Friday, 21 January 2011

The True Shape of Beauty, we interview Caryn Franklin.

Flick through any Fashion magazine, and you're confronted by women that look as if they would break in two if you were to give them so much as a handshake. These models, the supposed epitome of beauty and perfection, are really nothing more than skin and bones. Yet many of us still envy them. We're the first to admit it, Evie wishes she had their height, and Harriet wants to steal their legs. But is it not all becoming a bit tiring? Who wants to read these magazines and see nothing but the unachievable? We already have to deal with not being able to fund the clothes themselves, but knowing we won't look like the skinny girls wearing them is an extra, unnecessary slap in the self-esteem.
When we went to Clothes Show Live, we were excited to see Caryn Franklin presenting on the Catwalk. We're fascinated by how rich and diverse Caryn's career in the Fashion Industry has been so far, she's been Co-Editor of i-D Magazine, presented shows such as The Clothes Show on BBC One, and runs a website with Fashion tips for every body shape. But perhaps most importantly, she campaigns for diversity in Fashion, and this fight is rooted in All Walks, the organisation Caryn set up with Erin O'Connor and Debra Bourne. Aiming to educate and inspire, All Walks is already making a difference to opinions on and off the catwalks, at Fashion Week SS11, a shoot with Rankin showed the many true shapes, sizes and colours of beauty, and we're looking forward to whatever may be in store this time around. We'd hoped to interview Caryn at the Clothes Show, but in the end, didn't get the chance. But we don't give up, and have since endeavoured to find out more from the lady herself about her work and views on diversity. 

Debra Bourne, Erin O'Connor and Caryn Franklin. Photograph by Kayt Jones.
Was there a defining moment that made you realise you wanted to make a difference to the women under Fashion's scrutiny? 
Since I was fronting a mainstream programme on the BBC 25 years ago, women would come up to me in the street and talk about how fashion imagery made them feel. I have written about it so many times. Then there was a recent chance to pitch for some funding to create a shoot with Debra Bourne and Erin O’Connor - we came up with All Walks.
We were shocked by the controversy sparked by Mark Fast sending Hayley Morley down the runway, do you think it will ever be deemed 'normal' to have a diverse range of figures represented in Fashion? 

Views are changing slowly. The controversy around Mark's show was mainly to do with a pretend drama, the stylist allegedly walking out was not true but was stoked up by the media. William Tempest one of our other designers also used a curvy model on the catwalk but no one got their knickers in a twist about that!

Why do you think Designers opt for such waif-like women to model their designs? There's always excuses about it looking better, but it quite obviously doesn't.

A thin body doesn’t make the same demands on a piece of design in the way that a curvy body does. More skill and understanding of the body is needed...perhaps designers just don’t feel confident or skilled enough to show exciting designs on curvaceous bodies? That’s where education comes in.

he media's constantly sending out messages of what is deemed to be beautiful, what is beauty to you? 

Confidence, sunshine in the eyes and passion in the heart!
What's your ultimate vision for All Walks, and how can everyday girls like our readers, many of them hopeful futures of Fashion, help to make a lasting difference? 

Each person can have a say. Can create a small shift, can move towards diversity. Small choices amount to a shift in thinking.
Rankin and the beautifully different ladies who were the other side of his lens at Fashion Week SS11, photograph by Alistair Guy.

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