I had the pleasure of interviewing Velvet D' Amour, photographer, model, and actress. Her spread in SKORCH magazine is nothing less than hypnotizing as she photographs model, Anabelle Ursulet in the nude. I had to get to know a little more about this extremely talented Parisan. Enjoy, because I definitely did.
1. Besides your obvious talents of being an actress, model, and photographer, tell the readers one thing that they don’t know about you?
Let's see, I am the youngest of five children, I have the most massive shoe collection known to mankind, and if I had my druthers I would live in a thatched roof cottage.
2. A lot of people, especially in the U.S., know you for your work in front of the camera and on the catwalk, but which of the three (actress, model, or photographer) is your passion?
My greatest passion is exploiting whatever talents I may have in order to try to make a difference in how we see beauty. Of the three, I suppose photography is my most consuming passion, but I also participate in dance, and that is in fact, the first world which opened its arms to me is contemporary dance. I adore dance! But what is the most encompassing at present is my foray into the world of video. I am now working on making music videos with original music by me which then features people whom would not normally be video muses. I am just as bored with the same video chicks in each video I see, as I am with the lack of diversity in fashion. I have only just begun, but was pleased with taking third in the Rochester International Film Festival's Shorts contest. I didn't end up doing the song itself on that one, but I do sing in it. So anyone in Rochester, NY this May be sure to head to the festival and check it out!
3. Paint a picture for the readers on how it was working for the legendary, Jean Paul Gaultier?
It would be abstract with lots of pink black and polka dots all over. LOL! JPG is the best! It was as all fashion shows are, a sort of precise chaos. You have the best of the best, the best makeup artists, the best hair people, models, etc. and it’s a concert of perfection where everyone knows their job and executes it with an air of easy tension, if that makes any sense. JPG is a master at what he does, he has very precise ideas and it was amazing to see them come to life before my eyes, as I had always loved and adored him. I used to watch “Style with Elsa” on CNN back in the day, he and Thierry Mugler were my Kings O Couture. Ha Ha…Kings o’ Couture kind of sounds kind of like a fast food designer drive up, wouldn't that be fun, we could go through drive-thru, order a pink leather leotard, with an extra helping of shoulder pads on the side, and drive off in a cloud of perfume...
4. I was looking through this month’s issue and saw you astounding photographs of the model Anabelle Ursulet in the nude the photos were both beautiful and breathtaking. Was this your first nude photoshoot with a plus size model? How did you come up with the concept?
Thank you! Yes, this was a busy month for my Velvetography! I had the SKORCH editorial of Anabelle which garnered rave reviews, I was so pleased! I hadn't expected such an avalanche of attention, so it was a wonderful surprise. I also had a fashion editorial where I shot of Maddy, the “Plus Model Magazine,” editor, which was coupled with a interview. I shot her as well as another fashion shoot in “Plus Model Magazine” of a lovely French model, Daphne, who I shot at Place Concord, tres Paris that shoot was! The editorial of Maddy was shot with vintage threads from Redress, each new page a new era, taking her from 1940 up to 1990. I'm afraid a lot of people missed it as it seems people are often more into the photo section, myself included, and this was adjunct to the written interview itself, But it’s definitely worth a peek! As far as the nude shoot, I have been shooting nudes forever, but unfortunately the conservative “plus world” has not been ready for it, until Glamour magazine seemed to give it a green light, and then people felt it safe to follow. But those who follow my Velvetography know from my Model Mayhem photography site that I have a plethora of nudes of all shapes and sizes. I have shot women who weigh 600 lbs nude, just as I have shot women who weigh 90 lbs. I also have a show of pregnant nudes, as well as a body of homoerotic nudes which feature men in love. I love the human form and began as a fine artist drawing and painting nudes. Heck, I even eloped with the nude model when I went to SVA, LOL. But that's another story! The thing about nudes is that, as a model the biggest request I get, is for me to get naked. People can see my very voluptuous nude body as a work of art, because they hearken back to the days of yore, it is the only imagery we see for the most part, of women my size, and its back at the museum. So while nude is and will always be stunningly beautiful, it is not revolutionary, to me anyway. It is a 'safe' way in which we can incorporate the fatty without really making much effort. But we make no statement in doing so. A statement is made by incorporating plus size people in fashion, by getting a stylist who takes the time and makes the effort required to style a bigger body. And I think that the lack of clothes which float the fashionists boats, are just not there. So that explains a part of the reticence. I do think that shooting an accessory story on a nude is a great way to highlight the accessories. And I simply adore Pring! Especially the funky shoes! They are so stylish, unique and colorful. Anabelle has the kind of exaggerated exotic beauty which I adore, so it seemed a natural choice to shoot her, especially as she frequently shoots nude for the likes of Christian Kettiger, etc. I wanted to feature a model with real curves, while she is a far cry from fat, she is genuinely curvy, and women really relate to her. I received loads of very touching emails which thanked me for showing her belly, her true state, and not drowning out her essence with Photoshop. Women said they literally cried at the sight of her, so powerful it was to witness a sense of genuine, natural beauty which mirrored their own state. That is where the real payoff is for me, knowing that I really have been able to move someone with my art, actively participating in a movement versus sitting back and waiting for change to happen. We make it happen!
5. Because this is a fashion blog, tell me about your personal style.
My personal style is an odd dichotomy. I am a bit Clark Kent/Superman, I can be all about comfort, as I am now whilst riding the Eurostar to London in my Rainbow hip hugging pants, and comfy Lane Bryant sweater, a huge scarf provides the Frenchy aspect and a waterproof trench provides the evidence I am on my way to the rainy land. But once my suitcase is opened at customs as it so always is for some unknown reason, then they start to wonder just what biz I am in. I have a couple of my favorite corsets in tow, as well as crinoline which allows for some Mugler action with little effort. I have about 3 floor length dresses, one Ed Hardy another bright strapless, and a third fancy frolicking, take me to the debutant ball type, all from Torrid, yeah Torrid! I have a purple children's tutu I came across in Claires. Which is great for a 2 year old’s ballet class, but even better as a dramatic necklace for me! I have a couple pairs of stilettos, a lovely purple Lycra pair of pants, very Olivia Newton John in Grease! Then I have some comfy Ts to sleep in as I am crashing at one of my mates. One t-shirt has BODY OF A GOD on it with a fat Buddah, another says FAT KIDS ARE HARDER TO KIDNAP, which my friends bought me, and then tore up the sleeves to bead them! And a third, I brought in the hopes of doing a shoot, it says FAT CHICKS, FUN UNTIL YOUR FRIENDS FIND OUT, which I think would be cool if I rock some killer hair and makeup and then couple it with, "You think?" under the pic once its shot. I think we can take negative ads and toy with them to take a political stance; we don't need to walk by it, laughing at us on the rack. I can’t say I love dolling out the dime for it, but once you provide the necessary statement, it takes us from the ridiculed to the powerful. Can you honestly imagine were one to insert any other group of people in there BESIDES "F A T", what an uproar that would cause? Yet it's a-ok to pop FAT chicks on there, as we are acceptable objects of ridicule, here to provide you with a cheap laugh. Spare me. The pic of me in my PLEASE FEED THE MODELS t-shirt has been everywhere, and people seem to see it as an anthem of sorts. So my personal style can be “In Your Face,” it can be laid back and when out, it does tend to be on the edgy side with a great dollop of corsetry as I adore the sculptural nature of my curves when corseted, it’s a great exaggeration of femininity, and in the end I am very girly so that works for me.
6. What is in Velvet’s closet? Where do you shop?
I actually love Rainbow! My friends who know me, know that I head there when in NYC. If I am upstate you can find the odd novelty at Marshalls or AJ WRIGHTs, where I found this stunning Ralph Lauren dress I found in true violet! Love it! But my one extravagance would be having my custom made corsets done by Shumit Basu at Underground Aristocracy. The crazy thing is I hate shopping. My two sisters and Mom could spend their life drifting from store to store whereas I was always happy to hang back with my brothers and Dad, watching the Buffalo Bills tear it up. I love having what I want clothes wise, but the hunt for it is a bit of a bore for me. This is why the Internet is a slice of Heaven with a cherry on top! And you bloggers are the angels providing a map to the buried treasure, bless! My closet is insane. I have so many clothes that most are in storage. I never throw anything away as everything comes back in style. A lot of times when I am shot with photographers that look to me for clothes, since I am known for having amazing pieces. So it helps to have a variety to provide the stylists with fun things which they can work with. I like very form fitting sexy clothes, I definitely celebrate my curves, and am not about hiding them.
7. Do you have plans to start working more United States in the future?
I may do more in the US. I certainly seem to have a number of women who are very interested in being shot by me there, so I would love to make that happen. I also have a little project which, should it come to fruition would take me there more often, but that would be further down the line. Europe is actually more my style as I am so not conservative. I love shooting here because the unique nature of each country comes out and even after 15 years it is all still exotic to me. But I adore travel, walking through the forest near Prague, petting horses in Sussex, swimming in Dubai, pulling sticks in the temples of Tokyo, throwing change in fountains in Rome, and now a month of Brit humor, high tea and shooting by bright red double decker buses, dodging drunk rugby boys and loving the accents of each and everyone!
8. For all of our models, magazines, and designers looking for a photographer, how would one get in contact with you?
I am best reached through my email address firstname.lastname@example.org, though I would also invite people to join my MySpace and FACEBOOK, as well as Model Mayhem.
I would like to thank Velvet D'Amour for delivering such an intriguing look into her world. In addition I would like to thank SKORCH magazine for allowing me to use photos from Velvet D'Amour's spread in this months SKORCH. I strongly encourage everyone to visit http://www.skorchmag.com/ to view the full spread by Velvet. It is definitley worth it!!!