Why Fashion Designers Said No To Melissa McCarthy's Oscar Dress

Brands turned down Hollywood's hottest publicity opportunity

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Can You Guess Which (Crazy) Fashion Designers Said No To Melissa McCarthy?

According to Melissa McCarthy in the July issue of Redbook, "five or six" fashion designers turned her down when she wanted to hire them to make her Oscar dress. At the time, she was more than a guest at the world's biggest event, she was nominated as Best Supporting Actress for her role in the smash hit Bridesmaids. Instead of ferociously competing for the plum, publicity-rich red carpet job, they turned down the big bucks and big opportunity.

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Why? Was it money? Were these designers minting so much moolah they could afford to say no? Salary.com reports the annual median salary of a fashion designer in Los Angeles is $51,325. The median hourly wage is $25 an hour. A fashion designer in New York City fares a bit better; the median annual salary is $55,197 and hourly a whopping $27.

Obviously, these figures don't apply to the crème de la haute like Versace and Chanel. Money wouldn't be the primary motivator for them. But what would be?

Scuttlebutt has it that "brand" is the reason behind the big turndowns. The fear that dressing a plus-size woman, even one as beloved as McCarthy, would negatively affect their cherished brand identity.

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This sorry excuse was no surprise to Chrystal Bougon, founder of the popular CurvyGirlinc.com and head of its thriving community. "I hear from plus-size women day in and day out begging to give their money to the various retailers where they shop. But often there is just nothing that doesn't look like your Grandma's old drapes."

"Since the average American woman is size 14, it seems crazy there aren't more options for the rest of us. We are the standard now," Bougon continues. "Sexy is NOT a size. All of us want to feel sexy and relevant."

Michelle Merritt, acclaimed career coach and recent speaker at the Body Love Conference, shares her insights: "While the media may have found Melissa McCarthy's struggle to find an Oscar gown shocking, plus-size women everywhere just nodded in solidarity when we heard the news. Any woman over a size 16 who has worked in the business world or attended a black tie event knows the struggle it is to find quality fashion to fit her body. Until recently the options were matronly, poorly made, or resembled a tent. It's only been in the last few years that designers like Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren have added a plus-size selection."

"When I go shopping, most of the time I'm disappointed."

"Trying to find stuff that's still fashion-forward in my size is damn near impossible," McCarthy told the Hollywood Reporter in 2011. "It's either for like a 98-year-old woman or a 14-year-old hooker, and there is nothing in the middle." Born out of frustration and disappointment, the kick-ass actress (who studied fashion design in college) is launching her own plus-size clothing line. More than filling this significant retail gap, we expect her new designs to be as beautifully bodacious as she is. It's not only size twos who should be allowed to express their unique personal style.

In the meantime, let's try to figure out which designers said NO to the feisty, fabulous Melissa. Add your guesses to the comments below.

> 5 Career Tips for Plus-Size Professionals

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Sarah Browne

Sarah Browne


Sarah Browne is a consumer insights strategist, writer, and expert advisor on trends, innovation and emerging cultural change, especially in the workplace. A serial entrepreneur and specialist in angel investing, she loves to be in-the-trenches, taking seed stage products from concept to commercialization.

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Spiney Norman

This is unbelievable. When I walk into a menswear department, there are clothes for every size that's common enough to sell. Me, and men a whole lot skinnier than me, and ones a whole lot heavier than me -- we shop at the same stores. I'm a lot heavier than I was fifteen years ago, but I just bought an inexpensive suit that looks better than the one I have from back then. Is the groupthink in the fashion industry really so strong that designers would pass up a presence in the business of flattering plus-sized womenswear that is worth literally billions of dollars? Do they really think people are going to say to themselves, "Hmm, they made a fat woman look really good, so that must mean they make skinny people look terrible!" You'd think the good designers, even the ones who are financially incapable, would at least take it on for the challenge.

Yesterday at 9:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Spiney Norman

Let's see -- balance the negative attention you get from dressing a very popular heavy woman at a major media event against the number of heavy women who'd want to buy decent dresses from said brand afterwards. In the balance, how could dressing Melissa McCarthy have been anything but a financial win? The person who breaks out of this groupthink -- and it may be Melissa McCarthy herself -- is going to make a fortune.

Yesterday at 9:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Shame on Them !
Contact some NYC designers - or contact me - available
for creating a fabulously fitting gown.

Yesterday at 5:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Anyone remember how the naysayers treated Melissa when Mike and Molly first came on? She showed all of them.

Yesterday at 1:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

please, please Melissa, don't design clothes that are sleeveless, for the large ladies, there is too much skin being shown everywhere, it's disgusting.

Tuesday at 11:02 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

So which designer finally DID create her dress? THAT's the story I want to read!

Tuesday at 4:13 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

Hey , Thank you Myirysheyes and hoffstrod50 and those with positive input for Melissa McCarthy . As for bargellals you are one sick soul ...God help you . how sad to think you want to tell some person to hang themselfs because YOU don't think they fit to your liking . There are way too many children taking their own lifes because of bully's like you .

Tuesday at 3:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Dear Melissa , the best to you in the Fashion Styles for Plus sizes. My input is to just ask you to please have them "made in U.S.A " ....that crap out there is junk , no quality , no class and made in china is making me sick.
of course you can't even get a good cotton T , because the body is for a stick figured body ! "oh please "...and it will read 1x ....NOT ! Let's face it ! All American Wear is the best ...full fit , comfortable , and made well . I would rather pay more to get better quality . Like my mom always said " you get what you pay for " . We hear your frustration , YOU GO GIRL ! Get your wears out there . All the best to you .

Tuesday at 3:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

bargellals are you kiddin me? well you don't want women saying out-loud how disgusted they are that these pumped up men have lost dickie size do you? Shut up and love and like someone today ya fool!

Tuesday at 11:42 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I think Melissa is beautiful and I applaud her for being who she is and how she looks. I wish I could do half of the stunts she does being curvy like her. All heavy curvy girls should check out a company in England that sells
clothes and shoes for big girls. They have the sexiest clothes and shoes and they come in all sizes. And their
sizes are not the same as ours, their sizes run larger than ours. Check it out, its called simplybe.com. You will love it.

Tuesday at 9:17 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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