Past contestants on Project Runway haven’t been very successful with the few challenges involving designing clothes for women who wear above a size 4, let alone those who wear double digits. So, it’s refreshing to see a contestant in the new season five whose specialty niche are clothes for “full-figured women.”
Thirty-three year old Korto hails from Liberia and attended fashion school in Canada. Here’s her bio, according to the show’s website:
After school, she moved outside of Little Rock, Arkansas, where she now resides with her husband and daughter. Drawing from her African roots, Korto infuses tribal details into her classic designs. She is inspired by rich fabrics and textures and says her designs are intended for real, full-figured women. In her spare time, Korto works as a freelance fashion photographer, dances in an African dance troupe and does African hair braiding and makeup. She says her family considers her to be fun and easygoing.
Warning! Minor spoiler ahead if you missed last night’s premiere.
After just the first challenge, Korto has already shown herself to be a designing force worth reckoning with. She placed in the judges’ top three for her creative re-imagination of ordinary grocery store items. I tend to dislike the application of the term “real” to full-figured women — all women are “real” women — but full-figured isn’t always a euphemism for fat, either. A friend of mine recently went to a posh and pricey boutique and lamented over the fact that the only items on clearance and in her price range were in sizes 2 and 4. She is at a healthy weight for her frame and is clearly thin by societal standards — and she wears a size 8-10. “Real” is a poor word choice; I think we would be best served if used the term “average” instead. And the average American woman? Isn’t a size 2 or even 4. In fact, she’s a size 14. Realistically, how many women do you see walking around today who can fit into the double-negative sizes of the models on Project Runway? As the Body Shop said in its “Love Your Body” campaign, “There are 3 billion women who don’t look like supermodels and only eight who do.”
The carrot dangling before contestants on Project Runway is the opportunity and financial means to create their own fashion line. If we go by current estimates, some 60 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, according to continuously shifting government guidelines. Wouldn’t then the designer who designs clothes for a larger subset of the demographic thus have the best chance of success with their line? Here’s hoping Korto goes far in the competition. There are three billion women who could use some fashionable clothes.