Thursday, September 15, 2016

Fashion Rant - Comments on the Tim Gunn Opinion

Warning: Rant Ahead


Tim Gunn of Project Runway fame recently had a Washington Post Opinion titled Tim Gunn:

Designers refuse to make clothes to fit American women. It’s a disgrace.


He makes the point that the average American woman wears a size 16 and the fashion industry isn't really producing clothing for that size.
Ashley Nell Tipton for Project Runway



But in amongst that gem is a load of drivel, assumptions about what women want, perhaps a bit of fatphobia, and an absolutely absurd and un-called for bash on last season's Project Runway winner.


Here's what Mr. Gunn thinks fat women should not look like:


"Done right, our clothing can create an optical illusion that helps us look taller and slimmer. Done wrong, and we look worse than if we were naked."


"Based on my experience shopping with plus-size women, it’s a horribly insulting and demoralizing experience. Half the items make the body look larger, with features like ruching, box pleats and shoulder pads. Pastels and large-scale prints and crazy pattern-mixing abound, all guaranteed to make you look infantile or like a float in a parade."



Delpozo - I guess shoulder pads are ok for skinny people?
There are plenty of fat fashionistas and fashion-at any-size blogs around that Mr. Gunn could have reviewed.  And if he looked, many fat women are not asking for clothes that make them look taller and thinner, they are looking for on-trend clothing that fits and is fashionable.  Fat women know we are fat, and while a nicely cut dress may disguise 10 pounds, nothing is going to hide 100.  It seems as if what Mr. Gunn would like plus size women to look like, is simply, not fat.


And then there is the paragraph long attack on Ashley Nell Tipton, where he blatantly calls her win tokenism and is appalled by the hideous clothes she designed.


Among these fashion sins are
  • bare midriffs
  • skirts over crinoline, which give the clothes, and the wearer, more volume
  • see-through skirts that reveal panties
  • pastels, which tend to make the wearer look juvenile
  • large-scale floral embellishments that shout “prom.”
"This season, something different happened: Ashley Nell Tipton won the contest with the show’s first plus-size collection. But even this achievement managed to come off as condescending. I’ve never seen such hideous clothes in my life: bare midriffs; skirts over crinoline, which give the clothes, and the wearer, more volume; see-through skirts that reveal panties; pastels, which tend to make the wearer look juvenile; and large-scale floral embellishments that shout “prom.” Her victory reeked of tokenism. One judge told me that she was “voting for the symbol” and that these were clothes for a “certain population.” I said they should be clothes all women want to wear. I wouldn’t dream of letting any woman, whether she’s a size 6 or a 16, wear them. A nod toward inclusiveness is not enough."


And this is where I think Mr. Gunn goes truly off-the-rails.  While he may dislike all of these things for all designers, there is no doubt that they are on-trend and present in many designer fashion lines currently showing at NYC fashion week.  Perhaps Mr. Gunn just doesn't want to see these things on fat bodies, as indicated by his comment that they "give...the wearer, more volume".


Here's a comparison of Ashley's collection with what is right now on the runway in ready-to-wear at fashion week.


Bare Midriffs

Ashley Nell Tipton for Project Runway


Rodarte


Tory Burch


Skirts over Crinolines, and large-scale floral embellishments that shout “prom.”
Marchesa

Delpozo

Marchesa
Reem Acra
Horrors!  see-through skirts that reveal panties,  
Ashley Nell Tipton for Project Runway
Ashley Nell Tipton for Project Runway

Reem Acra

 Pastels - pastels, which tend to make the wearer look juvenile


Thom Browne


So, it appears that Ashley's collection is timely and fashionable.  Publicly stating that her win is blatant tokenism is unconscionable.  His tattling out of class that "...judge said... these were clothes for a “certain population.”, is derisive and frankly insulting to the population of size 16 and over women that he claims designers should cater to.  And while it is possible that Mr. Gunn, who is neither fat, nor female, might object to these various styles in both small and large sizes, I can't help but wonder, if he is really not just another voice objecting to seeing fat women at all. Mr. Gunn raises an important issue in his column, but I'm not sure he is part of the solution.

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