When the lights came up on the Joe Fresh runway, a dark-haired beauty with a seductive stare appeared at the mouth of the catwalk. Perhaps the Toronto fashion community was a little star-stuck as they whistled and applauded the 5 foot 9 inch, size-12-stunner. Crystal Renn may only be 23, but she is no stranger to fashion; in fact she’s been making sizable headlines as of late. Her career includes highlights such as walking in Jean-Paul Gaultier’s S/S ’06 show, being the only plus-size model to ever grace the cover of Harper’s Bazaar, and most recently appearing in the ‘size issue’ of V Magazine. But Renn can also add author to her growing list of accolades. Hungry, chronicles the now-voluptuous-model’s journey overcoming a paralyzing eating disorder, to become the most successful plus-size model, ever. In the process, Renn has also become the unofficial face of one of the touchiest subjects buzzing around the industry; does size really matter?
Joe Mimran sent more than a model down his runway, he sent a statement. This current movement can be traced to another Canadian designer, Mark Fast, who sent a sartorial shockwave through the industry three seasons ago by sending a cast of plus-sized models down his runway. Famously, Fast’s stylist resigned on the spot out of protest. But in dressing models big and small in his signature web-like body-con creations, Fast unwittingly started a mini-revolution. His message was crystal clear; beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. In fact, Renn walked his last show in London amongst models of diverse size and ethnicity.
On the Canadian front, it would seem that the tremors of change have set the ball rolling. For Jessica Biffi, the shift has been a long time coming. The Project Runway alumnus debuted her collections for Addition Elle and MXM at this season’s LG Fashion Week. The 26-year-old designer said she wanted to create clothes that are youthful and on trend, focused on accenting the female body, not hiding it. At this season’s VAWK show, Sunny Fong made a similar statement. Fong and his business partner, Ben Barry, made a specific effort to include plus-size and mature models in their show. Not surprising, considering that Barry also heads an eponymous modeling agency which aims to incorporate ‘real’ models of all shapes, ages and sizes, into mainstream high-fashion.
Will the trend percolate through the industry? Well, if beauty has anything to do with it, Renn shall lead the charge. Confident, attractive, and physically fit, she’s part fashion model, part role model. And perhaps that’s worth more than just food for thought.