Paris Fashion Week: With Beth Ditto on the catwalk, Gaultier embraces industrial chic, full-figure fashion


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Beth Ditto, all 250-plus pounds of her, walked the runway at the Jean Paul Gaultier show like a pro on Saturday night in Paris. The American songstress from Arkansas who fronts the band the Gossip, shook her hips, sold the dress, and even belted out a few verses from “River Deep, Mountain High” for the show’s finale, all to wild applause.

Ditto’s turn on the runway is just one of many recent full-figure fashion moments.
Back in February, the Prada and Louis Vuitton runway shows featured several curvy models, including Miranda Kerr and Doutzen Kroes.


Soon after, Vogue Italia launched Vogue Curvy, an English language site focused on larger-size fashion, featuring such brands as Marina Rinaldi, as well as interviews with larger celebs such as Ditto, America Ferrera and others.

In May, Marie Claire debuted a plus-sized columnist, and in June, Glamour put size-12 superstar Crystal Renn on the cover. The October issue of French Vogue on newsstands now has busty model Lara Stone on the cover, as well as a gluttony-themed photo spread by photographer Terry Richardson, with Renn (who chronicled her struggles with an eating disorder in the book “Hungry”), digging into a plate of spaghetti that looks like a pile of guts. (The tastefulness of that one is up for debate.)

What was great about Ditto’s runway moment though, is that she is not a size 10 or 12. She’s not even a model. Ditto is closer to the size 14 and above reality of so many American women. And it was particularly appropriate to see her teamed with Gaultier, the daredevil designer who put men in skirts and women in cone bras.‬‪ ‬‪

Will this full-figured enthusiasm last? Who knows. (Only in the warped world of fashion could acceptance feel like a trend.) But the nod to more realistic sizes (a second woman in the show was probably a size 12) is another example of how the street is gaining cred on the runway this season.

Gaultier’s collection was a sampling of subcultures with 1980s-era punk Joan Jett hairstyles, biker chick leathers (leather vests were beautifully done), and dominatrix lace and fishnet layers. Oversized, squared-off jacket shoulders, combat boots, and the cone bra reimagined as a metal breast plate added to the aggressive, industrial chic.

But beneath all the grit, there was some softness. Trench coats with all-over pleating were immensely covetable, as were leafy green palm print tops and skirts. Stretchy ruched jackets and dresses that hugged every curve came in darkly romantic rose prints.


And truth be told, they looked a whole lot better on Ditto and the other real-size model, who actually had curves to hug.

-- Booth Moore in Paris

Jean Paul Gaultier spring-summer 2011 runway collection photo gallery

More All The Rage coverage of Paris Fashion Week

Photo top: Singer Beth Ditto and designer Jean Paul Gaultier at the designer’s spring-summer 2011 women’s runway show in Paris. Credit: Jonas Gustavsson & Peter Stigter / For The Times. Photo right and left: Looks by Jean Paul Gaultier. Credit: Jonas Gustavsson & Peter Stigter / For The Times.