I was delighted to have Hannah Schnabel join me for a portrait session for Representation Matters.me, my body positive and diverse stock photo site. Hannah is the mind behind plus-size clothing line Belle Ampleur.
Hannah Schnabel has over a decade of experience designing clothing for stage and film. She’s designed and built everything from corsets, to a flaming wedding dress, to a Dancing Flower. She spent 17 years in retail, ranging from sales, to management, to corporate product development. As a certified bra fitter and stylist at Nordstrom, she saw (and felt herself!) the deep frustration of so many women trying to find unique, high-quality clothes that looked great and fit well. The reality: they don’t exist!
Hannah launched Belle Ampleur in 2015 as an answer to the questions she was continually asked through her work in retail and personal shopping: “Where are the beautiful clothes for plus-size women? Don’t we deserve luxury?” She brings her love of the theatrical to Belle Ampleur’s designs, adding just the right amount of flair to make the pieces turn heads.
Hannah and I met last year at her pop-up shop at independent clothing retailer Sassafras in downtown Seattle. I was stunned — and thrilled — to find a designer whose sample sizes generously fit me. This is clearly someone who gets it. (You can see me trying on an amazing blue and gold gown over on Hannah’s blog.)
Since this shoot was for stock image use, we had an agenda, but I also took the opportunity to let Hannah’s buoyant personality shine.
That personality — confident, creative, supportive — is infusing the new body positivity event Hannah’s organizing as well. Curves in Bloom is “an inclusive, one day celebration of all bodies through music, art, dance, self care workshops, panel discussions, and fashion.” It’s the first event of its kind in Seattle and I’m really looking forward to it.
I’m going to be teaching a workshop there, too! We’re going to be talking about self-portraiture (i.e., selfies), how they’re changing history, and why there’s so much backlash against them. And learning how to rock them.
There’s no shame in having a selfie game. Selfies have a long and storied history, from Frida Kahlo to Rihanna. And for those of us whose bodies don’t match mainstream beauty standards, selfies can be a useful tool for learning to love the bodies we have. Find out how to pose like a rock star and learn all the rules (that were made to be broken).
Oh, and here’s what Hannah had to say about her session:
“I have a hard time looking at myself, because in my head I look like I am still 18. Seeing myself as I am is a form of therapy, and these images were fun and still sassy, even though I look like a grown ass woman-which I am!- and they made me feel pretty.
Be prepared for shenanigans and laughter!”