In retrospect, once Ashley was tapped to appear on TV as a finale collection, it was a forgone conclusion that she would probably win.
After all, as hard as the fashion industry has worked these last few years to try to seem more inclusive, change has been slow. Remember, this is an industry that fifteen years ago was totally insular. ten years ago it was only just starting to open up, thanks to the internet, and shows like Project Runway. But even though there are forces trying to get them to change, models of color are still a rare sight on catwalks, and plus sized models non-existent. The most famous plus sized model is a Size 12. Most of us wish we were a Size 12.
So it’s hard to push back against Ashley’s win. After all, hers was not only the only plus sized collection shown on Project Runway, it was the only plus sized collection that received any coverage at New York Fashion Week. And when you have a historical, ground breaking, insert-your-adjective-here show like that, to not then also give it the win would have just confused people.
Not to mention that, Carrie Underwood noted at the final runway–this was very *feminine* collection. For a society who usually defaults to portraying larger women as dressing in unisex, unflattering or male clothing in pop culture, this was revolutionary. Ashley didn’t just show plus sized clothing, she showed plus sized girls in midriff bearing tops.
And some of the looks were really good. like Kelly, Ashley had her hits and misses. This one, which Zac singled out and Carrie Underwood said she would want to wear, was one of the most stellar of the group. it felt like a slightly more Mexican influenced take on some of the red carpet staples we’ve seen in the past, with the sheer chiffon, the lace and the monochrome jewel tone.
But there were problems with this collection too, that the show overlooked in their haste to crown Ashley. The zippers were not fixed in this outfit, and nor was the fit, despite what Ashley was warned about when she showed this in the first part of the finale. She found a model who fit it better, but she didn’t actually fix it.
And that’s actually my problem with the collection. Ashley got the platform–and then didn’t have the time management, or the discipline, to finish her outfits properly. This one felt like it was missing a bottom half.
We all know why this model looks cranky. Her zipper broke and she was last-minute stitched into this. Ashley herself admitted she didn’t do the detailing work needed to make sure that didn’t happen. She skimped.
But then there are pieces like this, which are everything I wanted from Ashley. They’re unabashed sexy. They’re feminine. They’re I’m big, pretty and proud and fuck you if you don’t like it. Also, the Mexican influence was played down somewhat because of the plus sized issue, but I loved that she was quietly weaving her heritage into these pieces.
Another fit issue, this time in shorts. Look at the way they are riding up in the inner thigh. I know that feeling. I know the shorts that do that. I hate the shorts that do that. The shorts that do that make me angry. These shorts make me angry. But there were lots and lots of little unfinished unaddressed details that–if this has been a size 0 collection–never would have flown.
I wasn’t a fan of the overlay over the jumpsuit. I wish she’s put it on a different piece and let the jumpsuit walk alone. Or at least had the model open up the overlay and take it off half way through.
My favorite piece from the entire collection, and the one I used in the sampler. I am slightly amused that it was her last-minute addition piece from the first part of the finale, and it was perhaps a suggestion that if she had been allowed to go to Mood instead of Tim going for her, she might have been able to further improve the collection.
Unlike Kelly, Ashley chose her “muse” model wisely. This outfit is her statement of intent for this collection, from the clear Mexican influences, the chiffon overlay, the bandeau halter, the huge skirt and the floral appliques. But it also sits as a staple of what’s wrong with the collection: the flowers aren’t sewn on. They’re glued.
It’s those sort of shortcuts that in a smaller sized collection would have disqualified her from ever winning the show. And that was very frustrating to watch last night. I’m not saying Ashley shouldn’t have won. Please don’t think that’s what I’m saying here. I’m glad she won. I want Nina to put her and plus sized models in Marie Clare. I want her to get into the industry and be the biggest thing since Christian Siriano. But those sort of short cutting behaviors are really frustrating, especially when put side by side with the hours and hours Kelly spent on (admittedly tacky looking) pieces. One can hope that those moments like the busted zipper taught her not to do that in the future, and that she has a future ahead of her to go the extra mile for every collection she puts out from now on.