Marie Denee knows a thing or two about finding the right plus-size date night outfits for events like Valentine’s Day. The founder of the online publication The Curvy Fashionista, Denee spent the last decade providing service and inspiration for plus shoppers who are undervalued and ignored in the fashion landscape. Now, she’s taking her passion a step further with the new Cultivate Award, which aims to support a fresh wave of designers in the plus-size space.
“I want folks to understand and recognize the important role that Black and POC indie designers have in the fashion community,” Denee tells Bustle. “They have innovated, challenged, and pushed the boundaries of plus-size fashion for the past 15-plus years, and opportunities like the Cultivate Award may help them continue to do so.”
In partnership with Eloquii, the Cultivate Award allows eligible BIPOC designers to apply to win a $10,000 grant, a one-year professional mentorship program, and the designer’s very own capsule collection for consideration to be produced and sold on ELOQUII.com in 2022.
To apply, up-and-coming BIPOC designers that fit the criteria of serving a plus-size (size 14+) audience for at least two years can submit an application online. A panel of judges — The Cut editor-in-chief Lindsay Peoples Wagner; celebrity stylist Timothy Snell; Liris Crosse, the first plus-size model winner of Project Runway; and Eloquii’s director of design Yesenia Torres — will choose the winner.
Two runners-up will also be selected and awarded a $2,500 scholarship grant and additional prizes. The public will also choose a “Voter’s Choice” winner. Finalists will be notified ahead of a live-streamed finale event in May, when they’ll be announced.
“For me, it was not only about the cash — although it definitely helps — it was also about providing these designers who I often interact with the essential resources, tools, and education to help them further their careers,” Denee says. “I want to see boutiques, venture capital investments, and more from them in the next 10 years.”
Ahead of the Cultivate Award announcement, Denee walked Bustle through a few plus-size date night looks that she’s most excited about for Valentine’s Day this year. Scroll down for more.
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