A top model who was dropped by an agency for being “too big” is launching a monthly masterclass to help women with “normal” figures take to the catwalk.
Saffi Karina, 27, said she decided not to change her womanly figure when the agency dumped her six years ago.
She has since worked on plus-size campaigns for Debenhams, Speedo, John Lewis and lingerie specialist Bravissimo. At 5ft 10in tall and now a size 12 to 14, she is hitting back at the so-called “size zero” fashion epidemic.
She said: “I had only been working for a couple of years, and really loving it, when they dropped me. But I have 41-inch hips — they are pure bone, there is nothing I can do about them, they aren’t going anywhere. I had to work with what I’ve got.
“As you grow older, you become more womanly and I actually didn’t want to change that, so I started looking for what else was out there. I began working as a plus-size model and it is a very positive and happy industry. I still got to do what I loved and travel the world.”
She founded the Curve Project London campaign last year after being contacted for advice by “ordinary girls” unable to achieve the skeletal look described recently as “Paris thin”.
High-profile fashion photographers, make-up artists, stylists and catwalk trainers will offer their expertise at her workshops, where women will be shown how to start a portfolio necessary to begin working as a model, and gather tips on capitalising on their assets. Miss Karina, of Wandsworth, said: “I started thinking there was more I could do with all my contacts in the industry. I thought up Curve Project London — it is more than a workshop, it’s a movement to empower women, to give them confidence and skills for life.
“There is no A-class guidance for plus-size models. I wanted to offer that in London. There is a real thirst for ‘normal’ sized women, especially for commercial brands. I want to strive to endorse a positive body image and act as a role model to young women who previously thought ‘thin’ was the only way to get a foot over the fashion threshold.”
Vogue last week became the first publication to sign up to a 10-point code of conduct for models’ working conditions. Drawn up by acting union Equity’s model committee, it includes set working hours, breaks, prompt payment and the provision of nutritious food.
Catwalk choreographer Les Child, involved in the masterclasses, said: “Plus-size women are more realistic and it gives other women an image they can relate to.”
Sarah Tankel Ellis, fashion stylist on ITV’s Lorraine show, said: “I’m so excited to be a part of such an empowering and innovative concept. It’s a fantastic initiative to encourage and develop aspiring models of all shapes and sizes.”
Source London Evening Standard