11 Honore and Laverne Cox's Stylist Talk Sizeism on Red Carpets

Mike Coppola/Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows
Laverne Cox on the runway at the 11 Honore fashion show during New York Fashion Week in 2019.

Cox, Melissa McCarthy, Rebel Wilson and Our Lady J have all donned gowns from the L.A.-based, plus-size e-tailer who organized a talk Tuesday on size inclusivity.

With the 91st Academy Awards swiftly approaching, the topic of diversity remains at the forefront of discussions in Hollywood. Adding to a list that includes race, equality for women and all of the complexities in between, L.A.-based, plus-size e-tailer 11 Honore (which carries multiple designer brands such as Zac Posen, Oscar de la Renta and Christian Siriano in sizes 10 to 20 and up) sparked a conversation on size inclusivity at the Sunset Tower Hotel on Tuesday afternoon.

The fete also honored celebrity stylist Christina Pacelli — known for dressing actresses such as Laverne Cox and Britney Young, who have both donned red carpet gowns from 11 Honore — and included a panel discussion featuring her alongside 11 Honore founder and CEO Patrick Herning and L.A.-based fashion designer Mary Alice Haney. 

“We definitely believe that sizeism is happening and it’s much more of a thing than before,” Herning said. “We’re still struggling with designers thinking, ‘Oh, if I put a larger size on the runway then my smaller-sized client won’t be interested.' It’s very archaic.... The issue is that things aren’t going to change if we aren’t seeing more women of different sizes on the red carpet.” 

Recognized for her effort in doing just that, the event’s honoree delved into the highs and lows of her labor.

“My work with Laverne has been incredibly rewarding and career defining for me,” said Pacelli. “I think it’s been a very successful collaboration, with what I hope to get out of it, which has been an evolution of fashion. The industry has really started to include, I’m saying this humbly, a fashion icon in a way. When she steps out on the red carpet wearing these really amazing strong looks, she’s representing a woman of her size and shape. It says she can wear a gorgeous gown and it looks just as beautiful on her as it would on the fit model or the model who wore it on the runway who is a size 0.”

But the process of creating customized looks can take "10 times the prep time," she explained, noting that some looks have taken her up to 12 months to complete, with up to five fitting sessions that each last at least two hours to get all the details just right.

“In the beginning we heard a lot of ‘Nos’ and I remember feeling a bit defeated because there was always, 'We love her, we understand how important she is and her status and what she’s doing in the world, but we don’t have her size,'" said Pacelli. "That launched the beginning of working with the right partners to collaborate with us on custom creations. When you see Laverne, 90 percent of it is custom. In the last five years, I feel really good about the progress we’ve made; we’ve had some awesome moments together, but there’s still work to be done.”

Since the debut of her eponymous line in 2013, Haney has been helping in that department. She has created plus-size copies of Haney dresses for Rebel Wilson to wear to the 2016 MTV Movie Awards and the 2018 Billboard Music Awards and Cox has also worn her frocks.  

“It was important to me, when I created the brand, to be size inclusive. After a size 12, you have to have another fit model. You have to think about the cost of the fabric. And when you’re just starting out, you don’t have a lot of money, you don’t have a lot of resources. If that’s something you really want to do, you have to find something like 11 Honore that will help you with that.”

11 Honore has proved to be somewhat of a red carpet hero, stepping up to work with Our Lady J after she landed on a worst-dressed list last month for her Golden Globes look.

The afternoon ended with a vow from the e-tailer's representatives to continue their impact on the masses. “It will happen in the spring,” Herning said, referring to the addition of "advanced contemporary" brands such as A.L.C., D.V.F and Veronica Beard that sit on the more affordably priced end of the luxury market.