I had the immense pleasure to meet with my dear Beth Ditto this morning to talk about the launch of her new collection! Here's what went down...
BonjourClem: What was your inspiration while working on this collection?
BD: I wanted to do something that wasn't oppressive, that was comfortable and in some ways luxurious. I don't love the word luxury because it feels Bougy to me, but I wanted pieces that would last and that people would feel good about investing in. I don't feel like that exists for us (plus-size women)... Since I was 19, I was needing that type of garments for special occasions and events and there was just nothing available to me. Now it's different than 10 or even five years ago. But still, we are finally getting this attention that we deserve and yet there's nothing to keep up with it. When I think about the idea of Rebel Wilson having to go to the Oscars and not having something amazing to wear that's made for her, it drives me mad.
And for people who aren't in the public eye, it's just about having something they feel really good about that is qualitative and creative. I feel like we have plenty of cheap and easy options in fast fashion and I would shop fucking anywhere, I love leggings from Walmart and such, I just wanted to bring something more to the equation. I am tired of spending a little bit of money in a lot of pieces because they keep on falling apart.
BC: Who do you look up to as a new designer?
BD: I love Vivienne Westwood. Her work is so interesting, you can always find something that's great and fits you. I am a size US22, I am short and I don't have an hourglass figure. I can always find something there. I also love McQueen. I find inspiration everywhere. I love challenges and my favorite thing is to find something ridiculous and be like "if it's all that I have available to me, I am gonna make it look the best that I can".
I love to make people feel like they are taking a part in their own body and evolution. Don't wait for things to change for you, change it yourself, because if you wait for people to do it, it's never gonna fuckin' happen and most certainly not on your terms either!
BC: What's your work process when you are designing? What do you start with?
BD: Drawing is always my first step. The shape is the most important to me because it is what really matters and what's really missing in our market. Anything else is easier. We are able to find prints, to find cool materials elsewhere but shape is always lacking in plus. For the prints, you just have to work around what is available. However, we did make two original prints this season, designed by one of my friends. The fit is my main focus, I want the fit to be great and that's the focal point for me.
BC: What do you think is the must have in this collection?
BD: The black bubble dress is a must! The leggings are absolutely amazing too, they fit perfectly and let you breath when still being super high-waisted. They are everything and so easy to pair anything with. What I am wearing today (Double Bubble Dress - Eat Your Make-up) is my jam! Love that dress. All the pieces are my favorites but this one is so comfortable for a day like this when I am sitting a lot, moving and running around...
For a date night I might go for this one in a black or a grey.
BC: Let's talk about this silky jumpsuit... I am obsessed!
BD: OMG! This is everything. It takes seven yards of silk to make that and it might sound crazy but I don't think it is, I think it's fucking awesome and I think we deserve a piece like that. We can wear it at home, naked, during the day with a bodysuit under it or at night and even at the pool as a cover-up! It's super versatile and everyone loves it!
BD: I think that's also why I love the bubble dress so much and I don't think it gets enough attention. It will fit anyone. Actually, I designed it thinking about some of Westwood's creations.
Make it huge and let the customers make it whatever they want with it when they wear it. Everyone is so different and plus-size women have such different shapes, it will look unique on everyone! I also love that somethings are boxy, oversized and shapeless and it's amazing. Most women want that look but because they have curves, it looks snug on them when they wanted it to look oversized.
BD: I love Missy Elliott in 1999 when she was wearing that trash bag looking outfit! She looks huge but she looks badass! We have to stop this idea that we have to be a certain shape. Not everyone wants to be sexy everyday, wearing tight dresses and spanx...
BC: This is why it's a great collection to me personally. The collection doesn't impose an idea of the plus-size woman to the customers. When buying those products they are still free to make it what they want, whatever their shape is.
BD: The plus-size revolution that has been happening lately is incredible but it's also creating this "other" beauty standard in which you have to be an hourglass, you have to be super sexy and fierce about showing off your curves. That's quite frightening to me, and I don't fit in it, I don't want to fit it. It creates a sad division between plus-size women when we talk about " you are that kind of fat..." when we are all in the same boat and should love and respect each others. It creates another division in an already way too divided fashion industry.
BC: What can you tell us about your next collection?
BD: I think it's going to be incredible. It's AW so it's just gonna blow it out of the water and I just can't wait. If you think this is something, just wait! I have learned so much making this first collection that I am excited to use all of it towards making the next one even better! It's been an amazing learning curve and experience. My team and I loved working on this challenging projects!
BC: What about those amazing vintage custom jackets?
BD: I love them so much. I wanted to do something really psychedelic, fun and colorful inspired by the 70's. We had someone from the team going through every single denim stock in the country and finding big size jackets. It wasn't an easy task to find them but it was so worth it! It was hard for me to settle on doing vintage because I am not quite a believer of vintage for bigger people, but it came out so well! Each one of those jackets are absolutely unique and that makes it a killer piece for all the girls to have!
Find the full Beth Ditto Collection exclusively on her website
Follow her adventures on her instagram
Thank you to Mei Smith for my outfit today!