Project Runway Winner Ashley Nell Tipton Finally Unveils Her Plus-Size Designs For JCPenney

Photo: Brent N. Clarke/Getty Images.
When I saw Ashley Nell Tipton on Project Runway, I knew that a sea change had just occurred. It was thrilling to watch her tackle challenge after challenge, while still staying true to her message throughout the entire competition. When she sent only plus-size models in her designs down the final runway, I cried. I cried for her success, for those beautiful boundary-breaking looks, and for the fact that 67% of the women in our country were finally seeing some sort of positive representation in the fashion world. And today, Tipton's first collection for JCPenney drops in stores.

The Ashley Nell Tipton for Boutique+ is a 19-piece collection that will exclusively be available for plus-size women. With sizes up to a 30W/5X, the affordable designs ring in from $15.99 to $74.99, and will be shoppable at JCPenney.com and in 500 stores across the U.S. The collection is filled with fashion-forward pieces that eschew those antiquated plus-size style guidelines — “no nos” like horizontal stripes, white, bodycon, bright colors, and prints all decorate the daring designs. “I wanted to create something that went against all the rules for plus-size [women], all the things that people tell us to stay away from, but what really inspired me were the things that are not in the plus-size industry that [plus-size] women want,” Tipton exclusively explained to Refinery29. “We want choices, we want to have fun with our clothing, we want to be able to show our personality; so that’s really what inspired me to create something that was different and fun, and just have style.”

Tipton was cognizant that every woman has her own unique style and comfort zone, so she made sure to offer something that could appeal to a broad range while focusing on garment fit. “I paid attention to how things flowed with the clothing; I wanted people to feel comfortable and felt like we thought about their bodies and how they move,” said Tipton. “It’s one thing to design clothing for plus-size women, and it’s another to pay attention to the quality, the fit, and the lifespan of a garment.”

Tipton was more than happy to play lab rat for this stylish trial, testing each article of clothing to gauge the wearability and durability for her future customers. “When we did the first round of samples for my line, I definitely wore the majority of it, and I would wash it at home. I would wear it all the time; I wanted to see how things lasted, and how the color faded.”

Although many past Project Runway winners have devoted their talents to creating designer lines, Tipton wanted to clothe the masses. She doesn’t rule out a future high-end collection, but she’s focusing all of her energy on her collaboration with JCPenney. “When the idea was first introduced to me I felt like this was that calling that I always wanted but never knew when it was going to happen,” Tipton said. “I always wanted to be able to mass-produce the line. Outside of creating one-of-a-kind pieces, I wanted to create things that a lot of women could have access to, and I was tired of that limited reach for women. [JCPenney was] completely open to all the things I wanted to do, and my message of self love. [I want women] to be brave and to live the life that they want without any insecurities or fears. And with this collection, I feel like we were able to put that message out there.”

Click through to see our favorite pieces. In New York City? Make sure to stop by Greeley Square at 32nd Street today — there will be live runway shows at noon, 1 p.m., and 5:30 p.m. Otherwise, catch the livestream of the shows here.
September is typically a time when fashion publications definitively tell you what’s in, and what’s out. Fuck that. We’re dedicating the next couple of weeks to celebrate all the iconoclasts, independent thinkers, and individuals with unique personal styles who’d rather say Fuck The Fashion Rules than follow them.



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Photo: Courtesy of JC Penney.
Bomber jackets are the hottest fall trend — sequin sleeves will have you leading the style pack.

Boutique+ Ashley Nell Tipton Black Sequin Sleeve Bomber Jacket, $74.99, available at JCPenney.
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Classic button-ups are a bore; keep things interesting with a cropped cape design.

Boutique+
Ashley Nell Tipton White Cropped Cape Sleeve Button Down Shirt, $21.99, available at JCPenney.
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A striped crop top turns every old-fashioned style rule upside-down.

Boutique+
Ashley Nell Tipton Scuba Striped Crop Top, $19.99, available at JCPenney.
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Pair this with the striped crop top for a matching set, or make it your own with your favorite band tee.

Boutique+
Ashley Nell Tipton Scuba Striped Skirt, $27.99, available at JCPenney.
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Lipstick print, cape sleeves, and a cropped silhouette — literally the coolest button-up around.

Boutique+
Ashley Nell Tipton Lipstick Cropped Cape Sleeve Button Down Shirt, $21.99, available at JCPenney.
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Pucker up to this cool cropped top.

Boutique+
Ashley Nell Tipton Lipstick Print Scuba Crop Top, $19.99, available at JCPenney.
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This lipstick will never fade or budge.

Boutique+ Ashley Nell Tipton Lipstick Print Box Pleat Skirt, $27.99, available at JCPenney.
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Edgy moto styling meets dainty chiffon for a perfect design dichotomy.

Boutique+
Ashley Nell Tipton Moto Jacket With Chiffon, $49.99, available at JCPenney.
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Rose gold hardware elevates a quilted pencil skirt from basic to badass.

Boutique+
Ashley Nell Tipton Black Pencil Skirt, $27.99, available at JCPenney.
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From cubicle to cocktails, this quilted pencil skirt will keep you looking boss.

Boutique+ Ashley Nell Tipton Black Cherry Pencil Skirt, $27.99, available at JCPenney.
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Command attention in this military-green take.

Boutique+
Ashley Nell Tipton Olive Pencil Skirt, $27.99, available at JCPenney.