Welcome to RunwayRiot’s first ever group editorial, featuring a powerhouse cast of gamechanging body positive megababes: RunwayRiot’s own Iskra Lawrence joins Chloé Véro, Laney Degrasse, Chloe Marshall, Victoria Gomez, Ash Walker, Fiona Falkiner, and Michelle Vawer.
Every last one of these body positive warrior women wants fashion to give us more diversity, and here they are defining squad goals in sporty sexy clothes in our TOTALLY unretouched editorial shot by Jen Plas. RunwayRiot’s fearless leader is Iskra Lawrence, so you know you’re in a totally unretouched zone. On unretouched photos, as Iskra puts it, “it makes me feel good enough not just as a model, but as a human. If I can’t relate to my own body, how can anyone else?”
RunwayRiot’s Ashley Hoffman conceived and styled the editorial with brands that think inclusively. You can peep beauty shots by Jen of each squad member in the Mercedes Club, and you’ll see how the insanely talented Abraham Sprinkle enhanced everyone’s natural look with just a sprinkling of his patented clean beauty touch. Gary Darkin co-founder of JAG models put together the cast of characters to make for one inclusive girl gang. Suiting these women up in activewear makes sense — they are all actively working to raise awareness about body image. Watch them power walk, stretch, chill out, and just slay the game in general below, you know, if mega cool confident baes stunting and supporting each other are your thing.
After you read the words of these powerful women demanding more diversity from fashion and #ShoptheRiot, #JointheRiot and tell us what YOU want to see from fashion in the comments. RunwayRiot is dedicated to serving women who are underrepresented in fashion, so this is your site.
Photographer, Jen Plas on shooting the editorial: “I was so honored to be a part of this project. When Ashley came to me with the idea of an un-retouched campaign that would embrace the beauty of women of all sizes, I knew immediately I wanted to be involved. We wanted to show not only the natural beauty of these women, but also their strength of body and character. With such an impressive cast of women, all of whom are pushing for body positivity in the industry, it was important to me that their confidence came through in every image. I wanted to be able to show both sides of each model; the soft and feminine side on the ballet bar, and the confident strength outside in the park. These women practice what they preach, and I am completely in love with the final product.”
All Photos by Jen Plas
The squad behind the scenes: Photographer: Jennifer Plas, Creative Director/Stylist: Ashley Hoffman, Makeup artist: Abraham Sprinkle of Next Models, Makeup Assistants: T. Cooper and Sandradene Fearon, Fashion assistant: Amanda Thomas
Creative director, Ashley Hoffman on the concept: I envisioned an army of women — all tough stares and power stances banding together in the name of body positivity. I was inspired by the Clueless gym scene and I was determined to style these women in snug clothes in black, white, grey and deep blue. To create the look, I chose to feature inclusive brands like Chromat, Universal Standard, Boohoo, and Ana Ono. I wanted it to be cool, not a sweet slumber party. I reached out to the visionary Jen Plas because her photos of women are so rich with emotional depth. To see this battalion of women personifying body confidence come together and create these images with Jennifer, and for women to see themselves in clothes they can have, is exhilarating.
On Iskra Lawrence: Calvin Klein Underwear Intense Power Racerback Bralette, here, Universal Standard Thames Fog Dress, here, Calvin Klein Underwear Intense Power Bikini, here, Backpack Model’s Own, similar here, adidas Crop Top, similar here
RunwayRiot’s Ashley Hoffman: Why do you believe in unretouched photos?
RunwayRiot’s Iskra Lawrence: It makes me feel good enough not just as a model but as a human. If I can’t relate to my own body, how can anyone else?
RR: What major changes need to happen in the fashion industry?
RunwayRiot’s Iskra Lawrence: More inclusion and the celebration of diversity. Brands that have larger sizes to start lending samples for editorials and investing in advertising also.
RR: What have you learned that you want to impart to young women?
RunwayRiot’s Iskra Lawrence: That everyone has their own struggle and you’re not alone in the way you feel. Every day, you have to practise self-care to have a positive relationship with your body and self.
For more on body image expert Iskra Lawrence’s candid thoughts on body image, hit up Iskra’s Rants and Raves.
RR: You’re all about health being a mindset. Can you talk about that?
Most women out there are so harsh and so critical upon themselves and I was like, ‘I’m going to stop this, I’m going to change that.’ I’m going to start loving myself and giving myself compliments and feeling good about me, no matter what size I am. I practice positive affirmations every day. I take five minutes out and be thankful for everything I’ve achieved in life. Whenever I leave the house, without fail, I look in the mirror and say you’re looking good today, wow that dress looks smoking, you look great. If you look in the mirror and just tear yourself apart which so many women do, it’s just so disheartening. You carry that with you, and you put that onto other women and you start being negative toward other women and it shouldn’t be about that, it should be about learning to love yourself.
RR: And what do you want to see from fashion?
Fashion should be about making you feel amazing, sexy, confident, beautiful, and fashion should be fun. I just think that brands should be catering to all shapes and sizes and there shouldn’t be any set rules when it comes to fashion, fashion should just be about expressing who you are as a person. It’s just about feeling incredible in what you’re wearing. Right now, I’m feeling great I’m showing a lot of skin right now.
RR: What could they do better?
I just think it’d be just great if a lot more designers would go up to larger sizes. There’s huge market out there of women who are beautiful and curvy, and they want to look good. They’ve all got incomes, they want to spend money on beautiful pieces, but unfortunately a lot of designers don’t go up to those sizes. But slowly and surely, designers are catching on to the fact that there’s a whole market out there of women and men with incomes, and they are going up to bigger sizes, which I think is really great.
Makeup artist Abraham Sprinkle on his approach to the clean beauty in RunwayRiot’s fashion shoot: “The focus was to keep the models in their purest form. So nothing was used that masked or altered them too much from themselves. The team and myself concentrated on “glow” within. What I mean is using colors and textures that push the models’ natural beauty forward. I wasn’t aiming for showcasing the trends, but following more the concept of what the shoot was about.”
RunwayRiot’s Ashley Hoffman: What would you like to see from fashion?
Ash Walker: More diversity, realistic body types, older women, definitely more diversity.
RR: What do you think hold up is?
Ash Walker: You know I think people are just scared of change. They don’t visually think that women of different body types can look just as good as the super super skinny girls, and so I think once more amazing women come out with different body types, different colors, they’ll start to see that people do really want that because fashion looks amazing on all different bodies.
RR: When you look at fashion images what do you come away with?
Ash Walker: Well I’ve been doing fashion for eight years high-end route, super super crazy skinny, did American Vogue September issue, cover of Elle, cover of Harper’s Bazaar. I’ve done a lot of stuff and I felt so horrible sometimes looking at other girls in the industry about my body, and I was so skinny but I felt so big, and I was starting to feel like if I’m feeling this way, then other girls are feeling this way when they look at my photos, and I don’t want to set that example. I think it’s time for change. It’s not realistic. So many brands can claim that their girls are healthy, they can claim whatever, but they’re not, and it’s not even a good example for brands because most people that buy this really high-end stuff in the industry from Miu Miu and Chanel, they’re not 13-year-old girls. So we should start setting the right example, and I would really like to help change that.
Ashley Hoffman of RunwayRiot: What would you like to see fashion?
Chloé Véro: I think that there needs to be more of an opening for all body sizes in editorial work because I know it’s very possible, and we can just bring it just as much as the straight-size girls can so I think people need to be given more opportunities just so they can see what we can do.
RR: What do you think stops people?
Chloé Véro: Maybe just because of past traditions, they want to stick with it, not that they don’t want to see it, but people are very set in their ways. I think people should have a little fun, and be open.
RR: What in your own career convinces you things are opening up?
Chloé Véro: When I got signed, I was very surprised. When I was in high school, I really wanted to model, and I thought that I had to be a size double zero. I really tried losing all this weight, and it wasn’t good for me. I was in a bad mental state so I got with JAG it was the best thing ever. People are loving me for who I am, and I don’t have to change anything about myself and it’s crazy the amount of support you get, when you love yourself.
RR: Recently, I interviewed a model who said people ask her to bring wig..is that changing?
Chloé Véro: Yeah a lot of the shoots I’ve done recently have asked me to keep my hair natural, one of the call notes was natural hair, and that makes me really happy because I love my hair. I’ve worked hard to get it back to its healthy state, and not having to put heat in it and just embracing me for how I came out the womb, I think it’s so cool.
RR: How does fashion imagery affect you?
Chloé Véro: When I was in the tenth grade, I got into fitspo and thinspo getting shoved down my throat from Tumblr. It was all about thigh gaps and how to get abs and all this stuff, how to be lean and thin, and I would think about that all the time, and I thought there was something wrong so I like to share and let other people know that it’s O.K. to be them.
RunwayRiot’s Ashley Hoffman: What’s it like for you, modeling?
Laney Degrasse: I’ve only been modeling for two or three years now, but I’ve really lucky with some stuff, and for other stuff, it’s been really hard for me to book, being only at a size 6. I’m not a size 2 and I’m not a size 12, which is the standard plus-size.
RR: In your view, should it be separate like that?
Laney Degrasse: I don’t think it should be. I think it should be way more diverse. Because when you look at a magazine, you see either a runway model or you see a plus-size model. There was a runway model study on shopping, and the one model who was a size 6 or size 8 actually sold more because that’s the average so you see what the clothes look like on you.
RR: How do these pre-scripted ranges affect you?
Laney Degrasse: It used to be really hard on me, but now it’s not, because if I go into a casting, if I don’t get the job, I tell myself I’m not what they’re looking for, it’s not personal.
RR: But it seems like it could be very personal…
Laney Degrasse: I used to make it personal, and it would really take a toll on me. It really destroyed confidence, but telling myself that it wasn’t personal helped me get over those insecurities about myself and helped me build my confidence back up.
RR: What conscious decision did you make?
Laney Degrasse: I just told myself one day that I was just going to stop hating myself. You know, I’m not going to change, and I’m never going to be a size 2 and I can’t gain that much weight, and even if I did I feel like it, it wouldn’t look right on me, and it wouldn’t look right on me if I were a runway model because that’s how I’m built.
RR: So you shouldn’t change, the fashion industry should. How do you think the industry is in terms of getting reflective?
Laney Degrasse: I think they’re moving towards it, but they’re not really there yet. The fact that there was a plus-size model on the cover of Sports Illustrated…that’s never happened before. I want to see more girls doing other stuff, being on covers not just seeing celebrities, seeing normal people, because I want them to represent something, and say, ‘this is who I am, I’m not changing for anybody,’ I want you to like me for who I am, not because I’m a size 2 and not because I’m a plus-size model.
RunwayRiot’s Ashley Hoffman: How do you think the industry has changed?:
Chloe Marshall: I’ve watched the industry grow from dot com and commercial, smiling happy we’re selling plus size clothing to beautiful women!, to we’re actually being offered editorials and interviews, and documentaries showing kids you can just be yourself. Nowadays, you’ll open any magazine, and see at least one curvy healthy woman, you don’t just see that stereotypical skinny unattainable image.
RR: How do you feel about the way fashion showcases women?
Chloe Marshall: Being in the modeling industry, we’re constantly either having our image changed for the better or for the worst, and we don’t get a say, but I like that on my instagram, I show unretouched lingerie, which is the best way to show everybody, and I get a lot of support on there from women and men obviously, so I think modeling has definitely helped me help other people. It’s a good start.
RR: How do you feel now?
Chloe Marshall: I’m very confident. I love my body, I love all my imperfections. I have cellulite. The way the media writes stuff about women and women writing stuff about other women, they just want to put each other down. We should be empowering not pressuring, because little children are reading it.
RR: What do you want to see from fashion?
Chloe Marshall: I want them to start posting without using the word plus or curvy. I just want to be recognized like any other model in the industry, I just have more meat on my bones. So I would like to do an awesome editorial and no mention of body size. Or not to hear a photographer say, ‘oh, I don’t want to work with her because she’s curvy or a stylist being like oh I’ll never get clothes to fit you.’
RunwayRiot’s Ashley Hoffman: How do you feel working in an image-conscious industry?
Victoria Gomez: Now I’m very confident in myself. I got signed in January, so that’s when you could say I officially started modeling, but before that, I was honestly the most insecure person ever because I’m not a size zero, I’m not a size two, I was never a size two. It was tough because I always tried to fit into the curvy girls or the really straight-size, size two girls, but I’m neither. I’m just really tall, and I got some curves on me.
RR: So you’re unique. What’s good about that and what’s bad about that professionally?
Victoria Gomez: I’m me. You can’t compare me to anyone. People say, “oh you look like Gabrielle Union’s little sister.” I come from a mixed family. My mom is of Indian descent and my dad is Hispanic, so I never fit into either of those categories. The girl with the curly hair that doesn’t look black, doesn’t look white, she’s just there. I love that. I love being original, I love being Victoria, but the downside is that growing up, I never had that clique to fit in. I was always comparing myself. My cousins had straight hair, and I thought, why can’t I have straight hair? The really cool black girls who are just so fashion-forward and confident…I was never like that, I was always in my little bubble, reading a book so that’s the downside. I never really fit in, but now I know that you can’t compare yourself to anyone else.
RR: What do you remember about a time when you stopped comparing yourself?
Victoria Gomez: Honestly it was very recently, walking down the street and having people in awe like, ‘oh my god she’s so tall, she’s an Amazon.’ That’s when I noticed this doesn’t usually happen to people, this is not normal, and that’s amazing. I was always such an awkward kid. I’m clumsy and all of that, but for that to be a part of me, being recognized, because I look so different from everybody else, is super crazy. Because I remember growing up in fourth grade specifically, when I was bullied by some kid. This particular moment, he was like ‘why don’t you go back to the zoo where you came form you giraffe.’ So that stuck with me. I knew I was different, but now to get recognized for my differences is really amazing.
RR: What do you want from fashion? What would you like to see?
Victoria Gomez: More girls that look like me because I know there are girls out there that look like me. Through social media, girls come up to me, saying ‘oh my god how do I get to where you are?’ Honestly I’ve just been myself; I just really want to help those girls that are struggling to fit in.
RR: Do you have to?
Victoria Gomez: You definitely don’t. You can be your own person, and embrace yourself.
RR: What’s encouraging and discouraging to you about the way you’re viewed?
The discouraging part is that there aren’t many women of color from what I’ve seen so far, that’s kind of discouraging, but it’s encouraging because I feel like I can be one of those girls to start that, especially coming from Jamaica Queens, and all those girls out there, who want to do something like what I’m doing right now, and help them find an outlet to express themselves. Like you said you don’t have to fit in, but to find your place in the world so you don’t feel like an outcast.
Ashley Hoffman of RunwayRiot: What do you want to see from fashion?
Michelle Vawer: Body diversification. I want to see girls being accepted for the size that they are, not trying to fit into one size. I want girls to be accepted for whatever beauty God gave them, and being able to own their bodies and influence other girls and let them know that whatever body they have, rock it and it’s beautiful.
RR: How do fashion ideals affect your life as a model personally?
Michelle Vawer: I’ve been modeling since I was 16/17, and you’re constantly told you’re beautiful, but you have two inches on your hips or this isn’t right and you’re constantly being told you have to be this perfect size and you have to be this emblem, and it’s hard to strive for that when you know girls look up to that, and what are they going to do? If you’re working out every day and watching what you eat, what are they going to do to try to look how you end up looking? It’s all about being happy, and taking care of yourself. We go through so much school, but when do we learn to take care of ourselves and to love ourselves? That’s a really important thing that kids aren’t learning, and they have these images shoved at them from the media and not all of them are the most positive, so it’s cool to see girls taking power and being like, ‘we got this, we can make a change,’ it’s really inspiring.
Makeup: Abraham Sprinkle the lead makeup artist for this shoot for Next Artists NYC enhanced the faces of our cast with this great stuff:
Charlotte Tilbury Luxury Palette, here, Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish, here, Charlotte Tilbury Charlotte’s Magic Creme, here, Marc Jacobs Powder Featherweight Foundation here, MAKE UP FOR EVER Ultra HD Invisible Cover Stick, here, Kevyn Aucoin Beauty ‘The Neo-Bronzer’ Face Palette, here, Dr.Hauschka Rose Nurturing Body Cream, here, plenty of MAC lipsticks, here Hair: Bumble and Bumble Thickening Spray, here
All photos by Jen Plas. All Rights Reserved.