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Friday, January 29, 2010

Fashion Week in Brazil: São Paulo or Auschwitz?

Spring Fashion Weeks are kicking off for the Fall 2010 collections all over the world. São Paulo Fashion Week was last week in Brazil and Paris Haute Couture was this week. Many of the top models headed down for the Brazilian runways and will inevitably follow to New York, London, Milan and Paris over the next six weeks. 

I ran across this image from São Paulo last week and it hit that nerve of mine. I know too many models, their progression (regression) in the industry and the grave sacrifices they make to not say something. As long as I have a voice, I'll speak out about it. With all the recent commotion over stick-figure models, designers are not moved. For that matter, I don't know what will realistically force a change. Uproar, bad press, deaths and tepid boycotts hasn't worked. The likelihood of the models and agencies uniting and taking a stand against those who employ them is far-fetched. What gives? Why? Why insist as a designer that you only want shapeless, coat-hanger models? Why have size 2 sample sizes the girls must fit in or hit the road in disgrace for being too "fat" and fired for breach of contract? After-all, as a designer you do have the capability of designing more than one emaciated size that's only one size above a children's size 14.

There are a minority of models, and for that matter the general population, that is naturally very thin. They, however, don't have to starve themselves and put their health at risk to be that size. That's the exception. The rest have to go to extraordinary lengths to be this thin. Another caveat: I don't blame the models. The problem is simply with the designers. The buying public doesn't find this attractive. I hardly think it helps sales- quite to the contrary I'm sure. Agencies, buyers, stylists, photographers and the fashion media are simply followers. The designers are to blame.

Instead of looking in horror at images of the survivors of Auschwitz, do designers think to themselves that it would have been a fruitful place to find models that would look best in their latest collection? That's pretty sick. Overstatement? Look at the bones and ribs protruding in this picture. Not far off.

Do we have a group of designers today that are so bad at designing clothes that they can only design for a broomstick? Perhaps. 

Are the designers really wanting little boys instead of grown woman walking the runways because that's the look they personally prefer? Could be. Could very well be.

There seems to be a general position that they want a clothes-hanger to model the clothes so as to not distract from their design. Yes, God-forbid we notice the person wearing the clothes. True fashion design accentuates good physical attributes and minimize our less favorable ones. Ideally clothing will blend with the individual as if they're one in the same and good cuts draw the eyes to the face. So what the designers may be telling us is that they aren't capable of making good designs that draws pleasant attention, flatters an anatomically correct human body and will lead admirers to actually notice and remember the wearer's face.

Think how egomaniacal it is that designers will only design so people only look at their work. Oh don't dare notice who's wearing it! That may send them into a dramatic high-pitched hyperventilating frenzy. They have either forgotten, don't know or don't care that high fashion is about working in concert with the individual with the goal of making them look good. If they want to be an artist with no distractions like people wearing their work, get a paint brush or go sculpt something- you're in the wrong business and taking up space from someone who may actually get it. 

Perhaps that's why I'm personally drawn to previous periods in fashion than that of recent years. We used to have real designers who knew what they were doing. They knew how to maximize or minimize certain attributes to make the individual look their best. They liked the fact they were designing for woman and they celebrated that there was shape to design for. They could create focal points. They used to design for people and not for their own self-important glorification. Today, they're telling us the optimal size for their collections is that of an under-developed child or concentration camp survivor. 

Is there little wonder the clothes-buying public would rather just go to the Gap?


Blue Springs Blog said...

Wow! This is really powerful! Thanks for pointing this out! Designers should be more responsible. After all, thier job is to dress women in a way that makes them feel beautiful!
~ I love your blog! It really is sophisticated!
~Stephanie of Blue Springs Home

Mari' said...

A worthy post, well said.
~Maria Norcia Santillanes

Karen said...

Great article! I reently emailed an up and coming designer and asked if she would consider making her beautiful shirtdresses in xlg. new collection recently introduced with xsm, sm. m. lg. What's a girl to do? Lose weight! So i will diet to go down from a 14 to a 10-12 lg.

TammyVitale said...

I love JJill catalog but never buy their clothes because I am not rail thin (by a long shot) and none of their models have breasts. I can't tell how I'd look from their pictures, so I pass. I'm sure I"m not the only one!

Kitty said...


Secrets of the Modeling World said...

we do not support unhealthy models and designers who chose to make models believe they have to be unhealthy skinny for them to be a part of their show or presentation...


Jackie Ayres said...

I'm a designer and I'm SO against these TOO skinny models. I like skinny, but not "starving-skinny".

Great post. =)

Lisa said...

what an excellent article! very well written & so educational. kudos. your point is made in an assertive yet constructive way. love it.

Louli Lombardo said...

As a woman with money to spend - I can tell you that I would be much more inclined to SPEND MONEY buying the designs --- IF ONLY they could show me what their designs would look like on a REAL BODY.
Point is - I automatically don't buy because I say to myself "I'd have to be that thin to look good".

Designers must SHOW US how we will look good in their designs - in sizes larger than 0 or 2...or even 4 for that matter.

It's like a realtor who must SHOW a potential buyer how to live in a home - that's why staging is so popular. People simply do not have imaginations - you must GIVE them the vision!!

And once they do -- sales will GO THROUGH THE ROOF. They are missing a GOLDEN opportunity to market to REAL SIZE women with $$$$$$$ Cha Ching to spend.