Liris Crosse is a successful plus-size model. Most recently, she was one of the models for Project Runway, has modeled for famed designer Michael Costello, featured on magazine covers and more. However, for the NYC based beauty, her success isn’t enough. Frustrated with the lack of diverse projects in the fashion industry as well as models of various skin tones, sizes, and ages constantly being overlooked, she created the change she wanted to see with #TheModelDiversityProject.
Partnering with makeup artist Christopher Michael who has worked with fashion industry superstars like Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks; they started this project to bring the diversity they were not seeing. Their first project was to feature all plus-size models, showcasing them in strong beauty shots and editorial poses. Makeup done by Michael himself, and co-creative directed with Crosse, they created a series of beautiful images that could be seen in any high fashion magazine (ahem, Vogue, are you taking notes?).
The inaugural shoot, in addition to Crosse, features plus-size models, Naimah Terry, Monique Robinson, Denka Obradovic and Elly Mayday. Crosse made a thoughtful decision in the models she chose, “A lot of times when we see campaign or editorials, you might not see a model like Naimah because she’s known in the fit world. Elly is a cancer survivor and she does lingerie jobs. We wanted to have someone like Monique, who has been turned away from agencies because of how dark her skin is.”
The beauty shot was absolutely stunning and looks like it could be an ad for L’Oreal or another major makeup company. Though plus-size models are often booked for their bodies, it’s rare to see them get a major makeup campaign. In 2017, model Marquita Pring got a Maybelline campaign; however, we should not be able to count the number of plus-size models working in the beauty industry on less than one hand. Crosse said, “The old regime is still intact and they have been conditioned to think that a fuller face isn’t the standard of beauty.”
The shots are diverse and stray from the typical “plus-size model” shots (aka the happy, smiling, plus size woman wearing florals).
Crosse and Michael illustrated what high-fashion and beauty can look like with plus-size women and didn’t have nary a stereotypical shot. The shoot was styled by Steffy Allen and the images were shot by Ken Robinson.
Hopefully, this shoot will empower Creative Directors and Editors to think less token-ish (let’s have one plus-size model or one Black woman who just happens to look racially ambigious) and more representative of our current culture and world.
We all deserve to be seen, particularly as consumers when we are being enticed to buy. Crosse and Michael are moving culture forward with empowering images that will hopefully help shift the fashion industry into more inclusivity.
Here more from Liris Crosse and Christopher Michaels as they talk about the shoot and the diversity problem within the fashion industry, below, recorded by Brian Tru.
Beauties, what do you think of the shots and the movement? Tell us in the comment section.