Thanks for joining this week's Naked Lunch chat on models. David Graham, Bernadette Morra and Derick Chetty discussed why designers seem to prefer skinny models on their fashion runways, plus-size models and answered your questions. Read the archived Q&A below or submit your comments.
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I believe that the reason designers use emaciated models is that their entire purpose in donning the designer's collection and walking down a runway is to show off the clothes. The models are nothing more than hangers for the clothes. By using an emaciated model, the focus is solely on the style, cut and pattern of the clothing... as opposed to how the model herself looks in whatever she is wearing. Sameera D'Souza
True. And this is the reason designers most often cite. That clothes look best on long thin frames. But often the girls on the runways are not just long and thin, they are sickly with ribs and collarbones protruding. I don't think that this extreme body is something that can be justified. Bernadette
We are also living in an era where thin is considered a beauty ideal. There were other periods in history where plump was the ideal. Derick
|PETER STIGTER FOR THE TORONTO STAR|
|Florida model Crystal Renn on the runway for Jean Paul Gaultier in Paris for spring 2006.|
Yes, but look at the photo of Crystal Renn on Jean Paul Gaultier's runway last year. She looked sensational and so does the dress. So the thin vs. plump argument doesn't necessarily hold. I do understand, however, the need for some kind of standardization of sizing to simplify the production of runway shows. Bernadette
Sameera is absolutely right. These models are nothing but hangers. This is about conformity more than anything else. Hangers come in one size fits all. This helps the designers prepare for runway collections. In haute couture they can design a dress for each model but for ready-to-wear every dress has to fit every girl. David
Q: Apart from models that appear emaciated the prerequisite seems to be that age is also a factor with most of them not having even finished high school. I would dearly love to see some (although not of course some of the more outlandish) designers use mature models, some even for the over 50+ crowd, we are after all becoming the majority, and can still do justice to our clothes.
A: Young models is an industry-wide standard because of the simple fact that their skin is flawless, they are not molded yet - almost a blank canvas. Having said that, some of today's top models are in fact in their 30s such as Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista. Also alot of design houses used celebrities over 40 and 50 in their ad campaigns this year - Sharon Stone in a Dior beauty ad, Kim Basinger in Miu Miu and Christie Brinkley in Cover Girl.
Also today's fashion market operates on a niche system. More and more companies are getting very specific about who they will target - simple economics. Yes, it would be great to see 50+ models on the runway and ad campaigns but if that is not the market targeted it will most likely not happen. However, I can see this changing as the population majority ages. We are already seeing this with those older celebrities featured in ad campaigns and fashion magazine launches aimed at mature women. Derick
Q: Will things ever change?
|VIVECA LJUNG PHOTO|
|Liis Windischmann, Canada's most successful plus size model.|
A: The good news is that there is a plus-size modelling industry that is gaining steam. Liis Windischmann, the model we profile in today's Fashion section, points out that 12 years ago when she started, the agencies that handled larger-size models was very limited. Now, virtually every large agency has a larger-size division, and there are agencies that specialize in larger models. There are also wonderful ad campaigns such as the current one by Dove Firming cream, that celebrate real bodies. Bernadette
Q: Why isn't profit more of a motivator when it comes to designers and manufacturers making clothes in plus sizes? The needs of a large market remain unmet. And on the same theme: Why are clothes not available for heavier women of all heights with details and fabric designs scaled down or up for short and tall women? Susan Gowen
Profit, profit and again profit. The market for specialty sizes is more limited, therefore attracting a smaller number of suppliers. And it would be wonderful if clothes came in all shapes and sizes, but this would be impractical in terms of production. It would require more labour in terms of patternmaking and cutting. The less standardization there is in the production process, the less profit there is at the end of the production line. Bernadette
Q: Why are plus-sized models talked about so much in the fashion industry while petites, especially young petites, are virtually ignored? Petite women have their own issues as well. The fashion industry seems to think that petite women are older and only have pants length issues which can be solved by hacking three or four inches off the legs. However, this doesn’t address the fact that our rises and torsos are also shorter than average. This often leaves petite women wearing longer jackets and baggy pants. It also doesn’t really give too many options for 20 and 30-something petites. Will this issue ever be solved like plus sizes are?Cynthia Cheng
A: Again, it all comes down to demand. If the demand is there, the supply will follow. It would make sense, though, that with the increasing popularity of retailing on the Internet, the number of specialty size designers and manufacturers will grow since their market is the entire world. Bernadette
There are retailers who have petites but don't advertise it. For instance, Banana Republic has a petite section on the second floor of their Bloor St. store. So if there is a retailer that you like, ask them whether they have petites. They may only carry specialty sizes in select stores. Derick