Carmina Plus is a multi-talented model from Yorkshire. At Urbanity Chic were delighted to complete an interview with Carmina. Read on to find out about how Carmina got into the fashion industry, what she does to relax when not modeling and what work she is doing with regard to the Models of Diversity campaign.
Q: How did you get into fashion modeling?
I was scouted by a famous plus model in the US in the late 90s, but have only (re)started my career in earnest the last year or so here in London – I had to take lots of time off due to some severe health problems. And my career is going incredibly well so far! In addition to being a model, I also work as a diversity advocate at Models of Diversity, a London-based campaign to fight for equality in the fashion industry, advocating for plus-sized, disabled, mature, petite and androgynous models of all colours and ethnicities.
Q: How was 2010 for you?
Cray-zee! Some of the biggest highs of my entire life (many of my dreams came true) but also some very deep lows; there were some health problems and losses in my family, for example. It was a real roller coaster for me and I still need time to process everything.
Q: Who inspires you?
My mum, dad & grandparents, of course. Annie Lennox, Dolly Parton and Joan Baez have always inspired me. They’re gorgeous, talented, creative women who are not afraid to be who they really are and speak truth to power.
Q: Which modern day fashion designers or fashion icons do you look up to?
Well I have to start with D&G, as I share their motto: “Sicilianità, Sartorialità, Sensualità” (Sicilian-ness, Tailoring, Sensuality). I am nuts right now about Carmen Marc Valvo, Zac Posen and Narciso Rodriguez. They really know how to cut for a womanly figure, but I wish they sold more plus size garments as well. As for fashion icons, I have always loved Sophia Loren. What a goddess! Curvy, sultry and Italian – just my style.
Q: Do you prefer to shoot on location or in the studio?
Location is great because you never know what objects or people are there for you to interact with; sometimes the best creative ideas come out of seeing what’s around you and going for it. Studio shoots are more comfortable and controlled though, so I think it’s a toss up.
Q: Do you have any interesting stories about a particular photo shoot, or a casting you’d like to share?
There was a plus-model catwalk casting in London April 2010 that I just didn’t want to attend – the printers had totally messed up my comp cards and then blamed it on me, I was anxious over it and just not sure, but I couldn’t return the train ticket. So I went, was accepted into the show… and long story short, I am now head PA to the Co-Founder of Models of Diversity! If I hadn’t attended that casting, my entire career and a good chunk of my life would be totally different. The moral of the story? Put yourself out there, because the smallest encounter can change the course of your life.
Q: How do you prepare for a fashion shoot or show?
Funny you should ask – I just had a huge, multi-model/ location shoot for 2 – 3 magazines last month. I do the little things that aren’t glamorous, but that all models must do: I clean/ buff/ polish/ exfoliate/ moisturize my entire body so I’m 100% ready for whatever the director wants. I make sure I have mapped out all routes so I’m on time if not early, and that I’ve carefully read the call sheet. Aside from being well rested and nourished, I’ve gotta have my iPod, water, and a warm pashmina with me; I need my favorite tunes to stay focused and centered.
Q: Do you have a favourite photograph?
One would have to be an image of my gorgeous grandmother which was taken in the 1950s. She was SO beautiful and glamorous! I really feel like she’s with me as I model, and I’m dedicating all my successes to her.
Q: Who is your favourite photographer?
Well of course I’d love to shoot with Rankin or Mario Testino. I really dig the work of photographer and plus model Velvet d’Amour in Paris. I just shot with Italian Vogue published Alessandro Capoccetti, he gets these amazing angles and really unique perspectives.
Q: Is there anybody you would like to work with?
GOK WAN! I would love to be one of his ‘Gokettes’ – I really admire him and the way he helps people. I’d love to model for Anna Scholz – I wore some of her pieces in my recent Diva Magazine spread. Actually, my real wish would have been to work with Kevyn Aucoin and Alexander McQueen, so sad.
Q: What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion to me means variations on a theme. I like to take vintage or classic styles and then give them a serious twist. This expresses who I am, which is really the point of fashion – saying something about who you are to the rest of the world. I never blindly follow fashion trends, I see what does and doesn’t work for me, and try to have fun with it – as long as you emphasize your best attributes and don’t hurt anyone along the way, I am all for full fashion force. You know, I would love it if a young designer out there started making some high end, fashion-forward, flattering, quality pieces for sizes 14+… any takers?!
Q: How would you define your personal style?
My own personal style is rockabilly 50s chic with a bit of goth thrown in, but it’s evolving right now.
Q: Where are you based?
I live in Yorkshire but do almost all my work in London. I do miss out on some great jobs due to my location, but the quality of life is so amazing up here that it’s worth it (for now anyways). We moved to here so I could pursue a PhD in Music at the Uni – I dropped out to pursue modeling full-time, and haven’t looked back for a second!
Q: What’s it like being where you’re from?
I’m an American but have lived in beautiful Yorkshire for almost 4 years; I used to live in Italy and as my hubby is a German citizen, we’re really Europhiles. We love it!
Q: What’s been the highlight of your career to date?
I would say my feature editorial spread in Diva Magazine. The July 2011 issue came out in early June; Diva is Europe-wide and has a distribution in the millions! More magazine shoots are on the way, however… which will be even bigger and better. And in recent news, I was hired by Burberrys as a fit model.
Q: What are you hoping to achieve in 2011?
I want to make my portfolio more diverse and high quality, to move away from commercial and catalogue, and towards couture. A dream would be for me to land a job modeling for a high street brand. And finally I’d love to see a top plus model get a super high profile job (a spot at fashion week, a magazine cover, a clothing or make-up contract) that would normally have gone to a standard model.
Q: What do you do to relax?
I’m an opera singer, so listening to music and singing is a huge part of my life; my cat is a great singer and we have fun meowing along together. I love to read and have 2 -- 3 books and a few magazines going at any one time. Spending time at home with my pets and hubby is terrific; drinking and chatting with friends is also really important to me. And sad to admit, but I’m pretty addicted to ‘Fashion Police’ and ‘Great British Menu.’
Q: What songs are on your ipod at the moment?
Well, whatever opera I have to learn is always at the top. As for leisure time? Neil Finn, Neil Finn and some more Neil Finn! Big time Beatles. Also lots of Morrissey/ The Smiths, The Cure, and Depeche Mode. I’m just starting to really get into Gaga too. Frank Sinatra is the man for me. Joni Mitchell, Nick Drake, James Taylor, and some down & dirty folk. And I’m a big fan of jazz, having been raised on it – “Getz/ Gilberto” and “Hartman & Coltrane” are two of my favorite albums of all time.
Q: Do you have interesting hobbies?
I’m a language and linguistics nut, so I’m usually teaching myself a new language. I’ve studied Italian, Spanish, German, French, and Latin, and a tiny bit of Portuguese, Greek and Sanskrit. I love to cook, so I am always watching cooking shows or reading cookbooks (even though I’m vegetarian).
Q: If you could give a little piece of advice for new models or aspiring models what would it be?
Be friendly and professional at all times, and that includes your written correspondence! This is a small world and word gets around fast in the industry – do your best work, keep your nose clean, and act with integrity. Let’s see… find some good mentors you trust, then listen to them! My agent has given me a few honest sessions of feedback about my portfolio, and she’s never steered me wrong. I toned up, worked on my posing and expressions, improved my portfolio… and the quality work is pouring in now.
Q: What motivates you to do what you do?
Inasmuch as I’m a diversity advocate, I am super passionate about what I do because I’ve seen first-hand how it can change lives. In terms of my own career, I’m motivated by the desire to collaborate with other talented artists to create an image. My feelings about artistic collaboration come from my acting and opera career, and I use that stage presence and sense of character or story to sell the garment. I love taking on new looks and making them my own.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to let our readers know about?
I don’t like the stereotype that models are stupid, or that all plus models are unfit – I have a Masters from Harvard, and do 100s of sit-ups, lunges and squats every day. Otherwise, I’d say there are enough slices of the modeling pie to go around for everyone; find your piece and go for it!
Editor’s Note: At Urbanity Chic we believe that Carmina’s endless array of talents and drive to succeed in the fashion world will ensure that she will enjoy continued success in her modeling and other ventures in the coming months and years.
If you’d like to contact or learn more about Carmina Plus Model, just follow the links below:
twitter link: http://twitter.com/ModsOfDiversity
facebook link: www.facebook.com/carmina.plusmodeluk
web page link: www.carminaplusmodel.com
model mayhem: www.modelmayhem.com/1304751