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Top Designers Refused to Make Melissa McCarthy's Oscar Dress

by Laura Berger
August 25, 2014 12:00 PM
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Melissa McCarthy

Women and Hollywood is on vacation this week. While our lights are out, we'll be reposting our most popular posts of the summer.

Two Oscar seasons ago, Melissa McCarthy approached a number of top designers to dress her for the event. They said no: "I couldn't find anybody to do a dress for me. I asked five or six designers -- very high-level ones who make lots of dresses for people -- and they all said no." Major designers declined the opportunity to have their work showcased (at the Oscars!) by a talented, beloved, and beautiful actress. Before we chalk this up to "She wouldn't fit the sample size!" sure, that's true, but this is the Academy Awards -- custom made gowns are de rigueur. 

We can only deduce that these designers didn't want Melissa McCarthy to wear their work. They didn't want their clothing to be seen on her. They didn't want their image to be associated with hers, and it's obvious why: the size of her body. When these designers said no to dressing McCarthy, they were ultimately saying no to her body, and to bodies like hers (of which there are millions and millions and millions). The fact that Melissa McCarthy, a movie star, has difficulty finding nice clothes that fit says a lot about the state of plus-size clothing -- and how fat women are perceived and treated in the fashion world. 

This is of course an issue that extends beyond Hollywood. McCarthy tells Redbook: "I don't understand why if you're a certain size, designers think your taste level goes down and you have less money to spend. The quality and construction is often so bad. Finding a great t-shirt or a great cigarette pant in a good fabric is next to impossible. Plus-size clothes are often really cheap and either look young or incredibly old." This has been a problem for a long time. McCarthy doesn't mention -- but I'm sure she's noticed -- that in addition to the poor construction and questionable style of plus-size clothing, it's also not very widely available. For whatever reason -- I think we can all come up with about a dozen -- clothing sizes that are very common have been, and continue to be, treated like some sort of niche market. 

In an effort to improve the situation, McCarthy is creating a plus-size line of clothing with Daniella Pearl, who designed her Emmy dress. Bloggers, celebrities, and regular 'ol shoppers have been speaking out against the sorry state of mainstream plus-size clothing and demanding more for years. It seems like the alternative and independent fashion world is catching on, so perhaps more high-end designers will finally get a clue and rather than turning Melissa McCarthy away, they will be grateful for the opportunity to dress her. Hopefully McCarthy will wear some of her original designs on the press tour for Tammy, which opens July 2nd and she tells us where we can buy them.

h/t Redbook and Jezebel 

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  • Sonic reducer | August 30, 2014 10:55 PMReply

    There is nothing else in the world that blatantly shows no self control like a fat person. They are not happy people deep down. They dread the yearly doctor visit. This is not someone who "owns it". This is a morbidly obese person. Enjoy her while you can because she is going down the road of John Candy, Sam Kinison and Chris Farley.

  • Melissaisabeauty | August 27, 2014 3:49 AMReply

    Funny how the fuller girls get criticized& rejected but not the talentless, anorexic, vain ones who can't even fill out a dress. She has a prettier face than a lot of them, too. Wow you people have terrible taste. Those designers should have jumped at the chance. They will regret it. She's so talented, way more talented than any of those jerks& any of you haters (armchair philosophers.)

  • Photographer | August 26, 2014 9:22 PMReply

    She's not curvy, she is morbidly obese(fat).

  • No | August 26, 2014 8:54 AMReply

    Well, she has a couple of options or more. She could lose weight. Get someone who isn't a named designer to create a gown for her. Or, she could use the situation in her next film or comedy show.

  • WeightChallenged | August 25, 2014 6:51 PMReply

    I take the statements in the article with a grain of salt. How many years has she walked red carpets? Now that her clothing line is here this issue is making headline. Promotion, promotion, promotion! Octavia Spencer, Oprah, Monique, Christina Hendrieths who designs their gown. She uses her weight to throw people under the bus like she did her cousin, Jenny.

  • BD | August 25, 2014 12:29 PMReply

    "They didn't want their image to be associated with hers, and it's obvious why: the size of her body."

    ....or, they didn't want their image to be associated with a terrible actress who has one character that is continuously recycled.

  • not disgusting | August 3, 2014 1:02 AMReply

    Women like Melissa McCarthy could only look good if theres some large object covering them...
    soooo... go on, rage, i know you hate your bodies

  • Matt Perkins | August 2, 2014 3:47 PMReply

    For starters she is not beautiful. She wouldnt be beautiful is she was skinny either. Secondly if designers made clothing for obese women it would tell everyone its ok to be obese which it isnt. Its not healthy. Finally Melissa could choose to lose weight and be a role model to plus size women everywhere. Instead she makes no effort to lose weight to fit in designer clothes and instead complains about the designers. To me that speaks everything about her character. And i think she stays obese because she knows she's a terrible actress and being an obese actress is her claim to fame.

  • Uraloser | August 27, 2014 3:59 AM

    Ha ha like you're a model or professional critic, you have a lot to say for a nobody. As they say, the emptiest vessels make the loudest noise. You're very empty.
    You're bitter, unhappy, mouthing off like a coward, judging people from behind a computer, all alone, while she's out there in the spotlight making the big bucks making people laugh. Who's the judgmental talentless loser? You are! Ha!

  • Rod | August 25, 2014 10:43 PM

    Your post says a lot about your judgmental character.
    Now go and try to enjoy life, even though they are fat, short, or not attractive people in YOUR world. It's called reality.

  • get a real life | July 24, 2014 1:09 AMReply

    i dont hate her cause shes plus size i hate her cause she sucks as an actress period!

  • nice clothes | June 26, 2014 2:25 PMReply

    Another very strong and powerful post. I’ve been reading through some of your previous posts and finally decided to drop a comment on this one. I signed up for your newsletter, so please keep up the informative posts!

    nice clothes

  • cyn | June 17, 2014 11:10 PMReply

    I am tired of "designers" not making clothes for women. If they had ANY REAL TALENT they would look at the challenge, find the right cuts, fabrics, and style to make curvy women look amazing. I think they are just pretentious babies who KNOW they have no real ability to dress humans, just clothes hangers and teenage boys in "women's wear".

  • John | June 12, 2014 12:21 PMReply

    Please share the names of the designers that refused her, I'd love to blow their social media profiles up.

  • Denise | June 10, 2014 7:25 PMReply

    Melissa should name names.

  • Kate | June 10, 2014 4:30 PMReply

    How very obnoxious a lot of these comments are. Being over weight does not always indicate an unhealthy life style. I am over weigh and consistently run 5k, completed a 10k in boulder co. Training for a triathlon and 1/2 marathon for then end of the summer. My bp is great, chol is normal, no diabetes. Plus sized clothing is often made with these huge ugly prints and are not made for the people wearing them. The person in as Designer sounds like a big ashat. Being larger does not mean ugly. And the fact that these designs are not ness for the average woman says a lot. A woman at 5'10" should NOT be able to dress from the little girls section. It is called being a woman. Rib bones, vertebrae and hips are not attractive, neither for the most part fake boobs. Also hello photoshop.

  • Rod | August 25, 2014 10:45 PM

    Joe, your blow up doll doesn't count.

  • Joe | June 10, 2014 6:26 PM

    Kate, clearly you've never had hot tipsy sex with a 5'8" size 4 woman with large boobs and a suntan in a bikini-top and cut-offs at swanky hotel in Hawaii. Because if you did....

  • Suzanne | June 9, 2014 10:45 PMReply

    I'll make your dress for you. I love you. (my husband says that's ok)

  • Jasmine | June 8, 2014 3:47 PMReply

    This is whats wrong with society the media is giving everyone their dump standard of beauty and i think that's so insulting either way , These fashion companies only prefer skeletons than actule people. its completely stupid , that's why I think society is bias in every form , i mean seriously if the person has money and is offering you a high amount of money just take it and do it, Apparently what they lack of realizing is the more variety of sizes there stupid line has the more money they bring in. Seriously haven't these people in these companies herd of some kind of common sense , they say you need to go to have some sort of degrees to have the job they have of designing cloths, yet i see that anyone that's stupid can do this job because what these people lack is common sense , This is also why being famous gets you really nowhere, no one really respects you as hard as you work. This right here is not an eye opener to me but i expect people to be so ignorant and closed minded. No matter the size of her figure she should of gotten the dress she asked for but i applaud her for being inspired to create a cloths line for plus size because everyone should have the chance to shine =]

  • Designer | June 8, 2014 6:38 AMReply

    Designers need to protect their brands...having their clothes associated with overweight, unattractive women is bad for business...women like to associate themselves with "beauty" which is why I cannot walk in a bookstore without seeing 50 fashion magazines for women full of clothes, makeup ads, etc. all featuring bone thin models...women keep those magazines in business and worship the thin ladies in them

  • Peter Joseph-Zelaya | July 9, 2014 3:10 AM

    Beauty is what beauty does!! = The plus size woman is one of the best and lucrative corner of the fashion business and they are losing big+++ revenues for this negligence.

  • linda philley | June 7, 2014 7:52 PMReply

    I would wear her stuff JUST because it was hers I love her because she is real SHAME on those designers and it shows how shallow they are you don't need them!

  • m | June 7, 2014 6:29 PMReply

    I am baffled by all of the 'being fat is not healthy!!!!' comments, as though that has anything to do with this article whatsoever. This isn't about glorifying fat, it's about a big woman wanting to wear a pretty effing dress to the damn Academy Awards like EVERY OTHER WOMAN, and being denied the same access to designers as people who are thinner. Just because she's overweight doesn't mean she shouldn't be able to dress well, for god's sake. This is about her professional dignity being viewed as less valuable than some skinny person's, and not about whether or not it's okay to be fat.

    These comments about 'combating obesity' are hilariously off-point. Exactly how are is anyone 'combating obesity' by refusing to make a dress for a woman? Punishing fat people doesn't combat obesity. Frankly, I think it only contributes to the problem, since feelings of shame and unhappiness with one's self only cause many emotional eaters to eat more, so exactly how do you square THAT circle? A woman should be able to take care of herself and feel beautiful no matter how much she weighs. Maybe if she loved herself more, she'd have the willpower to conform to whatever standard of appearance some of you seem determined to friggin hold her to.

    Tl;dr: the designers are idiots and most of the people commenting here are bad at logic.

  • ChubbyBoy | June 7, 2014 6:35 AMReply

    I am overweight, but do not fall into the obese category and I feel as though portraying obesity as a good thing is unreasonable. I am not happy with my weight because I KNOW I am unhealthy and unattractive. It is what it is.

  • Big girl lover | June 6, 2014 6:14 PMReply

    Fat girls rock! The bigger the better! I like a girl so big she's confined to a bed & has to use a crane & knock out a wall to leave the house to go on the Jerry Springer show! Go SUPER MORBIDLY OBESE CHICKS!!! 300 lbs is skinny!

  • Big girl lover | June 6, 2014 6:14 PMReply

    Fat girls rock! The bigger the better! I like a girl so big she's confined to a bed & has to use a crane & knock out a wall to leave the house to go on the Jerry Springer show! Go SUPER MORBIDLY OBESE CHICKS!!! 300 lbs is skinny!

  • Big girl lover | June 6, 2014 6:13 PMReply

    Fat girls rock! The bigger the better! I like a girl so big she's confined to a bed & has to use a crane & knock out a wall to leave the house to go on the Jerry Springer show! Go SUPER MORBIDLY OBESE CHICKS!!! 300 lbs is skinny!

  • Big girl lover | June 6, 2014 6:13 PMReply

    Fat girls rock! The bigger the better! I like a girl so big she's confined to a bed & has to use a crane & knock out a wall to leave the house to go on the Jerry Springer show! Go SUPER MORBIDLY OBESE CHICKS!!! 300 lbs is skinny!

  • rockchiclet | June 6, 2014 2:31 PMReply

    Melissa should have approached the beautiful and talented Canadian dress designer Dalia MacPhee. She has created many lovely designs for Hollywood A listers, including some who are plus size.

  • pj | June 6, 2014 1:27 PMReply

    It's not healthy to be so overweight. Be all PC about it and not mention it - but that's a fact. Women and men should not be adored for being stick thin, etc. But neither should men or women who are so overweight that its a health hazard - and trying to convey to others who read magazines that it's okay to be 300 pounds. It's not okay because you have a high risk to heart disease and lots of other things bad for you. Melissa is a great comedian.

  • Jason | June 6, 2014 2:18 AMReply

    Come on. With all her money she couldn't find ONE designer to make her a pretty tarp?

  • l | June 10, 2014 6:03 PM

    who do you get to make the paper bag to go over your head?

  • Kevin | June 5, 2014 11:43 PMReply

    I think the problem is more wide spread than imagined. If you shop in stores in general, you will see most clothing is tailored to suit the needs and styles of those in their 20s or younger. If you find a section where they retail clothing for adults, you will likely find that there is very little selection for those between 35 and 60.

    While guys can go to formal events in a suit or tux no matter their age, it's probably pretty tough for women, who do not use this uniform system. Not to mention, anyone will be more than happy to make a suit for a fat guy. I think maybe Melissa is not only approaching the fact that larger women do not have a lot of options, but that woman in her age group often get left out, left with few options or must pay dearly to shop a high-end line to appear professional and/or glamorous.

    I have known a few women of average size who feel retailers leave them out of the loop because they don't want size 0 denim cutoffs with a 3" inseam or a floral muu-muu in a size 5XL.

  • Ramona | June 5, 2014 10:47 PMReply

    Important article, but by immediately assuming it is because of her body size (no one said that, right?) you are stigmatizing her yourself. If that's what is immediately so obvious to you. Could have had any reason.

  • Maria | June 6, 2014 3:32 AM

    Ramona, I completely agree with you!

  • Stacy | June 5, 2014 9:48 PMReply

    Texas Divas Boutique specializes in blessed sizes!

  • Stacy | June 5, 2014 9:47 PMReply

    Texas Divas Boutique specializes in blessed sizes!

  • Jason | June 6, 2014 2:19 AM

    LMAO. "Blessed size"

  • Stacy | June 5, 2014 9:47 PMReply

    Texas Divas Boutique specializes in blessed sizes!

  • Ashley | June 5, 2014 9:35 PMReply

    I don't want to be mean butvtgatvisbwhat fashion is. Skinny. Almost bone. Even the models Re sickly looking, to hangs for one plus size women is crazy. I think we just need to see the beauty in each other. If they don't want to dress her that's fine, that is their right, many have worked from the bottom to get to where they are.

  • Allison Wonderland | June 5, 2014 6:53 PMReply

    Melissa was nominated the same year as, and competed against, Octavia Spencer, another plus sized actress, however Octavia did not seem to suffer the same discrimination of which Melissa speaks. She wore a beautiful and very flattering Tadashi Shoji gown (Shoji dressed her throughout the Awards Season) and looked gorgeous. Melissa's choice for that night, however, was much less so. I am not saying that Melissa's story is exaggerated, as the challenge for plus sized women to find clothing is indeed real, it just seems conveniently shared just as she has a fashion line about to hit the market.

  • Mel | June 5, 2014 7:23 PM

    Tadashi Shoji has always had a line of plus size gowns. It is part of their collection every season. Also, Tadashi Shoji is a brand that can be purchased in many stores, including Nordstrom which does not really carry "Oscar Gowns". Melissa is speaking about asking a very high end designer who does not sell plus size clothing regularly to make her a custom gown. Yes, Octavia looked beautiful (absolutely gorgeous in fact!) but I don't believe her story is the same as what Melissa is talking about. I think it is incredibly brave for Melissa to bring this point up while still being professional and respectful for not naming those designers.

  • Julie | June 5, 2014 3:46 PMReply

    Go Melissa! She is stunning! Those top designers suck. Melissa McCarthy for the win!

  • Jennifer Mayberry | June 5, 2014 3:11 PMReply

    I hope this is not the official indiewire account. I'm sure it's not...

  • Carol | June 5, 2014 1:43 PMReply

    I freaking ADORE Melissa McCarthy. She's an amazing and beautiful woman. I aspire to be more like her. She is smart, funny, and knows who she is. She's an incredible talent and I feel bad for anyone who can't see past appearances.

  • Jason | June 7, 2014 12:02 AM

    She is an actress. Her appearance is at least half of her job.

  • Doc | June 5, 2014 1:14 PMReply

    Jackie, sounds u hated urself when u were a big girl. Not everyone perceives obesity the way u do. Whats really unhealthy and unattractive are ppl with ur attitude. Judging by what u posted, sounds like u fell right in to the TV brainwashing campaign of looking like an unrealistic skinny magazine cover model. IMO Melissa McCarthy is a hot mama.

  • Jason | June 7, 2014 12:05 AM

    Yeah she's hot....tired...and probably out of breath from carrying around that extra deuce and a half

  • Jackie | June 5, 2014 12:50 PMReply

    Big Girl: There is a difference between curvy and obese. As a formerly obese person, now down 110 pounds, I feel I can speak from experience. Frankly, obese is unhealthy and unattractive. Yes, it may be due to different medical conditions, but we should all be combatting obesity.

  • Bonnie | June 5, 2014 3:26 PM

    The fat person herself is the only one who should care about it. It's her body and her health. For all other people, fat should be only a description, and not a moral qualifier. People should try to lose weight when they feel they need it, because of their knees, their heart, ability to run etc., and not because of other people telling them what to do, or bullying into it.
    Before you think I'm obese - I was never overweight for my whole life, a combination of good genes, fairly healthy lifestyle and early treatment of the health problems I have. And I think losing a lot of weight is hard work which I admire. I just think that when you look at an obese person, you never know the story behind it. Maybe she's already 40 poinds down. Maybe she takes medicaments. Maybe there's something else. Also, I'm a heterosexual woman and thus I don't have a good notion of what is sexually attractive or not about a lady. I know what is attractive in a woman as a person and a friend, and weight has nothing to do with it.

  • paizlea | June 5, 2014 1:13 PM

    Of course we should be combating obesity. But in the meantime, should obese women be forced to wear bad clothes?

  • Yep | June 5, 2014 12:49 PMReply

    Maybe she should consult Lane Bryant or just I don't know: GET FIT?

  • HA | June 6, 2014 4:35 PM

    Angered: fat tub of worthless lard detected. Go lose some weight, you obese cart-rider.

  • Angered | June 5, 2014 1:11 PM

    Maybe you should, i don't know: go F*** yourself?

  • Big girl | June 5, 2014 12:06 PMReply

    This speaks volumes for how women are viewed today. It was once okay to have some curves but now the look is stick thin and sickly and if they have curves, the plastic surgeon put them there!
    I'm a size 16-18 and designers seem to think that if you are big around, then you must also be 8 feet tall. Finding clothes to fit is troublesome...the fact that someone famous has as much trouble as the rest of us leaves little hope that it will ever get any better!

  • Bex | June 7, 2014 11:20 PM

    Rachel I would love to meet you down a dark alley. You're nothing but a jumped up ignorant and rude lite girl who needs to be taught some manners.

    Bonnie, I have the same issues the other lady in the shop with you had. Being tallish and roundish means dressed become tshirt and actual shirts are either fitting round the stomach and popping open at the chest or perfect at the chest and huge and baggy round the waist.

    Designers are missing a trick or two by not getting a variety of girls of all sizes and design things to fit all. I love Melissa and think as long as she is happy, it doesn't matter what other peoples opinions are. People who read this and have the attitude "she's fat so if she wants to wear nice clothes she should lose weight" are completely missing the point to this story. CUSTOM made means they make it to fit, suit and flatter their client that suits body shape AND age.

  • Nunya | June 6, 2014 4:52 AM

    Bravo! Angered, you win the internet for your perfect and hilarious reply up there :D

  • Jason | June 6, 2014 2:31 AM

    Agreed. I'm abnormally large, but would like for you to cater to my abnormality.

  • Bonnie | June 5, 2014 4:01 PM

    I mean, I'm petite. It's like, even, when did 160 cm become petite? Half of my mom's generation is the height and size I happen to have. Two third of my grandmom's generation is like that, only they usually put on weight with age. Petite women can't even reasonably expect to change. You can eventually lose kilograms, you can't grow more centimeters. That said, petite overweight women are in much worse situation. Anyway I think that people who exist should be able to buy decent clothes for themselves. Because they exist, go around, eat, sleep etc., they also have to dress up. It's logic.

  • James M | June 5, 2014 3:31 PM

    "...everyone has to accept that I refuse to do the things that would make me look like a normal human being..." A sentence that smacks of a) ignorance, and 2) a total lack of compassion for other human beings. Rachel, your're part of the problem. You do get that, don't you?

  • Bonnie | June 5, 2014 3:30 PM

    I was buying some clothes lately. Two women entered the shop, me and another lady. I am size 8, and 160 cm tall. The other lady was 180 cm tall, two-three sizes bigger and had... um... very big curves around the chest, and a good bra to show it. None of us bought any clothes in this shop. I was drowning in mine, and for her, the dress became a t-shirt. I think the designers plan for the average women, somewhere in the middle of bell curve in sizes. Anybody else has a problem.

  • HiXcelr8 | June 5, 2014 1:01 PM

    Rachel, easy to be so bold and call people lazy behind the screen of a computer. Self-righteous much?

  • Rachel | June 5, 2014 12:53 PM

    Maybe instead of being unhealthy you should eat better and hit the treadmill. I hate this culture of "I am happy being me, but everyone has to accept that I refuse to do the things that would make me look like a normal human being and kowtow to my every request even though I'm making things difficult for everyone because I'm lazy and refuse to change my bad habits."

  • Brad | June 5, 2014 11:41 AMReply

    Could it not just be they did not want to be associated with a shitty actress who only knows how to act like an exaggerated version of herself?

  • Free thinker | June 13, 2014 12:14 AM

    I'm confused at Rachel as too why another women's weight is of consequence too you. You showed enormous drive an will power too achive your goal however it does not mean you pull out you soap box an judge others. Everyone's struggle is there own, an people are a compilation of there experiences. An using health as a guise too be a women sowing other women is just that a guise. A truly passionate person concerned with the health of other knows mental health comes 1st an foremost, an ofen many people are not there yet, so it's your job too b there judge I suppose. Be a better person a more compassionate person one who is a little more worldly in understanding the human condition

  • Jason | June 6, 2014 2:29 AM

    Even the film's she's in make fun of her weight. Anyone keep count of how many times Identify Theif made a fat joke?

  • Rachel | June 5, 2014 12:53 PM

    Maybe instead of being unhealthy you should eat better and hit the treadmill. I hate this culture of "I am happy being me, but everyone has to accept that I refuse to do the things that would make me look like a normal human being and kowtow to my every request even though I'm making things difficult for everyone because I'm lazy and refuse to change my bad habits."

  • Maryanna | June 5, 2014 12:49 PM

    Yep, gotta love how they throw "beautiful" in there, she looks like she came straight off the trailer park.

  • Bitemelo | June 5, 2014 12:34 PM

    No. You would see how talented she was if you didn't have your head up your ass.

  • Rick | June 5, 2014 11:08 AMReply

    That's sad. It's nice that's she's teaming with a designer to be the change

  • Jason | June 6, 2014 2:27 AM

    Even the film's she's in make fun of her weight. Anyone keep count of how many times Identify Theif made a fat joke?

  • Betty | June 5, 2014 3:21 PM

    Why does she even care?

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