Voluptuous 28-year-old beauty, Denise Bidot was cast this New York Fashion Week to open the CHROMAT show in edgy looks designed by Becca McCharen. Little did Bidot know, she was actually making history as the first plus size Latina model to ever grace the runways of Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week in a “straight-size” runway show. And, it doesn’t end there; the size 14 Puerto Rican-Kuwait model was hand picked by Serena Williams to close the tennis star’s debut HSN runway show (notably attended by Anna Wintour), and was flown across the pond to take part in London Fashion Week festivities as well. We caught up with the model in between shows, to get her thoughts on all of the buzz around breaking size barriers.
ESSENCE.com: Which shows did you walk in?
DENISE BIDOT: I walked for CHROMAT and the Serena Williams’ HSN line during NYFW. Both shows were groundbreaking as I opened NYFW with CHROMAT and showcased that plus-size body types now have the opportunity to wear modern couture. And, with Serena Williams’ fashion show I had the honor to close and hit the runway in front of Anna Wintour. Who would ever think that a plus-size model will hit the catwalk and model for Anna Wintour! I was beyond proud to represent diversity during NYFW.
ESSENCE.com: Tell us about the casting for these shows since you were walking along with, what the industry considers “straight-sized models?”
BIDOT: The casting was pretty natural. With Chromat, I was put in touch with them through a photographer I worked with many years before, and when I met the Chromat design team, it was a perfect fit. They wanted to build a curvy line based on my body shape. The rest was history and the curvy line was debuted at their NYFW runway. For Serena Williams, they contacted my agency Muse NYC and had me attend a casting. We were told Serena exclusively hand picked me. I had the honor of meeting her backstage before the show and getting prepped by her, right before hitting the runway. Two amazing stories for the books in my life.
ESSENCE.com: Did you have any insight into the designer’s vision and what their inspirations were to break the monotony of shows at NYFW to include plus size models?
BIDOT: Honestly, I didn’t. This experience just really happened so fast and I’m still on cloud nine. But, I am just happy to be part of their vision, a new movement and part of a historical integration in the fashion world.
ESSENCE.com: Are you typically a part of New York Fashion Week festivities, or was this a first?
BIDOT: Usually, I am not part of the festivities, and having invitations to NYFW shows I am not walking in, was also amazing for me. I went to see Custo Barcelona’s runway show at Lincoln Center and it was an experience I will cherish because I was seen as an influencer in fashion. Also, I got to sit front row alongside some of my favorite people. In addition, I attended Macy’s & CBS’ Fashion Rocks event the same day I walked the Serena Williams runway show, which was a great way to end my NYFW experience. I kept wanting to pinch myself as I walked the carpet that evening.
ESSENCE.com: How did you feel the moment you were walking down the runway?
BIDOT: Well, for the CHROMAT show I kept thinking, ‘don’t fall, don’t fall.’ But, I had it all planned out in case I did because I was wearing seven inch heels. That was definitely, the first! With Serena Williams, I felt proud to be the only plus-size in the show and closing meant so much to me because that’s how she envisioned it. It’s hard to explain the butterflies and adrenaline backstage, it was an amazing experience.
ESSENCE.com: How was the reaction to the show during and afterwards?
BIDOT: The reaction from both shows was breathtaking and having everyone clap when I came out at the Serena show including Anna Wintour was surreal. The response to NYFW and now London Fashion Week has been so inspirational for me. I have people tagging me on social media as their Woman Crush or motivation in confidence. I am truly blessed for this experience and will continue to work on initiatives that promote confidence.
ESSENCE.com: What are your thoughts about the fashion industry being more inclusive of curvy models and “real-sized” women in general?
BIDOT: I think its been happening for a bit, but the industry saw the demand and the confidence people have built on who they are.