Designer Puts Curvier Models on the Runway

Discussion
Sep 28, 2009
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By Tom
Ryan

London’s fashionista’s
were up in arms last week after designer Mark Fast used plus-size models
to show off his collection at London’s Fashion Week. The decision caused
the designer’s stylist and casting director to walk out three days before
the show.

Three models
ranging from eight to 10 in U.S. sizing from the agency (12+ UK) strutted
down the catwalk alongside thinner ones.

Speaking to The
Daily Mail
,
Amanda May, Mr. Fast’s creative director, blamed the walkout on “creative
differences” over the use of larger models. “There
was a team change and we are glad we stuck to our vision,” she said.

She also insisted
that the decision to feature the models was neither politically motivated
nor a publicity stunt.

“The decision
to use fuller girls is something we have been talking about,” said Ms.
May. “There’s an idea that only thin and slender women are able to wear
Mark’s dresses and he wanted to combat that. We wanted women to know they
didn’t have to be a size zero to wear a Mark Fast dress – curvier women
can look even better in them.”

Mr. Fast has
also been involved with the exhibition All Walks Beyond the Catwalk. It
features models aged 18 to 65, from sizes to eight to 16.

The day before
Mr. Fast’s show, the chairman of the Institute of Psychiatry’s eating disorder
team, Professor Ulrike Schmidt, raised concerns over ultra-thin models.

“We are very
concerned that the lack of medical checks of models at London Fashion Week,
coupled by an environment where being underweight is the norm, prevents
those with eating disorders from gaining an insight into their condition,” he
said.

Sarah Watkinson,
founder of agency 12+, told the Telegraph: “Every
time I think things are progressing, they end up going back to how they’ve
always been. I hope this has sparked lasting changes.”

Discussion
Questions: Should models who have figures more like actual customers
be featured more often on runways? How critical are thin models in showcasing
designer collections?

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17 Comments on "Designer Puts Curvier Models on the Runway"


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Kevin Graff
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

It’s ridiculous that we should even have to discuss this, given that apparently as a species we’ve evolved! Look at the success of Dove’s real women campaign and you’ll see why there’s a business case for using models who actually look like the customers you’re trying to sell to. At some point the stuffy fashion houses might get their noses out of the air long enough to look around the streets and see who actually is (more importantly, could be…) wearing their clothing.

John Boccuzzi, Jr.
Guest
John Boccuzzi, Jr.
11 years 7 months ago

The trend to use more realistic sized models (healthy) is already late in my opinion. Advertising women (or men for that matter) that are underweight is just as bad as prompting women (men) that are overweight and out of shape. The fashion world needs to realize that healthy is in and will be a trend that continues for a long time. They should cater to this group and promote women and men that are fit (on shape).

Dick Seesel
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

We live in a topsy-turvy world when fashion designers use size 8-10 models (still well below the US average) and are considered avant-garde for doing so! Mr. Fast should be congratulated for making a statement about the unhealthy size of typical runway models; perhaps he is doing his sales a favor, too, by trying to appeal to “real” customers.

Anne Howe
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

Good for Mark Fast. Using realistic models has been tried before, but never really took hold in the fashion industry. I hope the promotion of healthy, active people becomes something we can rally around as Americans. Might help the obese as well to have more realistic role models.

Bob Phibbs
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

Would anyone reply on RetailWire, “No, they should not use plus models on the runway but perpetuate the myth of the waif as the norm”? Certainly not me. I wrote about the real reason women’s apparel sales are off on my blog.

Bill Emerson
Guest
Bill Emerson
11 years 7 months ago

High Fashion has always been about a narrow group of designers making a statement of “How you should look this season.” For years, their view was that, at a minimum, you should look like a starving teenager, which, in fact, is the best description of most of the models.

From the runway, the clothes themselves are then re-interpreted for a much broader market–the one that lives in the real world. This broader market is still driven by aging Baby Boomers, who are generally not built like starving teenagers and are becoming less so with the passage of time.

The article pointed out that the larger models were only a part of a variety of shapes and sizes in the overall show. I, for one, think the designer was very smart to use this variety as a way to broaden the appeal of the line to a larger (no pun intended) group of clientele. Time will tell whether this approach is successful. It will be interesting to watch.

David Livingston
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

The camera adds pounds so I’m sure they have their reasons for using thin models. Advertising is not real life so the absurd is the norm. Sexy, skinny models are eye catching and what sells. It’s all about the money, not self esteem, feelings or real-life situations. Ever watch a Canandian TV show or news? They use normal looking people based on their talent, not looks. The only people who watch are Canadians.

Charlie Moro
Guest
Charlie Moro
11 years 7 months ago

My sense of this interaction is that it is based on aspiration. Good or bad, we focus trends and wants on what we see in the movies, TV and I guess runways.

The key to me is if these styles, colors and fabrics will be available in sizes that the average consumer can buy and fit in. That may be the better key to making these designer interactions successful.

Cathy Hotka
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

Check out the photos of this show on the Web! These women look so normal!…but fashion’s traditionalists are in a huff over them. Mark Fast could well establish a reputation as the champion of regular women as a result of his realistic catwalk.

Alexis Feinberg
Guest
Alexis Feinberg
11 years 7 months ago

I think incorporating larger models into the runway show is brilliant! When I attended fashion week for Spring 2010, I was horrified at how skinny the models were. It’s sickening. As a young American female, I can say that I am one of the few who do not idolize thin women, so I applaud any designer’s efforts to break the mold on size.

John Crossman
Guest
John Crossman
11 years 7 months ago

I like this idea and support it completely. I have never fully understood why the fashion industry has not done this sooner.

Janet Poore
Guest
Janet Poore
11 years 7 months ago

A size 8-10 may be curvier but is hardly plus-size. The average woman in the U.S. is a size 14. In the reverse, I’ve seen womens’ plus size mail order catalogs that use thin models. Although the smallest size available is a 14W, the models appear to be 6 or 8. They must have to make special custom versions of the plus size clothes for the small models to wear. It makes no sense to me and should offend their customers.

Liz Crawford
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

This could signal a sea change because it comes in conjunction with proposed legislation in Britain and France.

The proposed laws would require a warning caption, noting the amount of retouching in fashion photos. Other proposals involve legally limiting the amount or type of retouching allowed.

Who knows whether these kinds of rules will go into effect. However, the trend seems to be toward more realistic portrayal of models–on the runway and in images.

Today, women have been inured to seeing extreme beauty ideals. Ideal beauty is a big part of brand benefits. I believe that consumers could be motivated to buy with these “more realistic” ideals, but the changes should be gradual to be effective.

Gene Detroyer
Guest
11 years 7 months ago
Eating disorders have been a serious problem in the U.S. for some time. Not all, but much of the problem has been driven by the establishment of an unsaid standard of a body that is not real. The problem has been growing in Europe and at least several of the countries are trying to take action. The models on the runways are an unhealthy standard for women. The models themselves follow a regimen that would be defined as an eating disorder. But, the problem goes further. See today’s New York Times, regarding digitally altered photographs in the media. Even a news photo of Nicolas Sarkozy is retouched. A news photo!!! Women (and sometimes men) do not look at these fashions and make the judgment that she will just go out and buy the fashion in her size. She makes the judgment that her size is unacceptable even though it may be very normal and perfectly healthy. Culturally, it has become unacceptable to have a normal body. This is so ingrained, that a mere trend towards… Read more »
Mark Burr
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

Big, curvy, thin, skinny, sexy, normal (what’s that?), plus-sized? One would think that clothing retailers might use models that would represent their customers–all of them. It shouldn’t be a debate on what size. It should be a debate about which retailers best provide a view to their customer on clothing that they might actually look good in, when wearing it. Forget the rest of the argument. Finding a way to best meet your customer’s eye, might be the only answer, period. Ask them. But then again, you have to want to know the answer when you ask.

David Biernbaum
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

There is a definite market for real clothes that fit real people to be demonstrated on real models that look like real people.

Tim Henderson
Guest
Tim Henderson
11 years 7 months ago

As noted by others on this page, it really is a shame that the use of full-figure models is still a topic for debate. Yes, the size of models on runways and in fashion spreads should more accurately reflect society–so should the age of models. Congrats to mark Fast for taking a positive step toward much-needed change. And shame on his former staff members for throwing a tantrum and walking out just days before the show. That they felt so strongly and wrongly about something that’s so right tells me they need to get a reality check.

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