Now That Bebe Rexha Had Her ‘Cinderella Moment,’ Will Other Non-Sample Size Women as Well?
Designer August Getty and curvy model Candice Huffine sure hope so
Weeks before the awards show, the “Meant to Be” singer publicly shared that some designers were unwilling to dress the star, who is a size 8, for the event because she was “too big.” Then fellow celebs like Demi Lovato came to her defense, and several designers rose to the challenge and offered their services, from Christian Siriano to Karl Lagerfeld, the singer said.
“I really just wanted to share my story and how frustrated I was,” Rexha, 29, told PEOPLE exclusively before the Grammys. “I never expected to receive the amount of love and support that I did.”
The star, who was up for two nominations that night, ended up choosing a voluminous burgundy ballgown by Monsoori designer Shaima Monsoori, who is based out of the Middle East, for her Grammys appearance.
“For me, this is my Cinderella moment,” she said on Grammys night.
“We were thrilled to have had the opportunity to dress Bebe, who has been such a trendsetter the past year,” Monsoori tells PEOPLE of being part of Rexha’s milestone moment.
The designer also said she was even more excited for what the look represented: “Her curves really fit perfectly making the gown even more empowering. Our pieces have always been super moldable catering to women of all shapes and sizes.”
Yet, Rexha’s complicated journey begs the question: Will more non-sample size women get designer dressing opportunities for red carpet events?
Turns out, the answer to that is still incredibly complex.
On one hand, designer Laquan Smith believes that calling out an entire fashion industry for its limitations is extremely unfair.
“When you have women who cry for help, like ‘No one will dress me,’ you have to wonder if there is more to the story,” he told PEOPLE at the NYFW Beyond the Shows panel discussion.
“People don’t understand the full situation,” Smith told PEOPLE.
“It’s not that designers don’t want to dress these women, but in the event of smaller designers, it’s (a) have we even been presented the opportunity and (b) if we are presented the opportunity and there’s no budget involved, we take on the financial burden or bend over backwards to basically hope to be placed on the red carpet,” the designer told PEOPLE. “It’s never guaranteed. Those are the kind of situations that I try to bring awareness to.”
Curvy model Candice Huffine is glad to know that there are more issues at play than just size, as Smith said, and is keen to note that there is an undercurrent of financing red carpet looks that is also not discussed. While the dresses appear effortless, they actually cost in the thousands of dollars. For example, Rexha’s Monsoori gown sells for $5,600.
“I don’t expect anything for free, and maybe that’s just like an odd expectation that’s unspoken where the star wants it for free and the designer can’t make it,” Huffine told PEOPLE at a NYFW Beyond the Shows panel discussion. “But now that that’s out in the open, it’s an interesting conversation.”
It’s a hurdle she says is worth figuring out, in order to make the red carpet a more inclusive place. “Basically, it comes down to ‘Let’s talk about how we can get it done’ because it has to get done,” she told us.
On the other hand, some agree that calling attention to this issue in big, loud ways, like Rexha’s declaration on Instagram — despite the connotation that the entire industry is to blame — is the only way for real change to happen.
“[Saying no to dressing a celebrity] is something that happens more than people know and think about,” designer August Getty tells PEOPLE.
The designer outfitted Rexha for her appearance at the Clive Davis bash over Grammys weekend in a sculptural top and matching pants. “It’s 2019, it’s time for people to realize what the rest of the world is realizing.”
That’s why he thinks that grand gestures like Rexha’s are necessary. “I’m so grateful that she’s using her platform to speak out about it,” he said. (He decided to create her Marilyn Monroe-inspired look for the bash, shown below, on the same day she made her call to action.)
“I had a reason that was bigger than just me making something,” he said of developing her two-piece look. “Designers forget that we’re making clothes for women. The woman needs to be happy. We can’t be prejudiced. We can’t be exclusive to anybody.”
Either way, the conversation about inclusivity continues to be an important aspect of the future of the red carpet dressing and Rexha’s journey only renews public interest in making sure women of all shapes and sizes feel their best for their major milestone moments.
“Because if a Bebe Rexha who’s a size 8 can’t get a dress, what does that say for the girl who’s a size 8 at home?” Huffine told PEOPLE. “Suddenly, she’s going to think ‘Well my body is not good, is it? So I’m going to take all these measures to make it a size 2 because that’s what the world tells me is beautiful.’”
“We’re all in charge of this domino effect and so we got to keep having this conversation so that we’re doing it the right way,” says Huffine. “We gotta be dressed. These are big moments in our lives, and we need to be feeling our most 100.”
— With reporting by Megan Uy