The Roberto Cavalli scuba pant - and the model who dropped 30 pounds to squeeze into it

robert cavalli uomo SS10/

Overnight, a number of key menswear collections showed up on the Milan SS10 runway. Among the trends of note, a glut of eye-popping red suits at Dirk Bikkembergs, Salvatore Ferragamo, Enrico Coveri and Trussardi. Plaid at Alexander McQueen and Marc Jacobs. And muscle shirts at Prada, Calvin Klein and Trussardi. And just as Sunday's Gucci show was reportedly inspired by '70s flick The Deep, Robert Cavalli came up with a a scuba-inspired collection, whose hero garment was a curious trouser with a high, foldover waistand that resembled a surfer’s wetsuit with the top rolled down. Frockwriter is dubbing it the scuba pant. But more interesting than the clothes was The New York Times revelation that top 22 year-old Arab American model A. J. Abualrub (pictured above and below, right) dropped 30 pounds (13.64 kilos) for the season.

Abualrub told NYT journalist Guy Trebay that his natural weight is closer to 200 pounds, that he sees a nutritionist, that it was a challenge to take the weight off - but that he wound up booking more Milan Fashion Week shows than he had anticipated.

Noted Abualrub:

“I only eat, like, maybe twice a day”.

There has been much talk over the past week about the shrinking sample size in the womens’ fashion market, with Alexandra Shulman and Kirstie Clements, the editors of the British and Australian editions of Vogue, lamenting the tiny sizes of womens' current fashion samples.

Frockwriter has two observations to make here.

Firstly, anecdotally, the average age of a female runway model would appear to be younger than it was 15 years ago. Up to a decade younger.

And furthemore, the past 15 years has also reportedly witnessed a reduction in the mens' sample size, as part of what has been referred to as "the Hedi Sliminization" of the mens' fashion market.

robert cavalli uomo SS10/

The creative director of YSL Rive Gauche Homme from 1997-1999 and then, notably, Christian Dior Homme, from 2000-2007, Hedi Slimane is credited with launching, among other silhouettes, the skinny jean trend which revolutionised both the menswear and womenswear markets.

Slimane's choice of ultra skinny models for his runway shows, and his muses - notably Brit rocker Pete Doherty, a longtime heroin user who pleaded guilty to heroin possession earlier this month - led to the widespread use of the term "heroin chic" to describe Slimane's aesthetic.

One might well ask just how much influence Slimane has wielded over the womens’ market in general.

As mentioned on this journalist's last blog Fully Chic last year, during one of several discussions about body image and model weight, over the past two years several reports have been published about the shrinking male sample size.

Here is one story from The Independent from February 2007, which mentions a book written by former male model, and recovered anorexic, Ron Saxon.

Here is another from The New York Times from November 2007, discussing the very fashion-obsessed Japanese market.

And here is yet another from February 2008, also from the NYT - and coincidentally also written by Guy Trebay.

Trebay began that February 2008 story with the following words:

“CREDIT Hedi Slimane or blame him”

In that story, Flaunt magazine’s Long Nguyen recounted that when he first entered the magazine business in 1994, the typical sample was an Italian 50. Six years later, reported Ngyen, it had shrunk to 48. By 2008, it was 46.

Nguyen told the NYT:

“At that point you might as well save money and just go over to the boy’s department”.