Scottish fashion students make it big with plus-size mannequins

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Elaine Clephane models a one of the plus-sized dresses

A SCOTS college has become the first fashion school in the UK to introduce size 18 mannequins to train fashion designers.

Edinburgh College of Art has ordered the plus-sized mannequins for students to train with in fashion design.

The college has joined All Walks Beyond the Catwalk, a fashion diversity initiative, in their

“Centre for Diversity’ campaign and will unveil designs for plus-size and regular sized outfits on live models at the campaign launch in London this week.

ECA students will soon begin training using the size 18 mannequins.

One of the All Walks founders, TV presenter and fashion guru Caryn Franklin, hopes the dummies will allow graduates to become more versatile and skilled in cutting clothes for all shapes and sizes.

Co-founder Debra Bourne said:

“People like John Galliano and Alexander McQueen, who both had stints in established Saville Row tailors, have worked in an environment where you have to be able to cut for whoever comes through the door, not just catwalk models.

“In many respects this is the highest form of fashion which requires one to learn these couture cutting skills.

“I think designers benefit from having to engage with that process.

“Although the catwalk model plays a role, this training [the All Walks campaign] ticks a lot of boxes, including commercial business sense.

“With many young designers, people cannot fit their arm into the armhole.

“This is not just anti-size zero. You’re involving fashion designers with the very people who will design their clothes. “

Nine major fashion designers are already involved with the All Walks initiative, including Vivienne Westwood, Stella McCartney and Giles Deacon.

Organisers are hoping to capture young designers’ imagination with the two-year plus size mannequin project.

Lauren Smith, 21, a second year ECA student from Currie, said:

“I think everyone on the course agrees this is a good method, especially because there aren’t many people out there who are model-sized.

“For our show it was such an achievement to watch all of our ladies walk down the catwalk for the launch and see the clothes that have been designed for them.

“The biggest size mannequin we have at the college is 14, so they’re quite small, so 16 and 18 will be interesting and allow us to figure out how to tailor for bigger sizes. “

Miss Smith added that designers, Alexander McQueen and Mark Fast have caused a stir by using plus sized models and have paved the way to allow more of that style.

“Mal Burkinshaw, who heads the ECA fashion course, said that linking students and real people was like

“switching on a light’, she said.

“There has been a disconnection between fashion students and the person who’d be wearing the clothes, the consumer.

“Students really learnt that fashion was beyond the catwalk. “

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