It’s no secret that body diversity and inclusivity have become an important conversation in the fashion industry recently. While most Millennial-savvy, digital-native designers have moved away from traditionally young, thin, white models to include more racially diverse and plus-size models, it’s taken Old World, high-fashion European houses a little while longer to catch up.
In the modelling industry, being a curvy or plus-size model can mean wearing a size 10 or above. Considering the average size woman wears a size 12-14, this isn’t an accurate representation. As more pressure is placed on designers — from both customers and people in the industry — to be size-inclusive, a lot of attention is paid to how many curvy models are sent down their runways at fashion week.
Plus-Size Models on the Runway
The recent AW 2020 round of the Big Four fashion weeks — New York, London, Milan and Paris — introduced us to some new faces and broke new boundaries of body representation.
Plus-size model Jill Kortleve recently made headlines walking for the luxury French house during Paris Fashion Week AW 2020. The last time a plus-size model walked the Chanel runway was in 2010 when model Crystal Renn appeared in the brand’s “Cruise Collection Presentation” in Saint-Tropez, France.
Fendi also sent two plus-size models down the runway for its Milan Fashion Week AW 2020 show. Jill Kortleve and Paloma Elsesser became the first-ever curvy models to walk for the Italian fashion house.
Meet the new faces that are helping change conventional standards if beauty in the fashion industry.
26-year-old Jill Kortleve walked for some of the industry’s most notable names during the AW 2020 shows. The Dutch model made headlines for walking for Chanel’s Paris Fashion Week show on March 3, marking just the second time that the house has included a “plus-size” or “curve” model in its presentation.
Kortleve also walked for Alexander McQueen at Paris Fashion Week 2020 in a show that has been praised for showing models that represent a range of body types.
She also walked for Valentino and broke ground as one of the first plus-size models to walk for Fendi during Milan Fashion Week.
Previously, she has walked for Michael Kors, Kate Spade, Rag & Bone, Mugler and fronted campaigns for H&M. Kortleve also just graced the Feb issue of Vogue Paris.
Paloma Elsesser has appeared in advertising campaigns for Pat McGrath, Fenty Beauty, Nike, and ASOS; she has also graced the cover of Vogue Arabia and British Vogue.
Following her Fendi runway debut, 27-year-old Elsesser opened up on Instagram about what the moment meant to her.
“I will save all the prophetic language, for once, as I literally have no words!!! I would simply like to express my gratitude for this monumental moment. thank you to EVERYONE INVOLVED,” she wrote.
She may have only been in the industry for a hot minute, but Texas-native Tess McMillan is on the rise. Discovered on Instagram and barely out of her teens, McMillan has shot for the likes of Marc Jacobs and British Vogue, featured in a Rodarte campaign for a new collection celebrating women of all sizes, and walked for Simone Rocha alongside Lily Cole and Chloe Sevigny.
McMillan was the only plus model walking in Oscar de la Renta’s AW 2020 show at NYFW. She also walked for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week.
Diversity on the runway shouldn’t be treated as a trend. It should be treated as an evolution away from the traditional standards of beauty to a place that celebrates individuality.
In the future, we hope to see innovative designers around the world continuing to lead by example and cast more notably diverse and plus-size models with a wide range of various abilities, identities and sizes. May the progress continue.
Main image credit.