Curvy girls walked a Lincoln Center runway Wednesday in dreamy mauve, shaded denim and sequined evening blush wearing clothes that accented rather than hid away their real-life silhouettes during New York Fashion Week's first-ever show exclusively for plus sizes. Turned away from the official Mercedes Benz tents, sponsor OneStopPlus.com presented "Belle Epoque" just down the street above Jazz at Lincoln Center, drawing some of the most visible inspirations for girls and women of size — Nikki Blonsky, KayCee Stroh and Gabourey Sidibe among them.
Models representing the low end of the plus spectrum (sizes 12 to 16) showed off one-shoulder goddess dresses and bouquet-print blouses, belted shirt dresses, cropped jackets in leather and lace sheaths worthy of the period that stretched from 1890 to just before World War I. There was draping, but just enough, and small ruffles rather than the larger kind that often serve as shrubbery on clothes made in big sizes. Slim jeans, cargo shorts and capris celebrated fuller rears. Using Georgette sheers, crepe and jersey, designer Zahir Babvani for OneStopPlus included something for all ages, inspired by the optimistic period in history before the Great War hit Europe. Optimism and empowerment for plus sizes in fashion were on the minds of the front row.
"It's, like, finally!" said Stroh, who played Martha Cox in the "High School Musical" franchise. "Designers make good clothes, but who's going to wear them?" Stephanie Sobel, president of the onsite retailer for men and women of size, said that's precisely the point. About 62 percent of American women wear a size 12 and up, she said. They're tired of being shunned or squeezed into designs created for zeros and 2s. And they're tired of being looked down upon by most denizens of the fashion world, Sobel said. Sidibe, Stroh and curvy "America's Next Top Model" alum Tocarra Jones, who walked in the show, said it feels like the time is now for larger women in search of fashion. "It's a very, very big step in acceptance of people of size," said Sidibe, the Oscar nominee for "Precious," of Wednesday's show. "It's ridiculous," she said. "We obviously buy a lot of clothes. I think a lot of designers don't try. It's much easier to make a dress for a size zero, but the average woman is not a size zero. It's about making women of all shapes and sizes feel comfortable."