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Project Runway’s Jessica Biffi, Creating Fashion For Our Curves

Project Runway’s Jessica Biffi, Creating Fashion For Our Curves

by Tiffany B.

It’s so exciting for me as a plus-size woman to see more designers taking the initiative to make collections that are inclusive of my size.  There has always and forever been a demand for plus sizes in major retailers and I think it’s about time that more people are taking notice.

Hearing about newcomer and former Project Runway Finalist Jessica Biffi’s new plus line reinforced the fact that we are heading in the right direction. This 26 year old Canadian is a joy to watch and is full of positive energy and talent.  She recently joined forces with Addtion Elle and MXM clothing to launch two new plus collections and I wanted to get to know all about this rising star and what we can expect in the near future.

Tiffany: Growing up, was “fashion designer” something that you envisioned having on your resume?

Jessica: I always loved fashion, even before I knew what it really was.  I was a very artistic child and I was always drawing, and for the most part it was always clothing.  When I was little I saw an episode of Fashion Television and realized what being a designer was, and fell in love and knew that I would one day call myself that.  It’s not only on my resume – but it’s a part of who I am as a person.

Tiffany: While on Project Runway did you get a lot feedback from the plus-size community asking for designs to fit women at any size?

Jessica: I did actually, which got me really excited.  I would always get asked when I would do something for the plus market, and as a plus sized woman myself, it has always been a goal of mine to create plus fashions as well.  My plus size fans are very supportive, and they love my style and the clothing that I create and were really looking for that same essence in a line that fit them as well.

Tiffany: How did you get the opportunity to sign on with Addition Elle and MXM to make a plus line?  Can you give us a hint on what to expect and what sizes you will offer?

Jessica: Well I actually used to work for Addition Elle before I was on Project Runway.  I was head of visual merchandising for the flagship store in downtown Toronto.  Once the show’s finale aired, the team at Addition Elle and MXM contacted me and we went from there.  The fit really was a natural one, since I know the customer personally from working with the company at store level as well as being a customer myself.

As for a hint – I can tell you that I have carried over my signature draping and pleats to both collections, but in a very flattering way for plus sizes.  Also my love for gold is present in both collections.

Tiffany: You have a plus collection in a mainstream market and I really see you as a trail blazer and a positive role model.  Looking back at your Project Runway experience how do you feel you were perceived as a plus-size woman in an industry that mostly caters to smaller women?

Jessica: Thank you very much!  It’s funny, I don’t know if I saw myself as a role model at the time, but I have heard that a lot since the show has aired.  Even though I am plus size, I don’t let fashion scare me, and I take risks.  I’ve read and heard other plus size women comment on my own personal style – which has been very positive, and I hope that it was a way for them to see that size does not have to hold you back from fashion.

Tiffany: How do you feel that your work and the work of other plus-size designers have begun to change societies’ perception of plus-size fashion and lifestyle?

Jessica: I think that the recent light that is being shed on the plus size woman is amazing.  The reality of the situation is that the average person is not a size 0, and I think it’s great that more is being done to showcase different body types in a more flattering and positive way.  Everyone can be fashionable, but it also helps when the industry embraces that concept.

Tiffany: I LOVED watching your show at LG Fashion Week.  I loved everything about it from the color scheme and background cinematography to the set design and music choice.  How much creative control did you have with that production?

Jessica: Thank you, I love doing shows!  To me it’s all about creating an atmosphere that is not only about displaying the clothing, but about the full story behind the clothing.  My experience at LG Fashion Week was a great one.  Obviously the tents are a standard set up for all shows with the placements of the seats and the walls – but there is a lot of creative control, including props, lighting, music and visuals.

Tiffany: What has been the one thing that inspired you to go plus?

Jessica: I’ve always seen this as the road I would be on.  I have a lot of plus size friends, and I want to see them in my clothing as well as my regular size friends.  I think there is a need for fashionable plus size clothing, and I want to be the one that puts it out there.  And I’m a little biased, because I want to wear what I design as well, and by creating a plus size line I get to do that.

Tiffany: Touching on what you said earlier about light being shed on the plus-size woman, what do you personally think about the recent plus-size energy that has hit the media (i.e. V Magazine’s Size Issue, Glamour’s plus-size model spread)?

Jessica: I think it’s amazing and long overdue.  The industry is realizing that the world is not made of tiny models, and that the plus size woman loves fashion too.  I think there is room in the world for every body type and it’s refreshing that the industry is opening up to that.

Tiffany: How is it different technically for you to design plus-sizes from straight sizes?

Jessica: I approach both the same way.  I design with the woman I want to dress in mind.  There are sensitive body issues with both sizes and I try to keep that in mind, and work with the body to create the most flattering looks to suit the bodies I am dressing.

Tiffany: Could you share any details on any current projects you are working on?

Jessica: Well I am going to be traveling across Canada for the launching of the Jessica Biffi For Addition Elle and Bold Biffi For MXM collections.  I’ve also started to look forward to the coming season for my own label, Jessica Biffi.  I’m looking at expanding the brand with accessories and menswear.

Tiffany: Do you still keep in touch with the other finalists?  Maybe a collaboration in the future?

Jessica: My experience on Project Runway was amazing and I met so many incredible people while working on the show.  I am still very close to a lot of my peers from the series and talk to some regularly.  No collaborations in the works right now, but it could happen.

Tiffany: As a plus size woman and consumer what changes would you like to personally see in stores and on the runway?

Jessica: I think those changes have started.  I would like to see an extension of the size ranges in most retailers.  Also I would love to see a time where there aren’t just spotlights on plus size in magazines – but rather, a consistent showcasing of different body types all the time.

For more on Jessica Biffi visit her website: www.jessicabiffi.com