Curvy models in demand

By Amelia Wade

International plus size fashion brand is searching for models this weekend - and for the woman who will become its new public face

Michelle Williamson says being a plus size model is often harder than being rake-thin. Photo / Natalie Slade
Michelle Williamson says being a plus size model is often harder than being rake-thin. Photo / Natalie Slade

In some ways, it's harder to be a plus size model than size zero and often the ideal fuller body shape is more unrealistic, says a working curvy model.

But Michelle Williamson says that shouldn't put off those hoping to get their foot in the door at a search for the new face of a curvy woman's clothing line.

This weekend, City Chic, the international fashion brand for size 14 plus, is conducting a worldwide search to find models who "truly represent the global village" and one woman will become a new face for the line.

In recent years the fashion industry has increasingly come under pressure to use healthy models and many cities and countries have taken their cue from body mass minimums imposed at the 2006 Madrid Fashion Week. Organisers required a Body Mass Index of at least 18, which meant a 175cm tall girl would need to weigh at least 56kg whereas many models are closer to a BMI of 14 to 16.

Vogue has also warmed to the idea of using fuller figured women, recently putting the glamorous and curvy Kate Upton on its American cover.

Designers here are also changing their attitudes towards what measurements models need to shrink down to and a recent international study - commissioned by So Fabulous for Littlewoods.com that specifically designs for women of sizes 14-32, found size 16 women are the happiest and most comfortable in their own skin.

Ms Williamson, 23, was talent spotted by her current agent, Amanda Bransgrove of Monarch Models, at an event in 2011.

"It was a bit surreal because you only see things like this when you're reading a magazine about a famous model who was approached on the street.

"It was surreal, then it was funny and then it was a reality."

Within months, Ms Williamson was booking photoshoots, campaigns and runway jobs. But being a plus size model isn't a full-time career option here, so she continued studying English literature at the University of Auckland and working part time. These days, she has a major job - such as a six-page spread for plus size bridal wear or a runway walk - about every three months with bits of work in between.

In her opinion, plus size modelling was more specific in shape than those size 8 or smaller.

Different designers want different figures and so Ms Williamson had to go up and down sizes to fit contrasting ideals on what is the ideal curvy body. While she stayed around a size 12 or 14, some jobs required her to be a bit smaller or larger.

"Everyone wants the beautiful shoulders, the large chest, hips round and curved and a comparatively small waist. That's often much more unrealistic than rake-thin," she said.

- NZ Herald

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