MIAMI — In their flawlessly executed imitation of Beyonce's popular video, "Crazy in Love," comedian Monique and several dancers demonstrated for the 2004 BET awards audience that big girls can dance, too.
That same spirit and determination to shatter traditional perceptions of plus-sized women was very much in effect at the Voluptuous Vintage Fashion Showcase on Saturday, Sept. 12.
The rear lot of Angel's Vintage Boutique, in Miami's Design District, was transformed into a makeshift runway, complete with loud, pulsating music under a large, white tent. There, a standing-room-only crowd "oohed and ahhed" as plus-sized models confidently wore a variety of timelessly classic fashions.
The decidedly nontraditional fashion show was moderated by Tiffany Fantasia, a tall, flamboyant female impersonator who kept the audience laughing and entertained with her quick wit and over-the-top antics.
In what stylist Emiene Wright referred to as "size inclusive," the fashions included swimwear, casual attire and "after five" ensembles in styles typically reserved for sizes 12 and under. Wright, who in 2010 plans to launch Fatty BumBum Designs, her own plus-size clothing line, is joining the rapidly growing plus-size industry, where consumers spent $32 billion in 2005.
Setting a creatively "out-of-the box" tone from the outset, the Sept. 12 fashion show kicked off with a full-figured model in a 1960s bikini, conservative boy shorts and a top stylishly covered with a long, sheer yellow cape.
Combining shocking jolts of color with more traditional outfits, Wright and fellow stylist Delilah Johnson paired mostly dresses from the 1950s and 1960s with wide belts and contrasting colored tights and bright accessories.
Erin Powe, a 28-year old chemist who considers herself "voluptuous," said she attended the fashion show to discover something different.
"There are lots of plus size clothes available, but I can't really find vintage in stores," said Powe, who had not shopped at Angel’s Vintage Boutique before Saturday’s show, but said she plans to become a customer.
"I like the clothes they're showing, I don't like to look like everybody else," she added.
Wright, who is also a freelance writer for the South Florida Times, also offered the audience useful tips on shopping for plus-sized vintage wear.
"Use belts to create definition," advised Wright, who was decked out in a green and black shirt dress, cinched at the waist by a large black belt.
She also suggested doing away with clothing sizes by shopping instead for comfort, using a seamstress to tailor outfits for a better fit.
Other tips included checking out the men’s section – vintage menswear can be highly detailed and easy to feminize with accessories. She said women can also be creative by using short dresses as tops or elastic skirts as strapless dresses.
Keeping with the "out-of-the box" philosophy, proceeds from the fashion show's silent auction benefited GreenBean, a nonprofit organization that seeks to increase environmental literacy and encourage green lifestyles for children in low-income communities.
Founded by 25 year-old Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) graduate Denaye Hinds, the six month-old organization merges the sustainability consultant’s two passions, "the environment and teaching children how to read," she said.
GreenBean offers several environmental workshops for youth, with an overall focus on “recycling, reducing and reusing.”
Hinds, who was jokingly called out by Fantasia, the female impersonator, because she wears a size two, said, "If we’re going to have the green movement really be a movement, we have to start with the children."
For more information on Fatty BumBum Designs, email Wright at email@example.com. To learn more about GreenBean, visit www.greenbeaninc.org. Angel's Vintage Boutique is located at 4308 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami. Store hours are from noon to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.
Photo by Josephine Leily. Draq queen Tiffany Fantasia was the moderator of the Voluptuous Vintage Fashion Showcase on Saturday, Sept. 12 in Miami.