This Designer Believes Fashion Is For All Sizes

Photo: Courtesy of Mariana Leung.
The opening of a fashion sets the tone for the entire program. Some designers choose to have a live musical act, others prime their viewers with full-scale dance numbers worthy of a Broadway stage. At Byron Lars Beauty Mark, the opening was simple, but meant a lot. As the lights went down, a voiceover declared: “This is all about body-positive inclusion...this is not a plus conversation, this is a woman's conversation.”
You may know Byron Lars for his mixed-print sheath dress, a modernized classic with a cult following that’s been worn by celebrities (and the majority of his front row). Flattering, stylish, demure, and sexy all at once, the caveat with Lars' line was that it was only available from size 0 to 12...until now. This runway marked the designer's first inclusive venture, as all pieces shown will be available up to a 22. “My inspiration this season was my customer,” Lars tells Refinery29. “The customer I have, and the customer I’d love to have who’s never been able to wear my clothes. And those are women including sizes 14 to 22. We’ve always covered 0 to 12, but there’s this other part of the story that I’ve been missing. [My customer is] always talking to me about wanting these clothes, and I’m giving them to her.”
To accomplish this inclusive vision, Lars knew that he couldn’t simply just grade up from his typical fit model. “We actually re-engineered everything on a size 18, and then graded down to a size 14 and up to a size 22,” he explains. “There are different needs, and different proportional concerns, but it’s the same clothes. It’s the same dress. If you look at the dress in a size 0 and look at the dress in a size 18, it’s the same dress.” His tailoring efforts were clearly visible; each garment looked as if it had been crafted to fit each model perfectly.
Much ado has been made about Tim Gunn’s recent op ed; his words both support and undermine plus size women, with commands for size inclusion wrapped in fat-phobic vocabulary. Although Gunn claims that “large-scale prints and crazy pattern-mixing abound, all guaranteed to make you look infantile or like a float in a parade,” Lars couldn’t disagree more. “That really grinds my gears, honestly,” he says. “If you design anything well, anybody can wear it well. And I’m not trying to say, ‘Oh I designed it well,’ but it’s just like, we’re really thoughtful about placement and lines and proportion, and I just think a broad sweeping statement like that is utterly absurd.”
Considering that 67% of American women wear a size 14 or larger, Lars finds it confusing why other designers are still trying to appeal only to the minority of women who fall into the size 0 to 12 range. “I don’t know, and I don’t care what their deal is. I love all women, and I want to dress them all and make them all feel beautiful, because they are beautiful.”
Click through to see the spring/summer 2017 collection.

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