Browse all

What does the image of Paloma Elsesser in that Miu Miu look tell us?

How the perception of the season's most desired outfit changes when worn by a plus-size model

What does the image of Paloma Elsesser in that Miu Miu look tell us?  How the perception of the season's most desired outfit changes when worn by a plus-size model

Between red carpets, photo shoots and Fashion Week, we can safely say that the look of the season is the famous Miu Miu outfit, in all its forms, consisting mainly of a micro pleated low-waisted skirt and a cropped sweater, which revolutionizes the preppy aesthetic by taking it to more sensual lands. A seen and seen outfit, then, but when yesterday was revealed the cover of the new issue of i-D titled Out of Body, which portrays the plus-size model Paloma Elsesser in that look, the image went viral. At first glance this would be great news, a real victory, an image that will remain historic. And in part this is so: to date, that look has been the clearest example of the return to the imaginary Y2K and with it to an ideal of the female body anything but inclusive, with which the movement of body positivity is still forced to clash in the fashion industry. With the SS22 fashion show Miu Miu had made it clear that what she brought to the runway were not looks, but bodies, and that clothes were just an accessory to a canon of beauty characterized by sculpted abs, skinny legs and small breasts.

That look already so famous was born to accompany the flat bellies of Emily Ratajkowski, Hailey Bieber, Zendaya and Nicole Kidman, and it will already seem a small revolution to see under those skimpy shirts the prosperous breasts of Lara Stone. Here is that wearing Paloma Elsesser changes everything, of course.

In the interview that accompanies the shoot, Elsesser tells of the feeling of being used by the fashion industry, and in fact the American model has long been (and often still is) the only plus-size model on the catwalk or in advertising campaigns. But in this case, who used who? Paloma, who seeks to further expand the reflection on body positivity, or rather, on the representation of "different" bodies, or Miu Miu, who with a clever PR move seeks to redeem herself from the accusations of having contributed to the spread of an ideal of unattainable physicality?

In many ways the photo of Paloma in Miu Miu was a reality check, a way to break down the insurmountable wall between the world of fashion and reality, and bring the look from the catwalk to real life, on real bodies. Seeing that shot made many people imagine themselves in that look, something unthinkable until now, it made many people identify themselves, see themselves in that image, and this was certainly a goal of the shoot. As @oldloserinbrooklyn pointed out on TikTok, the i-D cover draws a sharp demarcation between bodies and representation. Paloma in Miu Miu proves that it's possible, that even a woman over a size 40 can wear such a look, even on the cover.  It's still too early to predict what effects this cover will have in the long run, if it will change anything or if it will remain a drop in the ocean, a utopian idea never really metabolized and put into practice by those who have the power to impose new aesthetic canons. It certainly has a bittersweet taste, of great freshness but almost of resignation, of a certain mental weariness, the same that Elsesser admitted to feeling, after years of talking about bodies, with the same faces, the same voices and the same accusations, always meeting too much resistance from the other side.