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The Voice of the American Woman and the Full Figured Fashion Week Finale

New York City, June 19, 2010

The elevator dinged and opened to reveal Sharon Quinn, the Full Figured Fashion Week Casting Director.  I instantly recognized her having appreciatively watched her work over the years from other DeVoe Signature Events to her stint on Mo'Nique's Fat Chance, followed by an interview with our companion website Elegant Plus Models. (Now permanently closed; aspiring plus models are recommended to visit the expertly run Plus Model Magazine today).  Still statuesque and striking as ever, even in her simple t-shirt and jeans, she seemed calm in spite of the excitement that was already palpable in the Park Central Hotel.  Tonight the culminating finale awards and runway show for Full Figured Fashion Week was scheduled in the ballroom.  I greeted her warmly.  "Beautiful dress.  Who are you wearing?", she asked, the complimentary catch phrase of any fashion event.  (Answer: one of my favorite go everywhere knit surplice travel dresses in deep blue from a Midwest retailer called  Soft Surroundings) She promised me that I was in for a treat that evening as I stepped off the elevator and she continued with her long list of event preparations.

I was just returning to the hotel after a day spent at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  There a retrospective on women and the use of fashion to voice independence and liberation is a special exhibition currently showing (American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity).  Beginning with the elegant, but restrictive fashions of the heiresses and elite social circles of the 1890's highlighted by novelist Edith Wharton, American women found their voices through purchasing power at the elite French fashion houses that traditionally catered to European aristocracy .  Each successive period negotiated and expressed a new facet of the American woman coming into her own.  The Gibson Girl fashions first permitted female athleticism.  Romantic bohemian styles expressed intellectual freedom through female cultivation and patronage of the arts.  Austere suffragette style embodied the serious fight for a political voice.   Slim, boyish figured  flapper styles of the Roaring Twenties began to negotiate female sexual freedom and the harnessing of masculine energies in the workplace.  Finishing the exhibit, the curvaceous stars of the 1930's silver screen embraced feminine power and mystique.  A point the curatorial notes consistently made was that the slim, greyhound proportions of the American woman were in direct contrast to her more voluptuous European counterparts in these eras and the subsequent impact of American body aesthetics on fashion archetypes and the media.  These ideas are the very foundation of contemporary fashion and the cultural dialogues playing out on runways, in mass media, and in the entertainment industry today.  Full Figured Fashion Week is a relevant and timely aspect of the conversation. A woman's right to healthy self-esteem and body image no matter her natural proportions is becoming more and more central to issues of empowerment. Full figured fashion's time has come, as the media coverage in such illustrious publications as The New York Times, Italian Vogue and Newsweek  proves.

June 19, 2010

Qristyl Frazier, Plus Designer of the Year - Full Figured Fashion Week, New York City, June 19, 2010

As I settled into my seat that evening, I was still mentally reviewing the exhibition from that afternoon along with the stroll through  the museum galleries of master artworks celebrating every conceivable variation of the female form - all beautiful inspirations. Surrounding me were voluptuous women exquisitely dressed and buzzing in excitement.  Subtly sophisticated muted looks provided a foil for boldly colored frocks in a fashionable cacophony.   "Who are you wearing?",  asked Deb Malkin, owner of the New York vintage clothing boutique Re/Dress, who was seated beside me. (Answer: a Marina Rinaldi silk bias cut cocktail dress, the kind of designer dress that is deceptive in its simplicity, accessorized with an Icon clutch, pearls, and Badgley Mischka silk peep toe pumps.)  Down the row were the young, vivacious fashion bloggers behind Madison Plus looking fabulous and talking animatedly. To my other side were former plus models who had walked for Givenchy in the eighties, among others, and are currently authors: Donna Grant and Virginia DeberryBoth were being honored as the Plus Industry Icons of the Year.  Across the way I could see another honoree that evening: America's Next Top Model Cycle 10 winner, plus model Whitney Thompson dressed in a black floor length gown with a sparkling beaded collar. Every direction I turned there were plus fashion industry insiders: editors, stylists, boutique owners, plus models, and fashion writers from New York, other parts of the USA, and even from overseas.  All were gathered and waiting in anticipation for the house lights to dim and the show to begin.

Featured Plus-size
Fashion Designers


Belle Rene

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Susan Moses Collection

Qristyl Frazier Designs


Monif C

K Rene Designs

Tru Diva

Jewel Shannon Couture

Tribute to the late Charles Coleman of Bella Donna Designs 

2010 Industry
Award Recipients

Plus Designer of the Year: Qristyl Frazier

Plus Fashion Retailer of the Year: Igigi

Plus Fashion Photographer of the Year: Michael Anthony Hermogeno

Plus Fashion Stylist of the Year: Reah Norman

Plus Industry Icons of the Year: Virginia DeBerry and Donna Grant

Plus Runway Model of the Year: Whitney Thompson

Plus Print Model of the Year: Elizabeth Seifu

Plus Fit Model of the Year: Kalyea Moss

Plus E-zine of the Year: Skorch Magazine

Plus Blog of the Year: Judgment of Paris Plus-Size Designer Clothing Shopping Directory >>

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