Lena Dunham Makes Her Catwalk Debut For 16Arlington

"She embodies what our brand stands for... Lena has fun with fashion"

16Arlington AW20

Photo: Getty

Every brand wants their catwalk show to be remembered, and no more is that true than at a label’s show debut. 16Arlington will bypass that issue, thanks to their star casting on 14 February, where Lena Dunham became a runway model for the first time.

The event marked the first time that the buzzy rising label has hosted a catwalk show, having previously staged presentations only.

The actress, writer and producer first met the brand’s co-founders Marco Capaldo and Kikka Cavenati in 2019 when her stylist approached them about dressing her for the Once Upon A Time In Hollywood premiere. They “jumped at the chance” and the three bonded over a shared sense of humour, as well as a mutual love of fashion and dogs.

“I grew up watching Girls, so we were so excited about it,” said Cavenati. “Lena takes fashion seriously, but has so much fun at the same time, and that’s what we do. We take what we do seriously, but we also have fun with it. We just got on really well.”

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16Arlington

Photo: Courtesy

16Arlington

Photo: Courtesy

16Arlington AW20

Photo: Courtesy

“She dresses for herself,” adds Capaldo. “We’ve been lucky to work with such powerful women from the beginning – women who are changing the world for a better place and Lena is a prime example of that. She embodies this spirit of power and intelligence. Everything we stand for as a brand, she ticks every box for us.”

When it came to asking Dunham whether she wanted to star as a model in the autumn/winter 2020, the actress didn’t hesitate. “She said it was a dream of hers as a child to walk in a catwalk show and that to walk for us would be a dream come true,” laughs Capaldo. “We said, ‘No Lena, you’re making our dreams come true.'”

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Lena Dunham at Once Upon a Time in...Hollywood Premiere

Photo: Getty

Dunham has been a vocal campaigner for body positivity, often sharing pictures on Instagram of herself unfiltered, proudly showing off her curves and cellulite. It’s an ethos she also promoted on her show Girls, in which she was praised for her realistic portrayal of normal young women.

Championing body-inclusivity is also important to the 16Arlington designers, whose ready-to-wear currently ranges up to size 16, although most styles stop at size 14. Going forward, both Capaldo and Cavenati want to ensure the entire collection extends to a size 18, but they want to get it right.

Ashley Graham

Ashley Graham wearing 16Arlington at the Bazaar Icons event in September 2019. Photo: Getty

“Different factors change when you dress above a size 14 – back measurements need to be altered for example – and the last thing we’d want is to design a dress for a 16 or an 18 that didn’t fit properly,” says Capaldo. “There are certain styles that we know work and we grade those up, and we feel passionately about that.”

While the duo work on how to finesse larger sizes in their collections, they also want to make sample versions bigger to improve the limited samples that magazines can borrow for fashion shoots. These pieces, which tend to be between a size six and an eight, can currently only be worn by very slim models, which means that anyone over those sizes are rarely represented in fashion publications.

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16Arlington AW20

16Arlington autumn/winter 2020. Photo: Getty

16Arlington AW20

16Arlington autumn/winter 2020. Photo: Getty

“We’ve worked with different girls who are different sizes and they’re all beautiful in their own way,” adds Cavenati. “We’re in 2020 now – there is no such thing as a perfect body anymore. The beauty of fashion is seeing something you love on the runway and being able to buy it afterwards. That idea should be accessible to everyone regardless of size.”

This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR UK.

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