It can be frustrating to look at the fashion month’s size-inclusivity cycle. Many models are not plus-sized, and the ones who walk on the most prestigious runways often have the same body type. However, this season began to break through that barrier in a positive way.
In contrast to years gone by, when runway representation was based on a few models, such as Paloma Elsesser and Ashley Graham, this September saw new faces emerge. Plus-size models were more prominent at NYFW, normalizing a range of sizes that was previously considered impossible to reach.
There’s a lot of work involved. NYFW is only scratching the surface of what authentic, genuine diversity looks like. This season, however, was a refreshing breath of air, with designers such as Michael Kors, Gabriela Smith, Gabriela Harrist, Maryam Nazarzadeh, Moschino and others loosening the rules on who can and cannot walk the runway.
Christian Siriano and Becca McCharen Tran both served curves in the same way they do every season. McCharen Tran’s Chromat was a runway show that celebrated diversity like no other major fashion week designer. The new faces that are emerging will be just as exciting, and they will soon be our top picks season after season.
Gwyn Moore says, “It was truly an amazing dream come true to be in my first season and to meet so many people in the industry, I appreciated the hard work that casting directors, designers and creative directors put into casting this diverse group that represents so many of this generation.”
Muse Model Management represents Moore. This agency also reps Jill Kortleve, a runway favourite. Moore has walked for Veronica Siblesz and Lo Visa as well as Charlie Reynolds, Ellyn Johnson and Breanna Ivy at fashion week. Jocelyn Corona is also included in this group, having walked earlier this month for Siriano as well as Peter Do.
Corona states, “I consider this season as a positive sign that more than just a few designers have opened to being more inclusive. I would love to see models of all sizes represented. Not just two models with different sizes. It’s definitely better than what we had a few years back.”
Tatiana Williams, another Muse girl, was also present at the Siriano spectacle in a bright green suit from the popular size-inclusive designer. Williams states, “I believe an inclusive fashion week is to include everyone of any size or race in the shows so that everyone can have a chance.”
The Siriano show, which took place at the beginning of New York Fashion Week, introduced many faces that would be prominent in the days ahead. It was the perfect kickoff to one of the most inclusive fashion week in seasons. Grace Brown, One Management is one of those faces.
“To break through and become one of the new girls he’s now introducing…” Brown tells that he was thrilled to have her walk with him. “And even in the backstage environment with just the girls he gathers and books, the energy was unstoppable.”
Brown continued her week with appearances at the Christian Cowan and PatBO shows, as well as the Revolve gallery. However, she notes that inclusivity is on the rise in September but many of the same issues plus size models still face, which are silenced to quiet corners or conversations. She says, “The way people count you out because they think you’re bigger than them, and they feel like you don’t deserve to be here or aren’t worthy of being there with them.”
Recognizing progress is a good step towards continuing the momentum is important, but also focusing on the difficult aspects of the situation is key to creating long-lasting change. On the other side of Brown’s thrilling season at NYFW, there were difficult moments behind-the scenes. Brown, like many Black plus-size models, was treated with judgemental looks, unwelcoming treatment, cattiness and inhospitable environments. Although runways can promote beauty, dressing rooms may conceal hate.
Brown states, “I cannot allow other people to project their feelings or their insecurities onto my life. So I try to be myself and do my best. You need to be mentally, physically and spiritually ready for anything that comes your way, be it casting directors, models or designers.”
Do not let the pretense of inclusivity discourage you. Fashion week is still a system that values exclusivity. As those doors open, it is often that the new trailblazers will not be able to meet the inclusive standards set by designers. Although runways can promote beauty, dressing rooms may conceal hate.
“There’s still much to do. There will always be work to do, and for many years to come. This is what we must keep our eyes on.” Brown is aiming to work with Versace and Dior, LaQuanSmith, Jacquemus Mugler, Essence, and Dior. There’s nothing that can stop her.
Corona states, “I hope every person who works around a TV show, from casting directors, models, and production staff, understands that you have to be kind to people you are working with. It’s not difficult. See them, listen to ’em.” She continued, “As an American, I want to make it clear that your body and your tanned skin are not something you should be ashamed. It’s a great feeling to know that young girls all over the world are following my example, just like my sisters. It’s everything to me.”
They are not the only ones celebrating this season. Devyn Garcia (DNA Models), Gia love (BTWN Management), Lauren Chan, JAG Models, and Molly Constable were also notable curve models.
Moore says, “This community makes you feel connected and takes the edge off. It made me feel confident being around women who were comfortable being myself, and I felt like I could do it too.”