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Three plus-size models just made fashion history at Versace

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Jill Kortleve, Alva Claire, and Precious Lee became the first plus-size models to walk Donatella’s runway

The road is long when it comes to getting to the point where the runway is truly inclusive – but, as of last night, we just made a little more headway. Taking place at a very different Milan Fashion Week was the SS21 Versace show, where Donatella had enlisted not just one, but three plus-size models to walk the runway for the first time in the brand’s history. 

Featuring on the line-up alongside the likes of Mariacarla Boscono, Adut Akech, and Joan Smalls were Jill Kortleve, Precious Lee, and Alva Claire. 

Submerged at the bottom of the ocean in a sexed-up version of Atlantis that Donatella dubbed ‘Versacepolis’, Kortleve was seen wearing a slinky cut-out pencil skirt and a bright cropped shirt, while Claire and Lee wore bold dresses dotted with starfish. 

The whole collection had an under-the-sea theme, with the Italian designer resurrecting motifs from Gianni’s legendary SS92 Trésor de la Mer offering, and models landing on the runway with dripping hair and dewy skin. Other looks incorporated dramatic ruffled skirts, cropped 90s cardigans, and more than a few OTT Little Mermaid-esque crystal clamshell bras which, obviously, j’love.

Former Dazed 100-er Kortleve is fast becoming a runway regular, with appearances at Alexander McQueen, Jacquemus, Valentino, and Fendi under her belt. She’s also no stranger to casually making fashion history, after becoming the first plus-size model to walk for Chanel in over a decade. Claire has appeared on the catwalk at Rihanna’s 2019 Savage x Fenty extravaganza, as well as at Collina Strada, Mimi Wade, and LaQuan Smith, while Lee recently became the face of Miu Miu’s latest campaign and landed herself a Vogue cover.

With the total of plus-size castings dropping from 86 models for SS20 to just 46 for AW20 across the four major fashion cities, SS21 could mark a significant turning point when it comes to their inclusion on the runway. The resounding statement within fashion throughout 2020 has been that the industry cannot continue ‘business as usual’ post-COVID – we hope increased body diversity is just one of the changes coming our way. 

Check out the SS21 Versace collection in the gallery above, and read about seven times plus-size models slayed the runway here.