Italian Vogue has taken a bold step in propelling the fashion industry forward towards embracing the larger woman. The black and white cover of their June edition features three plus size models who are, quite frankly, gorgeous. In a recent interview, Editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani said that the initial desire to use curvy women in Italian Vogue came out of responses from commentators signing her petition against pro-anorexia websites. According to Sozzani women would happily sign the petition(which you can still do here) but then question the magazine's continued use of extremely thin models. The direct voice of her readers prompted a defensive response from Sozzani, leading her to do what no one thought Italian Vogue would ever do; use beautiful, curvy women in its magazine and on its cover.
While reactions to the game-changing cover have been mostly positive, plus size model and photographer Velvet d'Amour is quick to point out that none of these women are actually dressed in high fashion clothing. Though she is complimentary to the magazine for taking this step, she makes a very compelling argument on the fashion blog Frockwriter about women of size and the fashion industry.
According to Velvet: "The way I see it is we need fashion to catch
up to women of size, in order to make a stunning FASHION oriented editorial. If
you were to take the average Vogue Italian editorial, and attempt to dress
these same models in the clothes, best of luck to the stylist to find their
size." She goes on to point out that fleshy, curvy women have been
relegated to men's magazines while editorial fashion has focused on feeding us
"a steady diet of rail thin, white, tall youth for the most part." Indeed if
you look again at the images of curvy, plus size models you will notice that
they are often in various states of undress including nude. To actually dress a
larger model in high fashion clothing is still out of the question.
While I thank Franca Sozzani for stepping up to meet the rising demands from her readers for more full figured and full grown women, I think she missed a great opportunity to teach a real lesson about beauty. Dressing the models only in lingerie feeds into the perception that large women are only beautiful as objects of rubenesque design. There still seems to be no desire to dress those frames highlighting their hourglass curves, full bust and dangerous hips. As it stands, other than some dedicated retailers like Evans and JD Williams, high fashion is still available only to the select few while the rest of us are best left shivering in our knickers.