High Fashion in a Highly Sexualized World

Two weeks ago, fans of Project Runway learned that the Season 14 favorite Ashley Nell Tipton had won the competition after creating a beautiful plus-size collection for New York Fashion Week. The collection was cohesive, flattering, and well-made -it was the clear winner. Ashley had been impressing the judges from the start, becoming the first contestant to win two challenges and ending up in the top three more often than not. And with good reason: she’s very often conscious of how women feel in her clothes, as she is a plus size woman herself. It most likely for this reason, that the clothes she made to represent herself as a professional for the first time in such a public arena were wearable not only for everyday fashionistas, but also for girls and women looking to stay fashionably modest.

Ashley Tipton Design--Photo by Thomas Concordia

© Thomas Concordia


I’ve been a fan of Project Runway for a long time, because I love fashion. It can be walking art. Like any other competition show my family and I love picking out our favorite contestants, and hoping our favorites make it to the top. What I haven’t enjoyed is the insinuation that “covered” means “matronly,” a word often synonymous with old, unfashionable, and out of touch with current trends. Most of the time when the Project Runway judges use this term, they’re right (some of the clothes look like a recycle of my great-grandmother’s closet). But more often than I’m comfortable with, the judges beg for “sex appeal,” something they think should be present in every look. Hypersexualization of girls and women is damaging to self-esteem, and can create a dangerous environment for women. Our clothes are not a representative of something so sacred; they should be a representation of personality and taste.

It’s not often that high fashion and the department store clothing inspired by these runway shows are comfortable choices for Christian girls trying to stay true to their modesty. It was a refreshing change as I watched Ashley’s well-fitting, colorful, beautiful collection as these options were shown in an arena like New York Fashion Week. Plunging necklines and tight fitting leather had preceded Ashley’s collection, and the contrast was extreme in the best way. Hopefully Ashley’s designs will make their way into major retailers soon.


Featured Image from Project Runway