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Plus-Size Fashion Show Review
Stilettos and Curves Traveling Plus-Size Fashion Show
Whistle-Stop: Detroit, Michigan

by Lisa Klobucar of ElegantPlus.com
October 24, 2007


Stiletto and Curves Plus-Size Fashion Show, Detroit

Curvy, rubenesque, voluptuous and zaftig are all words to describe the fuller figure. I had the good fortune to attend a fashion show Sunday night (October 21, 2007) at the Cobo Center in Detroit, Michigan that celebrated women who embodied those words: the “Stilettos and Curves” fashion show. Not your average fashion show, Stilettos and Curves is part of a growing grass-roots self-esteem movement across the United States that marries fashion with plus-size models to show big girls can, do, and deserve to look fabulous. It joins the likes of the pioneering Hips, Heels and Curves Tour from DeVoe Signature Events out of New York City, the Simply Couture Tour out of Los Angeles, and the Divabetic Tour, to name just a few, that are criss-crossing the country, plus numerous local and regional shows that are shouting this positive message from the catwalks. Mo’Nique may have taken the movement sleek and Hollywood style with her enormously popular Fat Chance televised plus model boot camp and competition, but this type of urban event is where it all started. This wasn’t just a simple fashion show, it was a fashion EVENT!

To see gorgeous, big girls, not just walking the runway but strutting their stuff in glamorous, well fitting and stunning clothes was truly exciting. These ladies knew they looked great and their confidence showed in the way they came down that runway. Outfit after outfit was presented on models of varying sizes and shapes, none smaller than a curvaceous size 14 with sizes as large as 30, while every shape of curves from apple to pear was dressed to kill. No matter the outfit or the model it was a celebration of curves. No wafer thin, “Twiggy’s” on this runway! This was a runway for the woman of size, substance, and style.

This wonderful fashion extravaganza was presented by the Full Figured Diva Academy. Who knew that there was a place to celebrate the “Diva” in all of us?

Plus models strut down the runway at the Stilettos and Curves Fashion Show in Detroit on October 21, 2007.
Plus models strut down the runway at the Stilettos and Curves Fashion Show in Detroit on October 21, 2007.



The Show

The sell-out crowd was an awesome mix of men, women and children. They were all charged and ready to see this show. Once the lights dimmed, the clapping started even before the first model had appeared on the stage. There were two little boys there cheering on their mom as she walked the runway. Deafening enthusiasm washed around me as the models came out. Cheers, shouts, whoops and whistles were the order of the evening, both in appreciation of the fashions being shown and for the models themselves.

The fashion show featured clothing from local stores, so the outfits were very accessible and affordable for anyone attending. Most of the stores were all very familiar big name brands like Lane Bryant, Torrid and Ashley Stewart to name a few. In every color of the rainbow, the clothing styles ranged from business attire, to casual weekend wear. There was even a section on formal evening wear. I saw several dresses that I would love to wear for some holiday gala or New Year’s Eve party.

While there were outfits that could easily run into the hundreds of dollars, there were also plenty of outfits for every size and budget imaginable. The fact that all the Divas were various shapes and sizes brought home the point of there is a outfit for every size. One of the models, Relita Clarke, has been a runway model for six years and she’s always been a plus model. She told me, “I love being in an organization where everyone looks like me and to have that empowerment is a wonderful thing. We are trying to send the fashion industry a message. A message that not only thin women can do this.”

The one thing that really stood out with the Stilettos and Curves Fashion Show was that each model wore colors that complimented her. In the big runway shows you never see that kind of nod to reality. The designers usually put the models in whatever fits best, applies make-up, and doesn’t worry about color. This show took the time to showcase clothes that put the models in the best light not only for the styles being displayed but for them personally, just like real women in the audience who were looking to them for inspiration ought to do.

For this big girl sitting in the audience and watching these women walk down the runway I felt exhilarated and inspired. The Divas looked great and they knew it, it showed on their faces. The audience loved the way the models looked as it was hardly ever quiet with clapping and shouts of encouragement throughout the hour and a half show. I have to admit after watching the Divas come down the runway, I felt the need to strut my stuff as I walked out the door. I think their mission was accomplished.
 

The Women Behind the Show

Natasha Bryson, 30, is the director of the “Diva Academy” and she also runs Gemini Modeling and Talent Group in Baltimore, Maryland. Natasha has graced the runway in many shows and is not your typical big girl. In fact she is not a big girl at all. She’s an extremely slender woman, but she’s in our corner. Natasha’s recognition for the need of big girl fashions prompted her to open the Full Figured Diva Academy several years ago. The Diva Academy includes a four week boot camp for aspiring models and women who just want to learn to strut their stuff and improve their confidence and fashion sense. Like most plus-size fashion and model boot camps, Diva’s are taught to not only walk the runway but also how to wear the clothes and how to walk confidently in 3 inch heels. Also included are makeup and hair tips that can be applied to your everyday life, not just on the runway.

I asked Natasha how she finds her Divas? “Our advertising is pretty much a grass roots effort with email and radio spots, and of course word of mouth. Many of our Divas have come to us from friends of friends.” The success of such methods was all around me Sunday night with a packed, sold-out show which truly speaks of the hunger and demand for such shows in opposition to our “thin is in” culture. Natasha ‘s attitude in regards to all women shows when she says things like, “My goal is to have women feel good about themselves no matter their size. I feel that you have to work with what you have been given and improve on yourself from there.” Following up on the self-esteem message of these grass-root shows, Diva Tammara Zanders (Sponsorship Coordinator) added, “we are striving for a consistent presence not only in fashion but in ourselves.”

Don’t think that all these women do is walk the runway, they all have careers outside of the Academy too. For example, Kimberly Badru is one of the original Divas. She has been with the Full Figured Diva Academy for three years, but she is also the director of a catering company. Kimberly became involved with the Diva’s not only for herself but to give her daughter a positive role model. She wants to show her daughter that she can be and do anything she sets her mind to in life.
 

 

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