Fashion designers say, “Bye-Bye, Va-Va-Boom!”

Posted on February 26, 2011


I was so excited when I read the article, “Va-Va-Boom” by Lynn Yaeger in the Sept 2010 issue of Vogue. The article described how fashion designers had hired Victoria’s Secret models for the catwalk shows and how wonderful it was to see some womanly curves on the runways, where curves had not been seen in decades:

Laeticia Casta on the Louis Vuitton runway, Fall 2010.

At least not until last spring, when Kerr, Ambrosio, and a passel of other VS ladies made startling appearances on illustrious catwalks from Prada to Louis Vuitton, locales formerly reserved for waiflike ingenues…

The emergence of the VS women on catwalks thrilled the fashion audience — did this mean that the industry finally had a place for slightly bigger, slightly older women? Could all the talk about healthier bodies, the concern that super skinny models make poor role models, finally be paying off in the vaunted recesses of Paris and Milan? Was the yawning gulf between the pinup and the runway finally vanishing in a glorious celebration of womanhood that would encompass everyone from slinky teen to bodacious babe of a certain age?

Nicolas Ghesquiere, who cast Kerr in his last two Balenciaga shows, says… “I thought it was in interesting twist to have Miranda on the Balenciaga runway. In real life, great clothes, in any size, look great on any kind of woman: skinny or curvy. It’s more about personal style and elegance.”

What a lovely sentiment coming from a high-end fashion designer! Unfortunately, it would seem that allowing a few curves to grace the runways on models with otherwise still impossibly perfect bodies does not equate to embracing female curves on full-sized bodies (i.e. larger than a size 0-2):

The dress that proves fashion has gone mad: We reveal how the world’s sexiest woman had to BEG for a gown  –  because designers think she’s too curvy

In the Vogue article, Marc Jacobs, who also hired Victoria’s Secret models for his fall fashion runway shows in 2010, never made any pretense that he thought the show of curves on the runway showed anything deeper than a momentary fashion whim:

“A bustier, a flared skirt–ultrafeminine! There wasn’t a pair of pants in the show. It ws almost a cliche of the feminine ideal–the bust, the small waist–sumptuous and voluptuous. A fresh, retro feeling, like a calendar girl.” Which is how he ended up casting Ambrosio, Adriana Lima and even VS veteran Elle Macpherson. “The bodies were the right bodies for the clothes,” he explains simply.

Jacobs acknowledges that his decision to use rounder models was a big, fat hit. “There was such a sign of relief from press and buyers that there were clothes for women.” But he’s reluctant to commit when I ask him how permanent he thinks this shift is. “I heard from a lot of people who wanted me to say that it’s not a fleeting moment. I think it was the new thing to talk about this season,” he says frankly, “but I don’t know how lsating it will be. What we all love and hate about fashion is that it’s all about change–and who knows what we will love and what will feel fresh next season?”

Unfortunately, it would seem that Jacobs was right, and the moderately curvier silhouette celebrated briefly on the runway last season was just a trendy moment for the fashion world, despite the huge demand from women everywhere for designers to create clothing for real womens’ bodies.

In fact, rather than celebrating womanly curves, the fashion industry has swung the pendulum in the opposite direction. The new “it” model on the fashion runways, showing off the new women’s fashions, is a MAN!

From Andrej Pejic: The man modelling womenswear, by Brigitt Hauck, BBC News:

A male model is the talk of the womenswear shows at London fashion week. So why is a man gaining plaudits for modelling women’s clothes?

…”Andrej is obviously beautiful and he has the most amazing figure. When you consider that a lot of designers are designing for this impossible ideal for someone who is 5ft 11in, no hips and no chest,” says the Daily Telegraph’s fashion director Hilary Alexander.

Pejic has captivated designers, with his build regarded as nearly perfect for modelling high fashion looks.
Couture wear is made for the tall, twiggy and flat bodies that most women, even models, don’t have. Essentially, the clothing is quite suitable for a lean man or even a boy.

So what’s a girl to do? If you need a little self-esteem boost now that the brief pop cultural affair with curves seems to have died down, all I can say is: Get thee to a burlesque show!!!

As one of the Victoria’s Secret models in the Vogue article said:

“Being a bombshell is more than looks!” Ambrosio, who manages to seem at once surprisingly tiny and smoldering, is saying in her lilting Brazilian accent. “What is a bombshell? It’s a sexy energy that comes from inside!”