Full Figured Fashion Week is here! And what better way to celebrate real women, with real curves, then to catch up with one of our most coveted plus-size fashion designers, Monif C. With seven years in the game, Monif C. brings high-fashion to curvy girls everywhere. Her stunning frocks have graced the voluptuous hips and thighs of celebrities like Jill Scott, and Adele. Recently the plus-size maverick traveled to the exotic island of Barbados to shoot a campaign for her swimwear 2012 collection, and what came out of it was an ambitious and brave reflection for a 21st century woman unafraid to show a real image representative of the authentic bodies we know and see around the world—and unlike the often distorted and photoshopped bodies clouding our imagination in the glossies we see everyday on newstands. We caught up the busy designer to chat her swimwear collection, how she empowers women above a size eight, and what's next!
EBONY: How long have you been designing plus-size clothing?
Monif C: My mother and myself launched Monif C. Plus Sizes seven years ago. I've always been a plus size woman and was fed up with not being able to find stylish, high quality clothing for myself. I love fashion, collect fashion magazines, devour runway shows, and just live for beautiful clothing. I knew if I was craving something new and fresh, other women probably were also. It was difficult prior to our line launching to find a brand that was designed by a plus size woman who understands plus size bodies. I not only wanted to tailor clothing for plus size women, but I wanted it to be stylish, fun, yet sophisticated. I am so passionate about what I do and love being able to dress curvy women. I'm grateful that our customers have embraced what we do!
EBONY: Tell me about your latest collection you shot in Barbados.
MC: Our Swimwear 2012 Collection campaign was shot in Barbados, which is the island my mother and father are from. It was awesome because it truly felt like I went home. It was important for me to do a full campaign for the collection because I want my girls to see that Monif C. is an emerging lifestyle brand. We wanted our customers to envision themselves in their swimsuits on their fabulous vacations! It was really great, our team was top notch and everything came together wonderfully.
EBONY: Who is the Monif C. woman?
MC: The Monif C. woman is confident, sexy, and vivacious. She loves fashion and has long wondered when someone would design clothes especially for her. Our customers are unapologetic in their love for themselves and are looking for the right designer to adorn their curves.
EBONY: How do you promote confidence for plus-size women through your collections?
MC: Well, confidence comes from within, so I don't necessarily think I promote confidence. What we do is give confident plus size women a clothing brand that connects to who they are as women and encourages them to show even more of themselves and not feel they need to shrink or play small. When I design my collections I see gorgeous curvy women that are traveling. They are executives, they are wives, they are sexy, and they are hungry for clothing that connects with their lifestyle. That is what Monif C. is all about.
EBONY: Popular style blogger Gabi Fresh, who's a plus-size woman, photographed herself on her blog in swimwear proving full-figured women don't have to lose weight to look hot. She was recently seen on the "Today Show". Did you have a chance to see this? Would you ever work with Gabi Fresh as a spokeswoman? What do you think about the issue of losing weight versus loving yourself as you are?
MC: Gabi Fresh is awesome and has been a supporter of Monif C. for a long time. The beautiful thing about this industry is that there are trailblazers like Gabi and myself that are showing a new perspective of plus size women in the media. The message is that you should indeed love yourself as you are. Happiness does not come from a number on the scale, getting a new boyfriend or securing a new job. Happiness comes from within and from knowing that you are a complete, loved, and valued person. It is from that space that we individually decide what we want to do with different aspects of our lives including our weight.
EBONY: Summer is officially here. Tell me your top five looks for summer.
MC: My top Monif C. looks are:
1. "Marilyn" Convertible Dress in White – Great for white parties!
2. "Sao Paulo" High-Waisted Bikini – Curvy girls can wear bikinis!
3. "Whitley" Cut Out Shoulder Dress- The neon coral is perfect and a trend for this season!
4. "Elsa" Color Block Ponte Knit Dress- Sophisticated, yet sexy.
5. "St. Lucia" Beaded Chiffon Cover Up- Perfect lightweight swim cover-up or tunic to wear with jeans or shorts
EBONY: What are you stirring up for fall?
MC: For the fall, we are excited to continue our partnership with Nordstrom and Sonsi.com. It's really great to see the brand become even more accessible to women worldwide!
EBONY: Which celebrity would you most love to outfit in Monif C.?
MC: I've been blessed to dress most plus size celebrities from Jill Scott to Adele, but if I would say who's next, it would be Oprah!
EBONY: What's next for Monif C.? Would you ever do a designer collaboration with a major retailer like Target or H&M?
MC: Our new partnerships with Nordstrom and Sonsi.com are really picking up steam so we are excited for those. Our swimsuit collection is even starting to outpace our dress collections and we were recently approached to do a capsule collection for a retailer, which would be fabulous. My dream is to do a designer collaboration with Target or H&M or any other major retailer for that matter. I think now is the time that plus size women represent over half of the American population. They deserve to have a major brand collaboration just for them and I know we are the company to do it!