Thin Is Not In at Paris Fashion Week

by Lindsay Robertson

After many years of international criticism over the apparent unhealthiness of the skinny models chosen to walk the runways at the fashion world's most elite shows in New York, Milan, and Paris, designers seem to finally be coming around to the idea of diversity in who models their clothes. While the ethnic diversity barrier has been eroding for some time now, it seems a diversity of body types has had an even tougher time making it into the modeling world.

This week, several models known for their Victoria's Secret modeling -- most of whom have curvier figures than traditional catwalk models -- were welcome on the Paris Fashion Weekrunway for the first time. The ever-so-slightly fuller-figured women were shown modeling the latest clothes for fall.

Adriana Lima walked the runway for the first time since giving birth to her daughter in November. The model shared the catwalk with fellow Victoria's Secret regular Alessandra Ambrosio. While the fact that two curvy beauties would appear in a fashion show is remarkable in and of itself, Lima and Ambrosio are also 28 years old -- an age that spells retirement for most high-fashion models.

And if the presence of two late-20s models didn't make enough of a statement about the changing standards of Europe's fashion weeks, Elle Macpherson also walked the runways this week -- at the ripe age of 46.

Speaking to reporters backstage at his Louis Vuitton show in Paris on Wednesday, designerMarc Jacobs made it clear that the new look of fashion week wasn't a fluke: "Designers are always talking about how they design for women, and then you look at our runways and there [are] no girls over 20. This time, I set out to cast a variety of sexy women -- younger, older, thin, voluptuous, from every ethnic background."

The appearance of curvy models comes after some fashion shows instituted rules requiring models to eat before they step onto the runway. The nutritional requirements began to take effect after asuper-thin model died in 2006, shortly after stepping off a South American fashion-show stage.

Last month, fashion watchers also got a look at the fleshier trend when another model known for her curvy body, Miranda Kerr, 26, modeled for Prada at Milan's fashion week.

The newly curvy look comes just six months after designer Karl Lagerfeld, in response to criticism over skinny models at European fashion weeks, told reporters:"Nobody wants to see round women."


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