Milan FW: Elena Miro’s Plus-Size Collection

  1. In Milan, Elena Miro’s Plus-Size Collection Sends Message
    — Rachel Dodes
    Amid the global commotion over skeletal models, Milan fashion week kicked off this weekend with Elena Miro, a designer who specializes in plus-size clothing.
    Beneath the bulky coats, the models were skinny.
    It was a clear attempt by the Italian government and fashion establishment to send a message. The question is: Will it be heard?

    Following the death of a Brazilian model last year, the Italian government spearheaded a “national manifesto” to eliminate anorexia from the catwalks. As a result, this season, models must be at least 16 years old and have a doctor’s note stating that they are not anorexic in order to walk the Milan runways.

    The Italian manifesto has stopped short of requiring a specific body mass index, a height-to-weight ratio that is an indicator of eating disorders. In Spain, models whose BMI is under 18.5 can’t participate in Madrid fashion week, but Madrid doesn’t have nearly the same kind of clout as Milan, New York and Paris, so the skinniest, most in-demand models don’t go there anyway.

    “I believe that just being sensitive to the problem can help,” said Mario Boselli, head of the Italian Fashion Chamber on Sunday, while surveying the exhibition halls at the Fiera di Milano, where some designers hold their shows.

    How the Chamber plans to enforce the manifesto remains unclear. Mr. Boselli says that models must bring notes from their own doctors. Because many models arrive the day before they are scheduled to walk on the runway, it would be too complicated to involve independent Italian medical professionals. Mr. Boselli acknowledged that the process is evolving, and may change next season.

    This weekend, a handful of lesser-known designers held their shows. It remains to be seen whether big designer names, like Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Gucci and Burberry, will shift to fuller-figured models when they begin showing their collections on Monday. In an unusual move, Dolce & Gabbana last season presented padded dresses, which gave the skinny models a faux curvaceous look. Messrs. Dolce and Gabbana have both been critical of the moves to legislate body weight, arguing that it stifles their creativity.

    If the first couple of days are any indication, Italian designers will continue the dark, but refined mood set in New York, where designers presented clothes in black and somber gray with pops of jewel tones, like royal blue and burgundy. On Sunday, the Italian fur designer Thes Tzivei of the label Thes & Thes showed a variety of black fur coats over the same drab ensemble: gray wool skirts, gray knee socks and sandals. The collection was sprinkled with the occasional brighter, blue and red minks.