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Article 29 - November 22, 2010
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THE FASHION UNDERGROUND:

Unconventional Models

Chic weekly article by Jessica Lynn Harris Crystal Renn plus size super model.

Crystal Renn plus size super model.

By Jessica Lynn Harris

    Like many before me, I have shared my concerns and complaints as to the faults (or perceived faults) of the beauty industry. But this article’s intention, rather than expressing worries about white-washing and BMI laws, is to introduce you to three unconventional high fashion models, whose looks (and outlooks) are as fresh, fantastic, and unique as the clothes they don. These amazing women have worked with the best designers and photographers in the industry, and their versatility in both modeling careers and work outside the industry is truly inspiring.   


 

Connie Chiu 


 

    Connie Chiu has worked with many renowned designers and photographers, including designer Marc Lebihan and the infamous and controversial fashion photographer Terry Richardson. Connie has walked the runway for French designer Jean Paul Gaultier, famous for his man skirts, Madonna cone-bra, and costuming for the film The Fifth Element.

 

    Connie is Chinese but was raised in Sweden from a young age to better protect her eyes and skin-- she is the first and only high fashion model with albinism. Albinistic people throughout history and even today in certain parts of the world (like Tanzania) have suffered great discrimination. Films and books such as The Da Vinci Codeand The Matrix Reloaded portray stock albino characters; the website Television Tropes even has a term for this: the “evil albino.” 

 

    With such a cultural background, Connie’s gorgeous work seems to resonate with those who have felt ostracized for being different. Whereas fashion models are often criticized for looking homogenous and promoting conformity, Connie’s look and shoots celebrate individuality. Her confidence in herself as well as her ambition is commendable. Speaking to Vice magazine, Connie explains how she came to model for Gaultier: “I wrote my phone number on the back of a photo and sent it off to Jean Paul Gaultier. About four months later, he called my mum and said he wanted me to come do his couture show in Paris.” 

 

    Additionally, Connie acted in the music video for the song Stalker, by the band Recoil (solo project of Alan Wilder, of Depeche Mode fame). 


 

Vice Fashion: Connie

Connie’s modeling portfolio: http://www.conniechiu.com


 

Crystal Renn


 

    Crystal Renn is not only a model but a well regarded writer. She has covered New York Fashion Week for Glamour in 2010, and wrote the memoir Hungry: A Young Model’s Story of Appetite, Ambition, and the Ultimate Embrace of Curves

 

    In trying to lose weight to achieve the body of a standard size two model, Crystal suffered from anorexia. She only sought help after it became so serious that her hair was falling out. Crystal speaks openly about the struggle to accept her body, and her trial, as well as her message, is an inspiration to girls of all sizes. 

 

    Like actress Kate Winslet, last summer Crystal openly opposed the digital manipulation of her own images from a photo shoot with Nicholas Routzen. These touch-ups dramatically changed her appearance from her actual size--about a ten--to a body much smaller and standard in the industry. You can read an interview with Crystal onGlamour’s website about this issue here: http://www.glamour.com/health-fitness/blogs/vitamin-g/2010/07/on-the-cl-crystal-renn-on-her.html

 

    Crystal is the only plus size model to grace the cover of Harper’s Bizarre. In addition to working campaigns for plus size (“plus size” in fashion does not actually reflect real life plus size, as Crystal is a healthy weight) companies such as Lane Bryant, Crystal has modeled in advertisements for H&M, Saks, Dolce & Gabbana, Chanel, and more. She has walked the runway for Jean Paul Gautier, appeared in American, Italian, German, and Teen Vogue...and all of this has been accomplished at a healthy weight, promoting a socially progressive idea of beauty. 


 

Aimee Mullins 


 

    Besides modeling, Aimee Mullins is a professional actress and athlete. She graduated from Georgetown University, where, during her school years, she double majored in history and diplomacy and competed in Division I track and field. Aimee acted in the cult film Cremaster 3 and 2006‘s World Trade Center. These are huge accomplishments alone.  However, these feats are made even more remarkable as Aimee had a condition called fibular hemimelia.  This condition caused her legs to be amputated as a child--she did all of it with prosthetic legs. 

 

    Aimee is an activist for the disabled, and seeks to challenge the very concept of what it is to be disabled. In an interview with Richard Galant for CNN, she has said: “"It's society that disables an individual by not investing in enough creativity to allow for someone to show us the quality that makes them rare and valuable and capable."

 

    As for modeling, Ms. Mullins is famous for her work with Alexander McQueen in 1999 for his London show, wearing hand-carved ash legs. 

 

    Here, you can see Amy speak at TED, where she shows the artistry of her numerous sets of legs, including the ones designed by McQueen.http://www.ted.com/talks/aimee_mullins_prosthetic_aesthetics.html 


 

CNN interview: http://articles.cnn.com/2010-03-09/opinion/mullins.beyond.disability_1_aimee-mullins-disabled-alexander-mcqueen?_s=PM:OPINION

 

Chic Weekly: on-line Fashion & Sewing Magazine
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Editor in Chief: Jessica Lynn Harris
Art & Photo Editor: Andrew DiMaio
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copyright 2010 Love To Sew Studio
Article 29 November 22, 2010

 

 

 
 

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