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Top Designers Refused to Make Melissa McCarthy’s Oscar Dress

Top Designers Refused to Make Melissa McCarthy's Oscar Dress

Women and Hollywood is on vacation this week. While our lights are out, we’ll be reposting our most popular posts of the summer.

Two Oscar seasons ago, Melissa McCarthy approached a number of top designers to dress her for the event. They said no: “I couldn’t find anybody to do a dress for me. I asked five or six designers — very high-level ones who make lots of dresses for people — and they all said no.” Major designers declined the opportunity to have their work showcased (at the Oscars!) by a talented, beloved, and beautiful actress. Before we chalk this up to “She wouldn’t fit the sample size!” sure, that’s true, but this is the Academy Awards — custom made gowns are de rigueur. 

We can only deduce that these designers didn’t want Melissa McCarthy to wear their work. They didn’t want their clothing to be seen on her. They didn’t want their image to be associated with hers, and it’s obvious why: the size of her body. When these designers said no to dressing McCarthy, they were ultimately saying no to her body, and to bodies like hers (of which there are millions and millions and millions). The fact that Melissa McCarthy, a movie star, has difficulty finding nice clothes that fit says a lot about the state of plus-size clothing — and how fat women are perceived and treated in the fashion world. 

This is of course an issue that extends beyond Hollywood. McCarthy tells Redbook: “I don’t understand why if you’re a certain size, designers think your taste level goes down and you have less money to spend. The quality and construction is often so bad. Finding a great t-shirt or a great cigarette pant in a good fabric is next to impossible. Plus-size clothes are often really cheap and either look young or incredibly old.” This has been a problem for a long time. McCarthy doesn’t mention — but I’m sure she’s noticed — that in addition to the poor construction and questionable style of plus-size clothing, it’s also not very widely available. For whatever reason — I think we can all come up with about a dozen — clothing sizes that are very common have been, and continue to be, treated like some sort of niche market. 

In an effort to improve the situation, McCarthy is creating a plus-size line of clothing with Daniella Pearl, who designed her Emmy dress. Bloggers, celebrities, and regular ‘ol shoppers have been speaking out against the sorry state of mainstream plus-size clothing and demanding more for years. It seems like the alternative and independent fashion world is catching on, so perhaps more high-end designers will finally get a clue and rather than turning Melissa McCarthy away, they will be grateful for the opportunity to dress her. Hopefully McCarthy will wear some of her original designs on the press tour for Tammywhich opens July 2nd and she tells us where we can buy them.

h/t Redbook and Jezebel 

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I would love to look as beautiful as she is. I am overweight and sad or as my father says obese good night to all ..

Paulina Mesloh

Please name those designers. They don’t deserved to be called designers … They obviously can’t design for women.

Cindy Loo

I WANT NAMES. Of the designers who wouldn’t dress her. See, I love fashion. I’m a stylist, just getting started, but busy already. And I’m a size 8-10 myself. But I want the names of designers with that mentality, so I can be sure to completely avoid them for myself, my clients, everything.


Funny how you go into stores and the clearance racks are FULL of xs and smalls but the bigger size are all gone. Make one think that if more people are 12-14 or bigger then order more of that size..!!!! And to YEP saying she should go to lane Bryant or get fit is a silly comment I am a 16 and can run about four miles I play basketball tennis golf ride bikes but I have always been on the thick side but I have fabulous health check ups


I don’t know about ya ll. but i love Melissa. She represents forward thinking mixed with style and grace. She dares to be herself and damnit… She makes me laugh!!!!! I give her mad props for starting a high end clothing line for the real women. The mothers, the wives, the real women who have curves������������ this is the year of the curves and more pleasant women✌️❤️��������������


Maybe you shouldn’t refer to her and women like her as "fat" women if you are making a statement against these designers. Use a more PC term. Come on. And this is so true. Whether you like the actress or not this is true.


How about YOU perfect people FIRST walk in her beautiful shoes for a day and THEN shout of your trap!!! – from South Africa


So tired of all the perfect people in this world… thin is everything? I don’t think so. Prejudice comes in several forms… this is one of many for the American female.


Good on her for starting her own clothing line. Hopefully these won’t be tit curtains, it will be something that will show our shapes off! Hello we are people too!

pissed off bbw

I think that a few of u r just being assholes. Woman of all sizes cover the earth but only "fit & skinny" woman get decent treatment. I am a size 18-20. I believe its about time that someone started making clothes that suit our bodies as well. We don’t dress like the small woman because we don’t really have the option unless it exspensive and they want big bucks for it and I know as a single mother my budget doesn’t fit that. I applaud her for her work as an actress and a big beautiful talented woman. Do what u do girl, I will be looking for ur line very soon.


sad but expected in this day and age when we are all judged by looks and monetary worth….thankfully our society and its value system and capitalism itself are doomed and will be replaced with something hopefully much more egalitarian in the next thirty to forty years at most…….people are sick and tired of the hypocrisy which runs so rampant in America and their voices will be heard !!

Out Spoken

Some ppl really need to grow up, Melissa is beautiful and a great actress. So maybe before saying bad things about people look at yourself, her weight does not make her who she is. Before anyone says this… FYI I am NOT overweight

Catherine J

Looking forward to W&H installing a small icon (like the twitter button) to indicate ‘hate speak’ – ideal for some of the comments above.


It is the designers that are not that good at making clothes and it would show on a larger person.Most of the fancy crap is made in cheap shops.

Glenda Lundy

I once have a desire to be a designer went to school and learned about design. I worked at a Formal wear boutique and did fashion shows in the 80s had I known plus size would be the thing of the future I might of stayed in the fashion industry. It is a big deal to be thinner and I was always battle of the bulge and now am a plus size. I did not like how models are subjected to cruel comments and once was told by a fellow student I and my colleagues were shallow and stuck up lol. I decided I cared to much about people. I became a caregiver and found it more rewarding. People in that show off industry are so pretentious and cut throat they are so many beautiful competition. The most beautiful were the ones who did not belong in that world of haters.

Sonic reducer

There is nothing else in the world that blatantly shows no self control like a fat person. They are not happy people deep down. They dread the yearly doctor visit. This is not someone who "owns it". This is a morbidly obese person. Enjoy her while you can because she is going down the road of John Candy, Sam Kinison and Chris Farley.


Funny how the fuller girls get criticized& rejected but not the talentless, anorexic, vain ones who can't even fill out a dress. She has a prettier face than a lot of them, too. Wow you people have terrible taste. Those designers should have jumped at the chance. They will regret it. She's so talented, way more talented than any of those jerks& any of you haters (armchair philosophers.)


She's not curvy, she is morbidly obese(fat).


Well, she has a couple of options or more. She could lose weight. Get someone who isn't a named designer to create a gown for her. Or, she could use the situation in her next film or comedy show.


I take the statements in the article with a grain of salt. How many years has she walked red carpets? Now that her clothing line is here this issue is making headline. Promotion, promotion, promotion! Octavia Spencer, Oprah, Monique, Christina Hendrieths who designs their gown. She uses her weight to throw people under the bus like she did her cousin, Jenny.


"They didn't want their image to be associated with hers, and it's obvious why: the size of her body."

….or, they didn't want their image to be associated with a terrible actress who has one character that is continuously recycled.

not disgusting

Women like Melissa McCarthy could only look good if theres some large object covering them…
soooo… go on, rage, i know you hate your bodies

Matt Perkins

For starters she is not beautiful. She wouldnt be beautiful is she was skinny either. Secondly if designers made clothing for obese women it would tell everyone its ok to be obese which it isnt. Its not healthy. Finally Melissa could choose to lose weight and be a role model to plus size women everywhere. Instead she makes no effort to lose weight to fit in designer clothes and instead complains about the designers. To me that speaks everything about her character. And i think she stays obese because she knows she's a terrible actress and being an obese actress is her claim to fame.

get a real life

i dont hate her cause shes plus size i hate her cause she sucks as an actress period!

nice clothes

Another very strong and powerful post. I’ve been reading through some of your previous posts and finally decided to drop a comment on this one. I signed up for your newsletter, so please keep up the informative posts!

nice clothes


I am tired of "designers" not making clothes for women. If they had ANY REAL TALENT they would look at the challenge, find the right cuts, fabrics, and style to make curvy women look amazing. I think they are just pretentious babies who KNOW they have no real ability to dress humans, just clothes hangers and teenage boys in "women's wear".


Please share the names of the designers that refused her, I'd love to blow their social media profiles up.


Melissa should name names.


How very obnoxious a lot of these comments are. Being over weight does not always indicate an unhealthy life style. I am over weigh and consistently run 5k, completed a 10k in boulder co. Training for a triathlon and 1/2 marathon for then end of the summer. My bp is great, chol is normal, no diabetes. Plus sized clothing is often made with these huge ugly prints and are not made for the people wearing them. The person in as Designer sounds like a big ashat. Being larger does not mean ugly. And the fact that these designs are not ness for the average woman says a lot. A woman at 5'10" should NOT be able to dress from the little girls section. It is called being a woman. Rib bones, vertebrae and hips are not attractive, neither for the most part fake boobs. Also hello photoshop.


I'll make your dress for you. I love you. (my husband says that's ok)


This is whats wrong with society the media is giving everyone their dump standard of beauty and i think that's so insulting either way , These fashion companies only prefer skeletons than actule people. its completely stupid , that's why I think society is bias in every form , i mean seriously if the person has money and is offering you a high amount of money just take it and do it, Apparently what they lack of realizing is the more variety of sizes there stupid line has the more money they bring in. Seriously haven't these people in these companies herd of some kind of common sense , they say you need to go to have some sort of degrees to have the job they have of designing cloths, yet i see that anyone that's stupid can do this job because what these people lack is common sense , This is also why being famous gets you really nowhere, no one really respects you as hard as you work. This right here is not an eye opener to me but i expect people to be so ignorant and closed minded. No matter the size of her figure she should of gotten the dress she asked for but i applaud her for being inspired to create a cloths line for plus size because everyone should have the chance to shine =]


Designers need to protect their brands…having their clothes associated with overweight, unattractive women is bad for business…women like to associate themselves with "beauty" which is why I cannot walk in a bookstore without seeing 50 fashion magazines for women full of clothes, makeup ads, etc. all featuring bone thin models…women keep those magazines in business and worship the thin ladies in them

linda philley

I would wear her stuff JUST because it was hers I love her because she is real SHAME on those designers and it shows how shallow they are you don't need them!


I am baffled by all of the 'being fat is not healthy!!!!' comments, as though that has anything to do with this article whatsoever. This isn't about glorifying fat, it's about a big woman wanting to wear a pretty effing dress to the damn Academy Awards like EVERY OTHER WOMAN, and being denied the same access to designers as people who are thinner. Just because she's overweight doesn't mean she shouldn't be able to dress well, for god's sake. This is about her professional dignity being viewed as less valuable than some skinny person's, and not about whether or not it's okay to be fat.

These comments about 'combating obesity' are hilariously off-point. Exactly how are is anyone 'combating obesity' by refusing to make a dress for a woman? Punishing fat people doesn't combat obesity. Frankly, I think it only contributes to the problem, since feelings of shame and unhappiness with one's self only cause many emotional eaters to eat more, so exactly how do you square THAT circle? A woman should be able to take care of herself and feel beautiful no matter how much she weighs. Maybe if she loved herself more, she'd have the willpower to conform to whatever standard of appearance some of you seem determined to friggin hold her to.

Tl;dr: the designers are idiots and most of the people commenting here are bad at logic.


I am overweight, but do not fall into the obese category and I feel as though portraying obesity as a good thing is unreasonable. I am not happy with my weight because I KNOW I am unhealthy and unattractive. It is what it is.

Big girl lover

Fat girls rock! The bigger the better! I like a girl so big she's confined to a bed & has to use a crane & knock out a wall to leave the house to go on the Jerry Springer show! Go SUPER MORBIDLY OBESE CHICKS!!! 300 lbs is skinny!

Big girl lover

Fat girls rock! The bigger the better! I like a girl so big she's confined to a bed & has to use a crane & knock out a wall to leave the house to go on the Jerry Springer show! Go SUPER MORBIDLY OBESE CHICKS!!! 300 lbs is skinny!

Big girl lover

Fat girls rock! The bigger the better! I like a girl so big she's confined to a bed & has to use a crane & knock out a wall to leave the house to go on the Jerry Springer show! Go SUPER MORBIDLY OBESE CHICKS!!! 300 lbs is skinny!

Big girl lover

Fat girls rock! The bigger the better! I like a girl so big she's confined to a bed & has to use a crane & knock out a wall to leave the house to go on the Jerry Springer show! Go SUPER MORBIDLY OBESE CHICKS!!! 300 lbs is skinny!


Melissa should have approached the beautiful and talented Canadian dress designer Dalia MacPhee. She has created many lovely designs for Hollywood A listers, including some who are plus size.


It's not healthy to be so overweight. Be all PC about it and not mention it – but that's a fact. Women and men should not be adored for being stick thin, etc. But neither should men or women who are so overweight that its a health hazard – and trying to convey to others who read magazines that it's okay to be 300 pounds. It's not okay because you have a high risk to heart disease and lots of other things bad for you. Melissa is a great comedian.


Come on. With all her money she couldn't find ONE designer to make her a pretty tarp?


I think the problem is more wide spread than imagined. If you shop in stores in general, you will see most clothing is tailored to suit the needs and styles of those in their 20s or younger. If you find a section where they retail clothing for adults, you will likely find that there is very little selection for those between 35 and 60.

While guys can go to formal events in a suit or tux no matter their age, it's probably pretty tough for women, who do not use this uniform system. Not to mention, anyone will be more than happy to make a suit for a fat guy. I think maybe Melissa is not only approaching the fact that larger women do not have a lot of options, but that woman in her age group often get left out, left with few options or must pay dearly to shop a high-end line to appear professional and/or glamorous.

I have known a few women of average size who feel retailers leave them out of the loop because they don't want size 0 denim cutoffs with a 3" inseam or a floral muu-muu in a size 5XL.


Important article, but by immediately assuming it is because of her body size (no one said that, right?) you are stigmatizing her yourself. If that's what is immediately so obvious to you. Could have had any reason.


Texas Divas Boutique specializes in blessed sizes!


Texas Divas Boutique specializes in blessed sizes!


Texas Divas Boutique specializes in blessed sizes!


I don't want to be mean butvtgatvisbwhat fashion is. Skinny. Almost bone. Even the models Re sickly looking, to hangs for one plus size women is crazy. I think we just need to see the beauty in each other. If they don't want to dress her that's fine, that is their right, many have worked from the bottom to get to where they are.

Allison Wonderland

Melissa was nominated the same year as, and competed against, Octavia Spencer, another plus sized actress, however Octavia did not seem to suffer the same discrimination of which Melissa speaks. She wore a beautiful and very flattering Tadashi Shoji gown (Shoji dressed her throughout the Awards Season) and looked gorgeous. Melissa's choice for that night, however, was much less so. I am not saying that Melissa's story is exaggerated, as the challenge for plus sized women to find clothing is indeed real, it just seems conveniently shared just as she has a fashion line about to hit the market.


Go Melissa! She is stunning! Those top designers suck. Melissa McCarthy for the win!

Jennifer Mayberry

I hope this is not the official indiewire account. I'm sure it's not…


I freaking ADORE Melissa McCarthy. She's an amazing and beautiful woman. I aspire to be more like her. She is smart, funny, and knows who she is. She's an incredible talent and I feel bad for anyone who can't see past appearances.


Jackie, sounds u hated urself when u were a big girl. Not everyone perceives obesity the way u do. Whats really unhealthy and unattractive are ppl with ur attitude. Judging by what u posted, sounds like u fell right in to the TV brainwashing campaign of looking like an unrealistic skinny magazine cover model. IMO Melissa McCarthy is a hot mama.


Big Girl: There is a difference between curvy and obese. As a formerly obese person, now down 110 pounds, I feel I can speak from experience. Frankly, obese is unhealthy and unattractive. Yes, it may be due to different medical conditions, but we should all be combatting obesity.


Maybe she should consult Lane Bryant or just I don't know: GET FIT?

Big girl

This speaks volumes for how women are viewed today. It was once okay to have some curves but now the look is stick thin and sickly and if they have curves, the plastic surgeon put them there!
I'm a size 16-18 and designers seem to think that if you are big around, then you must also be 8 feet tall. Finding clothes to fit is troublesome…the fact that someone famous has as much trouble as the rest of us leaves little hope that it will ever get any better!


Could it not just be they did not want to be associated with a shitty actress who only knows how to act like an exaggerated version of herself?


That's sad. It's nice that's she's teaming with a designer to be the change

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