A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to win a pair of tickets to go and watch Simply Be’s offering adjacent to London Fashion Week, their Curve Catwalk. This event was being touted as the most inclusive catwalk, featuring the likes of Callie Thorpe, Tess Holliday, and Felicity Hayward, all of whom are genuinely plus sized and (Hayward, the smallest of the three, is a UK 18), so you can imagine I was excited! It was also my first ever grown-up fashion event, which meant that I really had no idea what to expect. So, on the eve of London Fashion Week I hopped onto a train to London for an evening (dragging my long-suffering mom with me for moral support) and saw the show!
So, to begin with, the clothes. This catwalk showcased some of their autumn/winter 17 collection, focussing on both the luxe/party wear and on lingerie. There’s a continuation of the velvet, sequins and embroidery trends that have been about for a little while now, but with the added sparkle that comes with clothes aimed at the upcoming Christmas season. Added into this are some animal prints, faux fur, and a hefty amount of sheer fabric over bodies. Now I’m not the biggest fan of the velvet trend (it’s a texture thing), but even I got more than a little excited when Tess Holliday hit the catwalk in a gold velvet wrap dress – it looked so luxurious and that perfect sexy/classy balance that would make it perfect for a work do.
I am loving the sequin thing that’s about right now (I’ve been channelling my inner Liberace for months now) and I fell in love with some of the sparkly pieces on the catwalk, in particular an embroidered sequin culotte and kimono co-ord, a big-sequinned bardot tunic that Callie modelled, and a wonderful art deco-inspired, golden column dress, none of which are available on their website yet sadly.
I was also impressed that some of the trends that I have seen in lingerie recently for more dramatic touches has made it into the collection. There were a couple of bras with added straps and collars, including rather interesting gold and black Figleaves option featuring a choker. A couple of bodies were also included that skirted neatly between lingerie and outerwear (and would be perfect for clubwear), and I was particularly taken by a black lace and mesh, high-necked body modelled with the kimono from the co-ord I mentioned earlier.
Now to look at the other side of this event. Simply Be were advertising this as being the UK’s most inclusive catwalk, and their press release (a copy of which was included in the goody bag I received at the event) discussed the results of a survey that they had undertaken, which inspired the event. Because of this they chose to include several plus size models (Felicity Hayward is an 18, Callie Thorpe a 22, and Tess Holliday a 26, according to the t-shirts they wore for the finale), as well as disabled campaigner and model Kelly Knox. And while this all seems very admirable, there are still some problems.
A lot has been said on social media, and in this article from She Might Be Magazine, about the lack of ethnic diversity, so I won’t touch on it much here as you can read far better critiques than I could write (although I will say that, whilst the article by She Might Be Magazine only refers to the seven models photographed, the broader corpus of models had a similar lack of diversity). It would have been nice to see a much wider range of skin tones and backgrounds though. Similarly, it would have been nice to see a few more models with visible disabilities alongside Kelly Knox. The other critique that I would like to level is the fact the almost all the lingerie on show was modelled on ladies at the smaller end of the size-range. Whilst Callie Thorpe did get to model a long-sleeved body at one point, under a string skirt, the bras and more obvious lingerie were not shown on the larger ladies when it would have been lovely to see bigger women in beautiful undies.
I’m holding out hope that this was a genuine, if misguided, attempt at a diverse catwalk rather than a cynical use of the term “diverse” as a lip service attempt to create hype for the event. I think that the only way to find out is if Simply Be listen to the criticisms made of the event and change things accordingly. Personally though, I think that the event organisers would have been better served by including more bloggers in the event as that would immediately solve a large number of the problems with lacking diversity in ethnicity, size, and disability. Let me know what you think below.
But for now I’ll leave you with some of the other photos I took of the catwalk (I apologise for the quality, this event has taught me that I maybe ought to invest in a camera for my blog rather than just using my phone)