The revealing picture of slightly paunchy American model Lizzie Miller in US Glamour magazine that caused such a flood of reader comment and media interest is unlikely to change the course of modelling or the designer inspired ideal of the female body shape significantly. Whilst there are a number of larger fashion models currently working, and Sophie Dahl was certainly a popular and busy larger sized model, the ideal shape for the catwalk does not embrace women over a UK size 16, or even the more curvy supermodels that dominated in the 1980s.
Debate Around the Size Zero Catwalk Model
The debate surrounding the size zero catwalk model has raged on over several years with the 2006 deaths of four young models from anorexia contributing massively to public opinion. Whilst both Spain and Italy regulated against the use of young or size zero models on the catwalk and even the Council of Fashion Designers in America recommended against the use of models under the age of 16, international fashion designers still invariably demand size zero as the ideal shape for the catwalk.
Whilst the industry is dominated by these fashionistas dictating the shape of fashionable women from their ivory towers it seems unlikely concessions will be made to larger, curvier women. Major designers do not design their clothing to fit larger women, and it is virtually impossible to purchase any designer labels over UK size 12 in England, which is considered to be plus size.
Despite the average UK female being size 16 or above, designers are of the opinion that designing garments above the UK size 12 takes their brand downmarket and cheapens the label. Indeed to fashion designers women above a UK size 10 are indeed fat women. It does, therefore, seem likely that fashion trends will continue to dictate the smaller size zero body both to showcase the clothes on the catwalk for maximum effect and maintain the exclusivity of the labels.
Dove Soap Campaign and Jean Paul Gaultier 2006 show – exceptions to the rule
Whilst popular advertising campaigns, such as the long running Dove Soap series, depicting normal,everyday women of varying shapes and sizes, on both television and billboard campaigns were a departure from the norm, it does seem they will continue to be the exception.
Jean Paul Gaultier’s use of a supersize model in his catwalk show of October 2006 may well have been perceived as comment against the size zero regime – but it is not an exercise he has repeated. It certainly does still seem to remain the case that to be fat and fashionable is an contradiction in terms.