We were perplexed when our first glimpse of V magazine's plus-size Spring issue revealed questionable styling choices and an unfortunate competitive paradigm between the two models featured, Crystal Renn and Jacquelyn Jablonski. This next shoot, though, just blew our minds.
Sølve Sundsbø shot this story, which was given the groaner title "Curves Ahead."
It's really wonderful to see plus-size models in this kind of classic, deeply American-looking spread. Also we want to give kudos to Sundsbø for choosing models who are less well-known: not because we're in any way sick of seeing Crystal Renn or Amy Lemons, but because these pictures are a great argument against those in the fashion industry who would say that they couldn't possibly put a plus-size models in their magazine/ad campaign/runway show because there just aren't enough good models over a size 8 to go around. Here are five great ones, and their names are Tara Lynn, Candice Huffine, Marquita Pring, Michelle Olson, and Kasia Pilewicz. We hope we'll be hearing plenty more from each.
This shoot intentionally recalls Richard Avedon's legendary Versace campaigns of the late 80s and early 90s. Especially in the hair, and the wind machine.
What's really interesting is that Sundsbø has taken pains to shoot these women in ways that highlight their bodies, as opposed to ways that would hide or camouflage them. (A common complaint about plus-size shoots is that the models don't "look" plus-sized.) First off, there's the body-con styling Nicola Formichetti picked: swimwear, denim, and lingerie all reveal plenty of flesh. And everything from the models' poses to Sundsbø's framing choices is about celebrating these bodies. In the world of fashion, where plus-size women are otherized and negated in a million different ways, this is really refreshing. Nobody Photoshopped out the rolls and folds of skin.
Take this picture. Candice Huffine, here in the silver swimsuit, is actually thrusting out her belly as she bends back to grab her stiletto heel. This is no How to Dress For Your Shape: Wear A Tent Dress With A Wide Elastic Belt pictorial. Huffine's mid-section is the very center of the photograph; the shape of her body is made the whole focus here. And she looks so beautiful. All these women do.
Tara Lynn has an awesome Natalia Vodianova vibe, with her wide-set eyes and thick hair.
How much do you want a leopard bodysuit right now? Kasia Pilewicz sells that look. (Which is one we've definitely seen before, but whatevs. I suppose we could no more solve fashion's originality problem with one spread than we could its sizeism problem.)
For now, this is just one issue of one magazine. Whether V's Spring 2010 issue will effect lasting change in how fashion sees women, or the kinds of bodies that are glorified in our culture, remains to be seen. But the all-black edition of Italian Vogue was just a one-off, too, and that has had an undeniable impact on diversity. Here's hoping that these five models start booking a lot more work off the back of these amazing photos, because I just can't stop staring at this story.