Michael Fusco

Michael Fusco

by Melissa Magsaysay

The Celebrity Stylist Shedding Light on Size-Inclusivity for Women and Men

When The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt actor, Titus Burgess hit the Tonys red carpet recently wearing a crimson colored suit, he appeared so confident and dapper that one would hardly suspect that his stylist had to scramble to find an event-ready suit that wasn’t sample size.

None of the three celebrities that stylist Michael Fusco dressed for the Tonys this year were sample size and the stylist cites the dearth of designer clothing available, even for such a prestigious occasion.

With a strong background in men’s styling, Fusco’s approach to dressing both men and women, is tailored, strong and confident. His clients at the Tony’s certainly all carried these qualities despite the lack of luxury wares at the ready.

Fusco has a roster of clients that’s full of both men and women, the majority of whom are not sample size. The stylist has discovered several designers who accommodate his client’s needs, but urges more brands to increase their offering.

Here, Fusco shares his insight on how it’s not only women who are being overlooked in the fashion industry."

“I think the biggest challenge in dressing men who are non-sample size (similar to that of women) is changing the mindset. The industry and society (historically) has dictated that if you are not a size 2 in womens or a 31/32 inch waist in mens, then you really can’t be part of trending fashion.”
Plus Size Designer Fashion Michael Fusco
Titus Burgess at the 72nd Tony Awards wearing a custom suit
Plus Size Designer Fashion Michael Fusco
Carrie Ann Inaba at the Dancing With The Stars finale wearing NF by Nour

Q & A With Michael

How long have you been styling and how did you get into it?

I’ve always had a passion for the visual component of fashion and putting pieces together that most people wouldn’t normally pair. After school I found my first full time job as a Visual Stylist at J Crew. I then worked in-house at Nautica as their stylist and it was predominantly a men’s business, so my editorial contacts initially were more on the men’s side. But after 7 years on my own, I can say it’s definitely 50/50 at this point.

Do you have a signature aesthetic in your work?

I think due to my background in menswear, I’ve always leaned more into the aesthetic of extremely well- tailored clothing, whether it be menswear or women’s clothing. The fit of a garment can make or break the look. I don’t necessarily place my personal style onto any of my clients. Rather, I like to create a dialogue with my clients and understand what they love and what makes them feel great, and then elevate it to achieve something that they didn’t think they could normally wear or pull off.

Do you have a style mantra?

Dress to feel empowered! When I style my clients (or even when I get dressed myself), I want them to look in the mirror and go, “Wow, I can now take on this day!” Many of my clients have to walk a red carpet or go on TV for press, I need and want them to feel confident and strong. You know that feeling, when you have on a great pair of shoes, you walk different; when you have a killer coat on, you strut down the street as if you’re on the runway. That’s what fashion and clothes should do for someone, regardless of their size.

Do you think the fashion industry has become more inclusive since you began styling?

I do, but I still think we have a long way to go. This isn’t a fad. Inclusivity and body positivity shouldn’t be a trend, it should be ingrained in our society and industry.

What more can we do as an industry to make great clothing available to more people?

We need to do just that. We need to actually MAKE the clothing! Designers and brands need to make sizes available in a wider range. There’s nothing more frustrating than finding amazing pieces and asking for your size, and the size range stops at a 6 or 8. Why? The average size for a woman is a 12-14. We need to break away from “vanity sizing” and take away the shame associated with being the size you are. As long as you are healthy, why should a number matter?

How long have you styled Carrie Ann Inaba? What is the process like of getting non-sample size clothing for her and other clients?

Carrie Ann and I have been working together for a few years now. I think we have been fortunate in identifying particular brands and designers that have been accommodating and generous to us. And now being able to partner with 11 Honore has been an incredible gift that makes previously unattainable pieces, now an option to us.

What is it like dressing men who are not sample size? Are samples and clothing easily accessible?

As challenging as it may be to find great options for women, it’s equally as hard to find them for men who are not sample size. Over the weekend, I dressed 3 incredible actors for the Tony’s, all of which were not sample size. Although many designers and brands were interested, they were also apologetic as they just didn’t have any options in their size.

What are the sartorial challenges for men when it comes to dressing non-sample size guys?

I think the biggest challenge in dressing men who are non-sample size (similar to that of women) is changing the mindset. The industry and society (historically) has dictated that if you are not a size 2 in womens or a 31/32 inch waist in mens, then you really can’t be part of trending fashion. So the thought process has always been that they need to wear an XL and cover up their curves or not have well tailored clothing. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Wearing clothes that are fitted and well proportioned for your body make you look and feel great.

Who are the designers you love working with (for men and women) that accommodate sizes.

It’s been wonderful collaborating with designers such as Christian Siriano, Carmen Marc Valvo, and Black Halo to name a few from the women’s side. They are always so generous and truly know how to dress women of all sizes. On the men’s side, incredible brands such as Hickey Freeman and Ted Baker, and emerging designers David Hart and J.Mueser. They don’t shy away from loaning or even creating custom pieces and embrace that idea that everyone should have access to fashion.


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