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Why less is no longer more at London fashion week

By Frances Burscough

London Fashion Week 2017 is just over and this time it was more remarkable for the actual models that any specific trends for the coming season. And this is because, at last, it seems like the end is night for the emaciated size zero model who looks like she's about to die of malnutrition.

Spring 2017 will be remembered as a turning point for average women everywhere as one after another influential designer chose realistically-sized models instead of emaciated stick insects to showcase their collections. Stylists and fashion show producers may hate it, but at last it seems that the industry is finally waking up to the need for realistic-looking models who have curves in all the right places. It doesn't seem very long ago that designer Mark Fast - who specialised in bod-con dresses - had a mutiny on his hands when, in the middle of his runway collection, his backstage stylist downed tools and walked out in protest at the inclusion of three average-sized models.

How very dare he?

But now, it seems that the final fashion taboo is being broken, piece by piece, bit by bit, inch by curvaceous inch.

And yet no one - except for the faddy fashionistas themselves - thinks this is anything but a change for the better. In fact I'm certain the consensus amongst style-conscious women and concerned parents of fashion victim youngsters is "About bloody time too!"

Whereas in the real world an average woman is a good size 14, in the high-end of the fashion industry, which these shows cater for, ranges often start at a UK size 4 and stop at a below-average 12. Crazy isn't it? The only explanation which I've ever heard to justify the heroin-chic look that prevails in fashion circles is that "clothes hang better from skinny frames".

But surely fashion is an industry which must cater for the general public, not just a tiny percentage with tiny-weeny-waists?

Having worked as a womenswear designer for a number of years before I moved to Northern Ireland, I can let you in on a trade secret.In the 1980s a survey took place within the industry which studied the psychology of fashion buying habits on the high street. Amongst other things, it found that women were more likely to buy an item of clothing if it was labelled a smaller size than they were expecting to fit. When shown two identical outfits, one labelled 12 and the other 14, time and time again the women chose the item labelled 12. Well, you would wouldn't you? Don't ask me to explain…but any woman will understand.

This may seem like a pointless and banal discovery but its effects were far reaching and still in effect today. Certain chain stores took it on board and altered their sizing charts, adding a few crucial inches to each pattern so that their "standard" grew accordingly. The smaller chains and independent boutiques could not afford to follow suit and therefore kept their original fittings.

Coincidentally, over the same period of time since then, the national average size of women has gradually increased and the typical physique has changed due to a variety of factors including diet, lifestyle and social habits. In short, we've got bigger, heavier and more curvy. Or, as they say on America's Next Top Model: "Girl, you've got a lot more junk in yo' trunk!"

As a result, the discrepancy between shops is more noticeable than ever and explains why some labels seem to fit generously when others apparently in the same size are straining at the seams or don't have a hope in hell of making it past ground zero.

I've experienced this myself on countless occasions. What for me would be a size 10 in Marksies is a 14 in Top Shop and Miss Selfridges. Crazy, but true.

So if it wants to keep up with the social trends, it's clear that the fashion industry needs an Extreme Makeover of its own.

Regulate the sizing; use more plus sizes and adopt zero-tolerance for size zeros if it is to be true to real women and not just the thin end of the wedge.

It’s now just so kool to have kith and kin

There's a new must-have accessory that all the coolest female celebs will never be seen without.

It's called a sister. Of course at the top of the list has to be the Kardashian/Jenner girls - Kim, Khloe, Kourtney, Kylie and Kendall who are rarely seen without one another.

Then there's Kate Moss and her little sis Charlotte "Lottie" Moss who is just as tall and willowy and also a model in her own right. Next up, the Miller girls - Sienna and Savannah. Sienna is a well-known and very successful actress while her wee sister is a fashion designer who is notable for her upper-class boho styles.

The two are equally blonde, beaming and attractive and are regularly seen out together. Another sisterly duo who are taking the scene by storm at the moment are the model/actress Suki Waterhouse and Immy.

The two were spotted on the front row at Burberry fashion show last week and all the attention was on them and their matching hairstyles rather than the collection itself.

Then of course there's Kate and Pippa, Paris and Nicky Hilton, Poppy and Cara Delevigne and Gigi and Bella Hadid. Now, I personally have four sisters - Louise, Marie, Rachel and Lucy, so I'm way ahead of them all.

This week I’ll ...

mostly be observing traditions in the good old fashioned way. Well, Tuesday is Pancake Day/Mardi Gras so I'll probably just be making crepes for breakfast rather than dressing up in a feather headdress with a sparkly bikini and parading around town.

Then Wednesday is of course Ash Wednesday so I'll no doubt have to take my dad to mass and get the tell-tale smudge on my forehead. I won't be giving anything up for Lent though as I'm hopeless at self-restraint. Who was it once said "I can resist anything except temptation"?

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