Friday, June 20, 2008

The Magic of Fashion, or How A Purse Opened My Eyes

This is another guest blog by another one of our ROCKIN' contributing writers, Patricia Lopez.

Patricia is a gypsy masquerading as a graduate English student who spends her free time watching flicker shows and trying to knit with her eyes closed.

So without further ado...This is her review of the Bag Borrow or Steal handbag rental service...

The Magic of Fashion, or How A Purse Opened My Eyes
By Patricia D. Lopez for Fashion Sanity.
I’ve never been considered by other people to be a fashionista. This is mainly due to my size. I’m a big girl which is enhanced by my lack of height. I usually wear jeans and t-shirts so it’s easy to assume that I know nothing about and have no appreciation for fashion. Like with many other instances of book cover judging, people who think this about me are very wrong.
I don’t know every designer but I do have a deep appreciation for their work. I first remember falling in love with Isaac Mizrahi’s work. I can’t count the number of times I’ve watched Unzipped and it has a permanent spot on my DVR. I’m also a confirmed cinephile. I watch movies and TV shows all the time. I’m practically unbeatable at Trivial Pursuit. Doubt me? Come on over and I’ll break out the board. Just don’t cry too much when I kick your ass.
It was a combination of my two loves, fashion and film, that brought me to my newest discovery. I went to go see the new Sex and the City movie and my attention was piqued by the mention of a new service out there. Carrie’s assistant, played by the resplendent Jennifer Hudson, told her about the website Bag Borrow or Steal. “It’s like Netflix for purses.” I thought it was a made up thing for the movie. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it for the rest of the afternoon. So when I came back home, I instantly when to my computer and did the Google dance with the name Bag Borrow or Steal. I practically jumped out of my chair when I saw that it was indeed a real site. They had everything from Coach to Burberry, from Gucci to Prada. I was even more shocked when I saw that their rental prices were extremely reasonable. You can borrow these fabulous bags for a week or a month. Really you can keep them for an indefinite period of time. At the end of each rental period they renew the rental price on your credit card and you get to keep that beautiful piece of wearable art for as long as your little heart desires.
I signed up for a guest membership just to check out the outlet section. I looked around and found bag after gorgeous bag, some up to 86% off!!!! When I picked my jaw up off the floor I noticed an invite in my inbox. If I upgraded my membership to a paid member, I’d get a code to take $20 off my first rental. I did and they did! That’s how I got my first bag from them. A beautiful BCBGMAXAZRIA hobo bag with leather so soft and smooth I wanted to sleep with it next to my pillow at night. I resisted this urge since I have two dogs that sleep in my bed. This bag is $25 a month to rent and $9 a week. I wanted to keep it for a month. I got my bag yesterday and learned a very, very important lesson to keep in mind when borrowing from this site. CHECK THE SIZE OF THE BAG BEFORE YOU BORROW IT. This bag is absolutely gorgeous but it was too big for my needs. I called up the customer service people and asked what would happen if I returned my bag before rental period was up. The very friendly and understanding woman on the other end of the phone explained that I would be given credit for the remainder of time in my rental period. I’ve called them one other time about a question that I had and that time I also spoke to an exceedingly friendly person. How ever they are training their customer service the phone and computer people could learn a few things. They were pleasant and helpful and answered every question in a clear and understandable manner. In other words, their customer service totally rocks. I have a stunning Cynthia Rowley bag on its way to me and I should have it within a few days.
For me though, the service isn’t limited to reasonable and quick delivery of beautiful things. It started when I got the box that held the bag that would have an impact on me. It was like receiving a treasure from the guys in brown. I opened the box and saw a layer of air cushions. Under the cushions was a layer of brown tissue. Under the tissue was a soft cotton dust bag. Inside the dust bag was the unbelievably exquisite bag. Inside the bag was another layer of air cushions. The only way that they did not care for the bag was putting a team of tiny little people inside the box to keep it from shifting around. Since there were no crumbs or miniature water bottles I have to assume that this step was skipped.
I must’ve spent several minutes just staring at and touching the bag. When I was able to pull myself away from the bag to continue my writing, I stopped every few minutes to look at it and exclaim, “It’s so beautiful!” The most profound impact the bag had on me was when I had to leave the house to go to class. I filled it with the items that I had to take with me and as I slipped it over my shoulder I felt a new sense of confidence. The bag hadn’t made me slimmer or my nose smaller or any identifiable physical change. I was so excited and happy to have this bag on my shoulder I suddenly didn’t care about what anyone else thought about me. I was struck by the inspiration to go and pull on a nicer pair of pants and a shirt that was not of the T variety. I left for class with my brand new bag and without a care in the world about how some random person I passed thought about me. I walked under my own steam feeling good about myself for the first time in a long time.
Many people underestimate the power of a new fashion item. But think about how you feel when walking down the street in a new pair of shoes or how you feel when you leave the store after finding a great new skirt on the discount rack. I grew up thinking that there was something wrong with me because I was always bigger than the other kids. In 5th grade I was taller than all the guys but as they grew up I grew out. I was always overweight according to those around me. Looking back on my childhood with my 33 year old eyes, I have a tendency to become very irritated with those voices of my past. There was nothing wrong with the way I looked. It was simply the opinion of others that clouded my view of myself. As I got older, I learned to accept myself, flaws and all. I realized that what my mother used to say is true. Opinions are like assholes, everybody has one and they all stink. So why would we base our self worth one someone else’s stinky asshole?
I’m sure that there will be moments in my future when I doubt myself. I am human after all. The important thing to remember is that I and every woman out there is beautiful and should be cherished, no matter what our outward appearance my show. Today’s world may base a woman’s worth on her weight or how well she fits into a preconceived mold. I say screw the fucking mold! Why should we conform to someone else’s ideal of how we should look? If we’re healthy and happy, it doesn’t matter if we’re a size 2 or a size 32. Go out into the world and be the beautiful, loving and gorgeous women that you are. I’m reminded of a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” She was a smart lady. People can say what ever they want. It’s what you choose to do with those words that count. You can let them in to destroy your sense of self and fester inside you. The better option is to let the words go where they belong, drifting away on the air. Words have no power that we do not give them. If you decide that someone is full of it, how much are their words really worth? Stand up tall and move forward like you don’t care about them or their words. And go get yourself a fabulous bag to go with that new attitude. You deserve it.


Ok, so, while everyone argues about semantics and what is and not offensive and what we should call the movement as to not offend anyone of course, I am offering here A PLAN FOR A DIRECT ACTION OFFENSIVE.
There have not been to date ANY direct action initiatives for Fat Acceptance.
No protests, no marches, no organized boycotts just a whole lot of kvetching.
I am proposing that a whole bunch of FA and ED, allies and assorted peep crash the
2008 ANNUAL SCIENTIFIC MEETING OF THE OBESITY SOCIETY in Phoenix, Arizona on October 03 2008 - October 07 2008 and turn in into a swell little hoot'n nanny in manner of the happenings organized by the Act Up and Queer Nation folks back in the '80's.
We can stage fashion shows outside the conference , make signs, have fat aerobics classes and make a hell of a lot of noise.
It's time to stop yapping and it's time to do something because the yapping ain't getting us heard and everyday things get worst.
While we rant, they advertise and lobby and get press.
See where I am going?
If there are any people in the FA movement that are into PR, have extensive contacts in the press etc.. They know what to do.
Meanwhile if anyone is interested in getting this shindig going instead of just talking, hit me up.

Fat Rant 3 : Staircase Wit by Joy Nash :-)

Sister Joy Nash posted another BRILLIANT, BRILLIANT installment of her FAT RANT series.
Here it is for your enjoyment ..

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The State Of Fashion Affairs

This is a guest blog by one of my favourite friends and schoolmates, the fierce Lady Beca.

Rebecca specializes in Period and Historical Costuming, Curation and Preservation and is a prolific creator of delightful anachronistic reproductions including being an accomplished corsetiere.

This is her take on the present state of plus-size retail in the US.

The State Of Fashion Affairs
by Lady Beca for Fashion Sanity
I have curves. Scratch that. I have bad ass fucking curves. I have luscious tits, I have a cushy ass, I have hips that can shake men into submission. I am woman, hear me roar! And I am controller of my own almighty dollar. Sadly, I don’t have as many of those as I might like but when I shop, I shop fierce. And woe to the sales clerk that gets in my way.
But it’s hard, being a woman with a real figure. My options are pretty much the plus size departments of Macy’s and the like, now fondly called the woman’s section, or stores like Layne Bryant and Torrid. Slim picking for the less than slim. The choice for me is about my dignity. I don’t shop the department stores because I can’t stand the crap that gets pushed out of them. Over priced polyester junk with no shape sold to me by twiggy chicks who couldn’t give a shit or women old enough to be my mom who just don’t get my tastes. I don’t want clothes that are designed to draw attention to my pretty face-- that oft extolled feature of the anorexically challenged. I want to show off the long neck that sits under it, and leads the eye to the ample roundness of cleavage. I want a skirt that shows off the shape of my calf, the bend of my knee and hints at the thigh you don’t see.
So, Torrid… right? No. Years ago, when they were the Hot Topic for plus sizes that I loved and adored, I would go in and drop serious cash. The cut of the clothes was outstanding, the lines were delightful, the trends were ones I could live with and I never felt like I was out of place. Sadly, Torrid is now Contempo Casual for fat chicks. But, some of you might say, they still have some of the Tripp clothes they used to carry. And I say to you, yes they do. All the way in the back. And it shrinks every time I go in there. So instead of finding five or six or even ten pieces I love and want, I find one or two. What’s worse is having to deal with the pandering attitude of the store. Not so much the employees since they tend to be curvy like me, but the overall aesthetic. Torrid is the land of pretending to be skinny, pretending to be just like everyone else.
It’s this make believe that I just can’t stomach. I don’t want something that looks just like what Skinny Marie is wearing only made bigger. Because frankly most modern trends make me gag. And because I know full well what looks rockin’ on her isn’t likely to do the same for me and vice versa. I want a designer that can take the fabrics and colors and ideas behind the trends and make me something that is divinely mine. Bonus points for a designer who can make the skinny chicks wish it came in their size.
And Layne Bryant? I do much of my shopping there, but it’s mostly by default. I’m not always crazy about what they produce. The Gods know their sales staff is not very helpful when you do manage to find one. But I never feel like they’re trying to help me look just like everyone else. Mostly I buy my business clothes from them. When they do tailoring, they tend to do it better than most in my price range and style. So they get my money.
What I really want to see is someone who isn’t going to charge me retarded prices for run of the mill trash. I sew, and I am above paying through the nose for the privilege of wearing so-and-so’s designs. I am not above stealing them if I think I can reproduce it though. But I shouldn’t have to. Somewhere there has to be a designer who will look at women like me and want to celebrate the curves I am blessed with while respecting my wallet. Because I’m through with paying for being a curvy girl. And I’m through with being pandered to. Most of all, I’m through with unrealistic expectations for women all over. Not just of ones like me.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Reaching the Plus-Size Community: PR Ideas

I have been working in marketing and PR and advertising in the medical and pharmaceutical environment since 1990 or so and I have learned a LOT of things that can directly translate to other industries.
I am not very fond of pharma but that is no secret and my great love is fashion which is no secret either. It's kind of nice to be out of the closet like that.
Considering that over 90% of women in the US are over a size 6 and the majority of cool clothing and beauty products PR and advertising is only being directed to the remaining 10%, it seems that the majority of clothing designers, manufacturers, retailers and the cosmetics industry are loosing a tremendous amount of potential revenue.
Why does this happen?
1) They side with the weight loss and medical industry perception that intrinsically being not thin is a negative thing. That is not what people who are larger want to hear or believe any longer. By the way, size 6 is REALLY thin.
2) Anything and everything coming from the weight loss and medical industry with respect to weight loss and stigma is received in a negative light by most non-thin individuals. The mesage is : We know it's bullshit, we are tired of hearing it and we all have collectively moved on. Stop bombarding us with fabricated evidence that says that unless we loose weight we are going to die. We are alive aren't we? A lot of us do NOT have diabetes, heart disease or really are any different than thin people. So there. You sound like Chicken Little and Bush with the weapons of mass destruction. No, being "overweight" or "obese" does not lead to stupidity, dementia or an increased incidence of syphilis, crack addiction or having babies with fish tails. We have blocked them from our IM and deleted them from our cellphone. You should do the same since like Bush, because of their negative approval rating among your target market, they are indeed toxic and are negatively affecting you image, perception and potential revenue .
3) Now that we are on the same page and we all know that we all are staying the size we are and we are going to love ourselves and be healthy at whatever weight, how do you market to us?
4) Positive reinforcement works. Negative reinforcement does not. As someone who has worked in neurochemistry and has studied behaviour from a variety of perspectives including biochemical, negative reinforcement only leads to resentment and future lash backs, This is true for rats, dogs, elephants, chimpanzees, killer whales and most certainly HUMANS.
5) Market to us in a positive way and as if we are a NORMAL and perfectly acceptable part of the human population.Which we are. Put both thin and fat people in your advertising as if it was the norm.
6) Fat CAN equal glamour and beauty. Shoot, in these times of economic depression just being able to afford food should be equaled with sophistication and affluence.
7) Make you message INCLUSIVE. The last thing larger people want is to feel yet again singled out.
8) This is a THIRSTY market because it has been ignored and ostracized for so long. What we want is the same things that we only have been able to look at in manner of Dickensian street urchins looking at people eating in a swanky restaurant from the outside-in.
9) This market wants glamour, luxury, and sophistication, They want youth and beauty , joy and coolness. They don't want the same apologetic, token offerings they have been given since 1950 something.
10) This market wants VISIBILITY.They no longer want to be hidden in the attic. They want representation in the media and they would respond economically in kind to companies with that approach. Cases of this are : Torrid/Hot Topic, Cover Girl cosmetics, and Dove.
11) Designers catering to the plus size market have only had marginal success in the fashion industry. Why? Because:
a) The clothes they make for the plus size lines are so much less stylish and on -trend than the straight sized lines. You cannot sell more when you are selling more of the same. Even new plus size designer lines look exactly like the same plus size offerings there have always been, Larger women don't want "fat clothes". They want the clothes they see on celebrities, their thin friends and the runways.
b) The retailers put large size department in completely seggregated sections of the stores. Who wants to go shopping when you are already being treated like a second-class citizen? That is when they have a large size department at all.
c) Retailers have relegated large size departments to their online sites. That was a HUGE mistake. For women, SHOPPING IS A LEISURE AND PLEASURABLE activity. By relegating it to online sales, potential revenue is significantly limited because you are denying individuals in this market 90% of the "shopping experience". This is money that could be made from these women also spending money in mall and stand alone food and beverages, cosmetics and fragrance, salon services, footwear, accesories and jewelry outlets. It is all part of the "experience".

In order to address the needs of fashion designers, cosmetic companies, clothing manufacturers and retailers that want to market EFFECTIVELY and reach the plus size market, I am thinking of creating a boutique mini-agency that specializes in branding, brand identity, image, marketing and PR targeting the plus size population with this philosophy and new way of thinking in mind.

I would love some feedback.

Monday, June 9, 2008

My Designer Duds Are Up On EBay

I followed my friend’s advice and put up some of my precious, precious pretties up on sale on ebay.
Some of them are one of a kind, some have been designed by celebrities for limited edition UK-Only capsule collections and some have actually been worn by celebrities in movies.
I am selling...
1) One of a kind Michael Simon "Runway Collection" designer handbag made and sold exclusively for the "Sale on 7th" CDFA charity event.

2) Tokidoki for LeSportsac brand new with tags Bella bag in discontinues "Orangia" colour....

3) Elizabeth Hurley Monsoon Cream Sequined Tunic Size 18 W...
Limited Edition Evening completely beaded cream silk tunic designed by Elizabeth Hurley by UK designer label Monsoon in SUPER RARE size 18W NEW WITH TAGS. Completely sold out and as seen in British Vogue.

4) Gold by Giles Deacon For New Look Pink Silk Top
Limited Editon from the UK’s hottest designer in a super rare size 14 US or 18 UK, never worn, new with tags...

5) Donna Karan Collection ( the REALLY expensive couture line from Saks and Barney’s) cashmere sequined burgundy sweater worn by Queen Latifah on the final scene of the movie "Last Holiday".
I bought most of Queen Latifah’s wardrobe form "Last Holiday" 3 years ago on a charity auction. This a couture quality piece, worn by a celebrity in a movie....

Last Holiday - Movie Stills
See? right under the denim chef jacket....

It’s breaking my heart to part with these but you guy’s know that it’s selling them or not eating ...

my ebay ID is kathekrusepuppen....

In case someone you know might be interested....

The Michael Simon Bag and Queen Latifah sweater have already sold through Buy It Now....
I added a new item...
A GLORIOUS Brand NEW with tags from Neiman Marcus, Diane Von Furstenberg silk jersey wrap dress in an IMPOSSIBLE to find size 14...
Shoot, I am the Plus Size Decades...LOL

Friday, June 6, 2008

Nicki Blonsky in Malan Breton

Recently for a Bravo reality TV award show called "The A List" ( really...), my adored, beloved and admired Malan Breton dressed the incomparable, beautiful and talented Ms. Nicki Blonsky of "Hairspray" fabulosity. The dancy show she did was a testament that we non-skinny chicks can hold our own in both grace and athleticism. And no she had NO need to loose an ounce and be one of those silly celebrities who fade into oblivion and get forgotten by loosing weight ( Hello Sarah Rue! ). I was a BALLET major my first two semesters in college. At 170 pounds or so. And I kicked skinny chick butt daily. Of course, this was in 1988. Now what I would love the most in the world is the full use of my left leg which has not fully recovered from my Naomi Campbellesque accident last summer. Two completely torn lateral ligaments is pretty tough to come back from.

I adore Malan for multiple reason. Firstly, because he is the kindest, most compassionate and genuinely sweet person I have met in the fashion industry.
Then because he is an EXCELLENT designer and a meticulous craftsman. If that was not enough to guarantee him my eternal love and devotion, Malan is one of the handful of mainstream couturiers who makes and loves making clothes for plus size women. He is in good company. Giancarlo Ferre (RIP), Sunny Choi in Toronto, Max Mara, Halston, and recently Krizia are also acknowledging the fact that the plus market is the fastest growing segment in the industry and one that has been sadly abused and ignored by the fashion world. Malan is one of the most size positive people I have met in the fashion industry. So that, right there, wins him my undying and lifelong devotion.

For this show and as he told me, he wanted Nicki to capture the glamour of a young Elizabeth Taylor.


I love the dress because it is classic, elegant and refined. Very Malan. It also does a beautiful job of highlighting her gorgeous legs and defining her waist with a contrasting belt. The lace shrug is a nice couture touch that adds glamour and retains a little of the Catherine Deneuve-esque flavour of Malan's last collection. And I LOVE, love that the dress has SLEEVES!!! What is it with LAZY designers who don't put sleeves in anything?

Here are the both of them looking regal

Malan needs to be in a James Bond movie.... he wears clothes beautifully himself... He has incredible posture and walks exquisitely.

Here are some thoughts for fashion designers who would like to be critically and financially successful making plus size clothing.

1) We are bigger people. But we are people. Treat us like you would treat a size 2 woman.

2) Make us clothes that we would want to wear our whole lives, not until we loose weight. Some of us have no desire or intention of loosing any weight. We don't give a rodent's behind about what the Public Health authorities or "experts" say we should do or what the weight loss industry tells them to tell us. Fat girls are the new gay men. We are revolutionaries. Fourty years ago they used the give gay men ECT to cure them. Now they give fat women gastric bypasses and lapbands. Same diff. Now you know how we feel.

3)We don't have figure flaws to "camouflage". We just have some body parts that are more perfect than others.

4) If you hear of a rule about what bigger people should NOT wear, throw it out of the window and throw away the key. We can and will wear horizontal stripes, large prints, high waisted skirts and pants AND skinny jeans. So MAKE everything you make for the skinny chicks for us. Just bigger.

5) We are fat, not pregnant. Not all of us have big bellies. If you put them in there regardless, we end up with what Michael Kors refers to as "insane crotches".

6) We are fat. NOT OLD and not 60 and NOT BORING AND NOT SUBURBAN. Make us clothes as hip and cool and sexy and fun as the ones they make for skinny chicks.

7) There are other colours than black and we like them. How about cobalt or purple or fushia? We are not afraid. Why are you?

8) We don't care if something is "slimming" or not. Wanting something to be "slimming" is like making a black girl wear something that is "whitening" or making a gay man wear ill fitting jeans and a basketball jersey.

9) We like close fitting and well tailored garments. We like luxury fabrics and we like beautiful prints.

10) We are fashion savvy, creative and as a rule, WAY cooler than most skinny chicks. Make us clothes that fit our personalities and hearts.

If a designer follows those basic rules, he could change history.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Lilly Allen in Giles Deacon

I was just reading the stuff about Lilly Allen and her ETOH fun in London on her page because they just talked about it in Access Hollyweird.
Well I don't care a hoot about what she does.
I have been equally sauced.

This dress was the Bambi dress for the S/S 08 Giles Deacon Collection. I know because I reviewed Deacon when I was writing for the L Report for the psychopath that ran it. I was in love with this dress the minute a I saw it . If you have any doubt this woman was completely off her rocker just ask my former colleague writers, Monica D'Imperio and Alana Amstrong... We are really good friends after that experience...LOL.
We were writing for free as "interns" and she promised us Vogue , Elle and InStyle after we did the free gig at her site. she treated us like POOP!!!
When it failed to launch, she stole Alana's and my articles, slapped her name on them and passed them off as hers.
I can prove that they are mine because I saved them on Word in my computer before uploading them to wordpress and I never signed a release. And you know, that pesky issue of not getting paid. Thus I hold the copyright :-)

And here is my review of that collection....
It is SO DREAMY!!!!!

London Fashion Week: Giles

It is hard for me to write an objective review of a Giles Deacon collection because I love Giles Deacon, let me count the ways… I fell in love with his clothes at first sight because they are clothes that not only are beautiful in their own right; they make the woman wearing them beautiful. This was something that became a revelation when I saw the photo of the radiant Miss Beth Ditto in an incredible gold lame Giles Deacon dress in British Vogue, which has become one of this year's most iconic images.

This was Giles Deacon's eighth collection for his own label. His shows are hot ticket events where his super-model fans flock in to pay tribute– Linda Evangelista, Agyness Deyn and Karolina Kurkova have all flown in to assist in the past. After graduating from Central St Martins in 1992, Deacon worked for Jean Charles De Castelbajac in Paris for two years and from 1998 until 2000 he was a designer at Bottega Veneta and the Gucci Group. He also designs the women's ready-to-wear collection for Daks and a range for New Look.

The S/S 2008 had something for every taste. He started the show with stunning, yet completely surprising tailored grey denim dresses that had a sense of sobriety yet were completely drenched in the romanticism that followed throughout the rest of the collection. The dresses had a frothy, girly, sometimes "Hairspray"-sweet feel, which was tempered intermittently with a Sex Pistols album-inspired print, and some beautiful ombrÄ— prints which in fact were out-of-focus photos of Kate Moss. One of the most striking pieces in the collection was a perfectly tailored white coat that had knitted rubber bands adorning the front in the guise of fur. The attention to detail and handwork in pieces is masterful and the construction standards impeccable.

Giles Deacon is the Debussy or the Merce Cunningham of fashion. His collections are a free-flowing exercise in unabashed creativity but the end result is symphony for the eye and a joy to behold.


Looking For a Position In The Fashion Industry

Hello Readers,
I am sending out this open invitation because I am looking to transition full-time into the fashion industry.
I am looking for positions in either Editorial or Design capacities.
I have close to 20 years of experience as a writer and editor and, as is evidenced in this blog, my knowledge of the fashion industry at many levels is extensive.
I am seeking internships as a design assistant in women's wear, shoes or accesories and a position with a company with a focus on plus sizes or the luxury market (or ideally both like Marina Rinaldi or Elena Miro) would be the perfect match. I am fully available to work in major cities and need no visas to work in either the US, Mexico, or any EU country including the UK because I am a EU citizen.
You can see samples of my work as a designer and fashion writer and editor throughout this blog.
I would sincerely appreciate all networking, leads, and recommendations because it's extremely hard to break into this industry when making a lateral move from another field.
Please feel free to ask for additional of better photos of my design work or a copy of my resume.
Thank you in advance,

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

My Brilliant Friend Velvet On 5 Resolutions

My brilliant and gorgeous friend, plus size supermodel Velvet D'Amour recently did this AWESOME interview with 5 resolutions, a blog much like mine focusing on promoting a healthier, saner and more diverse and inclusionary view in fashion, beauty and the mainstream media.
Everything Velvet says in it is exactly what I think and what I have been saying for years.
I love this woman and she is one of my personal role models and idols.
I think the interview was conducted by Claire Mysko and can be seen in its original text at

Without further ado, here's the second half of our interview with the fabulous Velvet D'Amour. (You can read Part I here, in case you missed us yesterday.)

What are your thoughts on the model health debate today, nearly two years after your walk down the runway for Gaultier?
Often, the focus tends to be entirely on the external. Granted, modeling is about the physical, but all the media tends to focus on as a general rule when it comes to model's health is how 'thin' a model may appear. There are women who are prone to being thin, just as there are women who are prone to being fat. That is not to negate the reality that anorexia and bulimia exist amongst both models and society at large.

Anorexia is a disorder primarily associated with adolescence (and also has links to not wanting to grow up), so by employing such young women, virtually children (even 13 year olds in some cases!), then one may expect to witness these disorders more closely associated with the fashion industry, which selects models from the group most commonly affected by the disorder. Naomi Campbell was just 15 years old when she got her start. What needs to be asked is not only why the beauty ideal at present insists upon such thin extremes, but also why we are using children to market to women? And how this too adds to a feeling of inadequacy in how people feel about their looks.

Media does the same when it comes to plus-size people. The general reason one gets as to why there is not more representation of curvier folks within modern media is that inclusion would be equivalent to acceptance, and acceptance would then equal condoning, which would mean they support alleged ill health. The odd dichotomy is that whilst people like myself are banned due to the purported notion we will somehow 'promote' being unhealthy, we are besieged with media saturated with imagery of Britney Spears, Nicole Richie, Paris Hilton, Kate Moss and Lindsay Lohan. How these women represent good health is somewhat beyond me. Not that I look to discredit or demean them, it's merely impossible for me to wrap my head around the media's indisputable hypocrisy.

People may look at me and deem me 'unhealthy' at first sight, yet were I to ask you, 'Is every thin person healthy?', you would scoff at such a frivolous notion. You can't tell by looking at me that I do not smoke and I never have, I do not drink alcohol and I never have, and I do not take recreational drugs and I never have--just as you can't tell by looking at a thin person that they may do all of the above. So I reject the judgment of perceived health, and frankly find it patronizing, as more often than not, merely by virtue of size, I am expected to disclose my health to the majority of TV and radio interviewers. Though personally, I wouldn't dream of asking them to drop down and give me 50 push-ups or casually make public their personal health history to me, a total stranger.

What is almost completely ignored in my opinion, is mental health. The current beauty standard is so inaccessible that the vast majority of Western society is displeased with their looks to the extent they reach to extreme measures to attempt to fit in, or feel better about themselves. There was a program I saw, I believe it was entitled The Swan or something like that, where each 'unattractive' contestant went through a process of having their teeth bleached white and having liposuction, and all of them across the board seemed to need breast implants. What is sad about this cookie cutter approach to beauty is that the individual is lost amongst the commonality. Each and every person has a beauty unique unto them. The more one comes to accept oneself, the better she/he is able to revel in her/his own unique beauty! When we start to address this in fashion, then we, as a society, can begin to feel better about ourselves and celebrate our perceived imperfections, versus eradicating them in attempts to adhere to the modern beauty standard, which seems more and more narrow, less and less accessible.

[P]eople's rejection of their looks drives capitalism. The more people do not accept themselves, the more potions, and lotions, and surgeries etc. they invest in so that they might have the power that is beauty.

The mission of our work is to get fashion and beauty professionals on board with the idea of promoting healthy beauty. How would you define healthy beauty, and what do you think is the industry's biggest obstacle to getting there?
I would define healthy beauty by stealing a quote from Christian Dior: "Zest is the secret of all beauty. There is no beauty that is attractive without zest." I think we are beginning to see some change afoot as a backlash to mainstream fashion with people like Leslie [Hall], Beth Ditto, and Joy Nash. The birth of You Tube has allowed for people to make personal statements to a much wider audience and this has made for something of a revolution.

The biggest obstacle to the promotion of healthy beauty within the fashion industry is the dependence fashion has on advertising. Since magazines are dependent on the advertisers to exist, this beholds them to adhering to what has become the yawningly boring average--thin, white, tall and young. The reason being is that ads are so costly that they fear taking risks and as such, the vision of beauty is preserved as not only unattainable (to promote the use of the materials being sold) but also staid, since they are afraid to rock the boat and want only what sells.

What are you working on now?
I am always busy with many projects. Last week I modeled in a Renault ad. Yesterday I had a wonderful opportunity to dance in a music video for an up and coming French band, the Scarlet Queens. I was thrilled to be included in their clip Rock N Roll Girl...It's great to have bands bucking the norm, much like the photo shoot I did with the equally cool French band FANCY. I have an upcoming role in a French film featuring Vincent Lagaffe. I continue to both shoot and film plus-size women for my impending website as well as to create original music for videos I am beginning to edit, which feature plus-size women. The French film I starred in, AVIDA, (which went to both the Cannes and Tribeca film festivals), has just come out on DVD in America through Cinema Epoch. Tonight I am off to dinner with Edmond Boubil, the designer of the French plus size-clothing companies Ronde de Nuit and Umberto Monza, to discuss shooting for them. Definitely a busy bee!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Tyra and Weight Issues: Babe.. Walk The Walk

I just got through doing a phone interview with a company and watching an episode of the Tyra Banks show about extreme dieting and eating disorders.
It is a HUGE issue.
Yes, she has made it a point to have plus size models on ANTM.
Only one who was on skinny side of plus won ... How about a 16 or 18 winning Ty-Ty?
Size 8 is NOT PLUS regardless how much the anorexic minded media thinks it is.
Size 8 is WAY below normal, let alone plus.
When I was at the height of anorexic/bulimic behaviour I was between a 5 and a 9.
And people still said I was "obese". Seriously.
I was killing myself to get there and stay there and thin I was stupid and miserable. I could not think and I was depressed because I never had enough to eat.
So here is Tyra chastising these eating disordered girls with body hate issues about their stomach pumping and obsession with weight loss.
And yet... she says that "eating healthy and exercising have been proven effective to loose weight". NO THEY HAVE NOT. 98% of people who loose weight through diet and exercise gain it all back and then add some within 5 years.
And the biggest problem is WHY SHOULD WE LOOSE ANY WEIGHT?
If she is saying that you can be healthy and happy and love yourself at any weight WHY does she promote weight loss at all?
And the worst of the worst is the COMMERCIALS...
Guess who bought time during Tyra's show on eating disorders and dysfunctional weight loss habits? L.A Weight Loss.
If Tyra really beliefs in health and self esteem at any size, she should NOT take a penny from ANY weight loss company or product.
And she herself should not participate on ANY weight loss programs.
There was a pretty strong rumour during Fashion Week that Miss Tyra was on Alli and had to run into a tent to change her pants because of "leakage'.
She also has had people from Weight Watchers on her show and damn if they have not run the Latifah -Jenny Craig bullshit "size healthy" commercial too. How about Health and size have NOTHING to do with each other and other people's health should be NONE of our business. And NOTHING can gurantee your health. Not even if you LIVED at the Mayo Clinic.
What I am saying is that if Tyra wants to be an advocate for size acceptance and self esteem, she should walk the walk and NOT promote weight loss and NOT take a penny from companies profiting from inducing self-hate and insecurities in women.
So sister... let's get on the real side of real... it's time to walk the walk.
I have Google Ad-Sense on my all-fashion blog on blogger.
I have blocked all adds from weigth loss companies from showing on my blog.
And I desperately need the money.
But I also need my conscience.

I Have A Dream..

I wrote this one way back when I had money as as a submission to SKORCH magazine...Enjoy..

I am a well-known clothes horse. Women like me are better known nowadays as "fashionistas". I shop at Nordstrom's, at Saks Fifth Avenue and at Neiman Marcus. When I go to London I head to TopShop, and Harrods and Harvey Nichols. In LA, Robertson Avenue is my destination, and Kitson and Lisa Klein are places where I love to get things at.

There is only one little problem. Most of those places can sell me jewelry, purses, shoes and cosmetics. But few can sell me clothes that I can wear. Why? I am a plus-size woman. I wear a size 18W.

For some reason upscale retailers and designers believe that plus-size women cannot and will not buy youthful, on –trend clothing. That is a huge misperception.

I think that there is an untapped market in the plus-size industry. There are many of us who are not thrilled by business suits or what goes nowadays by "career wear". We are women who are looking to wear the same things as our thin counterparts.

We are successful, creative, fashion-savvy women, who know the difference between Ralph Lauren's Lauren line and his Black Label, and who worship Marc Jacobs clothing from afar.

And year after year, our prayers go barely answered. We cannot find the trendy, youthful, high quality clothing we long to wear.

What I am thinking of here is that the upscale "Contemporary" market that rules fashion retail in the 0-10 straight size fashion market and 16-40 age demographic, is practically non –existent in the plus-size industry.

You know what I am talking about: T-bags, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Diane Von Furstenberg dresses, Gwen Stefani's L.A.M.B line. Moschino's Cheap and Chic, See by Chloe, even Juicy Couture. All those clothes that when you go to upscale retailers, you drool over, but have no hope of wearing, because they do not even come in anything over a size 10. And a small 10 at that.

If the success of Torrid who caters to a younger plus-size demographic is any indication, there is a market for upscale "Contemporary" lines and stores. Except they barely exist. I was ecstatic when I discovered Jessica Svoboda's line at Saks online and I felt the same way when I found Anna Scholtz's line at Harrods. But seriously, why not more? Why not the same lines in plus that exist in straight sizes?

I have spoken to several straight size contemporary apparel designers, and they said that whenever they made sizes that were larger, they lost money because they did not sell.

Could it possibly be because of the fact that if larger sizes were available, this was not actively promoted? Could it also be that upscale retailers have discontinued or reduced their plus-size offerings and the presence of plus-size departments, and confined them to their online stores? Or that they will not stock anything over a size 10 or 12 in their "Contemporary" departments? God forbid the thin customer might be offended by seeing anything on the racks with a double digit tag. Or perhaps they have frustrated or intimidated the plus-size customers to the point where they no longer bother coming into the stores?

Could it be that the plus size customer has become so turned off by the offerings and the treatment they receive at the mortar and board stores that they now only shop online and at stores that cater exclusively to them?

Isolation from the rest of the market is the last thing that women whose self-esteem takes daily blows need.

Personally, as a consumer, I think that this situation as become one of "separate and unequal" and akin to fashion segregation.

I do not know if the answer is one or a combination of all of the above.

What I do know, is that my needs as a fashionable, successful plus-size woman are unmet.

That the best I can do when I go shopping, is either settle and style what I can find in my size, or try to find stuff in the straight size departments that I can make fit. Stretch cotton and jersey thus have become my BFFs.

But I keep thinking that maybe if retailers added a "Contemporary-plus" department to their stores or if they actively marketed to young, professional, plus-size women in a positive way, they would tap a very profitable market that has until now have been sadly, mostly ignored.

I have a dream that one day, size 0's and 22's will side by side try-on Marc Jacobs jackets in the fitting rooms at Saks. I have a dream that one day I can find a Diane Von Furstenberg vintage print dress in a size 18W. I have a dream that I can walk into Nordstrom's and find something that I can wear other than to job interviews and memorial services. I have a dream…