Lately it feels like each week brings a new form of body shaming leveled at women. The most recent instance involves the fashion label Herve Leger, and it apparently cost the man who made the comments his job.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Patrick Couderc, the managing director of Herve Leger’s London distributor, MJH Fashion, treated the tabloid to what it characterized as a “bizarre outburst.” He urged “voluptuous” women and those with “very prominent hips and a very flat chest” to avoid the brand’s famed, form-fitting “bandage dresses.” The dresses are so-named because they resemble strips of fabric wrapped tightly around the body, and Couderc suggested some women steer clear of them for their own mental well-being.
“You women have a lot of problems,” he said. “You will lose the plot. You will come and you will put a dress on and you’ll be in front of the mirror, like, ‘Argh, I’m so fat.'”
He counseled older women to keep away from them as well. “What you’re not noticing is that your cleavage is about two inches too low because you are 55 and it’s time that you should not display everything like you’re 23,” he said, offering, however, that a bandage dress could offer some support.
He also proffered a broad generalization on why lesbians wouldn’t want to wear the hip-hugging style. “If you’re a committed lesbian and you are wearing trousers all your life, you won’t want to buy a Leger dress. Lesbians would want to be rather butch and leisurely.”
The interview ran on Aug. 15. A spokesperson for BCBG Max Azria Group, which acquired Herve Leger in 1998, today says Couderc “was” an executive at a London distributor of the brand and is “no longer associated with the company.”
“The Herve Leger by Max Azria brand and its parent company, BCBGMAXAZRIA Group, are shocked and appalled by Patrick Couderc’s comments made in the Mail on Sunday,” the company said in a statement. “BCBGMAXAZRIA Group is working in concert with MJH Fashion, the London-based licensee of the Herve Leger brand, to investigate and establish appropriate next steps.” Quartz could not reach Couderc himself, or MJH Fashion, for comment.
Couderc’s comments, not surprisingly, prompted a good deal of outrage.
Herve Leger is widely credited with pioneering the figure-flaunting, body-con (body-conscious) style in the 1980s, though arguably he didn’t invent it—that credit perhaps belongs to Azzedine Alaïa, who Leger once worked for. But bandage dresses have been extremely popular since, their fans including celebrities such as Nicki Minaj and Kim Kardashian (who happens to be known for her voluptuous curves).
Couderc is not the first to suggest that these are dresses that only certain women should consider. Max Azria, the founder of BCBG, once remarked that they’re for a “particular body in the best shape possible.”
Many women with curvaceous bodies still wear the dresses though. And some even feel their figures are better suited to a dress designed to show off the body’s contours.
Couderc’s remarks probably won’t attract any new customers to Herve Leger. But ultimately they may not matter, since individual women will continue to decide what they should wear, whether others approve or not.