January 17, 2021

Nancye Radmin, Pioneer of Plus-Size Fashion, Is Dead at 82

“If you look at the history of fashion for larger women, it was either invisible or ghettoized or unbelievably frumpy,” Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, an associate professor of history at the New School in New York, said in a phone interview. “The Forgotten Women as a store for attractive high-end plus-size clothing was a radically inclusive concept at the time from the perspective of fat women deserving to think of themselves as feminine, fashionable people who would be deserving of going on a splurgy shopping trip.”

Ms. Radmin approached Seventh Avenue manufacturers, many of whom referred to her as “crazy Nancye,” to have some of her favorite clothes made for plus sizes.

She also urged designers to create more plus-size clothing. Some, like Oscar de la Renta, took a bit of convincing, but even he created evening dresses for her stores, as did Geoffrey Beene, Bob Mackie and Pauline Trigère.

The Forgotten Women boutiques had a “Sugar Daddy Bar” for the female shoppers’ male companions to amuse themselves, stocked with Korbel champagne, tea sandwiches and miniature muffins. Celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Roseanne Barr, Nell Carter and Tyne Daly shopped there. Stores were strategically opened on shopping streets like Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills to show customers that they were just as entitled to spend money as their thin counterparts.

“We wanted to make the customer feel important, not embarrassed,” said Dane O’Neal, who worked in merchandising for the chain.

Nancye Jo Bullard was born on Aug. 4, 1938, in Nashville to Joe and Jane (Johnson) Bullard. She grew up on her father’s farm in Cochran, Ga., where he harvested peanuts and cotton. Her mother was a registered nurse.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/25/fashion/nancye-radmin-dead.html

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