Beauty and the Muse

Interview: Velvet D’ Amour

Posted on: March 11, 2014

VDA1

The first photo I saw of Velvet D’ Amour was last summer when I searched for plus size models. Initially, I wrote a small post about Velvet just showcasing a few of her editorial shots. I sent it to her. She posted it on all of her media pages.

I was officially a blogger.

We played email tag for a few days, and then finally she called me all the way from Paris. We spoke for over an hour about fashion, life, traveling, and even Islam! She’s so down to earth, bodacious, and truly an honest soul.

Originally born in Rochester, New York, Velvet has graced the runways of Paris, strutting in Jean-Paul Gaultier‘s 2007 Spring/Summer collection and has been featured in French Vogue. Velvet was even in a French film, AVIDA, in 2006 that was selected to participate in Cannes International Film Festival and Tribeca Film Festival. She is currently working on Vol-Up2, a voluptuous magazine that celebrates not just curvy bodies but all beautiful bodies.

VDA2

LV: What was fashion like for you growing up?

VDA: When I was growing up I was a fat kid. My mom took me to stores for husky children. My parents were much older, so when other kids wore Levis, I wore like nerdy clothes.

In high-school we didn’t have uniforms, and I took a sewing class. So I made a lot of my pieces. I got into more angular, edgy looks, while my mom on the other hand liked Ralph Lauren, preppy and conservative. She wouldn’t allow me to leave the house wearing certain things, so I’d just sneak and change when I left. I think style is a personal thing, and while she wanted a certain look, I wanted to be sexy.

VDA3

LV: What about when you were in New York during college?

VDA: I was pretty much known for being the “Lady Gaga” on campus; this was before Lady Gaga was even out. I loved lace, leather, and super sexy stuff.

When I lived in New York it was great. They appreciated someone who was daring in fashion. Primarily we were just Club Kids, where the whole point was to dress as crazy as possible. Fashion played a large role in my life and from a photographic and modeling standpoint I was drawn into the whole world of fashion.

Fashion drew me in because I loved drama. I liked to be as bizarre as I wanted to be.

VDA5

LV: How did you get started earlier in your career?

VDA: During high-school people would always ask if I was a model. But on the other hand, I would go to Macy’s and things wouldn’t fit. So when I was 21, I got down to 140 pounds in order for a modeling agency to sign me. I did crazy diets and got to 117 pounds, and they still called me fat. Afterwards, I just started gaining and gaining. I did all the crash diets, and still gained.

After that I began to start a revolution. I would take high fashion concepts and use myself as the model.

VDA4

LV: When did you decide that you wanted to be a plus model?

VDA: I hadn’t really planned on becoming a plus model. I just saw a need. Every time there was a plus size shoot available no photographers wanted to do it. So I said, “I’m fat and it would be cool to shoot these models that no one else wanted to shoot.” I got to shoot a lot of well-known plus models at the time.

But I sent a picture to a new Parisian plus modeling agency, basically telling them that plus women felt more comfortable with a plus woman to shoot them. They told me to come in. When I went in they said that they wanted to sign me. I had killed myself to be signed with an agency before in my 20’s and now they wanted me. I was 38 and 300 pounds, the very last thing in my mind was modeling. I couldn’t believe it.

VDA6

LV: Amazing story, Velvet. Now let’s get into some of the films and television shows you’ve done.

VDA:  I did a film in 2006 called Avida. (Spoiler Alert: She does get butt naked in the movie!) The film made it to Cannes and The Tribeca Film Festival. I was like Ohmigod! when I found out.

I have been on a reality show called Celebrity Farm. They sent us to a nature reserve in South Africa. I got bit by a snake! And all you do is take care of animals like baby cheetahs and lions. It was an amazing experience. It was funny though because I don’t drink or smoke, and they wanted you to be dramatic, but that’s not my personality, so I was like I am going to bed y’all!

Brooke Burke from Dancing with the Stars visited. Bridgette Nelson was on the show too. I was dying to speak to her because she dated Sylvester Stallone. I didn’t win, but I stayed until the end of the show. I thought I was going to get kicked off in the first week.

VDA

LV:  Sounds like a super experience. Now let’s talk about obstacles you’ve faced in your career.

VDA: Fitting into the clothes would be the main obstacle. In some ways, I don’t perceive it as an obstacle though. I see not fitting into clothes, in a weird way, as good because if I could fit into everything I would probably be homeless, I’d just buy it all. I can always fit into lingerie though; I have a massive amount of it. But, for me, it forces you to create a different kind of style, and it stops you from being materialistic too.

 

LV: What about your individual style as of today?

VDA: I love corsets custom-made by Underground Aristocracy. With all the responsibilities of the magazine, I have kind of stepped back from the whole fashion scene, but if I go somewhere I will buy clothes from ASOS.

 

LV: So what were your inspirations for starting a magazine? What’s your goals?

VDA: Vol-Up 2, which is a spin off from the French word Voluptoo, was inspired by my need as a photographer to be more edgy, more editorial when I shot. Some of the problems with the magazines at the time were that they never incorporated editorial shots for people who looked like me. The mainstream models were a lot younger, under 30, and proportionate. Women who were older, who looked like me had no place in fashion. I was one of the lucky ones to be chosen at my age and weight by wonderful people to be involved in mainstream high-end fashion.

Vol-Up 2 is a departure from the “norm” and it showcases all sizes of plus. What makes it more bizarre is that I will put a size zero agency model next to a lady who is plus-size and never modeled before in her life then I’ll place her next to a paraplegic who is next to a women who has suffered from cancer. I have a plethora of curves in my magazine, but it has an emphasis on plus-size because of the lack thereof in the industry. Many people are left behind in the fashion world. The way I showcase my images is a democratized way of showing fashion.

VDA8

(Photo: Velvet D’ Amour, Model: Liris Crosse)

LV: What would like to do next?

VDA: I would love to do an editorial for Muslim women. It’s nice to see that our audience is so wide, complete conservative people to older swingers.

LV: What advice would you give to others that would like to be in your position?

VDA: People are drawn to be being known, or wanting to be famous. They are not acting because they have the desire to act, but to be in the spotlight. There are people who want to model just to get that stamp of approval. People want to be accepted and loved, those attributes are highly valued. But at the same time, if you want to model and you get in front of the camera and you’re not posing, and you want to post the pictures ten minutes later just to put them on your FB page then I’m not sure what to tell you.

You have to have real passion behind whatever it is that you do. If you want to be a model, you have to invest in yourself, and know the industry.

The power of photography is strong, but helping others is stronger, getting out of yourself and getting away from self-absorption. I get so much more out of helping others. That is the true liberty of getting rid of that obsession.

The real beauty is in inspiring others.

VDA7

LV: Leave us with a quote:

VDA: “You’re only as happy as you let yourself be” -Abe Lincoln

Check out her websites to see her awesome collection of photos:

http://www.velvetography.com/

http://www.volup2.com/

 

Advertisements

3 Responses to "Interview: Velvet D’ Amour"

[…] Interview: Velvet D' Amour | Beauty and the Muse […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: