We’ve heard it many times before… plus size celebrities share their struggles to find a look for a red carpet event.
This time, it’s television host Nina Parker, who was a red carpet correspondent for E! at the Oscars.
She shared her struggles on Twitter along with her happy ending, which was her reaching out to Lynne Carter Atelier to get a dress custom made for her.
And mainstream media is now a-buzz, with the chatter mostly talking to how there are a lack of plus size options available to women, especially in couture.
We have to ask…
Why are plus size celebrities still expecting luxury non-plus designers to cater to them?
Yes, ALL women should be able to have access to fashion they want and need.
Nina Parker is just as worthy as her thinner counterparts on the red carpet from E! and ANY woman needing a gown for a red carpet affair.
However, let’s keep it real here. While more high-end designers are starting to expand on sizing, there’s still a long way to go when it comes to getting those designers up to speed on how to dress curves for a red carpet affair.
There is only one Christian Siriano and while he continually shows up for us, he is the minority, not the majority, within the luxury mainstream designer space. Change is happening in that space but we’re not fully there yet.
But that does not mean there aren’t plus size luxury designer options out there.
Here’s three ways plus size celebrities can successfully find couture in their size:
#1: Support luxury designers within the plus size industry.
Parker spoke with Buzzfeed about her struggles and experiences in trying to find a designer to dress her:
“To get them to dress you is almost impossible unless you’re damn near A list. So that was also an issue, because we reached out to those people. We heard back from a few people and then they kind of just disappeared and we didn’t really hear back in a timely manner. We reached out and never heard back, so it was just kind of like, ‘Okay, are we going to sit here and be frustrated? Are we going to do something about it?'”
Mainstream luxury designers usually lend dresses to celebrities for red carpet events but the drawback to that is celebrities have to pull from the designer’s sample sizes. That means if you’re not a sample size, you will not be able to get a gown or suit.
Most plus size celebrities, even those not considered plus size (sizes 8 to 12), won’t fit into a designer’s sample size.
We don’t know for certain if Parker reached out to Siriano like actress Chrissy Metz did or what other designers she reached out to, but what we do know is that we have many luxury designers within our own community that would offer up something gorgeous in a heartbeat that would fit a plus size curvy woman like a glove.
Would she have had to get something custom made instead of off-the-rack? Yes.
However, when it comes to ensuring the perfect fit, a custom dress is the better choice. Metz’s dress by Siriano was custom-made.
Parker could have taken this opportunity to support one of those amazing designers. I can name so many designers off the top of my head such as Courtney Noelle, A’Shontay Hubbard of Christian Omeshun, Jasmine Elder of Jibri, Jenine Nerecina of Nerecina Couture, Robert E. Knight; all designers of color who create luxury looks for ALL sizes.
Think of the impact Parker could have had not only within this community by giving a plus size designer some major shine at the Oscars but also to support someone of color during Black History Month, at an event which has undergone so much criticism over the lack of nominees of color.
This was definitely a missed opportunity, especially with mainstream media reporting it as a travesty and making it appear as if there are no plus size luxury designers out there.
Is there a huge gap in plus size luxury clothing in the mainstream high-end designer world? Yes.
However, there are more luxury options available for plus size women now than there was 10, 20, 30 years ago.
We can’t expect mainstream designers to expand on their sample sizes without us leading by example via supporting our own and in turn, giving exposure to those designers who are very knowledgeable on dressing plus size bodies.
You may not be looked at as A-list to mainstream luxury designers but to plus size designers, you are.
#2: Hire a great plus size stylist.
Parker told Buzzfeed:
“I’ve been doing award season a few years now, and I think a lot of people don’t know that there are a lot of stylists who don’t even know how to style a plus-size woman.”
Enter Tess Holliday, who replied to Nina Parker’s original tweet about her dress, with a referral for her stylist Meaghan O’Connor, a celebrity stylist in our industry who has been dressing plus size bodies for years.
“@meaghanpoconnor is an amazing stylist who specializes in plus and would make sure you had options. you look amazing!”
Having a stylist that truly knows how to dress a plus size body can make such a difference and give a celebrity more options as they know where to find gorgeous pieces.
A celebrity’s stylist is essentially their fashion advocate and that is so needed for those with plus size bodies, who may need that extra help in choosing the best silhouette to accentuate their curves.
And they are out there.
We have some amazing plus size stylists in our industry… Stylist Susan Moses is a veteran in our community who has styled Queen Latifah and also wrote a book titled The Art of Dressing Curves: The Best-Kept Secrets of a Fashion Stylist.
Stylist Marcy Guevara-Prete, who also co-owns vintage store The Plus Bus in Los Angeles with plus size designer Jen Wilder, has most notably styled actress Gabourey Sidibe for years.
Looking for a plus size stylist who is knowledgeable of sustainable and ethical fashion? Stylist Kat Eves, based in Los Angeles, has dressed celebrities such as singer/songwriter Mary Lambert, actress/comedian Jenny Zigrino and actress/comedian Dulce Sloan. She also runs a blog called Style Ethic.
A plus size stylist can really up a celebrity’s style game not just on the red carpet, but in everyday life.
Parker also told Buzzfeed:
“You can be a fashionable stylist and be completely ignorant about the plus-size community and not know where to shop. That takes a little bit of vetting and conversations JUST to find someone who knows where to go and how to fit you.”
And while it may be annoying to not have it as easy as a thinner celebrity, a plus size celebrity would really benefit from hiring a plus size stylist, which would ensure that they would have a better experience with being dressed for red carpet events.
#3: Don’t dismiss plus size brands when looking for a red carpet look.
Brands such as 11 Honoré, Sydney’s Closet, Eloquii, Kiyonna and Generose offer beautiful gowns, dresses and separates that are red carpet ready.
11 Honoré, in particular, offers designer brands and will even work with you to custom make a dress, as they did previously with Chrissy Metz.
Chances are Parker could have been able to get something off-the-rack from a brand, perhaps needing minor alterations. With 11 Honoré offering up to size 24 and pieces from major designers such as Jason Wu, Carolina Herrera and Dolce & Gabbana, we’re pretty sure Parker would have found something to wear.
There’s also Rent The Runway, which offers plus size designer fashion including red carpet looks.
We hope that Parker takes Tess Holliday’s advice. And we hope to see more plus size stylists, designers and brands front and center because they are out there and ready to work with celebrities to make fashion magic.
What are your thoughts on Nina Parker and plus size celebrities who struggle to find designer red carpet looks? Follow us on social media and let us know: @plusmodelmag: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter