ROLE MODEL

Melissa McCarthy wants to make you feel great about your­self.

Elle (Canada) - - Radar - SARAH LAING

things are run­ning a lit­tle (read “a lot”) be­hind sched­ule on the day Melissa McCarthy is un­veil­ing her plus-size cloth­ing line, Melissa McCarthy by Seven7, to the press. The com­bi­na­tion of the Spy ac­tress’ own vol­u­bil­ity and a few friends drop­ping by unan­nounced (in­clud­ing one Vic­to­ria Beck­ham) is how I landed here: perched on a chair in a New York ho­tel hall­way and be­ing kept com­pany by McCarthy’s as­sis­tant (and niece, in­ci­den­tally), who has been hold­ing a cold slice of pizza for the ac­tress for at least a half-hour.

Once I’m in the room with the 44-year-old ac­tress, there’s one more de­lay: McCarthy and one of the stat­uesque women mod­el­ling the col­lec­tion for us are hav­ing a mo­ment. “Those pants look so great on you!” she says to the model, who’s wear­ing dark-wash skinny jeans. McCarthy, in a silky grey tu­nic and flow­ing printed ki­mono (also pieces from the line), is just as warm and ef­fer­ves­cent in per­son as I had hoped she would be. “I haven’t worn denim in five years,” says the model, smil­ing broadly. “These are the first ones that ac­tu­ally fit me prop­erly.”

A few min­utes later, I’m seated on the couch across from McCarthy and I ask her about the ex­change. Her de­meanour im­me­di­ately changes from play­ful (we’d been dis­cussing how much she loves Cana­di­ans) to se­ri­ous. “It’s pretty over­whelm­ing,” she says, her blue eyes widen­ing. “This is the first time I’ve seen real women wear­ing my de­signs, and ev­ery time they walk into the room, my heart kind of flut­ters.”

McCarthy, who has won an Emmy and was nom­i­nated for an Os­car, is fresh off a string of block­buster roles. She has earned a rep­u­ta­tion for play­ing women who are un­apolo­getic about who they are ( Brides­maids, Tammy, The Heat), and that’s the spirit she has brought to her foray into de­sign. “You should never have to dress in a way that’s ‘ap­pro­pri­ate,’” says McCarthy, de­scrib­ing her vi­sion for the col­lec­tion as pur­posely “ran­dom.” “You shouldn’t have to pick a team, pick a side, pick a mood. One day I want to wear a stylish lit­tle dress and a heel and the next day I want to wear ripped-up jeans and Con­verse. That’s the fun in cloth­ing.”

One of McCarthy’s big­gest goals in de­sign­ing this col­lec­tion, avail­able in Canada ex­clu­sively at Pen­ning­tons, was to make get­ting dressed in the morn­ing a pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence for ev­ery kind of woman. “There are so many things

that make you feel neg­a­tive in the world. You shouldn’t be self-in­flict­ing neg­a­tiv­ity; you should be putting your­self in some­thing fun that puts a lit­tle kick in your step.”

McCarthy also knew what she didn’t want: a col­lec­tion of “bad shapes with ter­ri­ble fab­ric” that can make women who wear over a size 12 feel like sec­ond-class cit­i­zens. “You feel like you’re not in­vited to the same party as ev­ery­body else, and your self-es­teem goes down,” she says. “But if you feel pride in what you wear, you go out into the world with a lit­tle bit of joy and then you’re a lit­tle nicer to this per­son and you smile at some­one on the street who was maybe hav­ing a bad day. They’re lit­tle things, but it starts to snow­ball. And if my clothes can be part of that—my God, I’d be so happy!”

For McCarthy, that snow­ball ef­fect started with her par­ents, who were al­ways “wildly en­cour­ag­ing” and saw noth­ing un­rea­son­able about a girl mov­ing from a farm town in Illi­nois to NYC to pur­sue her act­ing dream—with $32 in her pocket. That buoy­ant self-con­fi­dence car­ried McCarthy through her early years in NYC, where her first agent (work­ing out of her stu­dio apart­ment, FYI) tried to tell her that she couldn’t pos­si­bly work un­til she lost weight. (McCarthy was a size 6 at the time.) “While I was sit­ting there, I was think­ing ‘If I’m such a bag of poi­son, why are you see­ing me? I can’t change ev­ery­thing about me, so I’m just go­ing to leave your of­fice/closet and go out and do more plays.’” McCarthy adds that she has al­ways be­lieved that when peo­ple are neg­a­tive, it usu­ally stems from an in­se­cu­rity of their own. “Ev­ery time some­one tells me some­thing’s im­pos­si­ble, I think ‘No!’ I kind of think that ev­ery­thing’s pos­si­ble. It doesn’t mean it’s all go­ing to work out—I’m not nuts—but I never lead with ‘I doubt it.’”

“You shouldn’t have to pick a team, pick a side, pick a mood. That’s the fun in cloth­ing.”

Melissa McCarthy by Seven7 launches this fall at Pen­ning­tons (from $56).

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