This week, popular plus-size retailer Eloquii announced the launch of its first-ever tastemakers collection: a six-day event featuring drops of limited-edition looks designed by notable plus-size women. Thus far, Nabela Noor, the founder of the self-love movement Zeba; Curve Athletics founder Tasha Cobbs Leonard; and Retta or, as Parks and Recreation fans may know her as, Donna Meagle, have released (and sold out of!) their custom ensembles for the plus-size brand. Next up on the exclusive roster is Leah Vernon, the author of Unashamed: Musings of a Fat, Black Muslim and a plus-size hijabi model.
For the brand’s “Six Icons, Six Days” collection, Vernon, who is known for her colorful looks, designed a long-sleeved, sequin yellow gown. The dress, which she told Refinery29 is “the perfect combination of color, drama, and poise,” features a large, bow-like detail in the center, a mock neck, and exaggerated shoulders. In the campaign, Vernon wears the look with a matching yellow turban — that’s also part of the drop — and carries a golden umbrella. (Since the dress’ shade of yellow was so obviously reminiscent of the sun.) "I love all things glam — all things loud and bold and queen-like,” Vernon says of the inspiration behind her custom look. “The theatrics and the sequins are what I want to be in, even if I am just casually going to the dollar store. We should feel and look good, no matter what the activity. Tongue pop.”
This way of looking at fashion is hardly new for Vernon. "I use fashion as a way to rebel,” she says. “As a fat, Black Muslim who grew up in Detroit, I never felt that I could fully express myself due to society's constraints on people who look like me. Now that I've tasted the freedom of being my true and authentic self, fashion is definitely something that I use as a tool to express myself unapologetically.” And while 2020 won’t see her changing that mindset, she does see it as an opportunity to share her unapologetic way of thinking with the world, something that Eloquii is helping her do with this partnership: “We are fighting to include marginalized voices, not only in the retail hemisphere, but in all industries, so for a fat, Black, and very Muslim influencer to collaborate with such an iconic brand, it’s game-changing.”
While a yellow, sequin gown may seem hardly functional in a pandemic, according to Vernon, it’s exactly why she designed it. "In the beginning of the lockdown, I'm not going to lie, I was in sweats and raggedy hoodies,” she says. “But, I knew that I needed to stay on track and that in order to keep a sense of normalcy that I'd have to continue doing what I always do.” Now, she tends to straddle the line between function and “something that makes [her] feel like a superstar diva.” She hopes this look will inspire people to get dressed up in something daring and bright as a way to uplift their spirits. “Take fashion risks,” she adds. “Just do it.”
As of Thursday morning, you can shop Vernon’s custom-made yellow gown and matching turban, while supplies last, on Eloquii.com for $129 and $24.95, respectively. And watch out for the final two tastemakers revealed on Friday and Saturday.
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