Michele Weston on MODE Magazine and The State of The Plus Size Modeling and Fashion Industry, 1/01/2011
Maddy: I can remember Angellika being in
this c-thru dress, without a bra walking towards the camera. Were there models,
that you just had to put in the magazine over and over?
Michele: That was Angellika Morton; her
confidence was undeniable, she shared herself with our readers. She appealed to
every women, no matter the size or ethnicity because we all wanted to feel, how
she felt and we all wanted to see ourselves, as she saw herself. She was the
perfect model, she had no problem taking off her clothes, trying new things and
Maddy: Generally speaking, what were the
requirements for plus size models?
Michele: The stats were pretty much the
same, we needed 5'9 and up and proportionate, but the size options were
different. We had our choice of size 12 to 18. We also took certain girls into consideration because of
their look. Maybe they did not fit the requirements exactly, but their look was
so strong and they could transcend on camera so well, we would be willing to
give them a shot.
Hour glass figures were not the only ones
getting work, women with other body types like Kate Dillon were successful
because they represented and appealed to so many women with different body
Maddy: Talk to me about why modeling has
traditionally stopped at a size 18?
Michele: I know a lot of the models do not
want to hear this, but I'm going to explain the reasons why as I know them.
Patterns change once you go into bigger sizes, past a size 22, it
is very expensive to pattern a pattern. It's not just as simple as sizing up,
like many stores still do today. You have to consider armholes, shoulders and
waist size. Adding to this, the different body types, the companies can't
afford to make the samples in those sizes.
Maddy: Fast forward to today's plus size
model. What is happening to the "plus size" model? The curvier models, are
almost extinct as far as I'm concerned. What are your thoughts?
Michele: We have to look at who is booking
them, and what companies. What Mode did, was because we were on the shelves, we
helped to keep that woman in the minds eye. This is why I love what your doing
at PLUS Model Magazine, because you have to make sure that YOU show that you don't
need a size 10 to sell plus. Just because it's a double digit, does not mean it's
Maddy: It seems like real validation for
plus size models comes from "mainstream" media.
Michele: I'm disappointed, at times, when
I see certain girls doing campaigns. Let's talk about Crystal Renn. I'm not
angry at Crystal Renn, personally. Clients are still booking her, and are
casting her so presidents and CEO's of other stores that do plus size think
that this is what they need, smaller models to sell. It's very hard to get
them, then and now, to shoot larger sizes and to stand behind that decision.
Maddy: So is the problem not just with
"mainstream" brands and designers? Should we be focusing on plus size stores?
Michele: What has happened is that they are
simply stating "available in plus sizes", and they are shooting safe (smaller
models) for the company. There are some companies that have stuck to their
guns, like Playtex, Just My Size, Monif C.
In my opinion, the world can't swallow big
sizes and they are not as forgiving as they should be. The issue is that there
are people that have decided what we are all supposed to look like; the beauty
of Mode and now PLUS, is that we pushed against all that.