The red carpet runway is always the most interesting part of any Hollywood awards show or major event. We love to see our favourite celebrities dressed in the latest and most stylish designs from the biggest brands out there. But we also know that many/most of these brands don’t cater for plus size celebrities, and even those that do, prefer not to be associated with a celeb who isn’t a size zero.
Chrissy Metz has shown us how difficult it can be to find a gown to wear, an act that is not made any easier by the fact that she is an Emmy-nominated actress. Even celebrities whom you would never consider plus size struggle, like “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s” Rachel Bloom, who had to buy her Gucci dress because the brand wasn’t going to lend her one. Surely the brands are terrible and should of course offer their outfits to popular celebrities no matter their size. While this may be what we think, it’s not what most of Hollywood thinks, including plus size celebrity stylist Meaghan O’Connor.
“There are more brands that want nothing to do with custom plus looks than you’d think,” she says. “And you have to remove the personal feeling. You have to remove the thought that this is offensive, this is rude. If a brand is saying no to something, could they just be sizeist? Yeah, they could. But at the same time, they could also be staying very laser-focused on their brand aesthetic and maybe my client isn’t that.”
Brands often conceptualise their new lines, and their overall brand aesthetic, from inspiration gained from a particular “muse”. This is their idea of an “ideal” image of a woman, one who typically appears in their campaigns and on the red carpet in their gowns. Examples include Alicia Vikander for Louis Vuitton, Lily-Rose Depp for Chanel, or Suki Waterhouse for Burberry, all of whom are young, thin, white women.
“[Designers] use their muse as a vehicle for shaping and creating and historically, it typically doesn’t waver,” O’Connor says.
It’s frustrating, but is it understandable? Is it fair to tell brands and designers how to create their art and who they should create their art for?
“You can’t tell someone how to conceptualise their brand,” she says. “If we were sitting with Michael Kors, I can’t say, ‘Who is the women you design for? And can you change that please?'”
Pointing the finger
Highlighting the faults of major designers like this certainly brings attention to the problem, but does it offer up any solutions? What seems more effective is bringing more and more attention to those designers that are doing more to be inclusive, and not just rehashing old skinny stereotypes.
“Younger designers, the younger generations, are starting to broaden the spectrum of who they’re thinking in their head,” she says. “The concept of the muse is changing. And because of that, the shift and the tide of fashion is changing. But the older houses, it is what it is. You can’t lasso someone’s creativity. If they’re creating it for one size and ethnicity and race, then we can only wish that they create for more than that.”
Perhaps one day it will be the norm for all brands and designers to be inclusive, but until then we need to continue to support those that support us, and tell the rest to hurry the f^&* up!
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