I’ve done many things when modeling – walked slowly across busy streets heaving with traffic, attempting to look breezy whilst avoiding being run over; spent hours tottering around studios in heels, feet slowly cramping into agony while I’m encouraged to “just look natural”; posed in parks, on pavements and once in a Parisian apartment. Yet pulling on shiny silver leggings with underwear on top to wander around Camden was a first. Back in the heat of July I played at being a superhero for a day, putting my best (heeled boot clad) foot forward for Who Made Your Pants.
WMYP are an ethical co-operative that provide jobs and training to refugee women in Southampton. For a full explanation of their ethos, see this feature I wrote on them last year. In fact, it was that post – me styling a blue lacy number with thick black tights and jazz-style shoes – that prompted Becky (the founder) to get in touch to ask if I’d be interested in working with them.
The brief for the briefs (hah, hah, hah, never heard that one before) was to investigate new ways of advertising knickers – chiefly through doing something other than implying that underwear is solely worn for sexy purposes. They are – and can be - immensely sexy if you want them to be, but a lot of the time pants are also just useful bits of fabric arranged to make going about the day a bit more comfortable/ less draughty.
So this was an exercise in exploring other possible representations – looking at qualities like strength, power, activity, pragmatism (well, maybe not the last unless ‘pragmatism’ for you includes shiny fabric and capes). So I gamely jumped up and down a lot, strode around, hid in a phone-box and pretended I could stop trucks by the mere power of thought - all the while aware of the stares and iPhones whipped out by passersby. Who knows what platforms my image turned up on that day. Rather wonderfully though, two small girls posed for a picture with me after they had urged their mum to approach, to ask if I was a superhero.
All in all, it was a full-on combination of fun, teamwork and collaboration – my darling friend Florence Fox taking the photos, the two of us working together on our first professional brief. There's nothing quite so satisfying as that mix of playful ideas and producing images you're truly proud of, for a company with such an admirable ethos. It was a whirlwind day of posing and cameras and suitcases crammed full of exciting fabrics and spangly things. And of course, really great knickers.
You can see other images from the day on WMYP's pinterest board.
Now, Becky has been nominated for this pretty prestigious Social Entrepreneur of the Year award. The winner gets a £10,000 boost to their social enterprise. This would be immensely valuable to WMYP, especially as brilliant Becky (and all the others) work so tirelessly on keeping the initiative going. Voting closes at midday on October 31st, so if anyone wants to cast a vote before that point, then that'd be more than wonderful. Go, go, go!