Rochelle Johnson, Little Rock resident and founder of the fashion blog Beauticurve, has partnered with national retailer Lane Bryant to create a capsule collection of springtime dresses for plus-size women.
The Beauticurve collection, which debuted March 20, was inspired in part by Rochelle’s experience as a former Lane Bryant associate and is already garnering national media attention. The 10-piece collection — nine dresses plus a jumpsuit, which Johnson calls “a wild card” and which sold out online — are in 100 stores and online at regular prices ranging from $79.95-$99.95.
I caught up with Johnson at her hometown collection launch party March 24 at the Lane Bryant store in North Little Rock, and viewed the colorful print and solid dresses, whose lengths vary and which feature such silhouettes as fit-and-flare, A-line and sheath. They’re “super versatile,” Johnson says. “You can take them from day to night. You can take them from the grocery store to church … They look great on so many different body types and different ages.”
Johnson, 32, has been blogging six years as of January. She has lived in Little Rock 10 years, having moved from California.
“I have always loved fashion,” she says. “I’ve always loved finding clothes.” Because finding attractive clothes has traditionally been a challenge for plus-sizers, Johnson found people asking her where she got her finds. “That’s why I started my blog — to let people know where they can get the cute clothes,” she says.
The Lane Bryant collection is her first. Again, its roots go back to Johnson’s days working for the company as a college student, her first retail job.
“When I was there, I really got to know the customer,” she says. “And I … saw what people like, and what makes them uncomfortable, and different concerns they have.” And, since Johnson began blogging, she’d been working with Lane Bryant here and there. “[At] most malls, the only plus-size store is Lane Bryant,” she points out. “I’ve always had a great rapport with them.”
Last year, store officials reached out to Johnson with a desire to collaborate with her on a project. “When they decided they wanted to do a dress collection, that was perfect for me because I love dresses. I feel like [a dress is] such an easy outfit. All you have to do is grab a dress, put it on, get your shoes and you’re ready to go.”
Johnson sent the company inspiration for the styles … “I love prints and patterns and bright colors florals and leopards, as well as black-and-white stripes” — all of which show up in the Beauticurve collection.
Whereas Beauticurve does a good job of serving mature or conservative dressers, “there’s stuff for millennials, too,” she says. Among her favorites is a yellow, long-sleeved frock with V-neck, self belt and full, flow-y, accordion-pleated skirt.
Also appearing at a Lane Bryant store in Los Angeles, Johnson recalls a woman who at first said she didn’t like yellow. Johnson urged her to try this dress on and it became her favorite.
“It’s a really great collection,” Johnson says. “I’m really proud of it.”
Hit a Lane Bryant store or visit Lanebryant.com.
And while you’re at it, visit Johnson’s blog, Beauticurve.com.
FASHION SHOWS A-BLOSSOMING
• “Season in Bloom” is the theme of a runway show and ladies’ night out, benefiting the Arkansas Repertory Theatre and featuring styles from Barbara/Jean. The event takes place Tuesday in the lobby of the Capital Hotel, 111 W. Markham St. in Little Rock. Cocktail hour is from 5:30-6:30 p.m.; the show begins at 6:35. Tickets, which will entitle their holders to runway seating and a welcome beverage, are $25 and space is limited. Visit tickets.therep.org.
• The North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce will host The Fashion Event on April 25 at The Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub in North Little Rock. A cocktail reception begins at 6:30 p.m. and will be followed by a runway show. VIP guests will have early access into the event, complimentary champagne, a lounge with a unique view of the runway, specialty appetizers and VIP swag bags; all guests will enjoy hors d’oeuvres, signature cocktails, a refreshment lounge and entertainment. As for the show, professional models will team with “chamber celebrity” models to display spring fashions from central Arkansas boutiques. A portion of the proceeds will go to Harmony Health Clinic in Little Rock. General admission tickets are $60; VIP tickets, $110. Tickets are available online at nlrchamber.org.
• The eighth annual Curbside Couture, billed as the state’s largest “green” fashion show, will take place April 28 at the Clinton Presidential Center. Doors open at 6 p.m; the show begins at 7 and will feature recycled and upcycled designs by third- through 12th-grade students. A limited number of tickets, $42 each, go on sale Tuesday at clintonpresidentialcenter.org/curbsidecouture.
Dolce Vita Outlet is now open at Outlets of Little Rock. The retailer specializes in a variety of menswear including suits, shirts, jackets, neckwear, footwear and more. Dolce Vita Outlet also provides on-site alterations. Making its debut in Arkansas in 2017, the store awards a free suit monthly to a college student to help him start his professional wardrobe. Students can visit the store’s Instagram page, @dolcevitamenswear, and interact with the Dolce Vita team.
A couple items we recently tried:
• Vionic’s Blaire Heeled Sandal ($139.95) in multiple spring colors. Cute and sexy enough for the millennial set, this sandal comes in kid suede or “novelty leather” with a 3.1-inch block heel, three wide horizontal straps spanning the foot … and a sturdy ankle strap that crisscrosses in the back, then threads fairly easily through a large buckle. This particular style comes only in medium width but I tried a sample anyway, noting elastic insets on the top and middle straps, and knowing that even medium-width Vionics often feature a generous fit and usually mold to the feet of the wearer. However, I would advise wide-footers to steer clear of the Blaire if they don’t want those straps cutting into their feet despite the elastic. A healthy variety of Arkansas stores offers Vionic shoes; visit Vionicshoes.com and enter your ZIP code to peep at the list.
• Rounderbum men’s enhancement undies. Women have long had underwear/shapewear options for enhancing their bodies; now men have them, too. Rounderbum — pitched on ABC’s Shark Tank — features men’s briefs, boxers, tank tops and T-shirts ($29 for briefs and boxers; $35-$69 for the T-shirts and tank tops) “made for comfort, discretion and undeniable results.” The signature technology consists of Lift Tech, a hidden-band design that creates an instant derriere lift without padding; Padded Tech, which includes padding to give more gluteal volume and definition; Anatomic Tech, featuring a V-shaped seam that helps the gluteus “to look more maximus than ever”; Compression Tech, which provides support, slims the waist and increases muscle definition; and Package Tech (you get the drift). My “reviewer who shall remain nameless” tried the Boxer Trunk in three tech incarnations — Lift, Padded and Anatomic — and found each boxer just plain comfortable as well as doing the job it was made to do. He hopes to try a Compression T-shirt or tank at some point. Go to Rounderbum.com; select items can also be bought on Amazon.com.
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