When it comes to fashion, history suggests size does matter. For a long time we have been presented with the message that thin is always in. But perhaps times are changing. Recently, Mark Fast paid homage to real women when he sent both plus-size and ‘regular’ models down the catwalk at London Fashion Week. Last year, fashion matriarch Anna Wintour changed her usually size zero tune and styled voluptuous singer Adele for the Grammys. Hell, a plus-size model has even taken out the America’s Next Top Model crown once.
But then again Mark Fast’s own stylist walked out on him days before THAT show in protest against his use of curvy girls. So the road to having a balance of bodies in fashion is long, and we have a way to go, but are we getting there? We talk to Jessica Bratt, one of New Zealand’s gorgeous plus-size models, as she prepares for the Fashion Festival and get the skinny on plus-size modelling here at home.
How did you get into modelling?
It was kind of an accident. TCD advertised for curvy models in their stores and through their website. My mum pointed it out to me – and I thought why not give it a go?
I went along to the audition, slightly apprehensive but it turned out to be so much fun. We were all in the same situation – we had never modelled and didn't have a clue what we were doing. But the TCD team made it relaxed and fun for everyone. We all watched each other and there was cheering and clapping.
They rung later that week to let me know I was in. That's when I panicked and realised that I now had to walk down a catwalk in front of people…
Tell us about your relationship with TCD?
TCD are an amazing bunch of people. Caroline Marr celebrates women's curves by making them feel fashionable, funky and confident – but most importantly worthy of fashion.
I had such a great time with them for ANZFW 2009 – I can't wait to see everyone again for Fashion Festival. They really helped boost my confidence.
You debuted at ANZFW 09 – What was your favourite moment?
ANZFW was so much fun; it was also really special for TCD to be the first ever plus-size label to be invited to show. The whole day was a surreal experience – being pampered by hair and make-up, hanging out backstage and spotting the NZ Next Top Model girls – but my favourite moment was coming off the runway after the first walk. Not just because it was a huge relief to have not fallen over, but the realisation that this was really fun and I couldn't wait for the next two walks.
What's it like for the TCD models to be backstage with the size zero models?
Backstage was hectic but hilarious. Our section was different from everyone else as we had a large table filled with drinks, snacks and fruit. The funniest moment of the day was when we caught two of the size zero models desperately shovelling food into their mouths. They looked very disappointed when they were informed it was only for the TCD crew.
The thought of being surrounded by size zero models sounds terrifying but was actually quite fun. We were all treated the same, and it was exciting to see what everyone was wearing for the shows.
Mark Fast’s London show…What are your thoughts?
I thought Mark Fast's show was great and all the models looked amazing. I was really surprised there was so much controversy surrounding it, considering size 14 is a regular size in most countries. It makes sense for designers to display their work on real women to the real women who want to buy it. Hopefully more designers will include a selection of body types on their runways in the future.
What do you like about modelling?
Modelling is the perfect excuse for grown-ups to play dress up. I love the luxury of people doing your hair and make-up, then getting to try on beautifully designed clothes.
Jess’s Quick Five:
Describe your personal style in 5 words: Simple, classic, comfortable, layers, elegant.
Fave NZ Designers: TCD, Trelise Cooper, Karen Walker and Lonely Hearts.
Fave fashion icon: Florence Welsh (from Florence and the Machine) – she always looks amazing and has amazing hair.I also have to say Beth Ditto for her attitude towards clothes and fashion. That girl is fierce!
What has been your biggest fashion mistake: The scrunchie.
What would you rather eat your own shirt than wear? High heeled jandals…why do they exist?