Real Curves on the Runway: How We’re Bringing Body Diversity to New York …

10 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Asian-American Designers Step Out For New York Fashion Week.

I’m often asked “What kind of modeling do you do?”—and not just by fashion industry insiders. Her fourth “Role Models Not Runway Models” show features female CEOs, Olympians, activists and entrepreneurs in lieu of traditional fashion models in order to change the face – and figure – of beauty. “We always want to make sure that every woman sees herself reflected and represented on the runway,” says Hammer, who launched her brand, which she describes as “corner-office couture,” in New York two years ago. When I tell people I’ve done everything from catalogue to editorial, their follow up question is usually this: “Oh, but what about runway?” In the past, I would have said that designers don’t book girls like me—a woman with lots of curves and plenty of hips—for runway. She realized while she was casting her first show in February 2014 that the standard fashion industry waifs didn’t fit her brand’s Wonder Woman image. These days, the numbers are larger: in 2015, 16 of the 72 official New York Fashion Week shows will be presented by Asian or Asian-American designers, up from 13 shows the previous year.

There will also be large group shows sponsored by China and Korea, representing about 21 percent of the total offerings. “Amazing, amazing,” Toi, now 54, told NBC News. “As an Asian, it’s a very proud moment for me. They worked hard behind the stage.” Toi’s show “The Splendor of Santorini” opens Friday, and features blue, green, and white garments–hand-stitched and embroidered in his midtown Manhattan studio—which aim to capture the essence of the show’s inspiration, derived from the Greek island, Santorini. I feel beautiful for the first time ever,’” says Hammer. “I still get those emails to this day, and it’s become this incredible movement.” The 27 empowering mentors modeling Hammer’s Spring/Summer 2016 collection in partnership with Dove at the Manhattan Mercedes-Benz Showroom on Thursday include Olympic figure skating gold medalist and “Dancing with the Stars” champ Meryl Davis, TED executive producer June Cohen, comedian with cerebral palsy Maysoon Zayid, United Nations Communications and Advocacy Advisor LaNeice Collins, and the Commissioner of the NYC Mayor’s Office for International Affairs Penny Abeywardena, who is coordinating the Pope’s visit to New York later this month. “We have a waitlist of 500 role models,” marvels Hammer, who’s no slouch, herself. Brains and beauty go hand in hand,” she says. “So a lot of the looks are going to be reflective of women being feminine and tough at the same time, with a lot of black and white, a lot of patterns, and the contrast of more powerful leather and more feminine lace.” Hammer’s role models have already opened the door to diversity on other runways. Even just this year, curvy models were on the pages of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue, selected for mainstream campaigns and featured in editorials for major fashion magazines.

And on Sept. 15, my latest lingerie collection with Addition Elle will show at the KIA STYLE360 Fashion Pavilion during NYFW as the only official plus size show on the calendar. It’s one thing to include a curvy model to showcase a collection, and it’s another to actually dress her for her size. (Real talk: There are only so many times you can tug and squeeze me into a sample size sweater before it looks like an accidental crop top.) Something’s got to give, and I’m not just talking about the fabric. Meanwhile, from Sept. 10 to 13, ALDA will participate in sending the body positivity message as part of Refinery 29’s interactive “29 Rooms” installation celebrating beauty beyond size.

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