Jan. 7, 2009 -- In the '00s, the fashion industry talked the talk about curvaceous models. In the '10s, it might actually walk the walk.
The upcoming issue of V magazine, on newsstands Jan. 14, features a bevy of Botticelli-bodied beauties, flaunting their figures in everything from cut-out Gucci bathing suits to bottom-hugging Guess jeans to nothing but red lipstick, gold jewels and a pair of heels.
While V's "Size Issue" is nothing new in concept -- Vogue has been putting out its annual nod to non-size-zeros for years -- the magazine breaks form in execution. Five plus-size models star in its "Curves Ahead" spread.
Some, such as Tara Lynn, wear very little at all. Sprawled on the ground like an Odalisque, wearing makeup and accessories evocative of Fernand Leger's cubist portraits, Lynn looks more like a work of art than the glorified clothing hangers often pictured in fashion magazines.
Another still from the spread features Lynn and model Candice Huffine embracing each other, sans tops, while staring seductively at the camera. It takes a moment to realize -- probably because Huffine's hand is tucked into Lynn's back pocket -- that they're modeling designer jeans. Instead of clothes, here, female beauty steals the spotlight.
In a separate spread, "One Size Fits All," plus-size model Crystal Renn vogues alongside stereotypically thin model Jacquelyn Jablonski. They wear identical outfits; they mirror each other's movements. They both look fabulous; so, too, does the fashion.
V's editors echo the message sent by the photos in the issue's introduction:
"Body size. Presently, it's a subject of great debate in the fashion industry. In one corner, editors are calling for an end to size zero clothing samples; in the other, designers are whittling down the women in their ad campaigns to cartoonish proportions. Everyone, it seems, has voiced his or her opinion on the issue, making it one of the most highly blogged and heavily Twittered about topics of the day. Here's our stance: big, little, pint-sized, plus-sized -- every body is beautiful. And this issue is out to prove it."
They continue, "It's not just a new year, it's a new decade, and we're all for writing new rules. Here's one: Beauty comes in all forms, and as long as you're unabashedly yourself, you're bound to look good in anything and everything. Here's to the size issue becoming a nonissue in 2010. "
It's a breath of fresh air that feels so appropriate right now. While the past 10 years saw major steps forward for body diversity in the fashion world -- multiple countries banned underweight models from walking the runways, Dove launched the Real Beauty campaign featuring women of all shapes and sizes, plus-size model Whitney Thompson won the uber-popular reality competition "America's Next Top Model" and Lizzie Miller sparked a sensation by bearing her less-than-taut belly in Glamour magazine -- the majority of magazines, fashion shows and advertisements featured skinny bodies, even as the U.S. population grew ever-more obese.
V's not the only magazine starting out the decade with a fresh outlook on depicting women. German fashion magazine Brigitte announced this month that it will ban super-skinny models from its pages, citing widespread reader outcry over images of "protruding bones." Meanwhile, Miss Universe 2004 and model Jennifer Hawkins agreed to pose nude and un-airbrushed on the cover of February's Australian Marie Claire. While she may not be plus-size, without garments and photo-editing technologies, she's far from perfect.
No woman is. That's the beauty of the female species. For a long time, it seemed the fashion industry didn't understand that. Now, with V and like-minded publications embracing the range of shapes and size, maybe that mantra is finally hitting home.