Harriet Walker: Why Beth doesn’t give a XXXL what fashionistas think
Beth Ditto is known for her idiosyncratic rock yodel, her sexual preferences and, of course, her habit of taking her clothes off onstage. She isn't one to hide her lights under a bushel — nor is she one to hide her bushel under the stage lights.
Fans and critics alike have been treated to the most intimate details of her (under)garments — and now High Street shoppers will be too.
Her new range of clothing for plus-size chain Evans goes in-store nationwide next week and begs the question, ‘Does Beth really know best?’
Yes, she has a, er, bulk of experience behind her, in terms of being one of a very few larger recognisable pop culture personalities. But she takes dressing for your shape to a whole new level.
Ditto regularly used to perform in swimming costumes, leotards and all-in-one skintight lycra suits, before she ripped them off and flung them at her adoring public.
The one hook that should bolster these clothes is actually just a patronising bit of tokenism:
“Beth Ditto is not a trained designer, she's just not thin.”
“Designing this line is a dream come true,” she told the fashion Press this week. “It's all about must-haves for a night out.”
Inspired by Debbie Harry and Grace Jones among others, the sequinned and spandexed collection has an Eighties feel to it, in keeping with one of the biggest trends of the season.
There is a prom dress in the range, a biker jacket and a hoodie. There is also a pair of domino-print leggings and an elasticated purple tunic.
Ditto has never played by the style rules, but much of her collection is destined not to flatter their eventual owners.
Long T-shirts and tunics end up looking a bit like tents — a belt is your best friend in this situation, as is an empire line. Certainly not a voluminous T-shirt with a cat's face on it, and almost definitely not a clingy, scoop-neck jersey dress. Last week saw the first Full-Figured Fashion Week kick off in New York, celebrating designers who make clothes for women who don't fit a size 12.
But it came after a week of stories in the American Press about companies down-sizing their plus-size ranges because bigger clothes cost more to make.
So it's great that Ditto's range has launched and that the UK remains one of the best places to buy well-designed clothes larger than a size 14.
“If ‘fatshionistas' are willing to pay for luxury goods,” wrote Amy Odell in The New York Times, “why won't the industry make them for them? And these women aren't getting any thinner.”
It's true — but the High Street should work on great design and directional lines, instead of hiding their plus-size curves behind a celebrity face and a sequinned purple tunic-tent.