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by michele weston

Curves Through the Eyes of Paris

I sat down with one of my dearest friends, Richard Metzger, who is a fashion designer with a mission to adorn all women -- especially women with curves. Richard recently returned from a business trip to Paris where he had the chance to sit down and chat with several french fashion editors.

[MW] Richard -- You talked about speaking with the editors from French magazines. What was their ‘take’ on fashion?

[RM] In France, European editor’s view fashion as an art, not just commerce, as we do in the United States.

[MW]   You spoke of French editors being different in their thinking -- different from the American editors -- how?

[RM] First of all, as a group, they didn’t understand the American focus on “plus sizes or missy sizes.” Since they emphasize ‘style over size,’ the goal of French fashion is to be chic, not just skinny! The French editors don’t feel they need to 'single out' size, they truly feel they are there to showcase the creativity of the designers, the beauty of the fashions and their appreciation for the craft.

The editors I spoke with felt a woman can be chic at any size and that size itself, either large or small, is NOT an indication of style. The French celebrate couture, in that vein, many of those customers are wearing size 14, 16, 18 and up. But yet, these fashions do not compromise on style, rather they are crafted to a women's form.

As much emphasis as our country puts on segregating plus size clothing, these editors did not understand how I could be identified as a plus size fashion designer. Instead, they shared their philosophy that it is my talent and style that should identify me, not the size of my samples. If what I design is beautiful, then women of all sizes should crave to wear it!

Second, they do not have the ‘Jessica Simpson mentality’ towards beauty. Instead, they celebrate women's differences and uniqueness. Consider that famed actress Catherine Deneuve is an icon in France.  She is a major celebrity and is well respected for her style and beauty, and she is older and not rail thin. What they love most about Deneuve is her STYLE.

[MW] How do women look on the streets of Paris?

[RM] Women in France strive to be stylish, not just skinny. They understand how to put things together to look effortless and sooooo stylish.

[MW] Are there any signs of more diversity and acceptance in Paris?

[RM] Diversity in Paris is found in what the French find beautiful -- physical perfection is not beautiful to the French, rather uniqueness dominates. French fashion is theatre and art -- it is not there to dictate size, rather to dictate what is chic and stylish. They also respect and find age beautiful. In fact, these editors say nothing is more beautiful than a chic older woman like Catherine Deneuve, Carine Rothschild, etc. These women are not beauty clones -- rather they are uniquely beautiful and extremely stylish.

[MW] Did you go to any department stores or boutiques?

[RM] Department stores do not really have "Plus size" departments. The lines that go up in size are mixed in with all sizes. There are no French lines that serve only plus size women. Some lines do extended sizing and are grouped together by clothing style (designer, junior, contemporary, mature, etc.). Marina Rinaldi has a boutique store on St. Honore, so does Miroglio's plus size brand. However, these stores are not very popular, as their assortments tend to be too mass market, boring, and mature for the French.



plus size model llana

[MW]  What is the largest size you have seen on the racks in French clothing stores or boutiques?

[RM] You can find clothing in most lines up to size 46 (US 14) and some go to a size 18 US. It is rare to see anything larger and it rare to see women any larger in that country.

[MW]  Do they have better de-segregation of sizes and shapes of women in magazines than we do?  What was their thought?

[RM] Again, it was very strange for them to try to understand doing something like a plus size clothing line. They commented, ”Why?  Does it look different than other clothes?" For the French it just makes no sense to them as they edit for a fashion shoot. What does make sense to them is to make beautiful clothes that many women will want to wear and clothes that these women can mix to form an individual look. Remember, it is all about individual style and they are not remotely interested in anything that would be considered a "fashion uniform."

The French magazines do not look at covering varied sizes, rather different ideas of beauty. First and foremost, uniqueness and individuality are coveted ideals to the French.

[MW] And yours?

[RM] I think the French editors have said it all and I agree as a fashion designer.

So, we all strongly agree. As we go fashion forward, we are all itching to ‘desegregate’ sizing and make curves a reality for all women of the world. No matter your dress size -- Be AmaZed -- Be yourself.



Model: llana, Wilhelmina 10/20 Models, NYC



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