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Oh, Monif. No. No. | Manolo for the Big Girl

Oh, Monif. No. No.

Francesca does not enjoy speaking ill of plus-size clothing vendors or designers. They are so few in number, Francesca feels that they must be pampered and spoiled, lest they pull an Old Navy on us.

Yet sometimes, a plus-size designer commits a fashion crime so heinous, that Francesca cannot simply stand by and watch. Especially when said crime is committed by a designer who, in her personal manner and bold vision is normally likeable, if not quite exactly superfantastic, we must save her from degenerating hopelessly into fashion Hades.*

For the “Honey. No.” category, I present two selections from Monif C’s new items!

Yes, yes, some of them are fine. Francesca likes the swing coat and this purple chiffon dress, and can live with most of the other dresses, although they are only OK, not great.

But . . . what in the name of all that is good and holy is this?

When did Francesca fall asleep and wake up on a planet where plus-size designers make clothing that is the stereotypical ugly, shapeless clothing that skinny designers think that plus-size women should wear?

or this?

Whose brilliant idea was it to pair that . . . that trippin-with-the-Bradys fabric thing with boots that have fur exploding over the top?

Dear Monif, the words “kaleidoscope of patterns and hues,” “bell sleeves” and “knee-length” should never appear together. Never, ever.

Honey. No. No. Just. No.

* What this sentence was supposed to say is:

“Especially when said crime is committed by a designer who, in her personal manner and bold vision is normally likeable — though Francesca does not find the clothes themselves to be quite exactly superfantastic — we must save her from degenerating hopelessly into fashion Hades.”

Francesca has nothing personal against the Monif. In fact, Francesca would love to take the Monif out for coffee or lunch. And Francesca appreciates the boldness of her approach. I simply do not think that, in practice, her designs are usually flattering for most Big Girls (though as I said, some of them are great) — and I stand by my opinion that the fabrics above, in those styles, are not attractive. If you are a fan, or have enough boldness yourself to carry off these designs, then Francesca says: more power to you.

Francesca says: Forming your own opinion is superfantastic.

32 Responses to “Oh, Monif. No. No.”

  1. Toby Wollin December 10, 2007 at 1:33 pm #

    It’s obvious to me: When you run out of creative ideas, you default to couch covers.

  2. Monif December 10, 2007 at 1:55 pm #

    Oh Francesca, why the venom honey? In all fairness, everyone has a different fashion sense, and it is quite all right that yours and mine are different. I will say though that what you might call “stereotypical ugly, shapeless clothing” others wouldn’t agree so much with. Unfortunately, it is not that easy to see the shape of these clothes online and there is only so much a photoshoot can do, but I will have you know that the “Coco” dress was an outcry from customers that they WANTED more flowy trapeze dresses for the season, and the printed dress you speak of is currently on tour with two of our favorite curvy girl singers. Both dresses actually look fantastic on and I think it’s high time designers like myself bring vintage prints and shapes to the plus size market. Frankly plus size women can wear ANYTHING the skinny women can wear with the right undergarments and accessories. It’s all a matter of fashion preference. I would love to go through this site and some of the other plus size designer sites and point out some REAL shapless clothing. I don’t think I would have a problem finding multiple styles that fall into that category. When you plan that ManoloBig meet and greet in NYC, it would probably be smart to come by our boutique, so you can check out some of the styles you seem to dislike…I think it should change your mind.

  3. Chloe December 10, 2007 at 1:57 pm #

    Okay, Toby’s comment wins! I think both of those dresses look like something out of a bad 1970s B-movie… worn by the frumpy housekeep perhaps?

  4. Bridey December 10, 2007 at 2:40 pm #

    I’m with Toby, too: This is not clothing, this is upholstery.

    The model in the first pic looks rather bewildered by it all, doesn’t she? (Or she’s about to say something along the lines of, “What the hell is this?”)

  5. Gabby December 10, 2007 at 2:43 pm #

    Ok…not to be hateful, since you all clearly have the market on that, but this sounds like personal attack to me. The dresses are cute. They’re not for everyone necessarily, but then again, nothing is. To be honest, some of the things you all are so hyped about look a little questionable to me (Really? Talbots? that Igigi top you all are yelling about? I’m good, thanks).

    I think that like most things, you have to put your own personal spin on things. Me personally? I think both dresses are totally rockable. The darker dress, I would do it with a cute, wide belt. The dress with the brighter pattern? I might do that with dark brown tights or something. And maybe a belt on that also. Ladies, think outside the box!

    With regard the comments about the designer, all that is not necc. What the hell does her level of ‘superfantastic-ness’ have to do with the quality of her designs? AND this is the second post in as many days about something about her that you hate? It sounds suspect to me…Really ladies, if you all have a problem with Monif, holla at her at 325 west 38th street. Leave all that childish pettiness for another venue.

  6. Eh December 10, 2007 at 3:55 pm #

    The first one is fug, but I don’t hate the second one.

  7. Dowdydiva December 10, 2007 at 5:44 pm #

    I like the first dress, and I can totally see it belted. I had a dress like that I loved, and wore into the ground. Looked good on me, too.

  8. gina December 10, 2007 at 5:51 pm #

    I’m sure no personal attack was meant; MonifC is a designer who has certainly earned her success. I own one of her pieces and have found it to be very well made and the fabric luxurious. That said, I have to agree with Francesca on this one: the attempts at eye-catching fabric and modern shilouette comes across as confusing and tentish. but not in a good way. Being a good designer doesn’t mean one is infallible (honestly, I wasn’t taken by Elena Miro’s newest collection, either); like any artist or businessperson, one learns from mistakes and keeps it moving — which I’ve no doubt Monif can and will do.

  9. Claire December 10, 2007 at 6:09 pm #

    The first dress is ugly but mostly forgettable, and could probably be improved with the right accessories. The second dress just hurts to look at. The furry boots don’t help its case.

  10. Jennie December 10, 2007 at 6:16 pm #

    This is why I get bummed so often over “Plus Size”.. Go into any discount store and they think it’s ok to dress large women in tablecloth or drapery remnants… Seems Monif has joined the ranks of trailer park trashiness bigness. My only question is where is the bad cheap lace framing the neckline??? All that is left is the curlers in the hair and a wad of bubble gum or snuff padding one’s cheek…

  11. cori December 10, 2007 at 6:48 pm #

    Those dresses are louder prints than I would wear, but the color combo on the second one works it in a very funky way. My bigger concern is those boots – they are cute but it looks like she can’t get them zipped up all the way on the top. I’ve got very muscular calves and that is a constant problem for me.

  12. Rachel December 10, 2007 at 9:14 pm #

    The worst thing about the second pic is that the poor model’s leg,/i> is exploding out of the top of her boot. She couldn’t even zip it all the way up. Uh. Hello. Couldn’t they find a boot that fit the poor dear?

  13. The Real Fashionista December 11, 2007 at 12:09 am #

    I’m not only a customer of Monif C. but a designer myself and have tried on both these dresses at her Manhattan Boutique. They fit my body well because I’m heavier at top and small on the bottom…I purchased the first one and styled it with a gold belt and gold pumps, it gave me a perfect hourglass figure, not to mention the bold print had me looking better then all the little girls dressed in black. I wore it to a friends birthday party the men were loving me in it as well. Ladies please pick a Vogue, these prints and silhouettes (A Line and Trapeze) are all the rage in Paris, Milan and NYC, and you can’t find these hot styles at plus size retailers (Believe me I’ve looked)….You don’t have to be in something skin tight to be sexy (even though if you really know Monif’s designs you’d see she has a wide range and offers those styles as well, and those boots are special sizes to fit a wider foot and cafe, how many places can you find designers shoes that do that?). Those boots everyone seems to have something to say about are really hot and that’s a fashion forward runway style shot, it doesn’t mean you have to wear the dress and boots together…it’s called creating a bold look. All I’m saying is as the Plus Size Divas we all are, we need to stick together in supporting the designers that look out for us. These dresses actually bring something new to the plus size fashion world. How can we be bold with our curves if we wear something expected. Just wanted to let you hear an opinion from a different prospective….Peace and Love to all the curvy girls, think outside the box ladies….this is what fashion really is! XOXO

  14. The Real Fashionista December 11, 2007 at 12:09 am #

    I’m not only a customer of Monif C. but a designer myself and have tried on both these dresses at her Manhattan Boutique. They fit my body well because I’m heavier at top and small on the bottom…I purchased the first one and styled it with a gold belt and gold pumps, it gave me a perfect hourglass figure, not to mention the bold print had me looking better then all the little girls dressed in black. I wore it to a friends birthday party the men were loving me in it as well. Ladies please pick a Vogue, these prints and silhouettes (A Line and Trapeze) are all the rage in Paris, Milan and NYC, and you can’t find these hot styles at plus size retailers (Believe me I’ve looked)….You don’t have to be in something skin tight to be sexy (even though if you really know Monif’s designs you’d see she has a wide range and offers those styles as well, and those boots are special sizes to fit a wider foot and cafe, how many places can you find designers shoes that do that?). Those boots everyone seems to have something to say about are really hot and that’s a fashion forward runway style shot, it doesn’t mean you have to wear the dress and boots together…it’s called creating a bold look. All I’m saying is as the Plus Size Divas we all are, we need to stick together in supporting the designers that look out for us. These dresses actually bring something new to the plus size fashion world. How can we be bold with our curves if we wear something expected. Just wanted to let you hear an opinion from a different prospective….Peace and Love to all the curvy girls, think outside the box ladies….this is what fashion really is! XOXO

  15. Misalexis December 11, 2007 at 4:02 am #

    Okay Monif, err sorry “Gabby”, sensitive, no? But anyway I don’t comment a lot around here, and I am not a fan of Igigi or Kiyonna, but this stuff is a bit uncharacteristic for Monif, she usually makes things that are a lot more flattering. And for this next comment, I am not “hating” (please find a different word) but, her stuff is waaayyyyyyy over-priced, this is coming from someone who has been to the store and felt the fabrics, and has chatted with her via another site and told her the same thing, lets just say her attitude left a lot to be desired after I made that comment. Like I said the stuff is flattering and unique but she needs to step up the quality game, oh and her shoe collection is ugly as red sin, that something to holler about!

  16. T December 11, 2007 at 10:59 am #

    I kind of like the print on the second dress, actually. I’m not sure if I’d be bold enough to rock a dress made entirely out of that material, though. I would like to see it as a sash or as an accent or something on a solid-colored top. Or as a headband! It kind of has that faux-Pucci palette to it, y’know?

    I secretly kind of like the cut/fit/styling on the second dress, but I’d need it to be a little bit less flamboyant and less…pleaty? and a little sleeker. It’s kind of lost in all the ruche-ing. Ruching? Gathers?

    The first dress isn’t entirely offensive either — but it’s pretty clear that the cut and styling just are not working on that poor model. I don’t love the print, either. Aw well. To each her own!

  17. Gabby December 11, 2007 at 11:47 am #

    Oh my, well tell me all about myself, misalexis, lol!

    Truly, I have never met Monif, (which necessarily assumes that I am not her) my name, as mentioned, is Gabby. I am not def not her (although I guess I should consider it a comp?). What I am is a person that thinks that yesterday’s comments were a little more that just about the clothing and, since this is a public space, felt not only the need to, but also the freedom to say just that. I think this site has presented itself as a wonderful space to discuss issues that have been marginalized for years. That said, I think that the comments about Monif’s personality were irrelevant and seem to be of a personal nature. My sense of her is that she is a reasonable woman. If you have a problem with someone, go tell them. Directly. In addition, although I often find biting commentary about clothing that misses that mark here, I don’t believe that I have ever seen personal attacks…so I do find that “suspect” (You quoted me, misalexis, so I figure I should too).

    That said, agreed; The pieces are a touch expensive and the shoes make me nervous.

    As a sidebar comment that I find fascinating, it’s interesting that you have made so many pointed comments about the colloquialisms that I choose to use. We all speak slang, dear (Actually, the bloggers on this site literally make up their own words), its just that some is considered ‘universal’ and some is not. Perhaps I am using a version of it in which you are not fluent…but there is no need for the tongue-in-cheek quotations or thinly-veiled references to my word choice.

  18. Storme December 11, 2007 at 11:49 am #

    i must say, that i kinda agree with Gabby a little on this one. i don’t think that the dresses themselves are THAT bad, but i do think that with the proper accesories AND the right attitude, a woman could rock either.

    while shapeless dresses and garments CAN be a detterant (that spelled correctly? ha) for some plus sized beauties, thank the fashion gods for the advent of large belts. not all looks are for everyone, granted. and it’s your blog, so i know ull continue to write what you will. everyone has their own style and while i might not get down with some of the designers/garments you feature, im appreciative of the fact that you even try to bring something new to the way we look at plus sized fashion.

    still…bashing the dresses are a bit harsh. especially when both garments arent so far gone if paired with the right tights, belts, purse, etc. maybe a ‘fix the outfit’ contest would be fitting so that some of your readers might have the chance to show their own style and make the dresses seem not so horrible to everyone else.

    also, as an aside, i was kinda disappointed to see how late the announcement about the convertible dress sale went up. i think it’s still on sale, but putting an announcement up about a sale on it’s last day just kinda sucks for some of us out here.

    and one more thing…monif’s stuff IS a bit pricey…but i guess when you claim to be high fashion you can afford to slap on those kinds of prices. :-\

  19. caitlin December 11, 2007 at 1:35 pm #

    I also agree with Gabby and Storme. I hate to sound so negative in my posts, but I’m not sure I have faith in this blog’s recommendations. Plumcake, I don’t know how old you are, and I don’t know if it matters, but most of the recommendations you give seem to be for the older woman or a woman who doesn’t care about trends – Talbots, Coldwater Creek, whatever the name of the company that sells those shapeless hippy clothes. I’m young. I don’t want to wear pantsuits, grandma sweaters, or Talbots separates. How about focusing on my demographic for a bit? These dresses aren’t bad. In fact, I think they’re about a thousand times better some of the other things touted here. Properly accessorized, they could be very cute and flattering (at least the second dress).

  20. Melissa December 11, 2007 at 1:47 pm #

    I also agree with the ladies here. These dresses are nice. I particularly like the first dress, it reminds me of this black/white number my sister brought for her office holiday parties this year…I applaud Monif C. and I think the clothes she sells are the most fashion forward in plus sizes period in the United States (I would throw Elena Miro and Anna Scholz, both overseas into that category also) I do agree that the clothes featured on this site are definitely skewed for an older demo…Talbots, Coldwater Creek, and the ridiculous renaissance skirts featured today??? I mean if you are into Renaissance Fairs, go for it, but I’m sorry that is NOT fashion. After all this is supposed to be a fashion blog and if your sense of fashion is Talbots that’s fine, but know that most young fashionable plus size women wouldn’t go near that store. I’m sticking with places like Monif C. and Anna Scholz.

  21. Misalexis December 11, 2007 at 2:09 pm #

    A designers personality matters when you have dealt with that person on some level before, its kind of like encountering an unpleasant store clerk. A good deal of the clothes on this site are, hmmmm, not my cup of tea, which is why I do not comment that often. But I did state that she makes a lot of more flattering dresses that look good.
    These two are definitely an exception to that rule. But my personal opinion is that neither of the dresses are flattering, and I like to buy things that are well made and flattering, so I do not have to worry about extra accessories and stuff to try and make the most out of it.
    But her prices need to come down for the quality, I am willing to pay for the quality, but with some of these “high-end” plus designers they are really missing that mark, they think that we will pay for it cause, well, it’s designer!! That would be an interesting post.
    And as far as biting comments go, they are just expressions of opinions, it would be terribly boring if everyone had the same la-la-happy-cookie comments. But maybe they were not biting to the writer, but perhaps I am not fluent enough to understand.

  22. Lola December 11, 2007 at 3:19 pm #

    One of the essentials of superfantastic-osity is being creative and unique. That being said expecting the designer to create an entire look from top to bottom exactly tailored to your preference every time is a little on the unrealistic side. Those dresses are absolutely wearable. I am personally partial to the first one. With a little bit of effort which is required with all getting dressed experiences, you can really make them “your own”.

    As far as Monif’s attitude, that has little to nothing with what we are discussing here. The Dresses. I don’t have to be BFF with a designer to acknowledge her talent and wear her designs.

    Let’s keep this blog spicy ladies, and also our wardrobes.

  23. marjorie December 11, 2007 at 5:01 pm #

    agree — not to everyone’s taste, but not heinous. i do think the second outfit is sorta young and cute. but hey, even if i personally went “feh” to both looks….to each her own. one could make snarky comments about the hey-nonny-nonny renfaire i’m-henry-the-eighth-holding-a-turkey-leg cheap-looking indian soutache-y wares that have met with approval on this site, or the prim boiled wool jackets and tapestry talbotsy skirts perfect for wearing to the DAR meeting, or some hi-i’m-an-escapee-from-the-Dynasty-set-circa-1985 eveningwear. as our lovely hostesses have oft said, confidence, a good fit/tailor, and attitude go a long way in making clothing look good, and life would be dull if we all had the same sense of personal style.

  24. Francesca December 11, 2007 at 5:16 pm #

    Caitlin-
    Francesca agrees that her style runs more on the “classy and classic” spectrum, which is not always suitable for the woman under 30. Such is life. We cannot be everything to everyone!

    Melissa-
    Francesca is happy to report that already she was planning, in a few days, to highlight some items from the new collection of Anna Scholz!

    Love to you all,
    xoxo,
    Francesca

  25. Christina December 11, 2007 at 5:59 pm #

    Aww, I like those dresses! And I don’t think they’re shapeless at all, I would totally rock them with a cute belt, some nice boots, somethin! The picture on the site of the second dress is gorgeous if you ask me, and definitely shows how nice the dress really is. I can’t say I agree with you Francesca on these dresses.

    I’ve loved everything I got from Monif C. I already own the black ruched dress, a convertible, and a beautiful chiffon dress I got about a year ago, and the quality is always on point. And the pricing is definitely similar to stuff I see from skinny designers. Not to mention the customer service! Once I needed a dress for a white party and she custom made one of her dresses in white for me and called me the day after my party to see how it went. Call her overpriced if you want, I don’t think anyone over at Lane Bryant would call me the day after.

    I have never had a compliant about anything I’ve gotten from Monif and I’ll probably end up buying the 2nd dress posted on this page too. Do your thing Monif!

  26. Melissa December 11, 2007 at 10:28 pm #

    Francesca, you mentioned that most of your choices are “classy and classic” and maybe more suitable for the over 30 crowd, which again I have to disagree with. I myself am 38 amd would still never wear the choices you recommend. Although some of Monif C.’s styles may not be seen as traditionally classic, they are classic silhouettes that are spiced up in funkier fabrics and colors. It’s a young contemporary look and most plus size women I know are definitely happy to have her line has a new option. It’s all about how you put together your look that makes you classy and classic. I hope Monif C. and other lines like hers continues to get promoted on this blog and other blogs as there are lots of plus size women like myself we LIVE for these clothes!

  27. cheeky December 12, 2007 at 1:43 am #

    I want to apologize for confusing Plumcake with Francesca, first. Second, it doesn’t seem very fair (and I do recognize life isn’t fair) to ignore or at least marginalize the interests of a younger crowd. And “classy and classic” does not have to be the exclusive domain of women over 30 or solely embodied in the Talbots or Coldwater Creek.

  28. Allura December 12, 2007 at 1:48 am #

    Neither dress is my style, but I think I’d rather see our hosts highlight the good, like the coat you linked to. Now, that, I love.

  29. Francesca December 12, 2007 at 4:59 am #

    Thank you to the Monif C for her gracious response to Francesca’s criticism.

    Francesca likes Allura’s recommendation very much.

    Melissa and Cheeky- Francesca acknowledges that her tastes are not shared by everyone. By many yes, but not by everyone. This is why we have Plumcake! Two bloggers, to cover more areas of the taste! Francesca will never take it personally when a reader has her own style, distinct from Francesca’s.

    Francesca also wishes to remind that she attempts to highlight a wide variety of designers at different price points, to help the widest (ha! a pun!) population of readers. Where else does one find Saks Fifth Avenue and Torrid highlighted on the same site? It is a veritable recipe for making everyone happy sometimes, and sad sometimes. We work together because Big Girls Support Each Other, regardless of taste or financial means.

    And, that she comes back to Talbots often because they are one of the extremely few vendors with a large selection of Petite Women sizes, and Petite Women designs which look good on Apples. For the short, rotund girl it THE place to shop. If someone can recommend another store with a GENEROUS supply of such sizes, and less a reputation (completely undeserved, in Francesca’s opinion) for the fuddy-duddiness, then please share your information!

  30. Tk December 12, 2007 at 1:55 pm #

    psst: Francesca. If it’s any consolation, I am not plus sized, petite, frumpy, or over 25 and I still shop at Talbot’s.

  31. Megan December 16, 2007 at 3:39 pm #

    What do you mean when you say “pull an Old Navy”? Please ellaborate.

  32. Francesca December 16, 2007 at 4:59 pm #

    Megan-

    See here:
    http://manolobig.com/2007/11/28/a-word-about-old-navy/

    xoxo,
    Francesca