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The World of Plus-Size Modeling, According to One of Our Favorites--Along with Her Secret Shopping Resources

Philippa Allam is one of the world's most successful plus-size models, a knockout blonde with a 29-inch waist--which, of course, makes her smaller than the American average, but that's a conversation for another day. We talked to Allam, who's British but lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, about where she thinks plus-size fashion is headed, her favorite plus-size designers, and her favorite shops on the planet.

How have you seen the plus-size world change?

It is ever changing--which is wonderful to see, especially as I have been a part of it for so long and have experienced and witnessed so much resistance. In the last year, more so than ever before, major and young up-and-coming designers, fashion photographers and high-end fashion publications have all featured plus-size girls in some way.

So you feel like you've made real progress?

We're not there yet, by any stretch of the imagination. I recently shot an editorial in London, and the stylist was not able to pull any larger sample sizes from fashion houses that sell up to a size 14, as they only supplied a size 4 sample. It's very difficult and limiting to shoot a high-fashion curvy story. However, larger sizes are becoming more readily available in non-plus-size stores. H+M, Topshop, Zara, sometimes. Even little boutique shops like Reformation on the Lower East Side, where I normally just dream about wearing their clothes, recently told me they have to design their clothes for a larger body. Hurrah! Work for us plus-size girls is better than ever, too, as major stores like Bloomingdale's, Macy's and JCPenney all sell plus-size lines and have everything online, too.

Who's your favorite plus-size designer?

My favorite plus-size designer is Marina Rinaldi. The quality is amazing, and being British, I am slightly biased towards the European designers anyway. The designs are quite classic, but you can always find beautiful key pieces in their collections providing you are willing to invest! They offer everything! On the other end of the scale, I have found that Torridhas some very on-trend stuff that is very affordable. My indulgence is Marc Jacobs summer dresses. He designs with a womanly body in mind and goes up to a generous 12. Stella McCartney and Vivienne Westwood both cut for a curvy form and do larger sizes.

What's your one must-go store?

My go-to place is undoubtedly Topshop. They have a taller range, sizes up to 12/14 and a maternity line. For vintage, I always go to Zachary's Smile on Greenwich Avenue and Screaming Mimi's. Williamsburg, where I live, has amazing vintage stores. The beauty of a lot of vintage is you can find bigger sizes.

What would you say to a woman who's really at her wit's end in terms of finding great, plus-size clothes?

I would tell her to check out Madisonplus.com, where they list nearly all the plus-size companies globally. And call me--I'll take her shopping!

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