Women’s apparel design began in Paris in 1858 as ‘made-to-measure’ or haute couture, which means that each garment was made specifically for a particular individual. As fashion design grew, the garments were presented on runways by tall, thin models with long legs and modest measurements. The purpose of using these types of models was, and still is, to show the line, motion and character of the garment being created. However, this fact has been lost on many and, as a result, the focus has shifted away from the garment and onto the model, leaving the public to believe instead that these models represent the figure of the ideal woman.
Consequently, garments have been standardized to fit this ‘ideal 2, 4, 6, 8 or 10 woman’. ‘She’ is still tall with minimal dimensions. This narrow thinking has left the American woman at a loss. While most runway models are roughly 5'10", the height of the average American woman is 5'4". By apparel industry standards 5’4” -- or the average American woman -- is considered to be petite. Couple that with the fact that many women’s bodies have curves, and this short, curvaceous or ‘petite’ woman is forced onto the apparel sidelines.
While women with a classic, model figures happily select from the volumes of apparel choices, many petite women have resigned themselves to imagining what it must be like to be tall so that they can wear the garments that don the catwalks during fashion weeks the world over. Although there are a number designers who have lines that offer petite sizes -- Ann Taylor, Jones New York, Gap, among them, the reality is that there really are only a handful of true choices with limited selections for the petite woman. The need for choices in this area persists.
Alas, there are some among us who hear the call. Chicago area designer, Joneien Johnson has long recognized the demand in the marketplace for designer clothing that fits the petite woman with curves. Johnson’s line, Joneien Leah Design, dedicates significant attention to providing fashionable apparel choices for the petite woman. According to Johnson, “Joneien Leah is a collection of contemporary separates and dresses for the real woman. She is confident, chic, and proud of her feminine body.”
Johnson creates a number of interesting petite apparel choices including pleated, metallic-crepe rayon-blend pencil skirts; skinny-fit tailored pants; silk-blend, swing dresses with high-low hems and bell sleeves; and asymmetric, tapered-leg pants. Her collection respectfully acknowledges the fact that many women have small waists and curvy hips, and provides a selection of fashionable, flattering, business-casual choices.
Many pieces from her collection can be purchased in The Fashion Market's online 'bottega boutique'. Her collection may also be viewed in the Fashion Forward runway event, next month, as part of Chicago's 2013 Fall Fashion Week.