In a recent article written by Lindsay Downey, taken from the Marcos Island SunTimes press, a wonderful bit of news featuring Queen Grace creator and founder, Marina Zelner – Read on!
Marina Zelner flashes a crimson smile while she sits propped against zebra-striped pillows, a copy of Vogue Collections at her heels. Glittering earrings dangle from her lobes, while a chic headband secures her long blond hair.
The Marco Island fashion designer is all about the classics: Valentino. Donna Karan. David Meister. Christian Dior. Clean, tailored lines. An iconic red dress.
“I could probably sleep in heels,” Zelner, 39, says with a laugh. “When people see me in flats, they’re like, ‘Marina, are you OK? Is everything all right?’”
Despite her love of fashion and her years working as a stylist in New York and Los Angeles, Zelner — who delved into design last year as founder and CEO of the plus-sized fashion company Queen Grace — is much more interested in talking about changing women’s lives than she is discussing this season’s couture.
Her Queen Grace collection, with flattering pieces in sizes 12 to 26, is on the cusp of what she calls a body-image revolution.
Something is shifting, says Zelner, who emigrated to the U.S. from Russia in 1988. Curvy stars such as Adele and Kelly Clarkson are speaking out about feeling confident in their skin. Artful photos of nude, full-figured women and stories and quotes about body acceptance are all over the Web.
An image, for example, that pits voluptuous Hollywood stars — Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor — against waiflike modern celebrities such as Keira Knightley has been reposted multiple times on Facebook and Twitter. “When did this become hotter than this?” it asks.
And rightfully so, Zelner says. About 70 percent of women wear size 12 and larger, says the designer, whose company has collected about 7,000 Facebook fans thus far. Traditional media for too long have perpetuated a size 0 mentality that’s proved damaging to young women — breeding insecurity and more.
“The cases of bulimia and anorexia — girls ages 10 and up — are completely out of control,” says Zelner, a divorced mother of three who has been in a relationship for the past two years. She moved to Marco Island 10 years ago to raise her children, and when she’s not working, Zelner is likely spending time with them or boating near Marco.
Queen Grace, Zelner explains, was born out of necessity. She and many of the women she styled were tired of browsing accessories racks while smaller friends tried on clothes at boutiques that carried only sample sizes. They’d enter department stores and find plus-size sections filled with hideous prints.
“I don’t need to get a side eye from a clerk because she feels she can’t find anything for me,” Zelner says. “That mentality needs to change and it has to come from the customer. Once we empower women to stand up and have that voice, the fashion industry is going to follow. It doesn’t have a choice.”
Queen Grace has evolved into a fashion house with a team of about six based in L.A., including creative director and lead designer Adolfo Sanchez. A handful of employees work at the Naples showroom and warehouse.
Since Queen Grace debuted last summer during Full Figured Fashion Week in New York City, women from all over the U.S., Canada and Europe have purchased the fashions online. About 40 boutiques are selling the Queen Grace collection, with pieces from about $60 to $200.
The fashions are made with high-quality fabrics that incorporate Spandex or Lycra so they flatter women’s forms. Dresses are cut longer in the back and are sewn with lining — aspects incorporated after years of studying poorly made plus-size pieces. Lori Cohen, who works with Zelner at Temple Shalom of Naples — where Zelner serves on the board and as co-chairwoman of this year’s 50th anniversary celebrations — says Zelner brings ambition and thoughtfulness to every project she pursues.
“If I had to define her in one word, it’s ‘remarkable,’” she says. “To provide to women whose self-esteem could be challenged by their curves takes the company whose business is clothing to a whole new level.” It’s all about women who are healthy and are seeing their shapes in a more beautiful light.
“Queen Grace is a woman who is confident, who is strong, or who is learning to be confident and strong,” Zelner says. Well, QG WD couldn’t be prouder and we say congratulations Ms. Zelner, it looks like with all this amazing press you’re stuck with this venture and all your fans are certainly happy about that!
Big thanks to Grandeur Magazine and The News-Press (Fort Myers, Fla.) for this wonderful interview. Special love to Lori Flato Cohen for such kind and inspiring words!