It was such a joy to attend a fashion show where the models actually knew how to walk…and walk with attitude. This show was the finale runway show for Full-Figured Fashion Week, held at the luxurious Hyatt Century Plaza. Luckily, I found out about the show from fellow blogger, Marie of the Curvy Fashionista, who was the producer for the event. This event was the second, the first was held in NYC. The show’s founder, Gwen DeVoe states, “The full-figured woman is alive and well in LA. She’s vocal ad she’s got money to spend…When we sought to expand Full-Figured Fashion Week into other markets, LA was our first choice…” She also chose LA to bring awareness to the area’s dymanic plus-size population, because as we all know, LA is known for it’s “model” and “sample size” populations. Several designers and boutiques participated in the show, including: Abundance Plus Size Boutique, Chan.Nel Karama Ltd., Forever 21+, Hips and Curves, IGIGI by Yuliya Raquel, Jill Alexander Designs, Kiyonna, Lane Bryant, Plush Boutique, Sassi Rebel Clothing, Sealed with a Kiss, Sonsi and Youtheary Khmer. Abundance Boutique-founded by Michele, Cindra and Charmayne, is located in Sherman Oaks and is the ONLY upscale boutique to carry womens sizes 12 and up. I would like to spotlight the brand, IGIGI by Yuliya Raquel for a moment. They showed us a short film by Yuliya and Marc DePaola called, “I Am Beautiful”- which showcased a model- Rosie Mercado, who shared her experience as a size 28 model. From ridicule to self-realization and self-empowerment that she is…beautiful. It was such an amazing and inspiring film. When Yuliya founded IGIGI, she not only wanted to create high-quality and stylish clothing for curvy women, but she “wanted to transform the world’s view of beauty. My goal is to shift the mindset that beauty is somehow related to the size of one’s body. So much pain is created in our society because we are collectively conditioned to define our worth and measure our attractiveness with the size of the clothes that we wear or the number on the scale…” she states. Her runway collection was themed, “Venetian Carnival” and all the models, wearing beautiful evening wear, came out holding a festive mask.Yuliya is loving the vintage trend this season, especially the 50’s era, which I saw in the silhouettes. I loved how EVERY piece flattered the womens shape and that the San Francisco based brand really cares about the “average women” and is affordable. IGIGI retails from $60-90 for separates, day dresses $90-150, cocktail dresses and tailored suits $130-200, evening gowns $175-300 and wedding gowns for $200-800. Their website has a section where you can calculate your shape and find the best flattering styles for your body (to go directly to their Shapestylist section, go here.) One of the event sponsors and the newest online shopping and social site for women sizes 12 and up- Sonsi– showcased a variety of looks, from casual to evening from the site’s current brands and brands that were coming soon. According to Sonsi’s publisher and runway showcase curator, Jill Hutchinson, “Sonsi is all about celebrating the full-figured woman and her rightful place on the fashion scene…We’re proud to partner with Full-Figured Fashion Weekend to help LA’s real women feel stylishly comfortable in their own skin and achieve the fashion equality they deserve.” Santa Cruz based designer Jill Alexander of Jill Alexander Designs created her collection with the theme, “Hollywood Glam” in mind. Most of the pieces in the collection were inspired by the fashionable Hollywood icons of yesteryear, such as the full-legged palazzo pants and jumpsuits that were inspired by Katherine Hepburn, the fit and flare kimono-sleeved dresses matched the style of Raquel Welch and the curvy-fitted sequined gown that Marilyn Monroe or Jane Mansfield could have easily worn and each piece was focused on femininity and glamour, while also maintaining the highest level of comfort. Comparing their retail prices to that of Tadashi and Michael Kors, Jill Alexander Designs don’t cut corners when it comes to manufacturing the garments and use a lot of fabric and cut most pieces on the bias for supreme fit. Their utilitarian separates start at $44 to $1500 for red carpet dresses. This next designer put SASS into her designs, which is probably why her line is called, Sassi Rebel Clothing. Designer Celes Harvey really broke the barrier when it comes to designing for curvy women. “As a young woman growing up and shopping for plus-size garments, I always found it difficult to find clothing that was age appropriate. The clothing always seemed too old and that made if difficult to capture my personal style. One of the key goals of Sassi Rebel is to produce fun, flirty garments that help curvy women look and feel good about themselves,” Celes explains. Prices for Sassi Rebel start at $20 for blouses to $400 for custom pieces and are available at: His & Hers Urban Fits (1321 N. LaBrea, Inglewood, Ca 90302 (310) 673-4870), Laurie’s Little Secret (4133 Viking Way, Long Beach, Ca 90808 (562) 421-6300) and online. Sealed with a Kiss Designs was founded in 2007 by Brad Capo and offers beautiful, stylish clothing for women sizes 1x- 6x. One of the lines was an elegant lingerie line by the name of Hips and Curves. It was very burlesque-meets-Moulin Rouge, filled with tulle petticoats, garters and corsets; as well as a corseted leather dress and a French Maid costume. Chan.nel Karama Ltd’s designer LaToya Skinner creates chic clothing for sizes 0-22. I noticed some pieces (the skirts and jackets) from her “Gun Metal” and “Mod-Diva” collections. Her prices are awesomely affordable, starting out at $10 to $300. Check out more of her work here. Kiyonna designer Kim Khanbeigi got the idea of designing clothing for the real woman while on vacation with a girlfriend. She had noticed that her friend didn’t have labels in her clothing, and when asked why, her friend said that her Mom made her clothes (since there weren’t any stylish clothes past size 16.) And so, Kiyonna was born. This contemporary line caters to women sizes 10+ and up to 5x. Check out the Kiyonna online boutique here. The last designer I’d like to share with you is Theary Sim of Youtheary Khmer. The model and stylist-turned designer showcased fun tribal-inspired draped skirts and dresses, along with pieces drowned in feathers. I especially LOVED the beaded and feather-trimmed neck piece on on of the dresses.
For more information on FFFweek, check out their site here.
Side Note: I met Jessica Burke during intermission. She is the CEO of Feeling Fabulous, a company, founded in 2007, that dedicates itself to female empowerment and focuses on the uplifting and encouragement of women of all ages. The goal of Feeling Fabulous? To provide our members with motivational seminars and events, along with confidence-building material that will inspire them to love themselves for who they are, and to “unleash and enhance their inner Diva!” Folks, I HIGHLY recommend checking out Feeling Fabulous. Jessica is such a warm person and it’s inspiring to know that there is a place for women to learn to love themselves in a society that demands perfection.
Special Thanks: J, Marie Leggette, the designers and models, volunteers, Shannon Malliet from Jill Alexander Designs, Gwen DeVoe of DeVoe Signature Events and the ladies of the plus-size blogger group- Curvy Collective: Marie, Glen, Jaye, Allison, Galyn, Nichole, Johara, Veronica, Monique, “Samantha”, Marcy and Sarah.
**IGIGI “I Am Beautiful” Video**