Published on November 6, 2013 | by Hollie Bracciale


Fashion colleges reject Lagerfeld ‘fat’ remarks

Womens and Equalities minister Jo Swinson launching new size 16 mannequins at Debenham's

Diversity makes fashion sense, according to Womens’ and Equalities Minister Swinson [Mary Clarke]

Staff and students at LCF and CSM have spoken out against Karl Lagerfeld’s recent remarks on a French chat show that “no one wants to see curvy women on the catwalk”.

The French association Pretty, Curvy, Sexy and Fine With It is taking legal action against the designer, accusing him of “defamatory and discriminatory comments”.

“We’re fed up. Many young girls are insecure and hearing such comments is terrible for them,” Betty Aubriere, president of the association, told Agence France Presse.

It isn’t the first time Lagerfeld’s opinions on body shape have upset women’s groups.

Last year Chanel’s creative director said singer Adele was “a little too fat”. A comment which he apologised for earlier this year: “I said that she was a little roundish; a little roundish is not fat… after that she lost eight kilos so I think the message was not that bad”.

“Someone should wring Karl Largerfield’s scrawny neck for his treatment of Adele” says Lorraine Gamman, professor in design studies at CSM.


Gamman is keen for designers to bring curves back to fashion again.

“Change is a slow revolution and fashion designers have a role to play in making change happen, but how do we motivate them when they are led by some of the most prejudiced men in the world,” she added.

Alessandro Francalanci, a third-year BA fashion print student at CSM, believes that the problem in fashion stems from designers focusing more on the clothes than the women who will be wearing them.

Francalanci explains that some choose to design for tall thin models “almost to make the clothes fly and make the [model] underneath transparent…this choice is made for a reason, it gives more space to the garment”.

He also believe that curves have a place on the catwalk but “it’s just a bit more rare”.

Zoe Greening, final-year BA fashion contour at LCF, thinks more curvy models are needed on fashion catwalks, particularly for underwear shows.

When designing lingerie, contour students at LCF are taught to make for the industry standards that are bust size 34B and size 12 knickers.

“Obviously, looking at lingerie campaigns they use a very different type of model to fashion campaigns. Curvier girls obviously sell the product better than someone who has no cleavage.”

Zoe Greening

“When we’ve been given models they are generally size eights, and don’t have the breasts or bums to fill out lingerie.

“Obviously, looking at lingerie campaigns they use a very different type of model to fashion campaigns. Curvier girls obviously sell the product better than someone who has no cleavage.” Greening says.

BA fashion contour gives students the opportunity to include plus-size designs in their final collection by offering extra tutorials on specialist techniques.

“If we wanted to do a DD+ range for our final collection then [tutors] would give the extra lessons and help with pattern cutting,” says Greening.

Changing the shape of fashion

Design students at LCF and CSM are already beginning to change the shape of future fashion by including curvy models in BA end of year shows.

A spokesperson for LCF said: “We believe diversity on the catwalks is a must and we know our students, as the future of the fashion industry, can be the force behind the necessary change.

“Previously we have had plus-sized models walk in our BA end of year show and we are currently in talks with a larger size retailer to launch a collaborative student project. These steps move us closer to a truly diverse and representative fashion industry.”

Minister for Women and Equalities, Jo Swinson, thinks students using curvy models in their BA and MA shows is a “great idea” adding “diversity makes fashion sense.”

“The images we see in the world of fashion are all pretty much the same — it’s as if there’s only one way of being beautiful.”


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