpture--with the model as both the artist, and as her own medium--the living material that she fashions into an artistic statement.

Second, from the more functional point of view of actually promoting a clothing style, this is the first image that we have seen which persuades us that the "poncho"--that supposedly "hot" garment of the fall season--can actually be a complimentary fashion choice.

Many of the top models have already tried modelling ponchos--from Valerie herself, to Barbara, to Melissa M., to Mia Tyler. But none of these attempts have managed to dispel the unfortunate sensation that the models are simply wearing glorified throw rugs; or, at best, the kind of blankets that one's favourite grandmother might wrap around her shoulders, to ward off the winter chill.

But this image finally demonstrates that the poncho can be an exciting styling choice. Whether it is because this particular poncho is cute rather than sack-like, or because the rest of the outfit is so captivating (with fitted jeans, and a hint of midriff showing), or because the model's pose is so enthralling--whatever the reason, this image finally sells the idea of a poncho as a viable clothing option.

Compliments to Goody's for a fun fall campaign, and kudos as always to Valerie for her superlative work.

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