Monday, 15 October 2012

Fashion Retrospective: A Weighty Issue

A little while ago I posted about attending the Fashion Retrospective event as part of London Fashion Week.  A fashion show put on to showcase how vintage clothes could work with modern trends, it was overall a great event, but do you remember I had a small complaint?

'Small' being the operative word - tiny, emaciated, child-like models.  I wrote to the B&H Group that had organised the event to lodge my complaint, that unlike the rest of London Fashion Week, they were not restricted to sample sizes because of using vintage, which is available in lots of sizes, and that it was a missed opportunity.

Eventually I got a response, and here is what they had to say:
"I would like at this juncture to make it very clear that absolutely all of the models used in our shows are healthy size 6-10 and we would most definitely refuse to employ anyone who we deemed to be unhealthy."
"With reference to your comments about vintage sizing: whilst you may be able to find all shapes and sizes (1950s onwards) in your local vintage shop, you may be surprised to find that this is not as commonly the case with the clothes we sourced from the various boutiques involved and we would have really struggled if we had used girls of an average 10-12 dress size."

So, I am left thinking a few things.

Firstly, it's amazing to me how year round women stand up for weight issues but when London Fashion Week comes around they seem to just accept that models should be super-tiny and stop fighting the issue.

I understand that the top-end vintage boutiques do tend to be quite 'exclusive' and often the
reason that the clothes are in such good condition is that they have been too small for much wear by following generations. The bigger sizes certainly get snapped up quickly and get worn more.

It really is a particular shame though if vintage boutique Lucy in Disguise was only able to supply very small sizes because of how co-owner Lily Allen feels about weight issues - she has openly spoken about it, and it seems quite contradictory of her to only stock small sizes in her boutique when she's speaking out about the issue of weight!

I'm feeling a bit frustrated, because this is such an important issue and people seem to think that it will just go away on its own.  It won't, and more people need to speak out about it.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this - what do you all think?


  1. I get most of my vintage from the US - I'm a UK size 18 and find it quite difficult to find vintage that I like in this country. What really gets my goat is the number of stores selling repro ranges *that go up to very large sizes* and don't stock anything larger than a UK16. Hurrah for Pinup Parade and 20th Century Foxy on that front.

    I do think it's a tad unfair to label very slender girls/women as 'scrawny' and 'sticks'. We should all be able to accept each other's bodies, whether that's my fat one or their thin ones.

  2. I agree with you wholeheartedly. I have always hated the way fashion promotes skeletal models as being a normal size. I always remember Cosmopolitan justifying their use of painfully thin models with the feeble excuse 'Those are the sizes the sample dresses we are sent mcome in so we have to use models to fit them' I thought at the time Bollocks! if a magazine as big as Cosmo turned round and went send us size 12s or we don't use your frocks you can bet your life those 12's would be couriered over in a flash!
    Sadly I don't think the fashion houses will ever change, this has been going on as long as I have been interested in clothes.

  3. Fair point Mim, I have removed those terms and have put in emaciated instead. I know there are some naturally very slim ladies out there, but the difference is in whether someone is unnaturally forcing their body to be very thin, and whether it's healthy or not. I fear that these models, even though naturally slim, have been told to drop a few pounds to be more commercial, so in fact they're not at all at their 'natural' weights.

    Thank you for your comment too Miss Magpie - it is indeed an issue that needs addressing.

    Porcelina xx

  4. Just saw your comment about Cardiff fashion week and thought that you might like to see this I did it last year and had fun but was disappointed with the clothes they chose for me, made me look 15 years older than I am.


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