The myth of Wonder woman never fades. But now, in New York City, there’s a new heroine. She’s Whonder woman!
She’s as strong and charming as the world-famous comic strip character. And she’s real. I mean, a real big beautiful woman. Her name is Carmencita Whonder. And she happens to be the founder and designer of a new first-class plus-size clothing brand: Of Whonder (click for the official website).
Of Whonder is an American contemporary luxury brand “exclusively for the majority of women” says the founder. If plus-size fashion seems to be lackluster, Of Whonder clothing celebrates real women’s bodies and claims to embrace effortlessly feminine silhouettes.
Every piece of the collection – which consists of 13 clothing items including dresses, skirts, tops, jackets and pants – is cut and sewn in New York with great care for high-end tailoring and the perfect fit for any curvy physiques. “We’re creating bold, innovative fashion for women sizes 12-24 (US sizes) giving them access to the high-end style we all deserve – adds Carmencita – Expect unprecedented design, effortless fit, and a lavish look and feel”.
Of Whonder 2014 Debut Collection (click to view and purchase) was on preview in New York few days ago, after a successful launch during New York Fashion Week. The line is architecturally inspiring, it combines creative design with top-quality fabrics. The collection comes with versatile and timeless pieces that work as great basics for every wardrobe. With Of Whonder garments you can switch from a sophisticated daily look to a sexy outfit for your nights out.
Are you curious about how to become a Whonder woman? Find it out in my interview to Carmencita Whonder.
1. What has your relationship been with your body over the years?
My relationship with my body has evolved over the years. Fortunately, I didn’t grow up in a home obsessed with the physical, education and intelligence was most valued. And, if any body type was revered it was a fuller figure. I developed early and had a very shapely feminine body, but was also an atlete and a bit of a preppy tomboy so that clashed at points. I got my sexy in high school and early college and later refined my more classic style. Overall, over the years, I have always wanted to have a strong and healthy body and to look good wherever I was in my life and I have managed that for the most part. I am sure there is more to come as I grow older, but I know so much more and am ready for whatever the years bring.
2. Please, tell me something about your background: where are you from, your family, your studies and job. To which extent has your life path led you to found the fashion luxury brand OF WHONDER?
Born and raised in Norwalk, Connecticut and Miami, Florida, I am the oldest of four children. People often comment on how different my hometowns are, but I am quick to point out that strong Jamaican communities are the common denominator. I am the second person in my entire family born in the U.S.–-I lost first place by 6 weeks. Educated at Howard University and Johns Hopkins, I have experience in such diverse areas as financial services, international affairs, philanthropy, and U.S. politics. The world of fashion might seem like a strange departure, but above all things, I am a strategist. I am skilled in developing plans for underserved markets and now have transitioned to helping a market very close to my heart–my own. Living in Washington D.C. and working in both the District and New York City—I am a globe-trotting, dynamic woman with high fashion standards. With places to go and people to see, I have always been able to keep up with the fashion industry—but desperately needed fashion that could keep up with me.
Over the course of my career I have had to interface with Ambassadors, Senators, CEOs and many other high-level decision makers. Nothing was worse than having to buy gorgeous and expensive accessories to cover up my cheap and poorly made clothing. I craved high-quality, tailored garments that fit both my frame and my multifaceted lifestyle. Simply put, I desired elevated style. OF WHONDER was born out of this need and my strong feeling that I was not alone.
3. Where does your inspiration come from? Who are your plus size style icons, whether popular or not? During your life, how have you attempted to emulate and/or innovate their key style features?
At OF WHONDER we are truly inspired by women who demand more from their clothing than to simply be covered up. In terms of style icons, for me I just can’t limit myself to women in a particular size range. I think women are women and so many are fabulous and gorgeous. There are many style icons I admire from my Grandmother, Oprah, Donna Karan and the late Coco Chanel. They have all influenced my style.
4. You say that OF WHONDER embraces the shapes of the majority of women. In fact, in the US about 62% of women wear a size 14 or larger. Do you think that fashion industry is not catering properly for this market segment? If yes/no, why?
The fashion industry is definitely not catering properly to the segment of this market, especially those of us that desires luxury clothing. I always joke that if some of my favorite designers (Donna Karan, Helmut Lang, Rick Owens) had made clothing in my size, OF WHONDER would have never been born. The bottom line is that women of all sizes desire options in terms of clothing styles and in my case and the case of many women I know, we desired clothing of the highest quality and style. For various reasons most design houses have excluded us and it really is time to stop—the numbers demand call for it.
5. Please, list five key elements of your clothing collection.
6. OF WHONDER is a luxury brand. Speaking of tailoring, fabrication and textures, how are the clothes designed and produced in order to achieve the perfect fit for plus size physiques? What are the art secrets behind each piece of clothing?
Fit is so critical to the success of our brand and we will always fight to achieve the greatest fit possible. I have learned that this really is no easy feat so real commitment is required and I think that has often been missing. First, I can say that not having to grade up from a size 6 or 8 to a 14 or 16 is a true blessing. To be honest, I wouldn’t do it even if my collection spanned the full size range. Second, while I won’t reveal all my art secrets– after all they are secrets, I can say that we work very closely with fit models from the top agencies to get the fit right. We focus on fitting on real women and not dress forms since we are dressing real women and we do it as often as necessary. This is the core of our fit philosophy.
7. Fashion meets social commitment: OF WHONDER “CARMA” policy aims at supporting and empowering women across the world. How do you intend to achieve this goal? Which organizations are involved in the project?
Our brand is new as is our CARMA initiative, but we are so excited to have begun the process. We are identifying “whonderful” organizations globally that we wish to support with our diverse set of resources, which includes time and expertise in addition to dollars.
8. Please complete the sentence: “The woman who wears OF WHONDER is/wants to be/is looking for…”
…The woman who wears OF WHONDER is looking for elevated style.
9. Which is THE must-have piece of your debut collection and why is it worth buying?
This is the impossibile question to answer, but I will give it a try. One of the must-have pieces in our debut collection (and one of my big favorites) would be the Cuff Top. I love this beautifully tailored top with strong leather details on the sleeves and back. It perfectly fits any shape and can be worn dressed up or down… What more can a woman ask for!
10. Are you planning to place your brand in the global market?
Absolutely. So many Western European countries are ideal as a number already have such robust markets for clothing in our size range.
I hope you liked the interview! I really appreciated to get involved in this project by OF WHONDER and I’m glad I have known Carmencita a little bit closer.
Thank you so much, dear Carmencita, for giving me such a passionate interview.