I still see myself as a big person, so I dress like a big person,” says Alison Jayne, 25, a Hamilton, Ont., mom of two who less than three years ago weighed 122 lbs. more than she does today. “My routine is usually a ponytail and sweatpants,” she says. That routine was ripe for a shake-up. Enter Oscar Blandi, hairstylist to stars like Jennifer Garner and Katie Holmes, who was asked to give Jayne a cut to flatter her now-striking cheekbones. (“I never had those before,” she says.) Mally Roncal, who has done makeup for Jennifer Lopez and Beyoncé, came in to show Jayne how to make the most of the new angles of her face. And Isaac Mizrahi—who was so excited by the assignment that he invited Jayne to be a guest on his Style network show Isaac—was brought in to help dress her new figure. “When you’re overweight, you’re so mean to yourself,” says Mizrahi, who has himself struggled with weight in the past. “When you succeed, you have to let yourself enjoy the success. I want Alison to do that.”
Thrilled by the offer, Jayne told her boys Damian, 6, and Dylan, 4, that she (along with husband Brent, 28, an industrial machinist) was off to New York City to be pampered. “Doesn’t Mom deserve that?” she asked. Their unanimous response: “No! You’re Mom!”
Don’t worry, guys, she’ll still be Mom. Already the kids have seen her undergo a major transformation: She went from 272 lbs. to 150 lbs. in 20 months, starting in June 2003. It all began when Jayne browsed a plus-size store for a sexy outfit to wear on her fifth wedding anniversary. “I ended up with elastic-waist pants,” she recalls. “So not what I wanted.”
Days later, Jayne called a Jenny Craig center. After enrolling, the former nachos addict “started eating salad,” she says. “My husband asked, ‘What have you done with my wife?’” Despite the teasing and mild concern about the program’s cost (for details, see page 71), Brent was supportive. “He never was negative, even when I was huge,” says Jayne, who was 180 lbs. at their wedding. “That’s what you call true love.” When she began dieting, he said, “If it means you’ll be here longer for our boys, go for it.”
She did, and she steadily lost weight using Jenny Craig’s packaged-food plan and working out at home with exercise videos. Still, Jayne continued to hide her body behind baggy sweatshirts and dark bangs, even after trading in her size 26 jeans for a size 10. “For the first time in her life, she’s owning her womanhood,” says Mizrahi. “I want her to discover new parts of herself.”
But first things first. At the Oscar Blandi salon in Manhattan (where a cut can cost $400), colorist Frank Friscioni warmed up Jayne’s natural dark-brown hair and added dramatic highlights. Blandi himself then snipped away 3″ of length and blended the bangs into a chic, sideswept style. “Even if you want your hair long, keep it soft around the face,” he advises.
Next up was Roncal, who used her own Mally Beauty products (which are sold on QVC) and “the same tricks I use on Jennifer Lopez,” she says. She showed Jayne how a concealer can make her look like she got plenty of sleep. And how contouring the cheekbones “makes you look like you lost 5 lbs.” Says Jayne, glancing happily in the mirror: “I don’t look like me anymore.”
Finally she was ready for wardrobe. When she arrived at Mizrahi’s New York City studio, where the designer turns out both couture gowns and Target casualwear, he was waiting with racks of clothing, determined to change her jeans-and-T-shirt habit. Not that he doesn’t get it: As an overweight kid, he struggled with dressing his new body after losing 75 lbs. at age 13. “I’d either hide in oversized clothes or wear the tightest clothes you can imagine.” Reaching for a belted jacket, he adds, “I want to challenge Alison. What about nothing under this? It’s great if we see just skin!”
From the sidelines, Brent Jayne watched his wife as she warmed to a denim skirt, followed by another jacket, then ropes of gray costume pearls. “I love it,” he says. “She’s glowing.”
Jayne loved it too. Her favorite look: a black tulle dress with a defined waist. Had she encountered the same dress on a store rack, Jayne says, “it’s something I would have disregarded. I’d think, ‘Nice for somebody else.’” Now she is that somebody else. And, she offers with a twirl, “it’s awesome.”
BEFORE: 272 LBS.
“At the mall, I’d avoid mirrors,” says Jayne (in June 2003). “I shopped only when I needed a bigger size.”
AFTER: 150 LBS.
After losing 122 lbs., Jayne still favored sweats. “I never used to feel sexy,” she says. “I felt like a blob.”
Though Jayne claims she has to learn “all these feminine things, like walking in high heels,” Mizrahi says that “she took to this tulle dress like a fish to water.”