Paloma Elsesser and Jill Kortleve Make History as Fendi’s First Plus-Size Runway Models

Fashion & Style

Fendi - Runway - Milan Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2020-2021

Victor VIRGILEGetty Images

Fashion talks a big game when it comes to inclusion, but few brands can actually back it up. So it’s a breath of fresh air to see the legendary house of Fendi making steps to becoming more size inclusive by casting Jill Kortleve and Paloma Elsesser in its fall 2020 runway show in Milan. They are the first “plus size” models to walk in a Fendi show ever.

Modeling alongside the likes of Gigi and Bella Hadid and Kaia Gerber, Elsesser sported a soft yellow tailored jacket with a wide belt that created a cinch at the waist. Following her Fendi runway debut, Elsesser opened up on Instagram about what the moment meant to her.

“I will save all the prophetic language, for once, as I literally have no words!!! I would simply like to express my gratitude for this monumental moment. thank you to EVERYONE INVOLVED,” she wrote.

Elsesser explained how walking in the show made her “feel protected, safe, and seen” and hopes it has the same affect on those who normally don’t see themselves on fashion runways in cities like Milan. While it was Elsesser’s first Fendi runway show, the New York native is no stranger to the luxury fashion house and starred in the brand’s ad campaign in 2018.

Fendi - Runway - Milan Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2020-2021

Victor VIRGILEGetty Images

Fendi’s fall 2020 runway show also marked a first for fellow model Jill Kortleve, who has walked for Michael Kors, Kate Spade, Rag & Bone, Mugler and more. Like Elsesser, Kortleve’s Fendi debut was another pinch-me moment.

“Hi to my first Milan runway show, walking for freaking @fendi 🥺💖 Sometimes I feel like my life isn’t real 🥰 thankful for all the opportunities I get and all the people that believe in me and help make it all happen.”

But Elsesser and Kortleve’s inclusion shouldn’t be a “historic” moment, especially in 2020. Milan was a start—will brands at Paris Fashion Week follow suit?

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