Sustainable Grace

Sustainable Grace

 I've always been a bit suspicious about people's notions of 'real beauty'.  For instance I've personally never bought into Dove's 'Real Beauty' campaign which seems to denote that to be 'real', curves are required.  Somebody of a naturally thinner ilk is supposedly NOT real – a complete fallacy in fact, an apparition of the human brain, conjured up by the fairies in the woods.  Instead of focusing on the House of Mirrors sizing issues that plague the fashion industry, I'm more in favour of diversity of beauty presented to us as something without any strings attached, as something that doesn't draw exclamations of "Oh my goodness, it's an older/curvier person!".  No big story, campaign or hoo-ha about it – just a straightforward use of diversity that does the product/clothes in question some favours.  A good example of this are the representations of models in Guardian's Style section in the Saturday magazine where there's a mix in all those aforementioned respects without forcing the issue as well as making clothes desirable – because that is still the point right?    

There's the pre-ambling talk to the images below that are Michelle Lowe Holder's A/W 10-11 lookbook images, which evidently bring up such 'issues'.  I've probably already gone back on my own word by even bringing pointing fingers at the 'issue' before talking about the accessories in question.  Blame it on the way I'm conditioned.  Afterall, Lowe-Holder's intention of using three streetcasted people (Josephine – lady, Sinead – blonde, Bee – girl) was to find a different way of showcasing her accessories, not to turn it into some sort of a 'cause' or 'charity case'.  Comfortingly there isn't any 'spiel' in the press release regarding the choice of models and with the results of the lookbook being so striking, me thinks it's a job well done in diverse model usage.

Lowe-Holder has gone down the path of accessories this season and for the first time hasn't presented any clothes.  Instead, she has took part of Esthetica to present a range of 'Ribbon Reclaim' accessories that are, buzz word buzz word, ethical.  I've always been a fan of Lowe-Holder's way with hand-crafted 'deets' – layers of tulle stacked together, smocking and other plays with fabrics – so I see these accessories as stand-alone deets that are sans silhouette.  She has used cut-offs from previous collections and deadstock ribbon that are then laser cut as well as being combined with the old-fashioned craft of 'ribbon art' techniques.  She has also applied velvet-like flocking to the enclosing hardware to make it more tactile (I wonder if this gets around my metal allergy problems.  I'm not sure whether this is my own fascination with Guardian style section 'older' models but the lady is particularly striking, best illustrated by the sculptural lilac ribbon belt that looks like it has been integrated with her body.  


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  1. fashionstyle

    2010-07-08 at 1:14 PM


  2. thestreetfashion5xpro

    2010-07-08 at 1:21 PM

    Awesome post! Amazing…

  3. franca maisha

    2010-07-08 at 1:22 PM

    I get your point here.. and its true!! we should look at everyone as an INDIVIDUAL 🙂 nice post.. xx

  4. ponyo

    2010-07-08 at 1:25 PM

    how long can you sustain a succulent fart in your mouth for?

  5. paula

    2010-07-08 at 1:26 PM

    beautiful pictures!

  6. Sylvia ETC

    2010-07-08 at 1:52 PM

    really love these pictures and their subjective notion of beauty

  7. Really interesting post, I completely agree with your view point, the Guardian example is perfect. Individualism and diversity should be celebrated rather than any one representation of ‘beauty’. Those pictures are beautiful.

  8. Adorngirl

    2010-07-08 at 2:15 PM

    i think overall it matters to the clothes, and what make it look the best. The dove campaign was a complete fake, and its a shame as they had a real opportunity to show diversity, fat, thin, slim, old, short, but it came up short. At the LCF Graduate collection there was a mix of age in models, some seemingly 50+ but in the particualr garments it just worked, it was not at all gimmicky, or to create a stir, it looked better on those older models.
    p.s the frilled neck pieces are stunning. x

  9. Sarah Betty

    2010-07-08 at 2:59 PM

    I never thought about the Dove campaign offending people who aren’t ‘curvy’. But you’re totally right. I am so very glad this collection wasn’t for a PR stunt, because that would have been ever-so-tiring.
    Sarah Betty

  10. Joy D.

    2010-07-08 at 3:25 PM

    I wish that everyone could be on the same level of thinking. It isn’t about how fat,skinny, old, short, or how “unperfect” the body is. I think that when a larger model is put on a pedestal it is a little offensive because the attention is taken away from the clothes completely. Almost like, “ooo look at the fat girl, that is so risque.” Sorry to hop on the soap box.
    I like the collection of accessories. I will definitely have to check out her past collections.

  11. lyrebirdgully

    2010-07-08 at 4:05 PM

    These terrific images pack an impact not just because of the choice of models, but because of the unconventional treatment. Love the emphasis on the personal power of the individual subjects (particularly the girl and the grey-haired woman); and the respectful treatment of the subjects by the photographer, which means one hardly notices the nudity. The homage to classical painting conventions (the girl and the blonde) intensifies the impact. In all, great vehicles for the designs! (which are great too).

  12. Rin

    2010-07-08 at 4:06 PM

    yeah, I got the point too. And it was a good point!
    I say same that Joy D. That it isn’t about how skinny or fat you are. Or something 😀
    I like those photos too.
    Waitin new postt!! :—–)

  13. Denise @ Swelle

    2010-07-08 at 5:37 PM

    These were lovely, I previewed her collection at London a la Mode’s pop-up showroom at last fashion week. Just realised I never posted on it, that and so many other things, awesomeness overload > time.
    Now, is it normal that I’m jealous of the body of a woman my mother’s age? Of course it is, she is awesome.

  14. Lorena

    2010-07-08 at 8:28 PM

    I completely agree with you Susie. When will people realize that everyone has different natural body types (even skinny!) and it’s ok? There is no one definition of a “real woman’s body”, everyone is different and as long as they are healthy then they should feel good. Magazines (and others) that are constantly trying to tell people what a real woman looks like are alienating and frustrating and like to throw words like “diversity” and “real” around without seeming to actually understand them. I think the result is that it all has become more of an issue than it needed to be; instead of talking so much about “real women” why not actually just use real people (like Lowe-Holder has) and not make a big deal about it?
    I love these accessories, particularly the ones that go around the back of the neck and buckle up in the front.

  15. **Nova**

    2010-07-08 at 8:32 PM

    Thank You!!! Finally somebody with some sense!! To be honest I was pretty offended by the Dove ads! That plus the people who come to me and say “OMG you’re sooo skinny” or “HAR you’re like anorexic or something” why would you comment on someones weight or make light of an eating disorder?? P.S these pictures are BEAUTIFUL and so are these females!!=D

  16. Nesha

    2010-07-08 at 9:01 PM

    I was thrilled to read the first part of this text, diagreeing with the statement that ‘real women have curves’. I run a campaign called Skinny Love on my blog, denoting this way of thinking, and wrote an article on this very statement. There is no set body shape that makes one girl more ‘woman’ than the next. Statements such as ‘real women have curves’ are simply seeds of insecurity, planted by the destructive attitudes of ones that were once haters of curvier women. So, If curvy women know how these taunts feel, then why are they inflicitng them upon the slimmer women of today’s society? There is nothing but malice to these kinds of declarations, and such spite shows us that really, the ‘battle’ between curvy women and slim women should not have been brithed in the first place.

  17. Hannah

    2010-07-08 at 10:02 PM

    Not to mention Dove sells I skin lightening cream outside of the States… how does that promote true beauty?

  18. Elena Vasilieva

    2010-07-08 at 10:24 PM

    this is what beauty is about. it knows no age, no time limit, no expiry date. these photos definitely portray what a lot of fashion designers should adhere to. this message is very strong and very inspiring

  19. Emily

    2010-07-08 at 10:52 PM

    You definitely make a good point about *individuality* being the right thing to celebrate, and I agree that the dove campaign came across pretty gimmicky and tokenistic. However, it remains a fact that public images of women (especially women in their underwear) above a size 8 are not a regular sight, despite the fact that such women make up at least 50% of the population. As a size 12/14 woman who does not think she’s fat and (almost always) likes her body, it was nice to see a public statement of agreement, however contrived it might have been.
    The Guardian “all ages” thing consistently irritates me though. All ages? Yes, much needed and a fabulous thing to do. But all sizes? Never. To me that all ways feels like ‘the elephant in the photoshoot’.

  20. Emily

    2010-07-08 at 10:53 PM

    *always. Dammit, heat destroying ablity to spell!

  21. carrie

    2010-07-08 at 11:06 PM

    Excellent point and, personally, I felt that the Dove commercials were really trying to force the issue – thereby making them rather phony. Yawwwwn.
    I’d rather see people just being people in clothing that genuinely fits and helps them express who they are – regardless of their body type, age or any other factor.

  22. Kim

    2010-07-08 at 11:11 PM

    I agree with you partially, I think you’re right about the exaggerated focus on “curvy”, because obviously not all “real” women are curvy. However, I don’t think the Dove campaign is that bad, because (from how I remember) it is not just about curvy, there are also skinnier models in it. It just says that not everyone has the same proportions as models mostly do, and that there are curvy, skinny, short, long, etc. women in all kinds of forms. It’s not only about being curvy or skinny, but also about being short, being not “well-proportioned”, having freckles etc. etc. Well it doesn’t make me buy their products, but I do like the message. And as a non-curvy person I do not feel offended. (I do feel offended when I eat healthy things or join a discussion about working out or something and people are like “omg why do YOU care..”, as if I am not allowed to think/talk about body-issues.)
    I find some other things more disturbing, like this magazine (I can’t remember which it was..?) that dedicated one of their issues last year to curvy women, to make a statement.. What difference does this make? Why not incorporate “real” women in editorials or ads on a regular basis, without proclaiming it that loud? (Like the Guardian spread)
    Now my story is really getting too long, sorry I’ll stop!

  23. Fourth Daughter

    2010-07-09 at 6:28 AM

    Interesting pictures and creations. I totally agree about not feeling ‘real’ due to (relatively recent) promotion of curvier women being what’s real when I’m shaped like a stick. When I was living in Asia I just felt like I blended in, now that I’m back in the wild wild West I feel like some sort of underdeveloped freak. So many issues that could be brought up here but as per Kim’s post, I’ll stop before I ramble on for too long!

  24. masha

    2010-07-09 at 7:27 AM

    All in this collection inspired me. even the models and the presentation is great.

  25. Luna

    2010-07-09 at 8:01 AM

    Love these pieces!

  26. maciej

    2010-07-09 at 12:05 PM

    man, iggy pop really is getting old; that colour of lipstick isnt working for him.

  27. kim

    2010-07-09 at 7:31 PM

    I feel the same way about the promotion of women in men’s jobs. (I am a girl in a somewhat typically male job btw, I work in IT). When they rub it in, doing campaigns in the media to get girls to do more typically male jobs, I always get a bit annoyed. Stop making a fuss about it! Just hire the right person for the job, regardless of whether they’re male/female. Stop preaching, just let it become a normal thing to do. Same as with the models – stop preaching, just use beautful curvy or older ladies that fit the job in a natural way.
    Your wording is way better than mine though…

  28. The Corner Girl

    2010-07-09 at 11:48 PM

    I loove the gray ribbon necklace with the velvet clasp that is modeled on the younger girl. I love it’s uniqueness.
    I think using different body types and ages in a tasteful way is a great thing! I think that it adds flavor and interest. Today most fashion/clothing companies use the same model, down to the shape of the face. They need to remember to be different and stand out. It also sends a message to the buyers who may otherwise feel they don’t ‘fit’ with the brand.
    Dove flipped things around and made their campaign for only chubby/curvy/old people, and did the same thing that they were supposedly against.

  29. TiffanysSmallWorld

    2010-07-10 at 9:46 AM

    nice post!I agree!

  30. M.

    2010-07-11 at 5:19 PM

    it looks so fresh,so interesting.would love to have it!

  31. tracy

    2010-07-11 at 6:24 PM

    these are great!
    both the neck-pieces & the models…especially the older gal!
    (one can only hope to have such confidence & look so great at her age.)

  32. hmmmmm

    2010-07-11 at 11:50 PM

    i think that finding any curvy examples of beauty is hard these days, so somehow i don’t find it as much of a travesty as you do that there isn’t a stick thin person in dove’s campaigns. I think it’s actually quite upsetting that we are even criticizing one of the only companies willing to show more than the skin and bones your fashion industry harolds as normal and beautiful.

  33. Lala Lopez

    2010-07-12 at 7:00 PM

    what a beautifully written post with such a strong perspective. you’ve definitely struck a cord here. there’s always this over-dramatic mention of why brands decide to chose the models they do. when in fact, if a designer, company or label felt so strongly about the way they represent beauty there would be no need for the mention of it at all. kudos. x

  34. Mr

    2010-07-12 at 8:01 PM

    Yes I hate that Dove advert. To the observer it seems, in those adverts they are exclaiming “it’s ok to be overweight, or curvy….as long as you have youthful and nicely toned skin”. But what if you are underweight and have bad skin? So you’re not beautiful? Those adverts are totally anti-individual beauty. It is one thing to celebrate “real beauty”, what ever that is anyway, but to try and make larger women feel better about themselves at the expense of others, in the aim of selling more products is truly cynical and in fact the antithesis of what they thing they claim to “campaign” for.

  35. ellio100

    2010-07-19 at 9:24 PM

    I agree with you Susie, btu also with Mr, the poster above me. My mum pointed out that none of the dove models had any body hair. Yup, you’re beautiful if you have evenly toned skin, no ‘unwanted’ hair, no cellulite, no stretchmarks, no scars etc. fine to be curvy if your curves are as bouyant as your smile.
    It does seem a little unnecessary to have the older lady’s nipple on show. Maybe I’m being prissy, but it seems a little deliberate and to me detracts from the overall effect?

  36. izumihiiiflower

    2010-07-23 at 1:23 PM

    super these ads! I like the strong expression of the face of the old woman!
    * _ *

  37. riotersbloc

    2010-07-28 at 9:33 AM

    Agree with this post and with Mr. above as well. Those Dove adds pi$$ me off no end!

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