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Events & Launches, In The News, Shoeper Challenge, Special Ranges

A Fortnight in Pictures: Fabulous Frocks & Saving Shoes

It’s been a bit of a mad couple of weeks in terms of events and nights out, so I’ve been a bit quiet on the blogging front as a result. Even this is going to be a bit of a quick post, mostly made up of various photos from the last ten days or so. If you follow me on twitter you’ve probably seen most of these already so sorry for the repeats! In the last fortnight I’ve been to blogger meet-ups, shop openings, photoshoots and parties and at one memorable moment even found myself listed alongside some of my fashion idols as I was placed at number 3 in the top fashion tweeters according to The Telegraph. Their cheque is in the mail…

First up, the official photos are in from the pop-up studio at the Plus London meet-up and they’re amazing. Huge huge to Diana at Fashion Loves Photos and The Second Floor Studio for doing such an amazing job at making me look ok! You can see the whole set featuring all the Plus London attendees her blog. But here are the best ones of me.

The dress is H&M, and I love it even though it’s so tight I couldn’t even wear a strapless bra underneath. Damn their tiny sizing! I really should have worn heels to properly glam it up!

Me with the gorgeous Tahlie from Style369 who I spent much of the night chatting to!

A few days after Plus London, I visited the lovely Carnaby quarter for the opening of the Debenhams Edition pop-up shop. I showed you a preview of some of the range (from Preen, Jonathan Saunders and Jonathan Kelsey) and it was brilliant to get the chance to get up close and personal with the final garments. It’s safe to say if I wasn’t on my Frugal February spending ban I would have bought a lot of pieces! Instead, I just had a bit of a dress-up session. Debenhams had a photographer on hand at the event, and she snapped this amazing pic of me trying on the Jonathan Saunders maxi dress…

The shape is based exactly on a piece from one of his catwalk collections (Spring 2008), reproduced in a new print for Edition. I love that this affordable collection is so similar to the main range, and not just some range of crappy logo t-shirts and denim skirts or something. It truly is a gorgeous piece and I fell completely in love with it.

The Debenhams team very kindly let me choose one piece from Edition as a gift, and I (unsurprisingly) went for this frock, which is now stashed safely in my wardrobe for a very, very special occasion!

Following the Edition event came another Frocking Friday. I was going out for a meal in the evening so decided to pull out my vintage floral number. I bought this for about £12 on ebay a few years ago and it was probably my best ever vintage find. The perfect fit, a fabulous shape, and it’s hand made with a really durable zip (and a hand-finished hem!) so it’ll last forever. It was listed as 1950s and the shape certainly suggests that era, but as it’s handmade we’ll never really know. It really reminds me of the recent 50s inspired Louis Vuitton dresses. I teamed it with a black belt, opaque tights and patent shoes from New Look.

And finally, comes the Shoeper Challenge which began on Valentine’s Day. I need to wear every pair of shoes I own by this time next year, or I have to get rid of all the unworn pairs. The rule is if you don’t photograph a ‘save’, it doesn’t count, so while I’ve worn more than one pair of shoes in the last few days, these are the only ones officially saved so far – a pair of studded leather flats from New Look.

Here’s a close-up of the saved shoes, since the photo above’s a bit rubbish. This is a bit of a dull start to the challenge, but don’t worry, there are still 108 shoes to go and most of them are heels! I wear these babies a lot but wanted to snap them with a decent outfit. The dress is New Look also – I buy a little too much from there I think!

In The News

Fashshot goes Plus Size!

A little while ago I was invited to the Fashshot studio to take part in a video interview as part of a Plus Size episode of their online magazine show. The videos are now online, and while I’m obviously cringing at the sound of my own voice, it’s lovely to see myself alongside great people from the likes of Style369 and Ann Harvey, along with the FashShot team and some gorgeous curvy ladies in the street style section (one of whom has the same New Look dress as me – obviously Grace has fab taste). My contribution is only a tiny bit of what ended up being fab show discussing all aspects of the plus size industry, so if you’ve not seen it yet, take a look…

My interview on the day lasted a lot longer than the final cut you see on camera, and my nonsense rambling was cut down a lot, thank heavens! The gist of what I wanted to say was that every move towards embracing a curvier figure is great, but the token size 14s here and there are only a small step in the right direction. It’s always going to be difficult when high fashion (in general) holds super-slim as the pinnacle of style and implies it’s something we should aspire to. And I don’t think that’s going to change overnight.

Out of context the cut above could sound a bit like I’m saying I think size zero is aspirational…but I think most of you know me well enough to know that’s not what I meant at all!

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In The News, Rants, Uncategorized

On size 14 as the ‘ideal’ and other revolutionary ideas…

Earlier this week the Daily Mail published an article about our new Equalities Minister, Lynne Featherstone. She made some comments over the weekend about the media’s portrayal of women, the ridiculous ideals that young women have to live up to, and the amount of tiny, airbrushed models we see in publications every day. She even suggested some kind of kitemark system for images that have been digitally altered. “Advertisers and magazine editors have a right to publish what they choose, but women and girls also have a right to feel comfortable in their own bodies.” She said.

So far, so good. But she then suggested that girls would be better to aspire to the curvaceous figure of my current girl crush, Christina Hendricks, rather than the impossibly thin models on the catwalk. “Christina Hendricks is absolutely fabulous. We need more of these role models.”

This, of course, led the Mail run with the shock headline “All women should aspire for hourglass size 14 figures, claims new equalities minister.” Talk about paraphrasing!

Nowhere, as far as I could see, was size 14 being held up as some kind of ideal. Featherstone was simply saying more curvaceous women in the media would be a good move – which I agree with.

But we do not need a country where all women strive to be a size 14. And I say that as a size 14 myself. Picking a size out of thin air and saying ‘be like this’ is not the way to make changes! Not everyone is meant to be a 14. Not because it’s too big, or too small or too anything, but simply because, as many other great people have already said, there is no ‘one size fits all’.

Hendricks, according to the measurements of the dress she wore to the SAG awards, has a 40-28-40 figure, so it’s pushing it for The Daily Mail to even call her a 14! She probably has a myriad of sizes in her wardrobe depending on the cut. That kind of waist-to-hip ratio is uncommon, difficult to achieve without a lot of help from mother nature (or surgery) and probably just as hard to achieve as size zero. She is a beautiful woman, but she is not the only woman who’s the right size. And Featherstone never actually said she was.

Luckily, while the DM website is full of all the usual “size 14 is fat” bullshit, others have chosen to read the real story beneath the stupid headline. And it’s started a really interesting conversation (on blogs, twitter and so on) amongst women of all shapes and sizes.

Even Lynne Featherstone was quick to clarify herself after the publication of the Mail story. She commented on Amber’s brilliant post to argue how her comments had been skewed.

Going on to call slim women ‘stick insects’ on her own blog wasn’t particularly clever (just as some of us are naturally curvy, some are naturally slight) but enough people have commented on that for her to have learned her lesson. Hopefully.

A few mistakes aside, what has been lost in all the size 14 hysteria is that what Featherstone is saying in broader terms is definitely a step in the right direction. We do need to continue to encourage diversity in advertising and publications. Some of us are thin, some of us are fat, some of us are somewhere in between. We need to stop promoting this ideal of the super-slim body as the only acceptable one and we need to stop seeing excessive airbrushing as ‘normal’.

But what is clear is that we don’t want to go too far in the opposite direction. Just as size 6 is not the ideal, neither is size 14. In truth, they both can be, along with many other sizes above, below and in-between. It just depends on the woman!

Click here to buy plus size clothing from Curvissa

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In The News, Rants

Zzzzz! Julien Macdonald picks on plus sizes.

I remember writing a review of Project Catwalk during its first season and jokingly photoshopping a pair of devil horns onto Julien Macdonald’s head after he made one too many nasty comments about the contestants.

In early episodes of the show, it quickly became obvious that the Welsh designer was filling the Simon Cowell role in the show, a comedy villain who loved nothing more than tearing the contestants to shreds.

And it seems nothing changes. Madonald will soon return to our screens, this time judging models, not clothes, in a new series of Britain’s Next Top Model. And whilst the show has a new look and a new face at the helm – Elle Macpherson – one thing it will no doubt be recycling is Julien’s tendency to spout unnecessary vitriol.

This week’s gem? Well, apparently, “If you’re a size 14 in room full of size eights – you’re in the wrong room.”

It seems ‘larger’ women are the current target of the man behind many a skimpy little party dress. Wales Online spoke to the designer about the new series of Britain’s Next Top Model and asked him if plus size models would be given the opportunity to compete (following a win for a US size 12 model the American version of the show). His response?

“This is a serious show. You can’t have a plus size girl winning – it makes it a joke.”

Indeed. I know I laugh frequently at Crystal Renn, Hayley Morley and co. They’re just frickin’ hilarious. Also, I’ve seen BNTM and the one thing it’s not is serious!

Macdonald goes on to justify his comments by explaining that being a plus size girl in a skinny girl’s world is difficult. So we’re to believe he’s trying to save wannabe plus size models the embarassment and humiliation? I’m not convinced.

“It’s not fair on them – you’re setting them up for a fall – I know what would happen to them afterwards. They are looked down on, they’re frowned upon.”

Frowned upon by who? Not by the editors of US Glamour, French Vogue, Tush, V or any of the other magazines that have featured curvier girls in recent issues. Not by Mark Fast or Jean Paul Gaultier. Even Karl Lagerfeld, known for his hatred of ‘big’ girls, has begun to realise just how stunning more voluptuous women can be, using Crystal Renn as a model for Chanel and working on a plus size shoot for V.

Macdonald may pretend he’s doing girls a favour by sparing them the ‘pain’ later on. But what he’s really doing is pandering to a terrible part of the industry that makes any girl above a size 6 or 8 feel inferior and overweight. He’s making nasty, hurtful comments about women who don’t deserve it. By all means say “plus size girls have a tough time in an industry that traditionally favours slim models”, but to call the inclusion of a plus girl on BNTM a ‘joke’? To say they have no right to be in the same room as straight-sized models? For me, that’s taking it too far.

Surely a man who’s been vocal about banning women who’re underweight from the catwalk should know better than to attack the alternative – curvier, healthier women who look like they enjoy life. Most plus sized models aren’t even classified as overweight due to their height, so you can’t even use the ‘health’ argument. Bashing plus size models is just an easy bandwagon to jump on to get a few column inches.

When I read Macdonald’s comments, my thoughts soon turned to Debenhams, for whom he designs clothing, accessories and homeware under the ‘Star by Julien Macdonald’ label (see pictures).

Debenhams have – up until this point – really impressed me with their move towards a more inclusive approach to fashion. As a high street store, they cater to the size 14-16 average British woman, so it’s been a great initiative to trial size 16 mannequins in some stores, cut down on airbrushing and use models of all shapes and sizes in advertising campaigns. Making fashion accessible to the average shopper is a great move, and Debenhams are trailblazers.

So how would they react to one of their designers making such ill-advised comments about size 14 women (who, might I add, are not really plus size). I approached Debenhams for a comment, and sadly what I got was a bit of a cop-out.

“Julien Macdonald’s comments related to the fact that most sample sizes within the industry are a size 6 or 8 making it more difficult for plus size models. In fact, the Star by Julien Macdonald collection at Debenhams ranges from a size eight to size 20,” said Ruth Attridge, spokesperson for Debenhams.

Well, Macdonald may be happy to pocket the cash from sales of his high street range to larger women, but I refuse to believe he was just talking about sample sizes in those quotes. He was talking about there being no room for larger models next to slimmer ones – the exact thing Debenhams is working so hard to ensure!

However, “Debenhams continues to lead the way for inclusivity in fashion with our size 16 mannequin campaign and commitment to only using size eight and above models.” Attridge continues.

Perhaps they should start by giving Julien Macdonald a massive public slap on the wrists?

[via Fabsugar]

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Curvy Models, In The News

‘Vogue Curvy’ – Italy embraces the voluptuous woman

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Vogue may be all about aspirational high fashion, but they know a hot topic when they see one. Hot on the heels of the so-called ‘rise of the size 16 supermodel’, Vogue Italia has dedicated a whole section of their website to women like us: Vogue Curvy.

So far it seems to be relying on two tried and tested topics – models and celebs. There’s a gallery dedicated to Crystal Renn, complete with behind-the-scenes pics you might not have seen before, and one for America Ferrera. Model Sindy Gourland gives fashion advice, and the ‘curvy blog’ covers the recent Mark Fast show.

But to be honest, it seems to be playing it incredibly safe so far. A selection of items inspired by Christina Hendricks has such great potential, but seems to consist entirely of boring black sacks. Where are the cleavage-enhancing red carpet gowns or Joan-esque wiggle dresses? Just because we’re curvy doesn’t mean we’re boring, and we all know Vogue has access to the most exquisite clothes. The style advice section is a bit more inventive, but there are no links to buy, just lots of photos.

The site shows definite potential, but I’d love to see them taking bigger risks and using a bit more imagination. Vogue is leader, not a follower, and right now I feel there are other sites and blogs out there delivering the same content in a much better way.

They get an A for effort though. It’s very early days, and this is such a departure for a magazine that’s usually devoted to tiny models. I’d love to see Vogue UK and US following Italia’s lead in the future. I bet I know plenty of willing contributers…

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Curvy Models, In The News

V Magazine’s Size Issue continues to shock

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V magazine continues to get column inches for its use of curvaceous models in its current ‘Size’ issue. Alongside Crystal Renn’s ‘One Size Fits All’ spread, tongues are also wagging about shots of models Tara Lynn, Candice Huffine, Michelle Olson, Marquita Pring (above) and Kasia P in the ‘Curves Ahead’ shoot. The mag pitches them as the “bombshells of plus size” and they definitely fit the bill, posing in everything from sexy denim to…well, very little at all! Also grabbing the headlines is a slightly hypocritical shoot by our favourite fat-hater, Karl Lagerfeld, featuring the voluptuous Miss Dirty Martini

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Some argue that the mag is just looking to shock by featuring models so far away from the size zero fashion ‘norm’. “Why not feature (UK) size 10 – 12?” has been a common comment on many forums. This is a valid point, but it’s not like size 12 is the last tipping point between ‘healthy’ and ‘fat’ – the models above are tall enough to carry their size 14 or 16 curves no problem and I wager all of their BMIs are in the ‘healthy’ part of the scale or only just above 25.

The reaction from the fashion industry towards the photos has been pretty positive. After awful advertising campaigns like the terribly airbrushed Ralph Lauren ad, I’m sure many of them welcome the breath of fresh air that is a shoot that features all the lumps and bumps that regular women have.

The fact of the matter is, these gorgeous, buxom beauties represent the woman of 2010 far better than any super-slim model, starved celebrity or over-primped WAG, and it’s refreshing to see them on the pages of a mag that’s usually reserved for androgynous catwalk models and super-slim celebs.

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The magazine hits newsstands tomorrow. Make sure you pick up a copy – the more that are sold, the more people will have to sit up and take notice!

[photos from V Magazine via The Fashion Spot]

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Curvy Models, Featured, In The News

Crystal Renn does high fashion

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The new issue of V Magazine is definitely worth picking up for the groundbreaking photoshoot that pitches celebrated plus size model Crystal Renn against model-of-the-moment Jacquelyn Jablonski in a fashion face-off. Can a curvy girl really pull off high fashion like a catwalk model? We say yes, as Crystal works her magic in tricky looks like body-con dresses, leotards and flippy mini skirts…

Far from showing up either the slim or the curvaceous model as a false beauty, both girls looks brilliant in the shoot, more photos of which can be seen on the Daily Mail website.

The shoot, by photographer Terry Richardson, is apparently part of a wider campaign to encourage magazines to feature more of a mix of models, rather than just the size 4’s that frequent the catwalks. As the face of Evans and a outspoken voice for the plus size model industry, Renn is a great choice for a shoot like this. She’s curvy, but she’s still healthy looking. A former anorexic who gave up trying to conform to fashion stereotypes in favour of being happy and healthy, she’s a role model for all curvy girls. Though 5’9 with the measurements 38C-30-42, she’s still smaller the average British woman!

Pick up this issue of V Magazine on January 14th for the full photoshoot.