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Curvy Models, Events & Launches, Uncategorized

Judging the Simply Be plus size model competition

This week I left London for a couple of days and headed to Manchester for the long-awaited final of Simply Be‘s ‘Face Of Plus Size Fashion’ modelling competition. I was absolutely honoured to be asked to join Alison and Natalie from Simply Be, Jackie from Best Magazine and Sarah from 12+ UK Model Management as one of the judges, though I don’t think I realised until I got there just how difficult it was going to be to pick just one woman from the group of amazing ladies who made up the final 16!

The rules of the competition were left wide open, with no restrictions other than the fact you had to wear size 14+. The finalists (who’d been preselected by the team at Simply Be) were a really wide range of sizes, heights and ages, which I thought was fantastic. It was so wonderful to see women of all shapes and sizes looking gorgeous – and not shying away from fitted shapes, tricky trends and bold colours – but it also made choosing an eventual winner really difficult, because I loved so many of the girls for different reasons.

For the first part of the day, the girls bought their favourite outfit to wear on the catwalk. They were treated to professional hair and makeup and had catwalk lessons, then they faced the judges for a few questions. Our first job was to make a cut from 16 down to 5. Eeek! I felt like I was at Judges Houses on X Factor – we even had the polaroid photos and the coffee table! I have so much respect for people judging any competition like this after having to make this cut. The more you sit and discuss with your fellow judges, the more you realise you’re going round in circles!

That said, I was really happy with the final five we picked. I probably could have picked a whole other five and been just as happy with them (and another after that…), but the girls we picked had everything I was looking for; women I thought embodied the brand and could represent curvy women with the right positive attitude. Obviously, they also had to have striking features, good skin and so on (this was a modelling competition, after all!) but they also had to have the body confidence, personality and sense of fun that the brand is known for. Simply Be girls are fun-loving, free-spirited girls who know how to pull off a party frock, they aren’t moody, pouty fashionistas (not that we had any of those)!

Once we’d announced the final five, the girls were whisked off for a bit of restyling, and all put into the same Simply Be dress for final round of judging. I have to say, picking one dress was a masterstroke. Not only was it really pretty (it’s definitely on my ‘must buy’ list) but it really levelled the playing field, especially for someone like me who tends to be swayed by what people are wearing (I asked more than one girl where they got their outfits on the day). One more round of judging (and lots of holding our heads in our hands) and we finally decided on a very worthy winner…Amy Sellu.

Amy completely won me over not only with her gorgeous curves, killer legs and beautiful smile, but also with her confidence, intelligence and how incredibly articulate she was. She told us about her journey towards size acceptance, and her healthy attitude towards her body is really inspirational. This is a girl who works in a gym and faces hardcore gym bunnies all the time, but she has grown to realise that though she is built differently, she just as fabulous as them!

In fact, that’s what blew me away with all the finalists I had the chance to talk to. It was an inspiration to meet so many women who’re so body-confident. None of the women I met on Wednesday were lazy, unhealthy people who’d ‘let themselves go’, as so many (awful) people seem to assume plus size women must be. They were a cross-section of British women today – some short, some tall, some with long legs, others with long torsos, some with big boobs, some with big bums (some with both!) but all of them knew exactly how to work it on the catwalk. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a room with so many smart, savvy women with so much to say about beauty, size and body confidence, and I was completely overwhelmed for most of the day. As someone with her own set of body hang-ups who can relate directly to what a lot of these ladies had to say, it was quite difficult sometimes to stay detached enough to make a decision about the winner.

But eventually, we made that difficult decision, and it was lovely to see how supportive the rest of the finalists were. I’d like to say congratulations to Amy for winning, and to all the other women for getting to the final and for being brilliant, beautiful and completely inspirational. If any of you are reading this, you’re amazing, and I mean that.

I’d also like to thank the Simply Be team, Jackie, Sarah, Claire and Sheena for being great company during the trip, and also thanks to all the behind the scenes folks, the camera crews, the hair & makeup team, and finally uber stylist Karen for being absolutely brilliant!

There are loads more photos on Simply Be’s facebook page.

Curvy Models, Events & Launches

London Fashion Week gets curvy with All Walks and the LOOK show

Three cheers for Caryn Franklin, Debra Bourne and Erin O Connor’s initiative ‘All Walks Beyond the Catwalk‘ which bought some much-needed diversity to the catwalk at London Fashion Week. For the third season, All Walks bought us models of varying age, size and skin colour, who posed this morning for a photocall with top photographer Rankin to launch their latest campaign, SNAPPED.

All Walks was the reason Hayley Morley so famously stepped out in skintight knitwear for Mark Fast a couple of years ago. This season, Hayley’s already been spotted at the LOOK show, a celeb-studded show of the best from the high street, organised by the magazine of the same name. She was accompanied by fellow plus size models Laura Catteral and Crystal Renn (who’s looked slinkier than ever opening the show in a gold sequinned frock). It’s great to see models of all shapes and sizes modelling stuff we mere mortals can actually afford to buy – I particularly loved Hayley in her Oasis wrap dress (see video below).

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Plus Sized models Laura Catterall and Hayley Morley pose after walking the Runway during The Look Show at the Saachi Gallery on September 17, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)


LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Model Hayley Morely walks down the runway during The Look Show Spring/Summer 2011 at the Saachi Gallery during London Fashion Week on September 17, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)


LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Model Laura Catterall walks down the runway during The Look Show Spring/Summer 2011 at the Saachi Gallery during London Fashion Week on September 17, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)


Top photo, Rankin is joined by:

Valerie – UK Size 12 – (67yrs) wears Antonio Berardi
Katie – UK Size 14 – wears Giles Deacon
Naomi – UK Size 14 – wears Hussein Chalayan
Amira – UK Size 8 – wears Osman Yousefzada
Sheila – UK Size 8 wears Stella McCartney
Daphne – UK Size 8 (80yrs old) wears Vivienne Westwood
Marte – UK Size 14 – wears Betty Jackson
Natasha – UK Size 8 – wears Matthew Williamson
Kirsty – UK Size 14 – wears Alice Temperley

Curvy Models, In The News

‘Vogue Curvy’ – Italy embraces the voluptuous woman


Vogue may be all about aspirational high fashion, but they know a hot topic when they see one. Hot on the heels of the so-called ‘rise of the size 16 supermodel’, Vogue Italia has dedicated a whole section of their website to women like us: Vogue Curvy.

So far it seems to be relying on two tried and tested topics – models and celebs. There’s a gallery dedicated to Crystal Renn, complete with behind-the-scenes pics you might not have seen before, and one for America Ferrera. Model Sindy Gourland gives fashion advice, and the ‘curvy blog’ covers the recent Mark Fast show.

But to be honest, it seems to be playing it incredibly safe so far. A selection of items inspired by Christina Hendricks has such great potential, but seems to consist entirely of boring black sacks. Where are the cleavage-enhancing red carpet gowns or Joan-esque wiggle dresses? Just because we’re curvy doesn’t mean we’re boring, and we all know Vogue has access to the most exquisite clothes. The style advice section is a bit more inventive, but there are no links to buy, just lots of photos.

The site shows definite potential, but I’d love to see them taking bigger risks and using a bit more imagination. Vogue is leader, not a follower, and right now I feel there are other sites and blogs out there delivering the same content in a much better way.

They get an A for effort though. It’s very early days, and this is such a departure for a magazine that’s usually devoted to tiny models. I’d love to see Vogue UK and US following Italia’s lead in the future. I bet I know plenty of willing contributers…

Curvy Models, In The News

V Magazine’s Size Issue continues to shock


V magazine continues to get column inches for its use of curvaceous models in its current ‘Size’ issue. Alongside Crystal Renn’s ‘One Size Fits All’ spread, tongues are also wagging about shots of models Tara Lynn, Candice Huffine, Michelle Olson, Marquita Pring (above) and Kasia P in the ‘Curves Ahead’ shoot. The mag pitches them as the “bombshells of plus size” and they definitely fit the bill, posing in everything from sexy denim to…well, very little at all! Also grabbing the headlines is a slightly hypocritical shoot by our favourite fat-hater, Karl Lagerfeld, featuring the voluptuous Miss Dirty Martini


Some argue that the mag is just looking to shock by featuring models so far away from the size zero fashion ‘norm’. “Why not feature (UK) size 10 – 12?” has been a common comment on many forums. This is a valid point, but it’s not like size 12 is the last tipping point between ‘healthy’ and ‘fat’ – the models above are tall enough to carry their size 14 or 16 curves no problem and I wager all of their BMIs are in the ‘healthy’ part of the scale or only just above 25.

The reaction from the fashion industry towards the photos has been pretty positive. After awful advertising campaigns like the terribly airbrushed Ralph Lauren ad, I’m sure many of them welcome the breath of fresh air that is a shoot that features all the lumps and bumps that regular women have.

The fact of the matter is, these gorgeous, buxom beauties represent the woman of 2010 far better than any super-slim model, starved celebrity or over-primped WAG, and it’s refreshing to see them on the pages of a mag that’s usually reserved for androgynous catwalk models and super-slim celebs.


The magazine hits newsstands tomorrow. Make sure you pick up a copy – the more that are sold, the more people will have to sit up and take notice!

[photos from V Magazine via The Fashion Spot]

Curvy Models, Featured, In The News

Crystal Renn does high fashion


The new issue of V Magazine is definitely worth picking up for the groundbreaking photoshoot that pitches celebrated plus size model Crystal Renn against model-of-the-moment Jacquelyn Jablonski in a fashion face-off. Can a curvy girl really pull off high fashion like a catwalk model? We say yes, as Crystal works her magic in tricky looks like body-con dresses, leotards and flippy mini skirts…

Far from showing up either the slim or the curvaceous model as a false beauty, both girls looks brilliant in the shoot, more photos of which can be seen on the Daily Mail website.

The shoot, by photographer Terry Richardson, is apparently part of a wider campaign to encourage magazines to feature more of a mix of models, rather than just the size 4’s that frequent the catwalks. As the face of Evans and a outspoken voice for the plus size model industry, Renn is a great choice for a shoot like this. She’s curvy, but she’s still healthy looking. A former anorexic who gave up trying to conform to fashion stereotypes in favour of being happy and healthy, she’s a role model for all curvy girls. Though 5’9 with the measurements 38C-30-42, she’s still smaller the average British woman!

Pick up this issue of V Magazine on January 14th for the full photoshoot.