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Plus-Size Ally Christian Siriano Brings Real Diversity to New York Fashion Week

Christian Siriano. Photo courtesy Twitter.

Christian Siriano celebrating his Lane Bryant line.

Fashion designer Christian Siriano is doing his part to help usher in a body-positive style renaissance.

Christian Siriano casually slipped five plus-size models in his New York Fashion Week runway show this week. Not only that, he also cast models of varying races and ethnicities. While this sounds like it should be the norm (and it truly should be), the fashion industry is still dominated by slim, white bodies.

In the fashion industry, diversity like this is a revelation.

Between stepping up for Leslie Jones, custom designing plus size blogger Nicolette Mason’s wedding dress and designing both a collection for plus size retailer Lane Bryant as well as a collection for budget shoe retailer Payless (which goes up to a women’s size 13), Siriano has our backs and is here for body diversity.

Related: StyleCrush: Dandridge, Plus Size Model

In an interview with Glamour, Siriano says he did not have to “unlearn stereotypes,” but that he did have to learn how to not play it safe when it comes to showcasing plus-size models on the runway:

“The only thing is that I can’t tiptoe around things. I was slowly leaning in because I was just nervous. But you just have to embrace it! In this fitting with Georgia, I kept saying, ‘I want to see your body. I want to see your butt. I want to show your curves.’ I can’t be like, ‘Oh, do you mind if we put you in something fitted?’ because you have to be up front about what it is. I’m celebrating her figure in this dress, and that’s OK. I didn’t want the models to think that I’m treating them in a different way than any other girls.”

When asked if he feared backlash, Siriano explained:

“I don’t fear backlash because, at the end of the day, I think the clothes look good, I know that these girls look great in these dresses, and I know they feel good. Even fitting Georgia, I can tell she felt really hot in that dress. And that’s really fun to see. At the end of the day, I love to create change. I think it will be nice if then there’s a new wave of a totally different fashion it girls.”

While Lane Bryant may have had some problematic stances on body representation, Siriano’s LB collection is unbelievably chic.

The fashion industry needs to change. As fashion expert and Project Runway mentor Tim Gunn points out, the runway show has not shifted much in the last 100 years, but the average customer’s body has. Many designers are still operating based on body norms and practices from over 20 years ago, but the customer keeps evolving.

As unlikely as it is for two white men to be true allies to plus size bodies, Christian Siriano and Tim Gunn are really in our court. Now, if we could just see them boost the voices of lesser-known plus-size designers, especially BIPOC plus-size designers, we may find ourselves in the midst of a truly body-positive style renaissance.

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Laurel Dickman is an intersectional feminist, plus size model, stylist, and fat activist that can also be found via her blogs, Exile In Dietville and 2 Broke Bitches. She grew up in the south between Florida and North Carolina, migrating to the Portland, OR in 2005. All three places inform her perspective of the world around her a great deal. While in Portland, she worked with the Alley 33 Annual Fashion Show, PudgePDX, PDX Fatshion, Plumplandia, and numerous other projects over the near decade that she was there. In August of 2014, she moved to the Bay area with her partner, David and trusty kitty, Dorian Gray. She continues her body positive and intersectional feminism through various forms of activism, fashion, photography projects, and writing from her home in the East Bay. She can be reached at laurel@wyvmag.com and encourages readers to reach out to her to collaborate!

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