‘Progress seems to be reversing itself’: how fashion fell in love with curves | fashion | Bot To News

SSometimes fashion is about clothes, but sometimes it really is about bodies. The Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards are the highest honors bestowed upon American fashion designers, so expect the star-studded New York gala to be a showcase of extraordinary clothing. But last week the red carpet won her not a dress, but a body. Uncut Gems actress Julia Fox wore a mostly cropped dress with a side order of the dress. Stripping Fox from sternum to thighs, she revealed a black bikini and highlighted a sculpted, rock-hard midsection, visible ribs and muscular glutes. Her slender body, not the dress, was the clothing.

The most prominent trend on the catwalks this season was the flat stomach. At Fendi, ribs were visible beneath fabric-thin knitwear tucked into cargo pants that hung below the models’ hip bones. At Versace there was a long shot of bare flesh stretched between the bumster-style waist of a pair of jeans and the tiny bra. Second-skin catsuits came in black lace at Burberry and crystal mesh at Stella McCartney. All of these were worn on the catwalk by models with the low body fat needed to make the bones, hollows and ridges of the muscles clearly visible.

Julia Fox at the CFDA Fashion Awards in New York on November 7.
Julia Fox at the CFDA Fashion Awards in New York on November 7. Photograph: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

The funny thing is that runway models aren’t getting thinner. Fashion search engine Tagwalk crunched the numbers and found that of 247 shows this season, 90 featured “curvy” (plus-size) models, compared to 62 last season. That 64% of brands still use only the traditional super slim body type on their catwalk is slow progress, but the trajectory is curving in the right direction.

So why does it seem like fashion is bringing back the size zero? The statistics above do not differentiate between obscure designers who embrace diverse casting but whose shows receive little attention and mega-brands who monopolize fashion bandwidth with dazzling dresses on supermodel bodies. Also, the renaissance of 2000s clothing (low-waisted pants, bra tops, corsets, tiny miniskirts) puts bodies under shameless scrutiny, while for a while they were veiled by the trend of long, loose dresses and knitwear. large size One of the highlights of the fashion season was at Coperni, where Bella Hadid was practically naked for nine minutes while a dress was created on her body with fabric spray. The stated message of the trick was to celebrate Fabrican’s sustainable credentials, which uses recycled material and a compressed production process to dramatically reduce the environmental impact of fabric production. But it also felt like a showcase for Hadid’s lantern hipbones. She was without a doubt the supermodel with the most main character energy this runway season.

Bella Hadid at the Coperni show in Paris in October 2022.
Bella Hadid at the Coperni show in Paris last month. Photograph: Julien de Rosa/AFP/Getty Images

The return of size zero is bigger than fashion. This year’s Met Gala will be remembered as the one where Kim Kardashian lost 16 pounds to fit into Marilyn Monroe’s dress, her dramatic weight loss dominating headlines after the event. In 2023, the Met Gala will honor the late Karl Lagerfeld, who called Adele “a bit fat” and dismissed those who criticized the fashion obsession as “fat mothers with their bags of chips sitting in front of the TV”. It remains to be seen whether emcee Anna Wintour, who in 1998 suggested Oprah lose 20 pounds before her Vogue cover shoot, will address her fatphobia. The New York Post recently reported on Kardashian’s weight loss, increased demand for pilates classes and the controversial weight loss drug Ozempic in an article titled “Bye-bye booty: heroin chic is back.”

Despite gracing the pages of Vogue and an ad campaign for Calvin Klein, curvy model Lovisa Lager hasn’t been booked for any catwalks this season. “The 2000s looks that are back are pushing fashion back,” she says by phone from New York. “It appears that the progress that curve models have made is being reversed.” For Lager, who grew up in Stockholm watching America’s Next Top Model, curvy modeling is about representation. “The first time I met my boyfriend’s mother, who is the same size as me, over a size 18 at the moment, she was so excited that she was modeling for a brand that she bought clothes from. That gave her so much joy.” But Lager says she’s “often very lonely at work. I’m almost always the only curvy model on set or in a show. It can feel kind of humiliating. I tend to be more with the creative team and the hair and makeup team than the plus size models straight”.

Lovisa Lager at Rihanna's Savage X Fenty show in Los Angeles in September.
Lovisa Lager at Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty show in Los Angeles in September. Photography: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty Show Vol. 3 Presented by Amazon Prime

Plus, she says, there’s often no clothing in the lane that fits her. “If I’m doing a magazine editorial, I’ll end up wearing lingerie and a coat; that’s a standard way to dress curvy girls, if the actual clothing samples are too small. People are lazy. They don’t dress us with the same respect.”

Brazilian designer Karoline Vitto is against this trend. Her latest collection of stretch jersey pieces with sculptural metallic detailing was shown on the London Fashion Week runway exclusively in non-sample sizes. “I knew I didn’t want any [UK] size six or eight models on the show,” Vitto says when I reach her via Zoom in her studio. “There are no traditional models. The smallest size we were open to casting was a 10, but in the end the smallest model that we used was a 12. I wanted a sense of representation for women who don’t see themselves in most shows, and I looked for a strong path. , strong personalities.”

The inclusion of sizes on the catwalk is often symbolic: an hourglass body in a procession of reed-thin physiques, but on Vitto’s catwalk there were soft rolls of flesh folding over cleavages, thick calves and soft bellies crushed by sculptural details of their dresses. For an audience accustomed to living in a thin mass of identical bodies during the week’s catwalks, it was a visceral and visual feast. Imagine if you spent a month looking only at Degas dancers and suddenly you were treated to a room full of Rubens paintings.

Casting director Madeleine Østlie, who collaborated with Vitto this season to find her catwalk cast, and included photographers Fernanda Liberti and Kerry J Dean among a diverse lineup in size, age and background for Roksanda Ilinčić’s show at the Serpentine Gallery , believes that “We’ve come a long way. Seeing different bodies is no longer just symbolic, it’s become embedded in the way we think about fashion.”

Models at the Karoline Vitto show at London Fashion Week in September.
Models at the Karoline Vitto show at London Fashion Week in September. Photography: Rowben Lantion for Raven Agency

He points to the rise of the “medium” body – models such as Jill Kortleve, a size 12, who walked for Chanel and marked advertising campaigns for Valentino beauty, H&M and Mango – as a sign that a more nuanced and sophisticated model. the conversation is developing around body size in fashion. The supermodels of the 1990s who have returned to the catwalk in the last decade are still very thin, but inevitably have thicker torsos than fellow catwalks 30 years their junior. “Medium-sized bodies are becoming more visible,” says Østlie. Lager notes, however, that average-sized bodies are often among the sample sizes available, on the runway and in editorial: “Most customers have a sample for straight girls and a sample for ‘curvy’ girls.” , which is usually a size 18. So medium girls often use padding to make that sample work.

The top-ready aesthetic that returned with the 2000s fashion revival is a reminder that pop culture’s obsession with thinness has deep roots. The thin bias is so internalized that bikini photos on Instagram are as much clickbait as they are a trigger.

Jill Kortleve at a Nensi Dojaka show at London Fashion Week in September.
Jill Kortleve at a Nensi Dojaka show at London Fashion Week in September. Photograph: Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

Kate Moss recently told the BBC’s Desert Island Discs that the remark “nothing tastes as good as feeling skinny” was just a fridge magnet she quoted as a joke, but that didn’t stop a generation believing it was her mantra. Taylor Swift has come under fire for the video for her song Anti-Hero, which shows her standing on a scale that says “FAT.” That the message of the video and song is meant to be a comment on her insecurities, rather than her weight, has not failed to be pointed out as problematic by a culture that vibrates on red alert for body shaming.

Vitto grew up as a curvaceous teenager who idolized the slim and very defined silhouettes of Azzedine Alaïa and Thierry Mugler. Her creative breakthrough as a student at the Royal College of Art in London came when she switched to wearing stretchy, cropped sweaters on bodies like hers. “When I started to integrate pleats and body flesh into the clothes I was making, that’s when it all clicked,” she says. “I’ve always approached body-conscious clothing with a structural element, but all the baggage from my formative years looking at fashion, all the references I’d grown up with, suddenly became much more meaningful and interesting when I had the experience of designing wearables for my own body It’s not just about size, it’s about shape, meat, which can be soft and hard.”

Body size is part of a complicated debate about diversity in fashion that extends to gender, ethnicity, age and disability. That models have become totemic for those they represent is reflected in an incipient trend towards casting that is not based on images at all: sustainable designer Gabriela Hearst cast Cecile Richards, former president of Planned Parenthood, Mexican environmental activist Xiye Bastida and anti Lauren Wasser, toxic shock syndrome activist, on a recent show. Spare a thought, says Østlie, for traditional straight-size models. “I don’t like the word ‘skinny,'” she says. “I have model friends who are in their 30s, who eat like me, have kids, live a healthy lifestyle and just have a small frame. It happens. If ‘other’ thin women, or we assume anorexia, that’s not inclusion.”

Perfection, whether as a waist size or as a model of absolute inclusion, is not a useful metric, says Vitto. “I’m proud of what we achieved in my concert,” she says. “The atmosphere backstage was amazing. Some of the women were a bit nervous, and they really held on. But my clothes fit a UK size 28. So what if a woman is a size 32? Am I inclusive?”

The best response, he says, did not come in sales, but in messages from women “who said that the program made them see something positive in their bodies that they had not seen before. They weren’t going to buy from me, but it made them feel good. That meant a lot to me. I want to release the pressure.”

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