Versace Had Plus Size Models Walk Its Runway For The First Time In History At The Milan Fashion Week. Fashion Runways Are Finally Getting Size Inclusive
Some couple decades ago, if sashaying down the runway for a high-end fashion brand with your chin up and eyes brimming with attitude was your dream, you had to look a specific way. Fashion brands like Versace have been notoriously criticised for picking models of certain size, gender and race to walk their runways for as long as one can remember. It was only a few years ago that the debate about inclusivity in fashion took off and diversity in terms was representation of plus-size models, black models and transgender models was demanded, rather than expected. The brands finally started to understand the importance of making their collection and the show inclusive (or gave in, I am not sure) and have now begun casting models of all colours, genders and sizes.
The latest one to have is the luxury brand Versace, who never had a plus-size model walk their runway before but recently made history by casting not one, but three curvy models for their Spring/Summer 2021 collection debut in the Milan Fashion Week on Friday. Alva Claire, Precious Lee, and Jill Kortleve are the three models who strutted down the Versace runway in their vibrant sea-themed collection and need I say, stole the show.
This is the first time Versace cast plus-size models for its runway. It was a historic moment for the fashion industry as the fashion brand in its first spread the message of making runways size-inclusive loud and clear. The brand has been excelling at runway surprises since a few years now (remember Jennifer Lopez stopping the last years show in her iconic 2000 Versace dress she wore for Grammy?) but this just topped that.
Also Read: Plus Size Models Strutted Down The Runway At The FDCI Couture Week. Finally, Designer Wear Isn’t Only For The Skinny
Sadly, the fashion industry is rampantly size-ist and know for representing the sample size on the runway. This is why skinny and tall models are the ones to always make the cut when it comes to international fashion runways. While New York, London and Paris Fashion Weeks have witnessed diverse mix of models on the catwalk in the past, Milan Fashion Week has disappointingly lagged behind in this area. But this year, things changed. Fashion brands like Fendi and Etro had plus size models like Ashley Graham and Jill Kortleve walk their runway. And now, Versace with its three gorgeous plus-size models.
The models were obviously over the moon and posted a heartfelt Instagram post from their monumental walk on the Versace runway. Alva Claire wrote on her post, “I’m so emotional writing this, to walk for the iconic Versace has always been a huge dream of mine!! I am so proud of @preciousleexoxo @jilla.tequila and myself we made history with this and I will never forget how I feel right now! This moment is for all of us!!! I’m full of love!!” Precious Lee wrote, “I will never forget this moment and how I felt before walking out. The power and beauty of this brand has ALWAYS inspired me & now to be the first… wow,” while Jill captioned her post, “This is such an historical moment and I can’t believe it actually happened. Im still shaking. Im so so so proud of us @alvaclaire @preciousleexoxo. It’s so unbelievable to work for brands I always dreamt of working for. I hope that we open the doors for a new generation with the same dreams but who never saw themselves in the magazines or the commercials. Thank you for this iconic moment.”
The collection was named ‘Under The Sea’ which included clothes bursting with vibrant colours (think neon green, bright yellow and sea blue) and designs inspired by underwater creatures. The collection featured sundresses, crop tops, skirts and short dresses that made for the perfect day on the beach or under the water for fashion minimalists and maximalists alike. The representation of stunning curvy models on the runway made the Versace collection more special and beautiful.
Donatella Versace’s selective casting has been vocal about body positivity and she made a statement about plus-sized women in 2008 saying, “Plus-sized women shouldn’t think of themselves as a size. They should think of themselves as women with rich goals in life. Size doesn’t mean, really, anything. You can carry your size with pride and dress in a way that you like.” But we never saw her thought coming to life since her runway never had one plus-size model in the tenure spanning over two decades. Although she has praised the curve celebrities like Lizzo in a Versace dress but that isn’t enough. What we need is the plus-size representation in fashion and more curve models walking the ramp.
The notion of projecting the sample size on the runway is as problematic as it gets. Women in real life aren’t as thin and tall as the models and thus finding the right size in a designer wear becomes a tricky business. As much as fashion biggies would like to think beauty comes in one size and one size only, it is not true. The lack of representation of models of all body types and sizes on the runway reflects this view but thankfully fashion brands are bringing about a change by casting models of all shapes and sizes. Back home too, runway of fashion designers like Gaurav Gupta and ad campaigns of Sabyasachi are proof that fashion biz is not size exclusive anymore. And, we can all celebrate that.