Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder. It is in the heart and body and mind of the wearer.
After sorely missing body diversity on the catwalks of Milan and Paris, this show was a feast for the eyes and a balm for the heart. The fresh, fun, eye-opening and uplifting collection showcased curvy models to their best advantage – their own confidence and self love. These women rocked these clothes because they own their body and feel seen and appreciated and celebrated. We are social animals after all, and if the mirror that we see ourselves reflected in – society, media and social media – is a distorted one that makes us feel insecure about ourselves, it’s no wonder that so many people have body dysmorphia. The show poignantly opened with Billie Eilish’s Not My Responsibility, which asks:
The body I was born with
Is it not what you wanted?
Enter Ester Manas, a sustainable and inclusive brand that celebrates every shape and size. In fact, they don’t do sizes, but have a system called smart sizing to ensure a good fit. Dress Different, the title of the SS22 collection by founders and designers Ester Manas and Balthazar Delepierre, is also an invitation to think different, see different, feel different. When I asked them after the show about how they came to this, Delepierre explained:
Our brand and the collection are mainly based on Ester’s experience as a woman and why curvy women are not invited in the fashion world. We really try to bring all women on the catwalk and to make them gorgeous, beautiful and fierce.” Manas chimed in, “Really fierce. We want to celebrate them.”
There were cut-outs, there was sheer, there was backless and a lot of skin, because more is more and if you got it, flaunt it.
These looks were head-turners – I was getting whiplash marveling at each woman as she walked by and certainly the photographer a meter from me as well. It’s a whole other animal to see it in motion because it puts a spring in your step. This is due to their technique incorporating the architecture of Venetian blinds and, as Delepierre explained: “The idea is we are working with printed patterns. And when we fuse it with elastic, it makes this crazy movement and it fits amazing on the girls.” You can see that it makes you walk different and feel different.
To be clear, this is not just a plus size brand. The fabric and construction is such that it adjusts to different body types and works for all. For someone on the other end of the spectrum, I appreciate that their designs also create curves for those lacking therein. As they said, “We play with it, a little body, to make it more curvy.”
The one for all inclusivity is encapsulated by their logo, which Manas explained is the “symbol of sorority, two hands and a heart” and Delepierre complemented with, “We think it’s the best embodiment of the brand because all the girls we are working with love it.” This was evident in the crowd at the show, which was not the typical mean girls scene at fashion shows, but there was a real sense of sisterhood.
Novel concepts, different ways of perceiving enter our visual lexicon through exposure, so it’s important that brands like this and Fenty celebrate body positivity and shift our visual habits.