So i've mentioned in passing that i've worked with top plus size fashion retailer Simply Be a lot over the past few months so I think now is a good time to tell the tale. It's quite an essay but worth the read I think...
It was august, I was a little down in the dumps about how the 2011 pageant year had gone by so fast but felt like I could have done so much better. Up pops a good friend of mine who often supplies me with the dresses I wore at pageants and she linked me to the Simply Be facebook, advertising that they were holding a model search for size 14+ models and told me i'd be "daft" not to. She had a point - I have got the right stats for plus size fashion and a similar look to one of the models they use regularly for their commercials. So I sent in my entry and the weeks went past.
Fast Forward to september and I get an email to say they'd shortlisted me and wanted me to attend their model search finals in Manchester in October! Needless to say I was ecstatic! Stuff like this doesn't happen often so I accepted my place and planned my trip there. It was very much like prepping for a pageant but without the clothing stress - Simply Be provided all our attire - and I quickly got chatting to some of the other finalists. We decided to room together to save a bit of money and make sure we were all there on time and ready to go. Props to them, they kept me sane and we had a lot of giggles over the 3 days we were there!
So the day came, we were up at the crack of dawn showering, debating what to do with our arrival outfits etc. Being the serial worrier I decided to go with a rather unflattering oversized ensemble, not wanting to have strap marks or legging lines down my legs. Not that it mattered, I was straight into hair and makeup to be transformed for the day! There were 24 of us there, split into 4 groups of 6, each group wearing a different trend - we were assigned "global tribe" - lots of prints, textures and details. My hair was done in a really nice fishtail braid and my makeup was kept minimal but with earthy tones. Needless to say, we're women, we were a bit fussy about our outfits but as Karen the head stylist rightly pointed out, clients aren't paying for our opinion. My snake print tunic dress fitted me well and the colours suited my skintone. Its not what i'd ever wear in the real world but I knew I could work with it. The 2-sizes-too-small shoes were another matter! I had to wear them for photos but was allowed to swap into my own shoes later in the day. The day itself consisted of being made up, styled etc then a photoshoot, catwalk tutorial and the finale fashion show in the evening.
I went into it quietly confident, I knew I had the most experience there but didn't want to come across cocky or arrogant, so I made sure I did my best but didn't brag or anything like that. The set up was very similar to a pageant so I felt right at home on the runway again, and knew that if i took a good shot and had a good walk out, i'd be in the top 5 where I could then nail the on-stage Q+A. Still, it didn't stop me being nervous! My shoot went well, they didn't last long if you think they had 24 girls to get through in a few hours. Afterwards Wendy, a Simply Be model and the event's presenter, came up to me and said "i can tell you've done this before, good job!" and I saw Sarah from 12+ UK analysing my shots, seeming pleased. I got some lunch then had our group's runway tutorial, so I got some much needed practice in to shake off the beauty queen walk of that year and get into model mode.
When the final show came around I just did my thing - I made the top 7 (it was meant to be five but the judges couldn't chop two of the girls and so extended it a bit), then it was a mad dash off to change into matching dresses - some red, some black and our best high heels. We then walked one by one and had a quick Q+A. I can still remember my question being "who is your style icon and why?" (PANIC, I DONT FOLLOW CELEB-LAND!) so I answered Sofia Vergara, because she's sexy but not too showy, and flatters her curvy figure. Then I was asked "Beyonce or Rihanna?" WHAT THE HELL?! I went with Beyonce because i'm a huge Destiny's Child fan and that was that. Then came the waiting while the judges deliberated...it felt like hours! After eyeing up all the cupcakes and champers, we got back on the runway and they announced the winner! All i remember is doing a pageant reaction - hands to mouth, a few tears and a big hug for Kay, who was stood next to me. Then I took my seat on the throne and had a few more tears!
Since that day Sarah from 12+UK has signed me to their books, and i've shot for Reveal Magazine in December as well as two Simply Be shoots in January, one for a specific range of trousers and one for some catwalk videos for the S/S range and some stills to boot. I've also done 4 of their store launch parties in Doncaster, Teesside, Leicester and Gateshead, the last two I was accompanied as VIP guest by none other than Gemma Collins from TOWIE. Hopefully I get to work with them again but thanks to 12+UK i've also cast for other major companies such as Evans and New look. I've also been to New York where I met with Ford Models, home of Candice Huffine and Crystal Renn to name a few. Obviously I wasn't allowed to conduct any business out there on an ESTA so we kept it more like an informal meeting but hopefully the contacts are there to allow me to emigrate in the future. As well as model-y stuff I got to watch some NHL, with my two favourite teams playing at MSG! I also visited the 9/11 memorial to pay my respects; i'd wanted to be a Fire Fighter up until just recently and 9/11 really hammers home what a dangerous job it is, and those who lost their lives did so trying to save others.
Anyway, here's a youtube link to SB's coverage of the final (including my super-cheese reaction!): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXjKHaIivzY&feature=plcp&list=PL5ECB3042B995C638
Hope you enjoy reading about it as much as I have writing it, and more importantly being a part of it all.