Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Runway

I need to preface this post by saying this: Full Figured Fashion Week was great. I met some seriously wonderful people, I was inspired by beautiful women, and I got introduced to new designers. However, while I watched the finale fashion show, I found myself so in awe of the gorgeous women on the runway that I soon realized I was clapping for the girls and not the clothes. I quickly had to snap out of it and ask myself: "Would these designs be good enough for Fashion Week at Bryant Park? Am I lowering my standards just because this fashion is for fat women?"

The answer was yes. Most of the lines featured during the finale show consisted of the same dresses we see all the time for plus sizes. Nice? Yes. Innovative? Not so much. Runway shows are supposed to blow us away, they are supposed to show us something we have never seen before, they are supposed to inspire and amaze us. I can't say that was necessarily true for the lines featured during FFFWeek. Seriously, how many flowy chiffon and satin dresses can we see before we get sick of them? They're nice and all, but I like a little variety in my closet. That being said, I respect the fact that FFFWeek even exists and I hope that the event only improves with time.

The show began with Ashley Stewart's line, which impressed me considering what I'd previously seen in-store. The prints were gorgeous, and I was pleasantly surprised with how fresh, flirty and fun the dresses were. The clothing fit the models perfectly, the line was cohesive, and the quality and construction of the garments were impeccable.

Next up was the line Candi Apple Couture, which I hadn't heard of before FFFWeek. I thought there were some hits and misses, but I was moderately happy with most of the items shown (my favorites are below):

I have to say, I was seriously disappointed when I saw the fashion from Agape Goddess Wear. I mean, granted, I'm probably not their target demographic, but I didn't see one thing I liked or would wear. The designs looked amateur, the construction was poor, and the line was not cohesive.

Osun Designs, on the other hand, offered a cultural line while still managing to stay current and somewhat fashionable. Again, I probably wouldn't wear the designs, but I appreciate the aesthetic. That yellow and brown jumpsuit is kind of fly.

If there is one designer who gets it right, it's Monif C. Seeing her line in person solidified why she's made it mainstream. The construction and quality of her clothing is seriously perfect, and I loved the purple floral mini.

For me, the most refreshing line of the night came from LaMaica Fashions. We got a break from the flowy stuff and finally saw some structured pieces, high collars, and fun hats.

Qristyl Frazier also had a few gems. I loved the prints she chose, and she offered some cute jumpsuits to mix things up. The mint and cream maxi was my favorite look of hers:

Sealed With A Kiss (SWAK) Designs offered their usual fun stuff. Lots of jersey knits and accessible, easy to wear outfits.

Big Girls United (BGU) offered a lot of body con dresses (which I'm into right now), and some good options for younger girls who like to party.

Robert E. Knight's line lacked cohesion, but he had a few things I liked. My favorite was the tan dress with the oversized sleeves.

Jewel Shannon Designs
closed the show, and I gotta say, it was a great way to end. Tons of white, sparkly swim and resort wear that was perfectly constructed. I could definitely see myself in some of these pieces on the beach.

All photo credit goes to Richard Lew Photography. Check out his site to see all of the pieces that hit the runway (and photos from other events during FFFWeek).

There were some cute things, but overall, a little underwhelming. I'm still waiting for the day when plus size fashion will finally see a designer like Marc Jacobs or Zac Posen. What do you guys think? Fab or drab? What's your favorite?

Oh, and for all you Aussies, supposedly FFFWeek is coming your way soon!


  1. I've never bought anything from Monif C., but that purple dress might have to be my first item. (hope it's not too young for me!)

  2. Some of this stuff looks so MEH, but i most of it looks good. I am looking forward to seeing more. I wish I could have been there.

  3. Personally, I don't find Monif C's line to be that impressive, but maybe one had to have seen it in person.

    Agree on LaMaica - looks polished. I'm generally a fan of prints over structure (contrary to fashion orthodoxy) so I also like the line after it. A little too Miami, though.

  4. i think it was cool for what it was but i wasn't impressed. at all. i just feel like sometimes plus size fashion always equates to flowy floral prints and jersey knits AND I HATE IT. so i was looking forward to this being our coming out party and it was in a way, just not the way i'd hoped.

  5. @christina, yeah girl...we are totally on the same page.

  6. Have you ever been to a "real" fashion show? Yes the fashions were not as innovated, or cutting edge, but its a big step in the right direction. Maybe this will encourage other designers to create plus size lines. Thanks for sharing.

  7. "Oh, and for all you Aussies, supposedly FFFWeek is coming your way soon!"


    I'm having a conniption. SO. EXCITING.

  8. First, can I say how much I'm loving that so many of these runway models are women of color? Because I really am.

    Being a broke college student, I was unable to go to FFFWeek, so thank you for this pose! I think, of the pictures you showed, LaMaica Fashions had my favorites :)

  9. None of these designers really took into account how hard it is to find a strapless bra in larger sizes. I'd wear most of it, but absolutely nobody makes a 44 F/G/H strapless bra. Obviously the models are all a lot smaller than that, and someone had some underwear or tape to help them look good in the outfits. Aside from money, that's the only reason I don't buy more plus sized fashions, I absolutely won't have a bra to go under them.

  10. I like Big Girls United and SWAK's stuff. Never seen any of their clothing until I saw this post. I'm mad I missed the events (no $$ and poor planning). My aunt(dads sister) is the designer/owner of Osun and if we were still in good standing I woulda been there *sigh*

  11. Hi

    Thanks for sharing.
    I like Ashley Stewart's & Qristyl Frazier.


  12. From a runway show perspective, the clothes are a bit borning. From the perspective of introducing plus-sized designers to women who are interested in fashion though, I think it looks like they did a good job. There are many brands I haven't heard of up here, and while I wouldn't wear all of the styles, there are definitely a couple pieces I'd keep my eyes on....

  13. I guess I'm the oddball here. I feel like a lot of the "fashion" for plus sizes is too costumey. Yeah, I'm big, and I want to wear cool clothes, but I don't want it to look like I'm dressing up for halloween. Maybe I just lack the confidence most of you have. and I so agree on the bra issue. Wearing an H cup makes it really hard to wear anything strapless....

  14. Thank you for covering the FFFWeek events, Ms. Young, Fat and Fabulous. And, thanks also to everyone who provided input above and expressed your personal feelings about fashion. I think we would all agree that fashion is a very personal thing. What I would like to get across is that the objective of FFFWeek was to show the plus size female consumer that there are other clothing options available to you, despite what you see in department stores or online. And, to encourage plus size women to support those who are trying to give us what we want in terms of clothing options. Not every plus size woman calls herself a "fashionista". There are some that just want quality, well fitting clothing that she can afford. If you read our press release, the hype was about the union of lesser known designers, sponsors and producers who united to bring a quality fashion event to plus size consumers. I think to say that you were underwhelmed by the clothing is a bit harsh, but again, that's my opinion and you are certainly entitled to yours.

    In a time where they are forcing plus size consumers to purchase online and yanking clothing lines out of the stores, personally I thought producing an event of this type would be warmly welcomed as a stepping stone to future fashion events for plus sizes in addition to encouraging designers to actually are trying to give us fashion choices, especially when most of us have a hard time finding clothing in stores.

    Kind regards,

    Gwen DeVoe
    Executive Producer
    Full Figured Fashion Week

  15. Thanks for your comments, Gwen.

    It's exciting to have fashion shows to critique at all! Let's hope this is the first event in a long and successful series!

  16. As a plus size women I don't consider myself a fashionista, but I do like to have options. Many women that I speak to don't realize that there are tons at their disposal and reduce themselves to shopping at the same retails stores that cater to plus sizes. I am often stopped on the street and asked where do I shop and when I began to give them a list their eyes open wide. I am also asked where do I get bras to fit so well (size 40DD)and give the support we often need. For the young lady who mentioned that the designers didn't take it into consideration there were actually models there with bra sizes larger than mine. The designs just made us look smaller. FFF Week was not just about showcasing high fashion, but showing women that they do not have to settle for unflattering wears. Since I was one of the models for this event I can say that there was something from each designer that I could have walked away with if not the entire racks of clothing because they were all amazing. FFF Week showed women that they didn't have to run from bright colors and prints. They could wear similar designs as our slimmer counterparts and still look just as beautiful. Women are expressing a hard enough time finding appealing everyday clothes to wear. Let's concentrate on that before we start questioning high fashion for plus sizes.

    See you on the runway,

    Tiffany Braxton
    Plus Size Model
    Full Figured Fashion Week

  17. where are the carmakomas in this country? so confuzzling.

  18. Meh. I think the the idea of FFF Week is great. The thing about fashion week is that there is something for everyone. I think was Gabby was saying is that there was not alot of diversity in terms of the different audiences that might be represented. Ok well that might not be what she was saying but that is what I was thinking. The thing about being full figured is that even that figure comes in different shapes and sizes...we are a mosaic and what comes down the runway at FFF Week should reflect that.

    She is the consumer. She gave her opinion. Other people were there as well. We see some of the items that went down the runway. Noone is criticizing the event...just giving our feedback. If the event is going to blossom them its important to be able to really hear the people sitting in the audience.

  19. Great report Gabi! The clothes do look better than I had expected, however, across the board there still seems to be that perception that plus size women need clothes that flow with the wind. I see why many do like that style, but I definitely want to see ne designs which offer more form-fitting clothing in better fabrics.

    Also, considering I'm currently in my "rock-star" period, I wish there were pieces that were a bit more funky and resembled more of that disheveled, street-style fashion.

    Eh. There's hope though!

    P.S. Hope you'll still be in NY in a couple of weeks, I'm coming back up. I want margaritas. =)

  20. Flowy and floral. YET AGAIN, this is all WE get as others have pointed out as well. I understand the theory behind this event, monumental no doubt, but I'm hitting the snooze button on these designs. Hopefully innovation is being planned for the next full figured fashion event, or another event that may be inspired by this. Daring is in construction as well, not just revealing our skin as full figured women!

  21. There is a very distinct reason why there is not plus sizes in NY Fashion Week. Most of this clothes are up to the calibre of the type of apparel being shown by straight designers. Some of the clothes are cute no shade, but not high fashion. We need to step up our expectations on of our designers and stop just taking whatever the heck they offer us. I dont know about any of you guys but I want high fashion clothes...why should I have to settle for clothes that are ok. If any of you plus girls heard that Dolce and Gabanna was offering plus you would be running to the department store in herds. In the end if you are gonna call it fashion week in NYC (of all places) then it should be in the taste of being high fashion...If not then call it something else.

  22. Okay, I'm confused. The middle dress under SWAK designs is identical to a dress that b&lu just put up, except b&lu's is blue and SWAK's is pink. However, the b&lu description says that they have pink, it's just not pictured yet. Check it out: http://www.bandlu.com/product.asp?item=breem

    What's up with that?

  23. That first dress in the Ashley Stewart line is *SO BEAUTIFUL*! I need to have it. Really. I wish it was available on their website.

  24. I have to say, I'm surprised by these photos. I thought the whole point of FFF week was to showcase ideas that were...you know..fashion forward. Some of these things were cute, but it seems to me like the plus size fashion options are still limited to mostly flowy-mumu designs and floral patterns.

    I don't understand why designers correlate "plus size" with "shapeless".

    The pictures from Robert E. Knight's line are cute, though.

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  26. wow! thanks to everyone for the comments and feedback on this post.

    to gwen, i truly appreciate all of the time and effort it took to bring fffweek into fruition. it was exciting and exhilarating to meet so many beautiful and fashionable women.

    to everyone:
    i feel that, as someone who IS a "fashionista" with a blog that tries to push fat women to dress more fashionably (beyond just quality and fit), it was my duty to report my assessment of FFFWeek from THAT perspective. there are plenty of other blogs that simply celebrate the fact that fffweek existed (and that's great for their purposes); for me, i wanted to give a voice to those of us who want to see more from designers (i know i am not the only one).

    i think as fat women, we are too often told "just be happy that you have clothes"...and i refuse to do that. i want us to have the SAME stylish, quality clothing that straight sized women have, period. i think to lower our expectations and simply celebrate that we have designers at all is a bit insulting. i will continue to critique plus size designers in the same way that i critique any others, because i think it's the only way fat fashion will progress.

    as i've stated, i am more than happy fffweek was a success, people had a great time and discovered new designers that they like! i, however, stand by my assessment that the fashion ITSELF was underwhelming.

    to continually "support and uplift" without offering critique gets us no where. i want fat fashion to GET somewhere.

  27. Rock on Gabi. I look forward to more FFF type events, and people need to realize that bigger women do need options. While these dresses are cute in their own way, not everyone would wear these. I personally would not wear any of these items (well, I would wear the middle Ashley Stewart if it wasn't in such a busy print...the silhouette speaks for itself!). But I do agree that there is only room to grow and hope in the future that designers are willing to step to the plate...and to the pocketbooks of willing bigger women such as myself.

  28. Gabi I totally agree with your comment. Yes, we are happy to have a FFF week but there is always room for improvement. Designers and organizers spend big money on focus groups to get the same information that you and dozens of other bloggers give away for free. They are the ones who need to be thankful that we are having an open dialogue about the event instead of trying to silence us into compliance. we are the consumers! we control the market and if necessary we will spend our money on designers and venues who listen to us instead of feeding us the 'you need to be happy you aint wearing burlap' argument.

    I didnt get to make FFF week this year but as a young designer and a plus sized woman I enjoyed the coverage and the different opinions of the event. I know for next year if I apply for a spot on the runway I will have to bring my A-game and leave my one size fits all jersey dresses at home.

  29. Hey Gabi, thanks so much for your reply. I do agree that dialogue is a wonderful tool. But I do not think anyone is trying to silence anyone into compliance as is stated above. If you guys can have a say, so shall I, know what I mean? I just think that for a group of consumers who had absolutely no one that was willing to make an attempt to showcase fashions for plus sizes to criticize the clothing because it wasn't "edgy, fashion forward, couture, etc." it's like a slap in the face. Yes, you are the consumers, but everyone has to start somewhere. This was about people coming together to show the industry that we spend a lot of freaking money on clothing and we are willing to publicly support those who make that clothing. The comments above are coming from self proclaimed fashionistas who already admit that the clothing choices are few so what is the answer? Can any of you identify enough of the designers that you "like" to fill a show? Someone mentioned D&G, well guess what? They ain't designing for you darling. Ok, I'll get off my soapbox now. I've had over 500 emails complimenting me and the team on the. I am so very sorry we missed the mark for you guys but at the end of the day, there are some who were appreciative of the effort and yes, they just might not be the best dressed fashionistas. I gave a damn ladies when no one else did.

    Getting off my soapbox now...

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  32. Gwen, I definitely understand your perspective, and I agree that we both have the right to voice our opinions. Again, I am HAPPY that fffweek happened! I know that it truly helped those women who struggle to find nice clothing at their size. I was simply offering my critiques from the standpoint of someone who wants something more stylish, that's all. I am not trying to downplay the fact that so many people gained value from the runway show, I am not surprised that you've gotten many emails full of compliments!

    You are completely right to say that there aren't enough fat fashion designers to fill a fashion show, i think THAT is what we are upset about, more than anything. We DESERVE to have high fashion designers. I do look forward to Jibri's upcoming show in NYC, for example.

    I hope you dont believe that I think FFFWeek was some disaster; I've mentioned several times that the events were fun and the people were great. I know that many ladies were impressed with the runway. I wasn't, and I was letting my readers know as much. That's all. I agree with you and I realize we have to start somewhere, but that doesn't mean I should not critique things I was not impressed with. Again, I am critiquing because I believe FFFWeek can improve over time, and with input from fashionistas like myself, I think the events will get better.

  33. Also, I believe that as designers, producers, etc of any runway events, you open yourself up to judgement from the public, press, etc. It is just a part of this industry. Everyone from Balenciaga to DVF gets negative reviews. I don't believe it's something to get defensive about...some people will like things, others will not.

  34. Wow. I'm very surprised that the executive producer of the week did not take your constructive criticism as it is meant to be taken - Constructive. By no means does that take away the positivity and shine that exists. I thought it was evident with all firsts that there is a learning curve, and feedback should be most welcomed.

    Cheers to Gwen and all of her hard work. No one is doubting that you care and put in the effort. and with that said..no one is professional on a soap box. Sad Face :/

  35. Gabi, I thought your post was informative, and the criticism you gave was constructive. I was heartbroken to miss the first Full Figured Fashion Week, and you made me want to be there next year. Thanks for the detailed post with all the beautiful photos. Having an open dialog like this will assure that next year's FFFWeek will grow. I'm totally booking my ticket for the next time around!

  36. i think it is HIGHLY inappropriate for you as an organizer of the event to leave comments like that. it is tarnishing all the hard work that you and your team put in.

    i'll repeat what i posted on my blog. NEITHER I NOT GABI ARE BASHING THE EVENT BY ANY MEANS. all we saud was that the clothing showcased was not to OUR taste. we said we appreciated all the hard work that went into it and can't wait to see the event grow. so i don't understand where this bashing thing came from.

    how dare you come to HER blog, in defense mode, and try to talk down to her and her readers and if they were somehow rude and disrespectful to you? they are the same consumers in which you cater to! i would think that you would take the CONSTRUCTIVE critiscism and let it be extra motivation for the next time. so i'm so very sorr that you did not receive glowing accolades and golden stars for your event. you clearly have 500+ emails from people who thought differently.

    marc jacobs got fired for his grunge collection at perry ellis. oliver theyskens got fired from nina ricci for this last collection. both of the collections were raved about by the critics and both these designers have gone on to do bigger and better things. point being, sometimes organizers and consumers have a difference of opinion. THAT IS OKAY. the clothing speaks for itself. there are tons of people who LOVED everything that they were shown at fffweek and thats good!

    me, being 24 and into all things black, rugged and studded, i wasn't that into it AND THATS OKAY TOO. but i refuse to be made out to be some sort of ungrateful person just becase i don't like certain types of clothing.

    if we don't push ourselves as a 'curvy community' (which honestly doesn't feel like much of a community if every time there's a disagreement people react as you and others have) to show designers like D&G that yes, we can wear what they wear and look beautiful doing it then they won't ever take a second glance our way.

  37. Point well taken, Gabi. You began your post by prefacing that you thought the event was a good one. Let's just say that you and I agree to disagree on the clothing. But, hey, that's why we are individuals. God forbid if we all liked the same thing, right?

    Christina, you and I will never agree on my comments and that's ok too. You may say that I'm being defensive but if I don't stick up for the designers who participated then why should they work with me. It goes with the territory.

    Have a wonderful weekend you guys. Gabi, we will continue to invite you to FFFWeek events in the hopes that something will catch your eye one of these days. Australia and L.A. are next!

    Pink Headbands - you've never seen a soapbox like mine! LOL LOL Cheers everyone!

  38. Everyone has the right to express what they feel, especially in their own blog. I would've never ever expected to see the executive producer of the show that was posted about to respond in this manner. Remember the term "never let them see you sweat"? Telling full figured fashionistas that the designers they "like" (with quotations as if their preference is not sound) weren't making clothes for them, was a low blow. Then immediately proclaiming that you had 500 emails essentially giving you a pat on the back is equivalent to coming undone.
    I'm not a designer, I'm not a fashionista, but I am a creative person, and I know the sting of having something you have worked so hard on given an unfavorable critique, but I will be damned if I ever say...but everyone else liked it; you're just ungrateful and want too much.
    I never got the feeling that the show itself was being criticized, I thought that designers were the aim of dismay.
    In any case, this as such a moment for someone from the FFFW to actually REACH OUT to these bloggers, you can clearly see that this young lady is not alone in her feelings. It seems like you could quite seriously come together and have a meeting of the minds.
    Instead of feeling that it's a slap in the face that some felt the runway show was underwhelming, why not ask the women who are full figured fashionistas what they would do to have a more fashion forward runway? Why not then go a step further and invite them to the meetings, combine contacts, network together to make the next full-figured fashion week even better? Yes, this was the beginning, and yes only you were the one who considered us, that is commendable in and of itself. You have the incredible opportunity to be an example to these young women who might themselves be putting on a fffw in the years to come. We are all in this together. Do not put yourself at risk of ostracizing people who can in some way help especially if you plan to have another FFFW. If this opportunity is blown by focusing on details as opposed to looking at the bigger picture, I'd be beyond disappointed.

  39. As with any show, some of the fashions are GREAT and some make you wonder what they were thinking. Who wants to look BIGGER and some of those make the girls look bigger.

    I love this blog. Those women just prove how fabulous we look. Flaunt it!!!

  40. Wow, what a firestorm going back and forth. I would like to see some Marc Jacobs myself. I can wear a few of his designs now. I don't approve of his ad campaigns as I think they are nothing short of awful. some designers AREN'T GOING TO BOTHER WITH US. What a shock! And if you look at what the skinny girls are wearing, alot of it is not that great. Some high fashion runways shows are full of crap and clothes I wouldn't wear if I could--Dolce & Gabbana, D&G, Marc Jacbs, Burberry, Savatore Ferragamo all included. And I like some of their stuff.

  41. I agree that the fashions seemed underwhelming and nothing new or innovative. It is a step in the right direction and I am positive that we will see more daring designers on the runway in upcoming years as the program gains steam.

    Gabi, the problem with being a blogger is that you can't really express your feelings (or at least anything negative) without it trampling the very relationships that you need to keep the blog going. Kudos to you for being honest and I hope this experience doesn't silence you in the future.

  42. I don’t think Gwen or anyone who was involved with FFFweek had a problem with any of the comments. However, as bloggers, journalist and writers I feel it is important to remain loyal whenever we are given opportunities to attend such events as press. Myself along with 8 other journalists including Gabi were invited to FFFweek as part of an exclusive group, The Curvy Collective. As a member of this group we were granted access to all of the events planned during the weekend as press. In exchange for complete press access we were asked to let our readers know about FFFweek. As a reporter who stands by the saying, “If you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all”, I do think the critique could have been positioned differently. People look to our blogs, articles, etc. for guidance and I feel it is our duty to be honest but not brutal. Just because you don’t like it, don’t assume that no one else will. I know everyone is trying to ‘Keep It Real’ but if we are real with ourselves, then I completely understand why Gwen commented. If I gave a reporter full access to my event and I come to their site and see negative press, I too would be inclined to respond. I would also be hesitant to invite, The Curvy Collective to the next event. It’s one thing to get negative feedback from someone who requested a Press Pass but to give up a piece of yourself to certain reporters only to have them bad mouth the designers isn’t cool. A “fashionista” should be honest, loyal and thankful all at the same time.

  43. I disagree that it is important to remain"loyal" to anyone. If I knew that getting a pass into this event meant that I was only allowed to review the runway positively, then I would have declined it. As a blogger, I consider the integrity of my blog first. I will be honest with my readers no matter what. My opinion will not be manipulated with bribes of free access or freebies. If I bought my own ticket to the show, I would have given this same review. That does NOT mean I am ungrateful. As a member of the Curvy Collective, I agreed to publicize and review events. That's what I did. This includes the extremely positive review of the state of the curvy community panel. If gwen or the CC decides not to invite me back over this one blog post, so be it. I stayed true to myself and my opinions and that is much more important to me. I've told everyone, MULTIPLE times, that I enjoyed fffweek. I don't understand how anyone could call my critique of the events brutal by any stretch of the imagination.


  44. I am now closing comments on this post--I feel everyone has said what they have to say, I don't want to beat a dead horse. If you want to discuss this further, feel free to email me.