The Backstory Of Plus Size Fashion During New York Fashion Week
Told By: Catherine Schuller
When MODE folded in 2001, I took upon the task of creating “something/anything” to prove that the plus woman’s need for visuals that showed her as a fashion icon in her own right had not died when that magazine’s print form ended. I created CurveStyle: Reshaping Fashion as an answer to MODE magazine’s closing and I was going to call it 14+ on 6th, because Mercedes Benz Fashion Week was sponsored by Olympus and called 7th on 6th.
The Bryant Park tents were in the center of the garment district (on 42nd Street and 6th Avenue/Avenue of the Americas) and IMG’s Fern Mallis had the idea to consolidate the buyer’s dashing from showroom to showroom around 7th Avenue and put a viewing under one giant tent in the park. Thus, Fashion Week was born. I took off with this idea by replacing the 7th – a street – with 14 plus, a size. I hired a PR firm and my publicist quickly got me an appointment with Fern who listened to my idea for a runway show for plus size fashions with her arms folded tightly across her chest. “We’re not ready for that, I know it needs to be done, but we’re not there yet…” I looked at her, and said, “But I’m here and MODE magazine just closed and millions of women need to know that full figured fashion exists for them out there. So, what better way to make a statement by including a section in the 7th on 6th shows, I queried. She sat stone faced and wasn’t forthcoming in the least. So I merely said, with nothing to lose I might add, “So the plus woman just gets to wear tents, we don’t get to be under them.” (By the way, if you’ve seen that quoted in other Curvy organizations on the web, that’s where it originated.) She indicated as I left her office that day that she would appreciate it if I didn’t badmouth her to anyone in the industry.
I left Fern Mallis’ office and met with my Creative Director, Darren Trentacosta, and we changed the name that night to CurveStyle: Reshaping Fashion and did a massive show with 35 models and 7 designers (Richard Metzger among the chosen few) on March 2, 2002 at the Puck Building in New York City with 700 attendees. I couldn’t attract a sponsor to save my soul, so I wound up funding the whole thing myself. God hates a coward! It was a tremendous success and was a nice adjunct to Lane Bryant’s Lingerie Show which was the brainchild of my colleague, Katherine Lippincott, who immediately hired me after the Puck show to be the Media Spokesperson for the Catherine’s Plus Size brand across America. That gig precluded me from being able to organize the next event but paved the way for the need for plus size fashion runway shows and expos to be produced.
Interesting that the Italian brand, Krizia Per Te, (part of the Vestebene Miroglio company which also owns Elena Miro’) was in my show and they immediately went back to Italy and started working on their own plus show which eventually opened Fashion Week in Milan, conveniently as the BMI index scandal in Madrid hit the papers worldwide. Mauro Davico, one of the Executives along with owner Giusseppe Miroglio came to America to attend the CurveStyle show and see their fashions on the runway. They could see how viable it was and set about creating that event which became a huge groundbreaking success for at least five years. Just thought you’d be curious to take retrospective look back from my vantage point. That’s my backstory on my attempt at smashing through the barriers at Bryant Park.
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