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Curvy Expo, Mississauga May 14th, 2016 Discount tickets and Giveaways

Ever look through a magazine, love the look, but feel like, fashion does not cater to the majority of women who hunt for pieces in size 12  and up? Instead of accepting this long standing disassociation between fashion’s offerings and its unlimited market potential, Curvy Expo being held in Mississauga, Ontario, will take the mystery out of fuller figure shopping by hosting curvy-body conscious retailers, all under one roof.

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Meghan Bradley, a top 10 plus size Canadian model, spokesperson, and “fashion for all” advocate is the illustrious director. She is the brainchild behind Curvy Expo happening on May 14th, 2016, from 10:00am to 6:00pm, at the International Centre, Entrance 4, 6900 Airport Road, Mississauga. Her television appearances and interviews to promote this pride in being “the best you at any size” has stirred the media  and proud women to join in this movement towards a healthier, more positive outlook on one’s appearance and importance in society. A professional, fun, fashion forward image is what we all crave. We all want to project our best self, to reflect how good we feel on the inside.

To save money on your entrance fee ticket, go to Eventbrite.ca and find Curvy Expo. When you buy your ticket, type in ADDITC and receive $4.00 off the $27.00 ticket price at the door. There are some ticket giveaways and contests as well which you can follow on the facebook page aptly named, Curvy Expo.

For years, I have had the good fortune to be a plus size model myself and worked many times with Meghan who is a wonderful, enthusiastic, beauty whose success hinges on the fact that she radiates positivity and enjoys empowering women in every project she touches. My spellcheck reveals that positivity is not a word, but that is the only way I can truly describe her, other than someone who is down to earth, real, and a visionary when it comes to this brilliant idea of Curvy Expo. It is my privilege to be a part of this wonderful, evolving movement, so, come say hello to me and sign up for great giveaways at the Curvy Expo booth!

I have long craved fashion shows where you can actually buy what you just saw shown on the runway. The runway shows being held at 12:00 noon and 4:00pm are a great way to see many looks on body types that reflect our own. I have modeled in individual stores where appetizers and drinks were served, and customers were invited to a runway show and shopped immediately afterwards which is a wonderful, intimate, personalized shopping experience. But Curvy Expo is a fast track, short cut to all the fashion Meghan could muster under one roof, and believe me, an even more efficient way to shop.

Be sure to check out Dare Magazine https://issuu.com/daremagazinecanada/docs/dare_spring2016 which Meghan contributes to regularly and will be part of Curvy Expo. The articles and fashion shoots are very inspiring!

Retailers benefit because I personally love to mix and match from different stores, different designers, different price points, to make the look my own. As far as retailers are concerned, I believe this type of shopping experience where we all get together and celebrate our curves and discover ways to combine jewelry, makeup, undergarments, casual, formal, and every day pieces to express our relevance and presence in society is filling a much needed gap in the market.

Liis Windischmann, will also offer her expertise as a fellow plus size model and body love fan of every type of woman at 1:30pm. She too, is an inspiration and successful blogger with unique challenges that never get her down, they only push her to be even more amazing on her blog, Liis on Life. I am equally proud to have modeled with Meghan and Liis in catalogues, magazines and the runways for many of the retailers featured at Curvy Expo. You can say, it will be a bit of a reunion of a plus size movement we have moved with, became passionate about, and want to empower other women to follow suit.

I have had the privilege of modelling for several of the forward thinking retailers that will have clothes available to purchase at Curvy Expo, right on the spot. Pennington’s has been a great account over the years, always treating the customers to fashion shows, and hiring plus size models such as myself for major campaigns, posters, ads and changing with the times to embrace different styles. Two other major players I have modeled for are Addition-Elle and ToniPlus.

I remember a campaign I did where Pennington’s hired me for the whole day, which was a big deal in the plus size booking world at the time, and I had baked banana bread for the shoot. When they passed out menus to order lunch for everyone, I was amazed. It was a pleasure to work with the whole team. No shoot can be successful without a great hair and makeup artist, a fashion stylist, a vision for the shoot, an assistant photographer, great lighting, creative directors and a great rapport between model and photographer.

I loved what the makeup and hair artist, Paul Venoit, had created, when I looked in the mirror. I loved the tailored suits and casual jeans. The enthusiasm and the support from the team helped boost my confidence and ability to perform on camera. I felt like an actress, with a role, to show how the clothes made me feel, convey an air of friendly confidence, I felt empowered and I wanted to make the shoot worth the client’s while. When the posters came out in the store windows, they were larger than life, almost the entire height of the store window! The look was soft, romantic, with a muted, almost Monet background.

MXM, which I love, one of many of the fashion lines you can find in Pennington’s, used to be considered the younger, edgier line of clothing, but many of us enjoy the edgy style, regardless of age. Thank you Pennington’s for having shopping carts which more retailers should provide so we can sling our coat and purse and pile a few things in, rather than getting frustrated trying to carry everything around the store. Now there are so many more celebrities coming up with their own lines of clothing under major Canadian retailers which I am really impressed with! Check out Melissa McCarthy’s line now at Pennington’s.

Addition-Elle will always hold a special place on my first modelling composite card and in my heart. I traveled to Montreal, a fashion mecca in itself, for several shoots for this plus size retail pioneer. It was probably the first time ever, that a plus size model was featured in a campaign with a male model. What a concept! A handsome french male model was handpicked for the shoot, and our pictures were published in newspapers, ensemble! Formidable, avant guarde, and ahead of its time.

On the other hand, so normal! It’s just that, pairing a plus size female model with a male model had never been done before, not to my knowledge anyway. I was nervous, and wanted to do my very best to represent plus size customers, that were having fun, looking good, and living life to their fullest. There was a romantic air about the photos, shot along an ornate staircase, in a theatre, and one shot, from a very high ladder, offering a bird’s eye view of the two of us. The architecture of Montreal’s buildings in the background really gave the pictures a European flare.

My work with Addition-Elle was dreamy, exciting, forward thinking and creative. I will tell you a little secret, the best part of these shoots is getting your hair and  makeup done. Once these artists reinvent you, the confidence just oozes out and boosts your ability to express a sense of fashion satisfaction that is hard to describe. You walk taller, no matter what your height, and there is something in the way that you move in front of the camera which translates into a very special feeling you get while wearing fabulous outfits.

ToniPlus was also an incredible experience where I had the chance to meet visionary Toni herself and also to work with triple threat makeup, hair and photographic artist Korby Banner. ToniPlus has always offered its customers a sophisticated, classic, tailored silhouette. The day shoot gave me some of the best editorial shots I ever showcased in my portfolio. I had just changed my hair to a bob, and my booker at the time failed to convey the message to refresh my highlights. Korby came to the rescue with his chocolate mouse and creative stylings. I felt like a million dollars after he had finished my makeup and hair.

The movie star lighting, the carefully chosen clothes were elegant and with Korby’s guidance my mood  was transformed to one of mystery. Korby said he picked me because of the way I moved during the audition, and I am so grateful for that. I certainly felt wonderful during the shoot, and the pictures turned out very artistic. I remember Liis buying a full length, chic, tailored black coat from ToniPlus for a meeting she had with executives in New York for a pilot show to mentor young modelling hopefuls learning the craft of runway. These pieces stand the test of time, so artfully tailored.

Although I have proudly worked as a plus size model in the Toronto area, Chicago and New York, I certainly am interested in each new collection and fresh new take Canada has to offer as a leader in the plus size fashion market.  I have had the benefit of shopping curvy in Europe, where some countries acknowledge the existence of women size 14 and up, while others are in the dark ages, unwilling to cater to a segment of the population which is more than just niche. Having asked women all over the world deserving of fashion selection in their size, I learned that some have adjusting sewing patterns to make the clothes themselves. Model or not, every woman can look their best by feeling their best, no matter what their size. I know very well that clothes that are a reflection of my personal taste and fit well can give me such a motivational boost and inspire me to enjoy every day.

I am a big fan of all sizes getting a variety of fashion to create a look that is unique. The only way to do this, is for plus size fashion to reflect a variety of designer duds, interesting and ethnic accessories and modern yet comfortable shoes. Kudos to Canada, ever the salad bowl, offering up the  freedom to choose from an ever widening selection of fashion for the majority. I am also excited to discover the newest and latest of retailers to see what interesting pieces I can add to my wardrobe. I am so grateful for these retail pioneers identifying a still not completely tapped market and catering to curvy women like myself. For more information, visit http://www.curvyexpo.com and check out their show guide for a list of sponsors, show times, special guests, and mingle with fashion bloggers and plus size models. Note to all the lovely ladies out there, you do not have to be a plus size model to accomplish the “look” of a model. Don’t let anything stop you from applying any tips and tricks of the trade right after the show.

Shop all in one spot for clothes and accessories and get makeup tips from Cityline guest makeup expert Tracy Peart slotting in at 10:30am, so come early! Two fashion shows at 12:00 noon and 4:00pm are not to be missed. Lynn Spence celebrity stylist,  and enthusiastic commentator will share the latest in fashion trends. Movers and shakers in the fashion industry can pay close attention to the buying power, the desire for great style and the beautiful women that will attend and shop with their mothers, daughters, sisters and friends at this history making event. Now let’s celebrate our curvy womanhood! YAAY!DSC02317

 

 

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Modelling Again, Never Say Never

Paula Erskine Rediscovers the Catwalk (third from the left)

Paula Erskine Rediscovers the Catwalk (third from the right)

The stars seemed to be aligned as door after door opened to bring me surprisingly back into the modelling arena again. Alexis Lagos, of http://www.lacedupimagery.com had bought me a ticket to a fashion show being held last fall in downtown Burlington. Earlier that day, I had visited the Burlington Arts Centre to assess the same room for a completely unrelated event. There, I spotted co-owner of Vogue models Sandie. I re-introduce myself, but because there were very few plus size models that they had employed, I was delighted that she remembered me. After telling her about my career as a flight attendant, she asked me, “Why don’t you come back?” Reluctantly, I said, I don’t have time. Don’t you have anyone? She said, “she has tattoos!” We both scoffed at this. When I was with agencies Sherrida (possibly the best agency I have ever worked for, and at the perfect time in my career) in Toronto and Ford, I also moonlighted with some runway shows for then solo owner and model/actor Mike from Vogue. We had seen each other in waiting rooms at other gigs and I gave him my comp card (a composite card with head shot, fashion shots, and measurements).

I didn’t know how I could fit it into my flying schedule again. My seniority has become quite good by now, and I can choose longer layovers overseas and gather some per diem (money assigned for meals, but with a little budgeting, can be saved for shopping or paying bills). Flying had become a far better way to make a living than waiting three months for a modelling paycheck, working a few times each season, and watching a check reduced to series of agency deductions and fees. And I say this of some of the agencies I worked for, which never stopped deducting for mysterious, automatic re-orders of my composite card for $99 a pop, mysterious, unproveable long distance calls for “potential clients” in other cities that I never worked for, courier charges of same composite card to unknown U.S. clients, and obligatory self-produced video shoots that such agencies claimed was for U.S. clients and deducted $150 from each model’s paycheck times over 100 models. Let’s all do the math on that one since it happened about 3 times a year up until the year Ford, there I said it, closed it’s doors in Toronto, forever.

I worked for the same 10 clients for two decades. It is justifiable if one’s composite card was actually updated and completely different from year to year, if not sooner. But over and over, said agency re-ordered the same $99 for 50 cards every 3 months, sent to the same 10 clients, who knew me well. I say that not because I was “the best” in any way. It is just that out of 8 plus size models in Toronto, about 3 or 4 of us managed to find time for modelling bookings around our other jobs for many years. We had a reputation for being professional, punctual, hair and makeup ready, available, friendly, likable, and most importantly, we fit the sample sizes.

There were about 4 main studios producing most of the flyers and catalogues. And hiring us, were the fashion stylists. They knew our measurements matched the sample sizes and as long as the clients were happy, we got hired. We built relationships with these stylists and photographers. I was always friendly with the assistant photographers, who, never forgot when you took the time to chat and crack jokes as the test polaroid developed, and later, the digital test shot, before the shoot got rolling. Assistant photographers became lead photographers with which the base of a friendly relationship had been formed. But I have gone off on a tangent here, only to explain a bit about the inevitability of leaving the modelling world simply because it did not pay the bills.

Cut to this time, last year…after a 5 year absence from the modelling world…

Upon attending the downtown fashion show as a spectator, I was warmly greeted by Mike, owner of Vogue. Actually, Sandie must have mentioned that she had seen me, because there were hundreds in attendance as Mike collected the tickets for prizes. We watched the runway show, with music pumping, and marvelling at the models in their towering heels navigating steps, levels, and runway. Alexis asked me, “do you miss it?” And I had to say, that yes, I missed that live feedback you get from a runway stage with music setting that upbeat, “come on, why don’t you shop?” mood.

One month later, I got an email from Vogue. They had a job for me in January. They had gotten my email from the prize ballots. So I booked my days off from flying, and committed to two weekends of runway shows. Fridays were rehearsals and fittings for several retailers. I studied the choreography and lineup from a well organized sheet and made notes with a pen. It was a bit nerve wrecking. I was worried about walking in high heels and falling. I hadn’t walked in heels in 5 years because of foot issues, which have since subsided thanks to compression stockings and orthopedic shoes. I bought a metallic pair for a wedding that were suitable and perfect for the wedding themed shows. I had also picked up a patent nude pair of heels from Guess in The Bay on sale. After many years of modelling, one tends to buy shoes that one can invest in a model bag. This is always subtracted by how much the job is actually worth. I bought the shoes just months before knowing I would do the show. Yet how I buy shoes, always has that practical factor. Then, I invested in clear, industrial packing tape. And I packed those size 9 and 1/2s and taped my shoes in on the soles and back of the heel. I was apprehensive about tripping and/or stepping out of my shoes. The tape gave me confidence.

Bridal Hair Backview-Revisiting the Modelling Arena 2014

Bridal Hair Backview-Revisiting the Modelling Arena 2014

Saturday and Sunday of each weekend consisted of two shows in the afternoon. Hair and makeup was provided in the mid-morning and I couldn’t have been more delighted. One thing that I miss about modelling is getting my hair and makeup done. Lashes, pin curled up dos, air brushing foundation finishes were a highlight. The part I don’t miss is that the whole production took two entire weekends from morning to dinner time plus friday night to prepare. But in hindsight, I have no regrets. My outfits ranged from bride to bridesmaid to mother of the bride. I particularly fell in love with a teal gown from Mirella’s Boutique (Burlington) with encrusted jewels that flowed to the ground. I felt like I was in an haute couture gown built for me.

Feeling grateful for being given the opportunity to model the catwalk, I strutted, and gladly posed at the end of the runway to an appreciative audience. Here is what I didn’t expect. That after meditating for about 5 years now, I have in particular instances, felt absolutely blissful vibes in my meditation class, watching movies that appeal to my soul or spirit, and certain types of music written or played from the artist’s heart. It is like a rush or flow that feels like it is pouring out of me. And that is what happened on the stage those 4 days. Once my nerves subsided after the first show, I felt that rush inside that made me smile from the heart and soul. The music was helping me float down the stage. An electric violinist played Vivaldi on stage for the finale and I felt like this music was coursing through my veins. I was glowing from every nerve ending. It was so surprising for me to feel such joy while modelling. But I had got into the good habit of clearing my mind lately. I knew that meditation would help me to strut my stuff. I was so delighted that I was enjoying the whole process to such a heightened degree. I was beaming. Which for bridal wear, is probably a good thing.

I realized that I have always enjoyed the social aspect of building relationships in the modelling world. Modelling would not have been possible for me had I been anything less than a fairly proportioned, 5’9″, photogenic, comfortable in my skin, full figured model. A professional reputation, friendly personality and availability blessed me with longevity in the fashion industry. Upon revisiting the modelling catwalk, I was relieved that my taped feet did not fail me in my heels. The bonus of having gained some momentum spiritually, turned this privileged opportunity into an absolute pleasure to the core of my being.