London Fashion Week is here. And the plus size model debate has also made a return. This year there is going to be an event dedicated to plus size fashion. Held on 15th and 16th February it is expected to attract plenty of attention.
Whilst this is great news for ‘real women’ I do worry that it’s had to be given a special event rather than being mixed into the regular catwalk show collections.
That plus size fashions (generally regarded as UK14 and upwards) are still being segregated from regular runway shows doesn’t finally put the plus size debate to rest and it certainly doesn’t mean plus size has finally been accepted by all on the fashion circuit. It is a debate which will no doubt rumble on forever.
At a time when a UK16 is now the average dress size of a woman I am still quite astonished that so little space is given to clothing lines that would attract a hugely untapped market.
I sit on the fence with the plus size debate. I have to promote my work in the best way I can. As a stylist I have never worked with a model smaller than a UK 8. As a designer plus sizes represent a more than average number of my clients predominantly because larger sized women can’t get what they want off the peg and aren’t all prepared to settle for what’s available. When I’m designing collections I generally keep a UK10/12 in mind but I have no issue with sizing for smaller models if they fit the profile.
As a woman I am a UK12 with a UK10 waist. I represent an hourglass figure, a much admired classic shape, but I find it almost impossible to buy anything that fits me in the shops. So I understand how hard it is to find clothes that flatter.
Very few top designers feature plus size models in their collections and when they do it tends to lean towards the extreme end of the scale. Models such as Velvet D’Amour, famed for her appearance at Jean-Paul Gaultier’s S/S 2007 collection, will be making an appearance at London Fashion Week’s plus size event. However, D’Amour (5ft 8 ins tall and weighing over 21 stone at the time) was a one off for Gautier and I don’t believe should be an accepted positive image of plus size women if we are also to continue challenging health and obesity problems across the world. That of course does not mean, as has been the case, that large women should be ignored.
Canadian born Mark Fast who regularly shows at runway events is well known for using size 12 and 14 models despite frosty receptions which have sometimes caused members of his teams to quit. Thankfully he has stood his ground and continues to be a good role model for up and coming designers and aspiring models. This is the kind of body positive imagery we should be fostering on the catwalk although I do believe that smaller and indeed larger figures should always be represented as well.