'Be quiet' says iconic plus-size model to haters, recalling days when ‘we were not allowed to be on the runway’

Following the first ever plus-size fashion show at theCURVYCon — a two-day, body-positive celebrity-studded convention — four powerful women sat down for a conversation about the future of plus-size fashion.

After curvy models such as Liza Golden and Precious Lee modeled styles by Rachel Roy, Rebel Wilson, and Nanette Lepore, Fern​ ​Mallis​, the founder of New York Fashion Week convened on stage with show sponsor Dia & Co co-founder Nadia​ ​Boujarwah, IMG model Marquita Pring, iconic plus-size supermodel Emme, and style expert Stacy London.

L-R: Fern​ ​Mallis, Nadia​ ​Boujarwah, Stacy London, Emme, and Marquita Pring. ​(Photo: Yahoo Style)
L-R: Fern​ ​Mallis, Nadia​ ​Boujarwah, Stacy London, Emme, and Marquita Pring. ​(Photo: Yahoo Style)

Describing her roots as the first mainstream plus-size supermodel in the 1990s, Emme, a former news reporter, referred to herself as “the windshield of the full-figured industry, where you’re going 100 mph and all the bugs get stuck to it.”

The notion that Emme could model without having to lose weight intrigued the now mother-of-one, and while change has come “leaps and bounds,” it’s a stark contrast to the days when plus-size fashion was barely acknowledged.

Supermodel Emme. (Photo: Yahoo Style)
Supermodel Emme. (Photo: Yahoo Style)

Emme said, “Today marks the day that I have, for the first time in my life, walked in a New York Fashion Week show for Chromat — we were not allowed to be on the runway many years ago — so I want to see diversity on world press and fashion where the statement across the board [during Fashion Week] where we can see fashion in W magazine…where we are included.”

She described working with Syracuse University years ago on a program to train fashion students to design plus size clothing, creating mannequins in sizes from 14 to 26. When many of the new students balked at the idea, Emme’s response was “you’ve got the future of fashion in your hands….be quiet!”

All the women agreed that diversity is needed from the ground up, from the courses taught at fashion school to the clothing factories, and the design room. Why? As Boujarwah put it, “The truth is that style is magical and style is transformational and having access to that magic is something that should not stop at a size 14.”

London of What Not To Wear fame, also shared her motivation for promoting change in the fashion industry, pointing to her roots in magazines. “All I did was dress six foot, double zero models. And that was really easy. It’s not really hard to put something on a pole and make it look like something,” she said. “Bur what I found was that very quickly, it didn’t satisfy me in the way that I was hoping that it would.”

She added, “There s a weird cultural idea that you have to be skinny and rich to look good in clothes, and that is bullsh*t.”

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