It used to be just about impossible for a woman Size 16 or larger to buy a designer-label outfit off the rack. But The Forgotten Woman, a chain of 25 stores that sells large-size women’s clothing, is helping to change that.
Founder and owner Nancye Radmin was in Palm Desert recently to open a new salon for top-flight designer clothing by, among others, Bob Mackie, Oscar de la Renta, Pauline Trigere, Nolan Miller, Alfred Fiandaca and Geoffrey Beene. Their Sizes 14 to 24 are carried in the store’s Beau’s Salon--named for Beau James, head of the couture division.
A number of the designers attended the opening-night gala, where Radmin wore a chartreuse Fiandaca suit in waffle-quilted silk lame with an exaggerated peplum on the fitted jacket.
“I spent a lot of time looking at fuller-figured women, trying to decide what was becoming to them and what was not,” Fiandaca said.
He found that substantial shoulder pads help square off rounder figures and give the illusion of a slimmer body.
Nolan Miller said he favors draped gowns and slimming coats, often in rich fabrics, to camouflage figure flaws. He said he learned such tricks in Hollywood.
“I’ve designed for many actresses with less-than-perfect figures,” he said. He showed an elegant gown of gold metallic and black silk Jacquard with a portrait neckline, a slenderizing draped and gathered front, and long, puffed sleeves.
Oscar de la Renta applied his opulent touch by dousing a simple, long-sleeved sheath in sequins, forming a multicolored floral pattern.
There aren’t any slinky catsuits lurking behind the salons’ French doors. Designers leaned toward flowing silhouettes.
Most of the styles are exclusive to Beau’s Salon, and all are available only in large sizes. The clothes sell for about $800 to $10,000.
If the experiment works, Radmin says she will open designer divisions in other stores, including the one in Beverly Hills. She also hopes to lure more top designers.
“I would sell my soul for Donna Karan,” she says.