Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Curvy and Successful: - Interview - Velvet D'Amore


 Velvet is a beautiful curvaceous supermodel from the USA who has re-located to Paris. 

 She has featured in Jean-Paul Gaultier's 2007 Spring/Summer prêt-à-porter collection shown in Paris in October 2006. 

She also made a catwalk appearance in John Gallianos prêt-à-porter showing entitled "Everybody is Beautiful" in 2006, and in the associated French Vogue article featuring photography by Nick Knight

Janie B  - I have seen lots of articles where they describe how you came up with your stage name .  If you don’t mind would you tell me what your real name is and why did you feel that you needed to take on a persona?

VD’A  -“To be honest, I don’t really give out my real name, everybody just uses my nickname Velvet. Did you know there is also a breed of cat called Velvet d’Amour – funny that!.  I didn’t really take on a persona as such – the nickname Velvet came about when I was volunteering on an AIDS/HIV safe sex hotline  and the other volunteers said my phone voice was very sexy so they jokingly started calling me ‘Velvet’ and it stuck. The d’Amour bit came after I modelled for JeanPaul Gaultier and was interviewed by a journalist and when she said JUST VELVET then I said, Velvet d’Amour, as my friends and I all have drag names and that was mine,lol."

JB  - Re Vol2 how much is velvet and how much isn’t.?

VD’A -   “VOLUP2 is really my baby and very much 'me'. I create the  magazine as I like and I dont really follow any prescribed rules,  much like my modeling career you could say,lol.  Having said that, they are two different entities in that my own work as a model/actress is separate from what I create with the magazine itself."

JB - Where are you from originally?

VD’A – “I have Irish roots my dad was 100%, though from  Brooklyn and my mothers Czech/Polish (I celebrate St Patrick's day  even though I don’t drink. My friends find it funny that I celebrate St Patrick's day even though I’ve never been to Ireland ha ha.”   (raucous laugh from Velvet)    

JB - Why did you move from New York to Paris.

VD’A – “I fell in love with a guy in Paris, I’d lived in NYC for a decade. I found that NYC was losing its originality, all the shops where turning into malls and the unique shops where starting to disappear. I found Europe was a place for art, and there was a lot more going on creatively."

JB -  Do you believe that when we are born that we are destined for a certain career or do you think that we make our own future?

VD’A  - ““My Mom gave me a book when I was younger called,  “Manifest your destiny “ which made a lot of sense. The thoughts you put out in the world and the thoughts you put out about yourself are very powerful, so the more positive, the better.”

JB – Do you enjoy making a stir? when you walked down the catwalk for Gautier and Galliano , how did you feel and what was the reaction of the people watching the show?

VD’A  - “ha ha I strutted down the runway wearing a T-shirt that reads “Please Feed The Models “

"I do enjoy the reaction of people, I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be on the couture runways of Paris, not just because of my size, but also my age.The reason I was signed was when I went to photograph the models at  France’s first plus model agency and they instead decieded to sign me on as a model. To put somebody like myself on the runway was amazing, it was really John Galliano that started me out and it created a lot of diversity and interest. I received a lot of press taking the runway for Jean Paul Gaultier and I feel very blessed to have had these experiences. I was also  lucky enough to have the lead in a French film, AVIDA, that went to  Cannes and Tribeca film festivals, it has all been very empowering.

JB - Why do you think you are so successful in what you do?

VD’A  - "I do what I enjoy". 

JB  - So tell me about your home life,  how do you balance your work/home life so that you can spend time with your family and friends?

VD’A  - “I can’t say as it feels balanced at the moment because have to put 110% of my life into my new venture, [7]. Starting a biz one expects that but I do think its hard to create a balance when one soul component overtakes you. Happily those close to me are incredibly understanding. I am doing less modelling now and concentrating my energy on the magazine which means devoting myself to shooting others a lot of the time. It’s very nice to see how my photography can at times help propel women in their modelling. A strong image can create thousands upon thousands of hits and shares, and really end up making a difference in a models career."

JB - Do you think its down to age or just time?

VD’A -  I feel my modelling work helped a lot in the initial stages of the size acceptance movement, as so few women my size dared to be shot in the manner that I did, which was confrontational as it was brazen,  and sexy and yet I was so out of the ordinary when compared to mainstream models. But those images set me apart and eventually landed me work within mainstream highend fashion. That was what I felt could make the most difference. Its great to be in plus publications but actually infiltrating mainstream fashion is where you make the most impact. Now there are tons of models/images out there and loads online that will help to empower people so there is less need for me to use myself as a model since so many women now feel empowered enough to model  themselves. The bloggers in the plus world have done a great deal in terms of multiplying positive images of plus size people, so its not  as nessesary for me to model when my photography and my own magazine VOLUP2, can be a more powerful tool at this point."

JB - I see that you have also done some original music with Phil Broikos , how did you find it.  Was that your first musical collaboration? Will you be doing any more? [8]? ( June 2012)
Phil - ROCHESTER, New York, US - Rivella Records

VD’A – “ Oh he is a dear friend and funnily enough my highschool prom date!.  He still lives in Rochester where I grew up and when I go back I force him into his studio and make him create tunes with me. There was a short film competition with Rochester as the theme and I entered it using a song he made specially for the film.Phil, is super inspiring, I wish we had more time do more but he has a family and a new biz of his own now."

JB - I’m particularly interested in your photography and love the fact that you photograph and support curvy women.  What do you see that others don’t and what inspires you to come up with the shoot idea/location?

VD’A – “I ‘Velvetise’ people, big hair and lip-gloss,lol.  When I am thinking of an image for a photograph, I think if I inhabited this body, how would I want to look. I am more conscientious because of the magazine, for instance someone > wrote me and said I didn’t highlight enough apple-shaped women. I don’t think that’s the body type that people are used to seeing because it’s always T+A which is most acceptable in terms of popularplus size models. People like Denise Bidot and Georgina Horne who aremore hourglass shaped, are the models that tend to get the majority of comments. So its good to get feedback so that I can address such issues as I do want to have imagery that people relate to. I will be working on how I can exploit a shape and maintain a really strong glamorous sense because at the end of the day the main flavour is one of Diversity."

JB - We all have somebody who we would love to aspire to be like, who are you inspired by and if you could be anybody who would that be?

VD’A – ““I am empowered by humanity, not by shooting famous people. I do find Beth Ditto very empowering and very inspirational. But I have women that I’ve shot who have broken down crying after seeing the images I shot of them as they had never seen themselves as so beautiful. So to be able to touch someones life in a way that can make a huge difference to how they see themselves is such a gift.Its very positive and has a ripple effect on the public as now so many images are easily accessed through the net.  What’s lacking in media is the celebration of ‘average’ people.

Photography is a very powerful tool which can be used for so much good. I do shoot a lot of famous people, but one reader said it best when they spoke of my work they said, Velvet glamorizes normalcy.

JB - For people wanting to start up their own business, what advice could you give?

VD’A – “I’m not a very good business I think, I’m driven by passion.. What ever comes of this business it will push you.  In Volp2 there’s no advertising – that’s the last thing I would want to do “I’d put a gun to my head”.   People can sense the passion behind it, its
Key - life is really short, too short to do something you don’t enjoy. 
JB - Finally, what’s, your philosophy/motto for life?

VD’A – “Carpe Diem is definitely my philosophy.
I make this suggest to people, volunteer, it helps you to get yourself out of yourself, helping people also helps other.

In High school I worked with kids who had Cancer, it made me think life is short and you know it’s a way of honouring them. “

JBthank you so much for spending so much time on the phone talking to me , it was such a pleasure.

Written by Janie Britton  -

1 comment:

  1. Excellent article. Really enjoyed reading it
    Elly C.


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