You may not think it judging by her hit show—she wears a nondescript beige prison jumpsuit—but Dascha Polanco loves fashion. In an interview with Vogue, the ‘Orange is the New Black’ star said, “Fashion in my real life is more important to me than fashion in my acting life; it’s expressive, it’s creative, there’s so much to do with it.” Dascha’s style is evident from press photos and Instagram account: whether she’s in a sparkling white gown on the red carpet or about to go out in jeans and a mustard jacket, it’s clear that she has excellent taste. And with her full hourglass figure, she looks gorgeous in whatever she’s wearing. So why does she say that prominent designers will not dress her?
Everyone knows how common it is for prominent celebrities to be loaned designer gowns and outfits in a mutually beneficial arrangement. And women—high ranking actresses, at that—who can’t get that kind of designer to dress them end up with much less press exposure than those wearing big name luxury brands. Yet at the same time, popular fashion bloggers (whose time in the limelight lasts very little when compared to someone like Dascha) are given luxury goods for doing what is essentially nothing. As Dascha said,
“It’s funny that a lot of the brands are dressing people who are not offering anything as far as talent, they’re just out there”
It’s hard to argue that someone like Dascha Polanco has a much greater potential for brand exposure than a girl whose audience is solely reliant on youtube viewership. And while some may say that Dascha is still a relatively new star when compared to other celebrities and that she’s had little time to build relationships with certain designers, how can she start when no one will take her calls? You would think that at least one designer would want to hitch their name to someone whose career is very much on the rise.
But Dascha is not the first to experience this problem. Earlier this summer, comedian Leslie Jones went on twitter to bemoan the same situation that Polanco now finds herself in. Even those with well-known names, such as Melissa McCarthy admit to designing their own dresses, rather than going to a label’s collection. Why? These women are not sample size. Polanco spoke of a recent experience with a fashion luxury brand she used to admire.
“I had a situation with a high-end brand the other day where I had personally invested so much money purchasing their items, and I love what they do, so I had my publicist reach out to their PR team. Their response was ‘Oh, you’re not the sizes we have, not right now, maybe in the future.”
Polanco was reasonably upset with the brand for this answer and now states that if they eventually want to dress her, she will not “give them the pleasure,” as she put it. Her solution to finding fashion is to ignore big name fashion houses, focusing instead on
“up-and-coming designers who will make things for me and who will collaborate with me. People who love my curves and embrace them as much as I do.”
Indeed, it’s hard to imagine Dascha Polenco looking anything but fabulous, and even gowns supposedly made for only smaller women would look great on her in her size. Dascha is a great model, exuding confidence and loving her body. She said, “I want to break that barrier…even though I’m a size 8 or 10, I can still look as great as someone who’s a size 0.” Dascha goes about building her confidence in a healthy way, making sure she stays fit and telling herself that she’s her own best competition. Polanco said,
“I always say to my followers and myself that the outfits are armor, because at times it almost hides what I feel. I look back at my old red carpet pictures when I wasn’t as confident, and it shows in the images. Now that I’ve gotten older, I realize that life is short—I’m building that confidence, and doing things as far as fashion that I’ve never done before.”
Dascha’s bold fashion choices have paid off, garnering the attentions of followers, many of whom love her curves and her refusal to hide them. She hopes to someday design a fashion line that is between plus and sample sizes, available to all women. Fashion is important to Polanco, and she knows that those with influence in the industry have the potential to change the way things are done. If Dascha Polanco keeps working hard to make sure her voice is heard, she may be exactly the person designers need to listen to