For their first celebrity partnership, luxury size-inclusive platform 11 Honoré tapped actress, director, and writer Lena Dunham for a five-piece capsule. The brand’s CEO and founder Patrick Herning says it was important to align with someone who has been vocal about body positivity. Enter: the Girls creator, who co-designed the range with design director Danielle Williams Eke, using prints dreamed up by her artist father Carroll Dunham. The line, which ranges in price from $98-$298, launches today. The 34-year-old multi-hyphenate revealed how the project came to be—and what she hopes to achieve with it.
How did the collaboration between you and 11 Honoré come about?
I’ve wanted to create a plus size collection ever since I settled into my adult (post-twenties post-hysterectomy body) and started to really feel the gaps in the market. The main way I shop is through 11 Honoré because they make it possible to get the items I fantasize about from designers who don’t historically make plus size, and they’ve created a really powerful community for plus women who loves fashion. When I met Patrick Herning, it was a full love affair. He really understood my vision for casual workwear that retained its creativity and play, and he guided me using what he’s learned as a leader in this space. He has the best women working with him, like our designer Danielle Eke, and it’s been magical from day one.
What excites you most about partnering with the company?
I love that Patrick—a straight-sized cis man—cares this much about plus women and works hard to see the world through our eyes. I have made it my mission as a customer, and now a creator, to really haunt every corner of the web that caters to women with curvy bodies. The thing I find is that companies think we either want to dress like we are headed to the club or like we are grandmas, and Patrick gets that there are as many fashion-loving plus women as there are straight size women. We don’t stop loving clothes or having unique style just because the world desexualizes and dehumanizes plus bodies. So with this collection, I wanted to offer pieces that any woman could feel powerful, playful, and [like] herself in, and that could supplement her other pieces to elevate her everyday style and make her feel like her body is as valuable as anyone else’s. I know what it’s like to go to a photoshoot or red carpet event as a size 4 or 6 and be able to wear any designer and to be a size 16 and have my options way more limited. Even with the magic of a Hollywood stylist at my fingertips! Patrick and I don’t want any woman to feel that way. We want every woman to have access to clothes that tap into her inherent sense of self-worth. These clothes do that for me.
What was your inspiration when designing the pieces and who did you have in mind?
Each item is inspired by and named after a place in Soho in the ’80/’90s. When I was growing up, it was an emerging neighborhood full of artists of all kinds and the major feeling was of freedom, of style, of the mind. The women I saw every day—my mother, her friends, random ladies shopping at the flower market on Saturdays—had such a confidence that came from being purely themselves. They layered wildly, played with monochromatic looks, and really leaned into traditionally masculine pieces like suiting. They wore looks that could take them from the studio to brunch to an experimental theater production. I love that versatility and sense of adventure in fashion, while still holding onto a certain sophistication that comes from knowing who you are. My father designed the floral pattern on the dress and my mother named the pieces after some of our favorite Soho spots, so it was a family affair in evoking that time and energy.
What are your thoughts about the fashion industry and extended sizing?
As I said, I’ve been every size in the public eye and felt reactions to my shift, and while certain incredible designers have been thrilled to dress my curvy body (Christopher Kane, Giambattista Valli, and Erdem to name a few), I’ve also felt enthusiasm emerge only when I was thin from some, and wane when I gained weight (ironically, my weight loss was never a sign of health but I was congratulated as if I’d finished a marathon.) So I’ve felt that pressure to keep a thin body in order to be able to stay in the “right” clothes, and the sense that stylists perhaps wanted to cover my curves with baggier looks (and every plus girl knows baggy isn’t usually our friend! I wanna show my curves because my proportions are my friend!) And while many designers are catching up—and 11 Honoré is a leader in guiding them there—there’s still a huge barrier to entry for plus women even enjoying fashion. The message is being sent, just by what’s available, that we are persona non grata, or that only certain plus bodies (under a size 16) can join the party. This collection is for literally everybody. I’m very conscious of this as an invisibility disabled plus woman and I want to hear from my followers and customers about what’s working for them and what they want more of.
What impact do you want to have with 11 Honoré and this collaboration?
My dream is to hear from women who are having powerful experiences in the clothes: meetings where they felt like they could sit proudly in their chair and focus on their mission and not on their outfit, dates where they weren’t tugging on their hem, walking down the street feeling totally boss. I also want to send the message that being curvy is something to celebrate, not simply handle—it’s not a problem to fix or cover-up, but rather a really beautiful celebration of having a lot to give. It took me a long time, but I love the fact that my body tells a story of vastness, of ample-ness, of presence. And it’s mine and I’m not going to spend a lifetime apologizing for it. I’m going to celebrate it in clothing that says, “Here I am.”
Shop the collection here.