Up-tempo beats fill the elegant monochrome hall as Candice Huffine glides through the seated crowd, wearing a body-skimming white tuxedo side wrap gown by Christian Siriano. Along with fellow plus-size models Precious Lee, Stella Duval, Tara Lynn, and Lauren Chee, Huffine is walking in 11 Honoré’s debut show at New York fashion week. By opening the show season, the all-inclusive e-tailer is helping change the perception of how customers perceive high fashion.
“It was such an incredible moment, truly!” says Huffine of the show. “You could just feel that there was something different, something groundbreaking. Never before has there been a show fully devoted to curvy women at any fashion week.”
Huffine – who has been in the industry for 18 years, signing with a plus-size agency at 15 – has always dreamed about being “in magazines and playing dress-up and having a glamorous life.” But when she was told to lose 10kg in order to become a “mainstream model,” she was confronted with a choice. “I knew that losing the weight was not going to be natural or realistic, for who I was. It wasn’t going to be authentic to me,” she explains. Instead, she ventured down the path less trodden and, in doing so, became one of the most popular faces in plus-size fashion, landing a Vogue Italia cover in 2011.
“I didn’t realize how important that decision would be,” she says. “The plus industry was very new and I was very young, so we grew up together. Along the way, with more acceptance and change, brands expanded their size range.” She’s never felt limited or mistreated by the industry because of her size. “There was never a point when I felt like I made the wrong decision to be who I was,” she shares. “I could live my dream and allow my body to do what bodies do without stress, judgement, or limitations. Even when I started to transition into the high-fashion editorial space, I was never made to feel like I was there temporarily. I never felt like I needed to be someone else.”
While getting modeling jobs was easy for Huffine, wearing designer clothing in the shoots was less so, with samples a US size 0 or even smaller. “I would be in the same magazines as these high-fashion brands, but could only really participate on a small level, like by carrying the handbag. There was always this great divider about how you could enter this market,” she says. So when Patrick Herning, CEO and founder of 11 Honoré, told her about the aim of the e-tailer – providing high-end designer clothing in sizes US 10 and above – she laughed. It had never been done before. “I was just thinking, is this really going to happen. It is something I had hoped for and dreamed of my whole life.”
Herning founded 11 Honoré in 2017 after spotting a gap in the market. The site launched with just 14 designers and now has more than 90 size-inclusive brands on board – including Adam Lippes, Christian Siriano, and Brandon Maxwell. “I don’t even know where to start when it comes to the list of incredible designers on the site. You can shop just like anybody else and buy special items for memorable moments in your life. You’ll always remember how these pieces made you feel.” 11 Honoré ships to the Middle East, including the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia. 11Honore.com
Photography: Mazen Abusrour
Stylist: Danica Zivkovic
Hair and Makeup: Manuel Losada at Art Factory Studio
Photography Assistant: Mark Lamberte
Production: Camilla Fitz-Patrick
With thanks to Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach