Tall Fashion Models… The Long and the Short of It

Tall Fashion Models... The Long and the Short of It

Hooray for the plus size show at New York Fashion Week by designer Eden Miller! But catwalk models are still really, really, tall.

It seems, in recent times, that the fashion world has had to let go of a bit of its mystery and glamour. What was once a fairytale world populated by eccentric designers and ethereal, nymph-like models has come under the harsh glare of intense media scrutiny. People were becoming disenchanted with images of almost impossibly beautiful, and in some cases almost impossibly thin, ladies of the catwalk. So, whether the fey folk of fashion liked it or not, the door to their gilded cage had been kicked open and the proles had been afforded a look inside.

On the back of this, the size zero debate has led to more use of plus-size models. Indeed, Eden Miller made New York Fashion Week history recently when she used plus-size models for her show. It’s brilliant stuff. Small steps, maybe – and yes, there is always the risk that things could start moving backwards again. But progress has been made.

Designer Eden Miller in her studio. You can bet her catwalk models at New York Fashion Week were tall.

However, one thing has occurred to me. Slim or curvy, classically beautiful or unusual and striking, one thing all these models have in common is their height. Although there is no ‘official’ height requirement for modelling, you will rarely see a high fashion model under 5’8”. Designers say it’s because clothes hang better on tall people. And – unfortunately – some clothes probably do. After the trend a while ago for jumpsuits I, in some kind of fit of shopping madness, decided to buy one. Now I’m 5’4” which is the average height for a woman in the UK. But after a try-on when I got home (yes folks, I was too dumb to try it on in the shop) I realised that what looked effortlessly elegant and chic on magazine models made me look like a well-dressed plumber.

While it’s to be applauded that normal women are becoming more widely represented in fashion, it still only works if you’re a tall normal woman. I am all for tall models. It isn’t easy, being tall. But surely the time is ripe for women who aren’t Amazons, who don’t have legs that go on forever, to have a slice of the pie? All those high-concept fashion creations will eventually filter through to the High Street in a more wearable form. They will then be advertised by – yes, you guessed it – more of those tall and elegant model creatures. However, a large proportion of High Street customers will be of average height, smaller than average or a few inches above. So why not include those more normally heighted ladies in fashion advertising so we can actually gain a clearer picture of the styles that would suit us, rather than getting carried away with the pretty pictures?

I’m pretty sure there are tons of beautiful girls with stunning figures who are model material in every direction but up. Many of the key aspects of our appearance can be altered through dint of effort… but our height can’t. It is immutable. It can be exaggerated by footwear but it can never be physically changed. It seems to me to be so sad that some of these lovely girls will be denied the chance to be models because of one thing that is entirely beyond their control. Yes, we could argue that it would be far better for them to aspire to be doctors or politicians or feminist icons. But if modelling is the one thing they really want to do, and if they have every other attribute needed, then they should at least be able to try.

As for me, well, I may just dig out that jumpsuit. I’m a bit skint this month and perhaps I’ll just decide that ‘plumber’ is the look I’m aiming for.