By Marie Southard Ospina
There’s a lot to be said for fashion shows. The runway is an amazing place to catch new seasonal designs, to make a mental wish list of everything you will be purchasing or pining over in the months to come and to celebrate the self-expression that fashion allows for. Because, let’s face it, fashion is one of the most immediate, day-to-day mediums for showcasing your individuality.
The thing is, plus-size fashion events have all this. But they also have something else. They have this beautiful ability to make you feel less alone. I know it sounds cheesy, but think back to pre-2010 and earlier – when the runway was a place reserved exclusively for women size-8 or smaller. Anyone over that size didn’t really get their voice heard in the fashion industry – let alone their curvy bods shown off on a catwalk. It’s taken a long time, and there’s still a lot of work to be done when it comes to size equality in fashion, but plus-size fashion shows are a beautiful reminder of how things are changing. Not to mention moments like plus-size model Denise Bidot walking the runway of Chromat at New York Fashion Week this season.
Part of the beauty of plus events exists in their diversity. And this couldn’t have been truer of this year’s Plus North. Held at the Baracoa Luxe Bar in Leeds on 30th Aug. (with extra work- shopping on the 31st), curvy-clothing-favourites like Simply Be showed off their early A/W collections. It seems that with every year that passes, we step further and further away from the days when there were only a handful of plus-size brands. Now, the older brands have re-vamped to fit a wider range of ages – a wider range of looks – and the younger brands are doing all they can to offer both on and off trend styles to fit any age, look or occasion.
Though there wasn’t technically a “catwalk” this year, in the traditional sense of a long, linear, raised stage, the models rocked it on the floor of the bar. And the venue, with its dark lighting and night-life air, only added a sense of mystery and romance to the fashion being showcased.
Amidst the modelling, the champagne and the sense of fun and acceptance, Simply Be also maintained an incredibly diverse stand – decked out with shoes, accessories, handbags, clothing and a beautifully cinematic popcorn machine. Some favourites were definitely the Chi Chi Embellished Prom Dress – which is sort of Maria from West Side Story meets Cinderella. And, undoubtedly, Alice and You’s Blue PVC Umbrella Skirt. It seemed every woman that walked past the stand stopped to fangirl over this work of fashion artistry.
But it was also pretty brilliant to see plus-size women from all over the country join together for this one afternoon – celebrating size acceptance and the changes in plus retail. Blogger and event model Nancy Whittington looked incredible in her Grid Midi Dress and later at the after party in the Claire Richards Emerald Green Sequin Dress. Simply Be model Shali donned the Fresh Slogan Tee both on the catwalk and off it. And the best part is that the A/W designs that made it to Plus North are only the beginning of the season. Look Magazine for Simply Be’s new range is now out, and the autumn fashion continues to impress. Think Grid Design Check Coats and Dalmatian-esque midi skirts.
Shali works brights in this Fresh tee
Nancy wearing the gorgeous grid midi!
There’s something else about plus events that’s just fantastic. Never at high-street fashion weeks do you see rookie designers mix in with the veterans. There’s this unspoken divide that can sometimes feel like intentional segregation. At events like Plus North, though, you get to see fashion favourites like Simply Be. But you also get to see the newbies. And, if you ask me, it’s way better this way. Because for one afternoon, you’re exposed to a dozen brands that all have the same goal: to make a difference. To change plus-size fashion for the better. And to help plus-size women feel far more confident in the process. All in all, it made for a pretty beautiful day.
Gorgeous Simply Be models!