For the first time in 10 years, a curvy model walked in a Chanel fashion show, sparking confusion about what's considered 'plus size'
- Jill Kortleve, a 26-year-old Dutch model, became the first plus-size model to walk for Chanel in over a decade.
- Kortleve, who walked in Chanel's Autumn/Winter 2021 runway show during Paris Fashion Week on March 3, is said to be the second model considered to be "plus-size" that the designer has featured in a show since a 2010 show that featured model Crystal Renn, Glamour reported.
- Some commenters on social media have expressed confusion at Kortleve being labeled as a "plus-size" model — even Teen Vogue noted "Jill is on the smaller side of the spectrum of plus-size."
- While some supermodels and activists are trying to change the rhetoric surrounding the term, in high-fashion, "plus-size" can denote someone who is size 8 or above.
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Jill Kortleve is a 26-year-old Dutch model who has made headlines for walking in Chanel's Paris Fashion Week runway show on March 3.
Kortleve's feature in the Chanel Autumn/Winter 2021 runway show marks just the second time that the designer has included a "plus-size" or "curve" model in its presentations, according to Cosmopolitan UK.
The first model with size diversity in Chanel history was Crystal Renn, who walked in the brand's 2011 Cruise Collection show in May 2010, reported Glamour.
In a post on Instagram, Kortleve seemed to reflect on her experience modeling for Chanel.
"I can't believe this just happened but… to end this fashion month, I walked my first fashion show for @chanelofficial. I'm so thankful for this moment to happen and for everybody who made this happen," she wrote. "There's a much needed change happening on the runway and I'm proud and feel grateful to be a part of it. I truly hope that in the future I get to see and work with many more models who used to not fit the briefing."
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I can’t believe this just happened but… to end this fashion month, I walked my first fashion show for @chanelofficial. I m so thankful for this moment to happen and for everybody who made this happen; There’s a much needed change happening on the runway and I’m proud and feel grateful to be a part of it. I truly hope that in the future I get to see and work with many more models who used to not fit the briefing ? This whole month has been a dream and I never expected that it was even possible for me to walk on the runway, let alone be included in the amazing shows this season. Thank you. My heart is filled with gratitude and love.
Kortleve continued in her post: "This whole month has been a dream and I never expected that it was even possible for me to walk on the runway, let alone be included in the amazing shows this season. Thank you. My heart is filled with gratitude and love."
Other models, makeup artists, and A-listers shared congratulations and cheered for her in the comments section of the Instagram post.
In a separate Instagram post, Kortleve said that the first runway show she walked was for Alexander McQueen two years (or four "seasons" of fashion) ago. Along with Chanel, she also walked for Alexander McQueen at Paris Fashion Week 2020 in a show that has been praised for showing models that represented a range of body types.
In the high-fashion modeling industry, being a 'plus-size' or 'curvy' model can mean wearing a size 8 or above.
While respective clothing brands and designers seem to have their own way of sizing, in the world of women's fashion, "plus-size" typically refers to sizes above a 12.
In the high-fashion modeling industry, "plus-size" can describe models who are a size 8 or above. For reference, in 2018, the average American women's dress size was a size 16.
Some Twitter users shared their thoughts on Kortleve's feature at the recent Chanel fashion show, with some appearing confused at the plus-size label.
One user wrote: "I cannot fathom how this lady is classified as a plus size model."
On Instagram, some commenters of a post shared by Dazed Fashion that shows Kortleve at the Chanel show alluded to the absurdity of the "plus-size" label.
"She is literally a normal sized woman – a medium. Ugh the fashion world…" one user wrote.
"In what sick world is this considered plus?!" one commenter shared.
Supermodel Ashley Graham is one of them. She rose to fame after becoming the first "curvy" model to appear on the cover of "Sports Illustrated" and has since been an advocate for supporting body diversity in the modeling industry.
She discusses the "plus-size" phrase in her 2015 TED Talk, "Plus Size? More like my size," saying: "Curvy models are becoming more and more vocal about the isolating nature of the term 'plus-size.' We are calling ourselves what we want to be called: women with shapes that are our own."
"I think the word 'plus-size' is so divisive to women," Graham said in a separate 2017 interview with "CBS This Morning." "I think that when you use the word 'plus-size' you're putting all these women into a category: 'You don't eat well.' 'You don't work out.' 'You could care less about your body.' 'You're insecure.' 'You have no confidence.'"
Tyra Banks has also said she feels the term "plus-size" carries a stigma. She said she prefers the term "fiercely real."
"On 'Top Model,' we call it fiercely real. I don't want to use the term 'plus-size,' because, to me, what the hell is that? It just doesn't have a positive connotation to it. I tend to not use it," Banks told E! News.
Kortleve's feature in the runway show was certainly an important achievement and a positive step for a century-old fashion house like Chanel. But some newer brands and designers have been taking inclusivity seriously for years, representing a wide range of people — not just an occasional "plus-size" model.
For example, Rihanna's Savage X Fenty lingerie brand broke ground with its runway show that was notably diverse, featuring models of a wide range of various abilities, identities, and sizes.
Another example of a fashion industry leader embracing inclusivity is designer Christian Siriano, who's known for creating custom outfits for celebrities of all sizes, especially for high-profile red-carpet events.
Fashion brand Chromat is another brand with notably diverse runway shows. At its 2019 New York Fashion Week present ion, the brand poked fun at the "sample size" construct, dressing models in garments plastered with the phrase.
Kortleve wrote in her Instagram post that in her opinion, her feature in the Chanel Paris Fashion Week presentation is part of a "much-needed change happening on the runway."
It's certainly true, and hopefully, she and other models, as well as innovative designers and team members at fashion brands around the world, will continue to lead by example.
Representatives for Chanel, Crystal Renn, and Jill Kortleve did not immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment.
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