London Fashion Week celebrates plus-sized models

It's a skinny girl's world, particularly in fashion where the thin, androgynous look always wins out. But this weekend, an alternative to London Fashion Week celebrated the larger lady and all her curves.

"Thank you all for being who you are", declared one of the organisers at the first Official British Plus-Size Fashion Weekend in Shoreditch, an edgy district in the east of the capital beloved of young hipsters and music fans.

Here, elegantly-dressed women browse racks of clothes designed for European size 40 (UK size 12, US size 8 or 10) and upwards, snacking intermittently from plates of crisps and cupcakes spread around the venue -- food here is not taboo.

The two-day event featured discussions, tutorials by bloggers and a final catwalk show featuring established and first-time models.

Wearing skirts, shorts or bikinis, the women were greeted with enthusiastic applause as they walked out on the runway, with the audience encouraging every display of confidence.

While many of the models could only be described as voluptuous, some of the clothes on offer were not what many people think of as plus-sized.

Hayley, a 24-year-old model who wears European size 42, berated the industry for the way it categorised women. "I think even some agencies these days call girls that are UK size 10 plus size. That's just crazy.

"I think that plus size is the wrong word. I think a curvy model would be a better word to describe me and plus size is not necessarily the nicest expression."

Thirteen designers attended the fashion weekend, but the number was dwarfed by the almost 80 labels showing across town at the official London Fashion Week, where skinny girls still reign supreme.

"At the end, I hope there won't be two segregated shows. But for now, we want to give curvy women an option," said Rianne Ward, one of the organisers of the event and the creator of online magazine Evolve.

She plans to run the plus-sized event again next year, hoping to emulate the success of New York's Full-Figured Fashion Week which is in its fifth year.

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