I got several requests from designers and friends to post my term paper on plus-size models in one large post so they could catch up on anythig they missed, so here it is, 12 pages single-spaced! I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!
It’s hard to say which came first-the superskinny model or the size zero sample. Either way, the trend has been tough on both the models, who find it nearly impossible to maintain that body type past the age of seventeen, and the magazines that want to show clothes on models who aren’t painfully thin. In the old days, stylists came to a shoot armed with pins to make the clothes fit the model. Now the relevant tool is a pair of scissors.
American Vogue, January 2010
The American fashion industry is caught up within the dichotomy of razor thin gauntness versus womanly curves. This is not solely an issue of designers choosing to hire size zero “fit models” (women whom they fit their clothes to during each garment’s construction). It is an issue that spans the entire industry: modeling agencies, advertising firms, magazine editors, fashion reviewers, runway producers, large scale and department store buyers and consumers alike. The world of modeling is characterized by its illusion of perfection; models represent an ideal that is unattainable for the majority of women. In America the average woman is a size twelve, the average model is a size zero (Renn, 129). In recent years however, the American fashion industry has been inching towards a more attainable demonstration of beauty; what they term the “plus-size model”. Her appearance up to this point has been limited to feature pieces or work as a hugely defined outsider shown in difference to her size zero counterparts. But nonetheless, she is eliciting praise from the mainstream media as well as the American public.
The Council for Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), suffered great scrutiny after New York Fall Fashion Week in September 2007. This particular season saw the reigning in of ghastly gaunt models, many of whom were under the age of eighteen, which raised the eyebrows of the American public who demanded something be done (Espinosa). On July 12, 2007 CFDA launched what they deemed a “health initiative” which provided guidelines, not regulations for the treatment of underage and underweight models. The initiative was ushered in as a means of combating the heavy firestorm the American fashion industry was currently battling (Espinosa). A team of medical doctors and high profile members of CFDA, including president and designer Diane Von Furstenberg, composed the health initiative. It is a proposal for healthy eating education, eating disorder awareness, and protecting the well being of underage models. Specifically the initiative states that healthy snacks and regular meals should be provided at shoots and shows and that underage models should not work past midnight (Espinosa).
The health initiative comes at a time when countries like Spain, Italy and Brazil are banning underweight models from walking in their namesake fashion weeks. Each is requiring that models are cleared by a doctor who deems them to be at a healthy weight, or that they measure in at a body mass index of 18.5, which represents the beginning cusp of a normal weight range. Furthermore Sao Paulo, Brazil will not allow any models under the age of sixteen to strut their runways (Espinosa).
While other countries are setting indisputable guidelines to ensure not only the health of the women who walk their runways, but also the image of their country; New York Fashion Week is hiding behind an initiative as thin as the model’s whose image it’s protecting. New York Fashion Week stands as one of the “Big Three” world fashion weeks: New York, Paris, and Milan. As such a world leader in fashion America needs to set a precedent, not turn a blind eye. There must be consequences for designers who continue to exploit young girls’ adolescent bodies.
June 9, 2008 brought the third discussion of the health initiative among members of the CFDA since its release in July 2007. The event marked an important turn-around in the industry and allowed the words of influential players in the American fashion market to be voiced via an open microphone (Mysko). Famed fashion show producer Nian Fish spoke on the disillusionment of the American fashion market and the perpetuating of the size zero fit model, “A size zero means you’re invisible. I think we have brainwashed ourselves into believing that that is beautiful. It’s time to admit that we have all been drinking the Kool-Aid,” (Mysko).
The discussion was attended by power-players in the American fashion industry such as Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and designer Donna Karen. Michael Kors, arguably one of the most well known American designers, spoke on the direct link between design and the American public saying, “Stay away from child-size clothes unless you’re designing for children.” Kors went on to explain that American design influences “Hollywood aesthetic” in that actresses starve themselves to fit into the designer’s sample size zero so they are the first to be seen wearing it on the red carpet (Mysko). Then young American women watch the award shows and see rail thin actresses in fabulous couture and the cycle perpetuates itself.
The American public and magazine editors alike have had enough of size zero models, and the always body glorifying Glamour magazine fought back in their September 2009 issue with a feature on loving one’s body (Inbar). Within the text of the story was one three by three inch photo of twenty-year-old model Lizzi Miller sitting with crossed arms that cover her breasts and rest on her crossed legs. She wears nothing but a g-string thong, but her buttocks is not exposed, she smiles contentedly and looks as though she herself embodies the message of the feature story, “loving one’s body” (Leive). This one particular photo dominated not only the mainstream media, but the “blogosphere” for weeks. Everyone from MSN to Perez Hilton and Jezebel.com discussed their opinion of Glamour’s “girl on page 194”, Newsweek.com even dedicated a webpage to the renewed debate over women’s body image (Inbar). The reason the photo cause such an uproar is because Miller weighs 180 pounds and is a plus size model; in the photo she does nothing to hide her unabashed lower stomach fat, or what some cynics would term a “belly fat roll”.
The day the issue hit newsstands comments began flooding in to Glamour editor-in-chief Cynthia Leive sat up and took notice. “Get this hot momma off of page 194 and put her on the cover!” wrote one glamour reader. Another said, “Thank you for showing a picture of a BEAUTIFUL woman who has a stomach and thighs that look like mine! I have NEVER seen that in a magazine before.” Leive, who loved the photo at first sight, said the feedback from readers was overwhelmingly positive. Miller resonated with the image women see everyday in the mirror, an image that has been blacklisted from fashion magazines (Leive).
Miller is being deemed a “game changer” in the industry and is undoubtedly a step towards the ushering in of a new aesthetic. Leive told Matt Lauer on the Today show, “You get a reaction like this and you can really see it. It’s also a sign of the times that women are really looking for a little bit more authenticity and a little bit less artifice in every part of their lives. Will it change our approach? I think it will,” (Inbar).
Although the appearance of Miller within the magazine is certainly a step forward, and the fact that she was shown in such a natural and unapologetic state furthers the advancement, there are still two facts to take into consideration. This was one small picture, three inches by three inches buried all the way on page 194 of the magazine. Such a small depiction of what many women in America really look like caused a media uproar and thousands of comments despite these two influencing factors. In an age of industry decline within the world of publishing, it would be commonsensical for other editors to follow suit, but this issue was published in September and this has not been the case. This says that American fashion magazines are not willing to trade increased readership, media coverage, and commentary praise for putting more “fat girls” in their publications.
Supermodel Lara Stone stands out among the crowd of “straight-size” (as opposed to plus-size), waifs walking the runways today. At five-foot-ten her physique calls for a size four, not the industry size zero. January 2010’s American Vogue spotlighted Stone’s rise to stardom and the struggles she faced along her way, the most perpetual of which being that she was deemed “fat” (Johnson). Albeit Stone is two sizes larger than the average model, she has walked the runway for almost every major industry designer including Marc Jacobs and has been featured in campaigns for Givenchy, Calvin Klein and Hugo Boss. She even has the likes of famed thin model proponent Karl Lagerfeld saying, “Lara Stone has a gorgeous women’s body” (Johnson).
Stone suffered from severe depression after constantly being scrutinized by stylists and industry personnel on shoots. She took diet pills to lose weight, and dieted and exercised fervently. Nothing worked. So she turned to alcohol to, “get through the day” (Johnson). She eventually became an addict and a year ago checked herself into a rehabilitation program; she emerged sober and newly empowered, more eager than ever to cling to her proponents and dismiss those who criticize. “People still tell me I’m fat, but when I look in the mirror that’s not what I see,” says Stone (Johnson).
Stone marks a turning point in the American fashion world, a break from heroine chic towards a much anticipated return to the womanly figures of eighties supermodels Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell. Virginia Smith, fashion market editor of Vogue says, “Lara makes clothes look good. It’s refreshing to see her come down the runway. Sometimes I’ll call in a piece (to shoot for the magazine), it’ll arrive, and I’ll think, why did I think I liked that? Then I’ll remember, oh because Lara wore it,”(Johnson). Is it a surprise that breast, hips, and thighs will sell clothes to the women who posses these same curves? Vogue goes as far as to deem Stone’s figure the, “Shape of the Future” and the “Return of Curves” in their caption of her photo and subtitle of the article, respectfully (Johnson).
Crystal Renn is another supermodel who knows the pressures of the high fashion modeling industry all to well. The now plus-sized and incredibly successful model penned her first tell-all autobiography, Hungry this winter. The book details her journey from age sixteen when she was spotted by a New York model scout and told she could be the next Giselle. Renn dropped seventy pounds in an effort to conform to the photos of models in high the fashion magazines she dreamed of one day posing for. After months of starving herself and exercising nonstop Renn found herself the envy of other girls at school, the object of male attention, and most importantly finally ready to leave her small town of Clinton and move to New York (Renn).
One night in the late spring of 2002, I stood naked in front of my full-length mirror, my feet together. I didn’t see that my inner wrists looked like pale blue birds’ wings you could crush with a breath, I didn’t see my concave chest. All I saw was the gap between my upper thighs. Finally the gap. I felt the blood rush to my face. I was ecstatic (Renn, 60).
Renn is flown to New York to work for a highly regarded modeling agency and told that at five-foot-nine; weighing ninety-five pounds she looks absolutely perfect (Renn, 70). Renn became increasingly anorexic, eating compulsively and not for nourishment. She exercised incessantly, for four to eight hours a day rotating between two gyms so as not to be found-out as an exercise bulimic.
It’s not until early 2003 that Renn’s body starts to rebel against her and slowly gain weight. The changes do not go unnoticed by her agent, and she is encouraged to exercise more and watch her caloric intake, but nothing inhibits the weight gain. Panicked, Renn tries every diet available, although she has eaten almost exclusively vegetables for the past year. Yet the numbers on the scale still increase: 105, 111, 123. “I got the fisheye every time I walked into the agency. All the exclamations about how thin I was and how fabulous I looked faded into echoes,” (Renn, 116). Renn recounts that this treatment was typical of the agency, who once sent a size four model to a medical clinic for an all liquid cleansing diet. The clinic rejected the young girl on the basis that she was too thin, the agency sent her twice more both times she was rejected, deemed medically too thin for a supervised fast (Renn, 117).
Then Renn hit 130 lbs; it was the beginning of the end. Booked by a producer for a $5,000 job she was flown to Chicago only to arrive to quips about her weight. Upon seeing Renn the photographer screamed at the producer who had selected her saying, “I can’t use her! She’s huge!” the producer then furthered the belittling by asking Renn, “How fat are you?” (Renn, 117). He called her agency right then and there and screamed at her agent, “Why did you send me a girl who is so squat and fat?” (Renn, 117).
When she returned to New York Renn was called in by her agent to take the Polaroid she had been dreading. Renn knew the photo of herself at this weight would be the end of her high fashion dreams. She didn’t eat for two days, she exercised non-stop, but nothing changed the impending news. Renn was told that unless she returned to her former ninety-five pounds she would never be a high fashion model. However, if she ensured that no more weight would be gained the agency could market her as voluptuous and send her on calls for men’s magazines and Victoria’s Secret. The only other option was to gain weight and become a plus-size model, forever banished to the world of catalogue modeling (Renn,133) .
Overwhelmed with the thought of starving herself for one more day Renn snapped and confessed everything to her agent, her diet of nothing but shredded lettuce, yo-yoing between two gyms, her irregular heartbeat, problems with anxiety and constant headaches. Only then did her agent break down and give her the option to change agencies, she left the office that day, never to look back and joined the ranks of Ford Model’s Plus Division (Renn, 135).
Ford provided an arena for Crystal to grow, no pun intended. From the moment she walked through the door she was greeted by now VP, Gary Dakin. Dakin assured Renn that she would be a successful plus size model (he was correct), but told her she needed time to recover, to gain weight and to adjust to her new figure(Renn, 135). She was sick for months after moving into the Ford model apartment and was unable to work, but gradually her body began to trust her once more, and she it.
I educated myself about eating healthily and about trusting my body and not viewing it as an enemy to be vanquished like some fairy-tale dragon. I started buying normal food-organic, real food-for the communal fridge. I shared it with other people. I reveled, once more, in the sensory pleasures of food and in the fun of lingering over delicious meals I’d helped prepare (Renn, 137).
Once Renn reached her healthy weight of 160 lbs she blossomed and came into her own as a model. Producers who had met her as a straight-size model couldn’t believe that the vivacious woman before them was the same timid skeletal girl they had met just months before. The true testament of her change came in February 2004 when she booked the Shape issue of Vogue and was shot by Steven Meisel (Renn, 162).
After her appearance in American Vogue the calls came flooding into to Ford, everyone wanted to book Renn. She was asked to pose for the March issue of Italian Vogue and followed it with an eight-page black and white 1920’s Hollywood inspired editorial for Vogue Paris (Renn, 166). Renn walked in Jean Paul Gaultier’s Spring 2006 runway show, and “closed” the show (being the last model to walk the runway wearing the finale garment), with Gaultier(Renn, 168). The phenomenal couture gown he dressed her in was constructed especially for her. Following Gaultier she shot a highly publicized advertisement for Dolce & Gabbana, which ran in very major fashion magazine in the world (Renn, 172).
The tide changed again when Renn was asked to tell her story to Glamour, and she did in May 2006 in accompaniment with an editorial layout that embraced her beautiful curves(Renn, 173). It was then that she landed her first mainstream fashion cover, Harpers Bazaar’s Russian Edition, which was the first time a plus size model ever graced the cover of a mainstream fashion magazine (Renn, 174). She went on to do print ads from Barcelona based fashion line Mango, plus sized retail empire Lane Bryant, and British clothing line Evans (Renn, 175). She has appeared on The View, the Today show, The Tyra Banks Show and most notably The Oprah Winfrey Show (Renn, 174).
Renn devotes a great bit of her self-penned book, Hungry, to her own forward looking opinion that the reign of “stick thin” models is coming to a close, using her book as a way to speak back to all of the “snoots” who’ve shunned her along the way. She writes of one incident in November 2003 where a Vogue stylist was particularly upset that she was dressing Renn saying, “I can’t believe I have to style a FAT GIRL!” Renn’s response? “Believe it, bitch,” (Renn, 157).
Renn’s good friend and mentor Steven Meisel , who was the first photographer to ever shoot her for Vogue, and who has shot every Vogue cover since 1988 also believes that curves are making a comeback. He feels it is up to industry insiders to change the face, or more the physique of fashion, because there is this huge fear of what is new. Meisel told the New York Times, “They (member of the fashion industry) are looking around, over their shoulders, asking ‘Is that cool?” Renn stands behind Meisel’s power within the industry to make a change saying, “A paradigm shift always needs a paradigm shifter, and he’s it. When he said I was cool, everyone else believed it,” (Renn, 173).
More than anything else Renn speaks to the importance of diversity within the American high fashion industry. It’s not that she believes that all models should be plus size models, but rather that other shapes of women should be represented on the runways and in the editorial pages of magazines. She believes that we, “Want to see ourselves reflected in the culture, whatever that may look like,” (Renn, 184). She points out the biggest difference between American magazines and European editions saying,
When I model in Europe, I’m less likely to be labeled “plus” in the magazine. I’m just a girl, just Crystal. Those magazines don’t extend type justifying my presence in their pages the way American magazines often do. Americans are more likely to scrabble desperately to point out the plus girl, soliciting applause for using her, differentiating her from all the normal girls. Ooh, let’s title this story ‘Dangerous Curves’ or ‘Larger Than Life!” (Renn, 184).
Renn is certainly correct about the compartmentalization of plus size models to feature stories, or specialized editorials where they are show either grouped together in a pack or in comparison to a straight-size model. Never do we see them blending into the fashion stories of American magazines.
Within the past seven months however, beginning in late Augusy 2009, the international fashion industry has seen a movement towards the integration of plus-size models in high fashion settings. This growth marks a coming of age of blending models into the high fashion arena where they had existed before only as show pieces or markers of difference. This changes is a result of the desire to see other body types represented. Most notably, a body type that represents the woman to whom the clothes are being constructed for, the woman who will ultimately buy them and statistically she is not a size zero.
Fashion innovator V magazine is the rebel child of fashion publications and a participant in this movement. It is an incredibly high fashion publication, but not in the Vogue sense. It’s much more urban, gritty, and “avant garde”. Their “Size Issue” was released in February 2010 to an anxious and anticipatory audience. The issue featured a dual cover with Dakota Fanning, child star turned adolescent role-risk-taker and Precious star Gabourey Sidibe. The issue coins itself as an arena for all shapes, “V The Size Issue: Every Body is Beautiful.” It is a joining together of the ubber-high fashion industry and not only models, but women of varying weights.
The first photo layout from the magazine this essay will focus on is “The Shape of Things to Come”, an editorial pictorial whose subtitle reads, “The shape of the season is whatever shape you happen to be, and those hard-line rules of size and style have never felt more outdated. Every body is beautiful and here’s the proof.” The following twelve pages are a celebration of the fleshy curves of the beautiful plus size women who fill them. Each piece worn by the models is incredibly high fashion, such a spread is almost unheard of.
The most striking difference between this layout and the rest of the magazine is that each piece worn by the plus size models is extremely fitted. This could be feeding off the trend of body-conscious garments that is favored by many women, but my hunch is that this is not a coincidence. This is instead a generality when studying plus-size models’ integration into high fashion. While straight-size models are often encouraged to wear garments that spill from their skin, emphasizing the gauntness of their frame, plus size models are all too often shot in skin-tight ensembles or partly nude. This emphasizing of curves and robust sensuality is undoubtedly stunning, in a very Botticelli-esque sense, but it also is an inhibiter in the full integration of plus-size models to the American high fashion industry.
Everything about the layout screams sexuality. The first photo is of four models all denim clad, three with their stomachs exposed, one wearing nothing on top but a black lace bra, and two others with very low cut tops. All the models in the photo are projecting their breasts forward; all are also popping their hip out to the side in order to emphasize the curve of their frame. These two particular poses are normally frowned upon in high fashion editorial shoots, because women’s high fashion is more about showcasing the clothes and not model’s body. Here there is a complete departure from what would normally be featured if the clothes were worn by a straight-size model.
The next three pages feature models who are all wearing body-suits (think swimsuit shape and fit but in a garment not meant for water). The first model wears an off the shoulder fitted wool sweater and briefs which blend in to the deep color of her skin-tone to the point where it wouldn’t be known that they were present if not credited on the caption next to her photo. The second model is clad in a long-sleeved leopard print suit by Agent Provocateur, which is a high-end lingerie line. The third model wears a Dolce & Gabbana black corset and lace embellished briefs. The bodysuit trend continues on the last three pages of the spread with designs by Gucci, Dquared and Topshop. The other two photos in the spread showcase two women in skintight jeans shot in a topless embrace and a nude model lying on the floor in nothing but Dior heels, gold bangles and hoops.
This entire editorial piece begs the question, “Where are the clothes?” This is the objective of a fashion magazine, to display, review and ultimately sell merchandise. And this would be the case in a straight-size segment, but when the models turn plus-size; there is a shift from showcasing merchandise to showcasing the model. There is a dichotomous relationship happening here between the trivialization of plus-sized models to be shown only in an incredibly sexualized way, without placing them in full outfits and designer couture, and a emancipation of their bodies to be shown unapologetically to the reader without hiding them behind, well, anything. This absence of clothing is not a necessarily totally negative aspect; but perhaps a stepping stone towards equality among the treatment of all models. Maybe this first step of celebrating the curves of plus-size models will lead to the acceptance of their aesthetic within the industry and will encourage designers to feature them more in their print advertising and integrate them into more runway shows.
The headlines in the feature certainly play into the empowerment aspect of the story. One reads, “What’s the skinny on today’s models? Big is bigger than ever, and these bombshells of plus-size are proving that there’s plenty of room in the fashion world for women who look like…women,” (V, 73). Photographer and editor for the shoot Solve Sundsbo has no qualms about the body flaunting models saying, “I love the opportunity to show that you can be beautiful and sexy outside the narrow interpretations that normally define us,” (V, 78).
The second layout from the V Size Issue this essay will discuss is an eight page photo feature that pitched plus-size model Crystal Renn against straight-size model Jacquelyn Jablonski in a side-by-side comparison of the models wearing the same outfit. The piece is titled, “One Size Fits All,” and plays on the idea that bright, fun, spring trends look great on just about any figure (V, 98). In each of the four shots both models are wearing the exact same outfit, styled identically with the same hair and makeup. They both pose similarly with the same basic stance and then each model varies it slightly. For example, in the first set of photos each model stands with her hands on her hips facing the camera straight on with knees bent and legs bowed outwards and leans forward on the tip toes of her platform Versace heels.
The interest in the spread comes from the difference in the way the models are photographed and therefore perceived by the reader and the public. Jablonski pulls her stomach in and hunches her shoulders. She strikes a very angular pose with her arms creating perfect ninety-degree angles where her elbow meets. This creates an emphasis on the thinness of her arms, in that they are long lean lines and the geometric shape enhances that aesthetic. Renn on the other hand brings her right arm against her body pushing the flesh from her arm next to the flesh of her upper chest. She pops her buttocks outward and bends her legs much wider and dips lower as if she is dancing and dropping her buttocks to the ground. The effect of her legs being both lower and spread more widely is not only incredibly sexualized which gives credence to the topic discussed earlier, but it also enhances the shapeliness of the thigh.
Another interesting aspect is that Jablonski is featured first in all the photos, her picture always appears on the left hand side and Renn’s photo follows Jablonski’s and appears on the right. In this way Renn is being compared to Jablonski and therefore critiqued in comparison to the first photo that has subconsciously set a certain skinny standard. Which could be considered a negative, but in the case of this particular layout, it is not. Because Jablonski is so thin the allure of Renn’s curves only make her figure more appealing to look at. She makes the clothes come alive with facial expressions and body language that Jablonski lacks. This is not to say that Jablonski is not a good model, she is. She shows the clothes very well on her body, but what Renn does is take the clothes a step further, she isn’t just selling the clothes, she’s selling the lifestyle, the fun you’ll have if you wear the clothes.
As a final closing point on plus-size versus straight-size models, I would like to address the difference in facial appearance between the two. Straight sized models have a reputation for not being conventionally beautiful. Currently the look high fashion designers are going for is very unapproachable eastern European looking models. It’s not necessarily about being beautiful, but more about looking interesting and edgy. This however is not the case with plus-size models. Conventionally plus-size models have embodied a girl next-door appearance. The goal is for them to be wholesome and all-American; to look relatable. Renn highlights this in her book saying that when she made the decision to cross over from a straight-size to plus-size model she thought back on the women she had so wanted to be like, the models she had emulated. “None of them were pretty-pretty. The ones I thought were the most beautiful were the ones who were a little strange-looking, a little gawky, a little too strong featured…models who were otherworldly, like stick insects and bug-eyed space aliens,” (Renn, 137).
Plus-size models on the other hand almost always have striking faces and luscious features. Their features embody the same fullness of their figures, they are the femme fatales of the modeling industry. Everything about them is to appear womanly. This is a graduation certainly from having to appear incredibly wholesome as was the practice when Renn crossed over, but it is still a facet of being pigeonholed.
Although the past seven months have shown growth in the integration of plus size models into the arena of high fashion, there are certainly a few set backs as well, the most prominent and worthy of discussion are the remarks Chanel legend Karl Lagerfeld made about the visual nature of plus-size models. Lagerfeld was questioned by German Focus Magazine regarding his opinion of another German magazine Brigitte’s commitment to use ordinary women in their fashion spreads as opposed to professional models. He exclaimed that the idea was, “absurd” and the women who dislike the thin models he is famous for booking are "Fat mummies sitting with their bags of crisps in front of the television, saying that thin models are ugly,” (Hintz-Zambrano). He furthered the statement by explaining why plus-size models have yet to break into the fashion industry saying that fashion is about, "dreams and illusions, and no one wants to see round women," (Hintz-Zambrano).
Controversy sells magazines, and so when it came time to choose the model Largerfeld would be shooting for the V Size Issue editor-in-chief Stephen Gan chose plus sized burlesque dancer Miss Dirty Martini. The spread was called “Coco A Go-Go”, and shot in Coco Chanel’s apartment with a Chanel look-a-like stand in. Martini appeared in a fabulous hybrid of Lagerfeld meets burlesque costuming. In one shot she wears black pantyhose with nothing underneath, accompanied by a black lace garter, a signature Chanel chain link leather weaved purse handle that has been configured as a multi strand belt, she is covered with stick on black and white lace roses which are truly the only thing covering her top half. Overall the look is very Moulin Rouge and Lagerfeld won praise for his photos.
The American fashion industry has a lot to learn from its international counterparts. Case in point, Canadian born designer Mark Fast who made headlines worldwide when he integrated three plus-size models into his show at September’s London Fall Fashion Week and had them walk alongside straight-sized models (Blanchard). The most jawing aspect of the story is that the designer says he didn’t think twice about his decision and had no idea he would receive such incredible praise (Blanchard).
Haley Morley, the twenty-one year old, size fourteen model Fast met in June certainly caused a lot of commotion. But she has also situated Fast on the list of young upcoming designers to watch (Blanchard). Designers like Fast are the ones who will change the size zero structure of the current fashion industry. Telegraph Magazine's fashion director, Daniela Agnelli, who stepped in last minute to assist in the styling of the show said, "It's a great idea for a young designer to think about a curvy body," Agnelli advised Fast to open the show with Morley. "It's about being confident and happy with who you are. Hayley is a sexy girl. Mark's vision is of a more womanly woman," (Blanchard).
Fast used two other size 14 models Laura Catterall and Gwyneth Harrison. "I booked them because I felt moved by them when I met them. They have the vibe of old-school super models," Fast said after the show (Blanchard).
Fast is a member of All Walks Beyond the Catwalk (AWBC), a new initiative developed by broadcaster Caryn Franklin to promote the booking of models of different shapes, sizes, ages and color in London Fashion Week. AWBC is supported by many influential photographers as well as Vogue editor Alex Shulman, and the British Fashion Council (Blanchard).
AWBC hopes to be the bridge between designers and plus-size models, providing an access point from which the industry can grow from.
"These girls don't get the chance to be in cutting-edge magazines. All it needs is for us to work a bit harder and not to be lazy. The industry wants this, too. We don't always just want to get it in the neck for being uncaring and without a conscience. I applaud Mark Fast's use of curvy models; I'm delighted by the delight of ordinary women who have been inspired by this" (Blanchard).
In closing, Kate Spice of The Times of London said designers such as Antoinio Bereardi and Roland Mouret have made it clear they want to do away with the size zero fit model. Her days in the world of high fashion are numbered (Renn, 111). Berardi says he is tired of, “all these young girls with pale skin from Eastern Europe who all look the same, these weird androids with no character,” (Renn 111). What designers demand they will certainly receive, and what they want according to Anita Bitton, a New York based and highly respected casting director, is “A girl with a voice. [Designers] want a degree of approachability and reality that touches a nerve in the consumer,” (Renn, 112). The past seven months have shown incredible growth within the role of the plus-size model in the high fashion industry. International publications, forwarding thinking designers and photographers, break-out plus-size stars, revolutionary-minded editors, and the support of the public drive this movement. The plus-size model is an unstoppable force.
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