Name: Liris Crosse
Agency: Duck Holland Management
Claim To Fame: The author and model broke so many fashion barriers she’s been dubbed the “plus-size,” Naomi Campbell. She recently shattered the glass ceiling at Barcelona Fashion week by becoming the first plus-size Black model to appear.
When The Wire’s D’Angelo Barksdale was chasing a size six down South Broadway the big boss was waking up to his dream girl Liris Crosse. The model, actress and author was normalizing curves in Vogue, ESSENCE, Cosmopolitan UK and Vibe long before the body positivity movement Black women created hit mainstream. Now she’s helping brides realize their dreams in a new campaign for award-winning bridal designer Maggie Saterro. “In the bridal industry, when you open up a magazine and you flip through, almost all the ads are blonde hair, blue eyes, or dark hair, but they’re all white women, you hardly see plus-size models in any of the ads, you hardly see Black models in any of the ads,” Crosse told HelloBeautiful. “Becoming, the first plus model to walk the prestigious Barcelona, bridal fashion week was a big deal because that’s like the pinnacle that it doesn’t get any higher than Barcelona for bridal fashion.”
The fairytale imagery associated with bridal fashion has long excluded larger bodies. A stroll past any newsstand affirms Crosse’s belief that “the bridal industry is the like less sector of the fashion world to really take on diversity and inclusion.”
“My work with Maggie Sottero, I feel has helped to shift the culture of the bridal industry and me a catalyst for change,” she said. “This is the new regime that is loading right now, like we’re no longer going to accept that. I know in fashion we talk about, we want fantasy, but guess what? Plus-size is fantasy to a lot of people. And plus-size brides deserve to be able to see some type of representation in the ads in the runway shows.”
Crosse left the stage to learn of the immediate impact her presence as a Black plus-size model was having when a woman reportedly told her a luxury emporium in Kenya called Sidai Brides no longer had to reshoot dresses on Black models to give an actual portrayal to Black brides because of her pictures migrating to the continent. “I didn’t realize how deep the work that I was doing was helping other people,” she said. Her connection with the brand started with little fanfare. “They literally had just booked me for e-comm and it spiraled and became this beautiful partnership with their brand. And currently we’ve been able to make some really amazing waves within the industry.”
Crosse has been making waves throughout her career as one of the first models to crossover into roles routinely reserved for straight-size women. She was the first plus-size model to win Project Runway and when white media was still cracking jokes about the horror of having a fat ass, she was turning Jay Z’s head in the video for “Do It Again.”
Labeled “the plus-size Naomi Campbell,” by industry insiders, Crosse’s prominence unexpectedly landed at the center of a controversy when a celebrity dismissed her colossal impact as insignificant when hocking their clothing line. The snub triggered a tidal wave of support from Black Twitter who refused to let her be erased from history. The incident wasn’t the first where a Black plus-size woman has been pushed to the side. When actress Rebel Wilson claimed her 2019 film Isn’t It Romantic was the first to feature a plus-size actress in the lead Black Twitter arrived with the receipts.
Crosse, who stood in for Queen Latifah during the film Just Wright, noted its power in moving things forward. “It was a big deal to see a beautiful Black plus-size woman be the focal point of desire or the woman who wins the man.” She is hoping today’s so-called “golden age of television,” will create that moment more often. “I am looking forward to more TV shows, more films showing that, plus-size women get married. Trust me, a lot of my plus size girlfriends are married, happily married, and look bomb on their wedding day.”
Previous Model Monday subjects including Quan Michelle, Maui Bigelow, and Yaris Mason have cited her as a major influence on their careers.“It really warms my heart and also, it just tells me that my hard work is paid off and that people see, see the work that I’ve been doing and that my voice is trusted,” said Crosse. She supports Michelle and a number of other models looking to grow in the field. She mentors select models, hosts workshops, penned a book called Make The World Your Runway and helps models tailor their portfolios and digitals to industry requirements. “Anytime I see another Black woman, I really try with them and give them the skills that I feel a lot of other people won’t tell them,” she said. The child of two devout Christians, her father is civil rights leader Rev. St. George I.B. Crosse and her mother is his wife Delois, she credits her religion with her willingness to serve.
“I had to find my own way and maybe I had to find my own way because it, you know, it gave me the story of, you know, what, let me try to put the next generation in a better place.”
Crosse’s faith leaves her with no doubts that she will get her due no matter how many people overlook what she’s accomplished. “I know who I am and I know whose I am,” she concluded.
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