‘Tall, slim bodies’ better for clothes, says NZ designer


 Last updated 12:49 14/10/2014

OUT OF PROPORTION?: The Glassons mannequin in question, featuring visible ribs.

Denise L'Estrange-Corbet

THINGS WON’T CHANGE: Denise L’Estrange-Corbet.


Clothes look better on tall, slim people, the co-founder of one of New Zealand’s biggest fashion labels says in response to criticism over “incredibly thin” mannequins displayed at another fashion retailer.

A Stuff story on the use of mannequins with protruding ribs at Glassons sparked an outcry from women’s health advocates, body image experts, and the store’s customers – with many taking to social media to criticise the use of the “incredibly thin” models.

Co-founder and chief executive of WORLD Denise L’Estrange-Corbet said a mannequin with ribs showing was nothing to get upset about.

It was usual for mannequins to be clothed, so their torsos would rarely be seen, she said.

The issue had been “blown out of proportion” and the mannequins would not encourage anyone to get thinner.

“If looking at a thin mannequin encourages you to look like that, then you have deeper issues,” L’Estrange-Corbet said.

Hallensteins Glassons Group chief executive Graeme Popplewell told Stuff the mannequin’s ribs stuck out because of the “elevated and slightly twisted” position its arm was in, so “the ribcage is naturally enhanced as it would be in real life.”

“The store lighting spotlights also increase this effect,” he said.

Popplewell told Stuff that Glassons was “always across these issues” and had a good feel for what was and what was not acceptable.

L’Estrange-Corbet said models in the fashion industry had always been thin, and criticism of the mannequins would not affect that.

“Look, fashion has always been displayed on slim models, always has, always will, and the reason is, that clothes do appear better on tall, slim bodies, that unfortunately is the reality, so people getting up in arms is crazy, it is not going to change.”

Ribs showing on the mannequin did not indicate it was too thin, either.

“There is a difference between slim and anorexic, let’s be clear, a slim, healthy woman may well have her ribs showing, I did when I was in my twenties, but I was not anorexic,” she said.

Different clothing sizes were manufactured now than when WORLD started 25 years ago, due to the more diverse cultural makeup of New Zealand, which brought a range of different sized bodies to be clothed.

“Our size 6 are often bought by women and girls of Asian descent, and they are no way anorexic, but they just happen to be smaller than their European or Pacific Island counterparts, they have a different diet, their genes are different.”

University of Waikato health education lecturer Debi Futter-Puati called on Glassons to portray a diverse range of women’s body sizes as part of its social responsibility to its customers.

The sentiment was echoed by Women’s Health Action director Julie Radford-Poupard who said poor body image had a “profound effect” on young people, and the mannequin emphasised slenderness as a beauty ideal.

L’Estrange-Corbet said she was “much more concerned” by Miley Cyrus as a role model for 10-year-olds, as Cyrus spoke directly to young fans.

“Miley Cyrus telling them at a concert to get their ‘titties’ out and to smoke NZ weed which is good, THAT is something that needs looking at, as she is talking directly to young fans, a mannequin in a shop window is just that, a mannequin in a shop window.”

– Stuff

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