We chatted with blogger, fashion editor and body-positivity activist Nicolette Mason, who just launched a capsule dress collection with ADDITION ELLE. Mason shared her thoughts on inclusivity in fashion, the stigma of the term “plus-size” and the work that still lies a ahead.
What’s the message behind the dresses you co-designed? Walk me through the thought process behind this collection.
“There are 7 dresses and 6 silhouettes. The idea was to take classic shapes that cater to a range of body types – different shapes, not just my body type – and give them a twist. I wanted to infuse some trends, but not so much that this will be something that feels dated very quickly. Like the cut-out shoulder dress: the sheer detailing at the bottom gives it a hint of trend, but it’s still definitely a classic little black dress. The shirtdress is one of my favourites, it’s really easy to wear. We did a lot of design around very practical dressing solutions – bra straps were a big part of the consideration. Can you wear a regular bra with each of these dresses? And the answer is yes, you can. I just wanted to create really beautiful dresses that would work for a variety of occasions.”
You’ve said in the past that you like to look at fashion through a socially conscious lens. What’s on the other side of that lens?
“I embody a multitude of identities and that’s what influences my perspective on fashion. I’m Middle-Eastern, I’m Jewish, I’m gay, I identify as a femme in terms of my gender expression and presentation, and I think approaching the fashion industry with this very intersectional lens of identities is a huge asset to me because I can think about inclusivity on many different spectrums. And that’s why catering to a lot of different body shapes and sizes and thinking about colours that flatter all different kinds of skin tones was really important to me.”
Tracing the body positive movement over the last few years, would you have imagined arriving at this place five years ago? Is there still work to be done?
“It’s undeniable that there’s been so much progress made, especially in fashion. We have women like Ashley Graham making beautiful lingerie with ADDITION ELLE and then also appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated – that is such a huge moment in body positive history. We’re breaking down the old stereotype that a plus-size or curvy woman is just sitting at home on her couch. We are out in the world, we’re doing great things in business, we’re adding to our communities, we’re activists, we’re athletes. Growing up, I didn’t see all of these different identities represented in the media. It’s so important to see reflections of yourself in the world, and it’s so exciting for me to be a part of that.”
The term “plus-size” can be divisive. Lately, some have spoken out against it. What’s your take on the use of the term?
“Words have whatever meaning and weight you give to them. For me, because I work in the fashion industry, ‘plus-size’ is a really important qualifier and distinction. Not everything is available in all sizes – that’s just a fact. And until that’s a reality of the marketplace – and I don’t know if it ever will be – I need that plus-size label. I don’t want to waste my time going through racks of clothes that are only in size 2,4,6 – what’s the point? It’s important to be able to see yourself and identify yourself. And if plus-size is the label that helps you find your part of that world, or curvy or whatever it is – great! But I think that for now, the labels are necessary to an extent.”
Until we reach a point where sizing is completely inclusive?
“Totally. My goal would be to see every size everywhere, and to see lots of representations as much as is possible in a range of stores. But until then, that’s the ideal. It’s just a very practical term.”
It’s not a loaded term for you.
“It really just means sizes 12 and plus, or 14 plus. And that is fine, that doesn’t have to be bad. We need to get rid of the stigma around plus-size, we have to change the meaning of the word and how we look at it.”
What’s your ultimate goal?
“My number one goal is to have fun every day and feel good about what I’m doing. I want to feel good about what I’m contributing to the world and what impact it’s going to have. It’s about making the world a better place.”
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