Liris Crosse Uses Her Platform to Promote Diversity, Equity & Inclusion For All
By Abby Fenzel
Liris Crosse is a lover of people and a lover of love. As a child, she would go to the library and take out bridal magazines and imagine her wedding day. The gown, the flowers, the whole fairytale come true. Now as an adult, Liris works in the Bridal Industry as a Brand Ambassador for designer Maggie Sottero. She aspires to help change the old mentality of the industry and bring in a fresh perspective.
“I push and I speak out for size and racial diversity within our industry, it’s so important to see because there’s no cookie cutter for brides, we’re all different. Guess what? You can be plus size and still serve aspirational bridal fashion realness,” says Crosse.
As someone who speaks from the heart, Liris dreams of being someone that little girls can look up to. She has made a name for herself in the industry, both as a stunning model and as an advocate for size and color diversity. Liris uses her platform to work with multiple organizations that promote diversity & equity within the fashion industry.
One of these organizations is Models for Change Now, a Black model led collective of 200+ models who push for diversity within the model and fashion industry. They have created a petition asking for agency boards to pledge to have a minimum of 15% of their models be black as 15% is the population percentage of blacks in America. They are also working to make sure while on a shoot, there are capable hair and makeup artists available who “are skilled in working with black bodies, tones, and textures.” [Model Diversity Pledge on Change.org petition from Models for Change Now.]
In addition, she works with the Curvy Collective, a group focused on the bridal industry. Their main initiative is to push for diversity for plus size options within the industry. They challenge designers to go up in size to provide more options for plus size brides. The Curvy Collective is also working with designers to have more samples and sizes available for plus size brides when they go dress shopping.
“I don’t care if it doesn’t get as many likes as your other posts, you have to normalize posting different types of brides,” says Crosse. By diversifying your feed with women of all shapes, sizes, and colors, a business is saying, “We see you, we value you, please come into our store.”
Maggie Sottero has used a variety of models of ethnic backgrounds for many years. Recently, the push has been to see more plus size brides. When Liris joined the team as a Brand Ambassador, less than 20% of sales of Maggie Sottero dresses were plus size. For the last three years, Liris has modeled a plethora of gorgeous plus size gowns. In that time, the brand has grown their plus size audience and now approximately 25% of their sales are plus size gowns.
On a personal note, when given the opportunity to interview Liris, I got so excited because I wore Zandrina by Maggie Sottero at my wedding in January. When we initially went shopping and I said Yes to the dress, after I got home, I pulled up the dress on Maggie’s site to dream about my wedding day again. I was thrilled to see someone closer to my size (14) modeling the dress. It gave me the confidence that she looked so stunning, I could also look that good!
When I told Liris my story, her reaction was more than I could have ever hoped for. “If I can see someone who is close to my complexion or body type, people gravitate and appreciate seeing some type of representation. Seeing Tyra Banks or Cindy Crawford with their curves made me feel like I was seen and represented in the industry.”
After working with Maggie Sottero for several years, it becomes easier to know what you want in a dress! When Liris’s time comes to be a bride, she’ll have a custom gown by Maggie Sottero. However, if there was no time for a custom, her favorite gown she’s modeled so far is the Brinkley Lynette.
Liris’s words of wisdom for any brides who are about to go dress shopping: “You don’t know til you try it, try whatever you want on, buy what you want, it’s your day!”
Liris Photos Courtesy of Maggie Sottero Designs
Abby Photo: Siegel Thurston Photography