March 05, 2015 10:22 PM

The number one plus-size model of the ’90s is still making waves on the scene today. She already started “Fashion Without Limits” (an initiative to help young designers focus on making clothing for sizes 12 and up) and now she’s testing out her design muscles by curating a plus-size collection with online retailer ideel. Find out more about the collection in our exclusive interview!

Courtesy ideel.com

“It’s truly a new day in size 12 and up fashion, and I’m thrilled with the work of the Ideel team,” Emme says of her collaboration with the site. “They worked really hard — pushed their manufacturers and designers to provide us with bold power prints, black and white remix pieces and punches of vivid bright florals.”

The colorful collection is filled with blouses, leggings, jumpsuits, dresses and accessories that all mimic Emme’s own style mantras: “Nothing complicated” and “comfortable chic.”

Top of her style musts: “I like clean lines with punches of color, glorious shoes — I’m a size 11.5 but have always been obsessed with shoes! — and I never forget my best accessory, a smile. No matter what!”

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Courtesy ideel.com

Lately, she’s had a lot to smile about. “Social media has given a voice to a very underserved community and that moment is here to stay,” says Emme of the meteoric rise of plus-size models (and subsequent fashion).

Up-and-comers that have Emme’s eye? Ashley Graham, Candice Huffine, Marquita Pring, Denise Bidot and Robyn Lawley.

“These women look outstandingly beautiful in all the work I’ve seen them do,” says Emme. “They confidently have staked a claim in an arena that for so long few have graced. I love the way our eye is being exposed to many types of models — pushing the aperture of beauty open, allowing a more inclusive, less narrow point of view which benefits all women psychologically!”

But she still doesn’t think the market is catching up quickly enough. “Unfortunately, the work today is not as abundant as we would like, quite possibly because there are so many beautiful young women coming into the modeling world being size 12, 14, 16,” she says. “It’s fantastic, but the supply has not caught up with the demand for a robust modeling industry that there is in the misses market,” explains Emme. “I believe it’s coming, but not at this moment.”

And that’s part of why she founded the program at Syracuse, she says. “Upon graduation, more designers will know how to address fuller figure apparel and help eliminate this gateway into the business in the future worldwide. Over the next few years, the curriculum is being tested, books are being written and classes are being tweaked so that all designers graduating from design programs will know how to create clothing for women size 16, 18, 20, and above!”

Her big takeaway? “All in all though — and in keeping with a saying I began using two decades ago: ‘Slow Change is Lasting Change’ — the industry has never given up and today an education to the masses is taking place: Women with curves want fashion and are not going anywhere until they get it!”

And luckily, women have Emme’s positivity and creativity leading the change.

What do you think of Emme’s fashion collection? Which items are going on your wish list? What do you hope to see Emme do next?

–Colleen Kratofil

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