COCO: We featured you back in 2013 as our first ever plus size model. What can you tell us about that time?
Raphaella: The plus size industry was fairly new to me. I was still a rookie then! I was amazed by the view of plus size and straight size models in the fashion world, still am actually!
COCO: Let’s catch up. What’s been going on since we last featured you?
Raphaella: I have been studying hard! I graduated with a Bachelor in Drama and Creative Writing and I am now in Paris for a Screenwriting course which finishes soon. Then I shall be moving back to London to do my masters and focus more on modelling.
COCO: You made an agency move. What promoted the move?
Raphaella: The agency was going in a direction that I wasn’t happy with.
My agent, Beth Willis, left for Bridge Models; she’s a person I trust, I believe in her work ethics and love working with her, so naturally I followed.
COCO: Tell us a little bit about your career. How did you get started?
Raphaella: I wasn’t planning to be a model. It just kind of happened during my first year of uni. It was more like an occasional side job.
COCO: Do you have any advice for aspiring models?
Raphaella: It’s hard work and it requires long-term investment. If you think it’s all glam and champagne, with lots of free clothes and cool Instagram pictures you need to rethink your career plan, it’s hard.
The same goes if you’re sensitive, you need a thick skin as you’ll get told day after day that you’re boobs are too big, your hairs not shiny enough, too fat, too skinny, not enough this and that. You need to know that you are beautiful as you are or you’ll break down.
You can’t change your body or hair (without your agency consent). So if you’re into yo-yo diets and dying your hair into lots of nifty colours every other week, it might not be for you either.
You are a product, a brand, and an idea, which you and your agency are selling. So don’t lie and be ready to be you for the whole world to see.
COCO: What’s one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced being a plus size model?
Raphaella: Being deemed as too small; hearing other women telling you you’re ‘skinny’ because you’re a size 12/14 is frustrating. The whole plus size movement started off to encourage size diversity but now it is as exclusive as straight size fashion, and there is a real exclusion of so many sizes! You’re either straight size and between a size 2 to 6 or plus size and between a size 16 to 18. If you’re between 8 and 14 it is much harder to get recognised for plus size campaigns at the moment and you have to deal with people thinking you are too big or too small which is a shame.
I want fashion to embrace the female body and love the diversity of its shape. Women need to appreciate healthy bodies come in different shapes. I wish fashion would include a variety of sizes as women are not only a size 4 or a size 16.
Having this diversity is still a work in progress….
COCO: What makeup items are a must have for you daily?
Raphaella: A Concealer, some Kohl, mascara, lip balm and Caudalie’s Eau de Beaute, which I spray onto my face several times a day. It smells delish and helps my skin stay moisturized all day long.
I wear very little makeup on a daily basis. I treat my skin very well and let it breathe as often as possible.
COCO: What was your favorite shoot?
Raphaella: My very first shoot with Harvey Nichols is still my favorite. It was in Bristol’s hippodrome so I felt at home in a theatre like environment.
COCO: How long have you been modeling and what have you seen change for the better and for the worse?
Raphaella: On and off for the past 3 years. Plus size modelling is now a thing, it’s acknowledged and even appreciated. We are still a long way from brands using both a size 2 and a size 12 model for the same campaign but Chantelle Paris did it and Robyn Lawley became a SI Swimsuit Rookie so there’s hope! I want to be next!
COCO: Tell us about your style?
Raphaella: I love the androgynous look. I dress quite tomboyish at times but when I do I make sure my make up gives a sexier vibe…
I like denim and leather. I have long legs which I enjoy showing off so I often wear skinny jeans, micro shorts or oversized tops and jumpers as dresses.
I also heart ankle boots! I have a very special relationship with shoes in general.
I think I have quite a Parisian style with a slight hint of Korean fashion.
COCO: What are three items you must have in your closet?
Raphaella: Leather jackets, jeans, oversized jumpers.
COCO: Who’s your fashion icon?
Raphaella: I don’t really have a fashion icon but Jourdan Dunn, Lou Doillon , Sandara Park and Fei have pretty cool styles.
COCO: Who is your favorite designer?
Raphaella: Rick Owens, Isabelle Marrant and Saint Laurent are all time favorites. Balmain and Burberry are strong runners-up.
COCO: New York Fashion Week has started, whose collection are you looking forward to seeing?
Raphaella: I always follow NYFW, but the Zac Posen show is always one I particularly look forward to. I love his work and the fact that he sees beauty as diversity. He is one of the rare designers that doesn’t seem to cast his models based on their skin colour, which is incredibly refreshing. The only other one being Olivier Rousteing and I’ve been following his work. I really like what he’s doing to Balmain.