EXCLUSIVE: Plus-Size Supermodel Liris Crosse Opens Up About Body Diversity
Photo: Rafael Clemente

From global runways to video games, plus-size supermodel Liris Crosse has helped move the needle of fashion and has her sights set on teaching everyone how to make the world their runway.

Hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, Crosse has been modeling for more than a decade and has seen both the highs-and-lows of the fashion industry. Starting her career right after graduating high school, Crosse says, “I was enrolled to get started in college but something in my spirit told me to move to New York. I asked my father to give me a chance to pursue my dreams –and he did– and I’ve never looked back.”

Addressing the taboo of plus-size modeling and the fashion industry’s growing diversity concerns, Crosse has a plan for how things can change, “Truthfully, we need designers to create more than just one size for their samples, the average woman in America wears a Size 16– so, we are the majority. They don’t realize they can make whatever they want and deem it the example,” she says. “We also need more designers and retailers –of all backgrounds– to show diversity in their campaigns; reflect the world you see around you,” adds Crosse.

After receiving her family’s blessing, Crosse has been setting international runways and magazine editorials ablaze and has gone on to accumulate a long list of accolades that most models only dream of– she was the first, Black plus-size model to work for fashion designer Maggie Sottero (whom she’s now a spokesperson for), she’s worked with mega-brands such as Ashley Stewart and Goddess Lingerie, and has also appeared within the style pages of ESSENCE.

Liris Crosse, photographed by Shane Suban.

In addition to modeling at Barcelona’s Bridal Fashion Week, having her own video game character in Def Jam’s Icon game AND being the first, Black plus-size model to star in a video game advertisement for Final Fantasy XV, Crosse is perhaps best known for winning the famous, model portion of ‘Project Runway’ during Season 16.

Liris Crosse, photographed by Tommy Chung.

Reflecting on her career, Crosse gauges the moment when she felt like she had ‘arrived,’ she says, “One of the craziest but fun moments was shooting my first campaign for Lane Bryant –with famed photographer Walter Chin– in the desert of Morocco. It was my first job that required me to get a passport. The crazy part was trying to sneak some lingerie shots in, when we were in an area that was known for its modesty— plus, just being in the middle of nowhere. I felt like the ultimate model and that I had ‘arrived.’ The average model’s career span is five years… so, God has truly blessed me.”

Liris Crosse, photographed by Tommy Chung.

Having been honored by several industry organizations including Full Figured Fashion Week and the Fashion Awards MD, as ‘Model of the Year’ for her outstanding achievements, Crosse offers advice for those who want to make it in the industry or simply win at life, “I just released my first book, Make The World Your Runway, where I teach modeling and life coaching principles that I use to prepare for the runway– expanded upon for everyone to use for the runways of their life! You have to be resilient, stick to your guns and believe in yourself,” she says.

"Make the World Your Runway: Top Model Secrets for Everyday Confidence and Success," by Liris Crosse.

Take a look at our exclusive My Fashion Story video above to find out more about Crosse, and be sure to get your tickets for our 25th Annual ESSENCE Festival in New Orleans, where she will appear as one of our many featured talents.

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