The State of the Curve
Whereas plus-size modeling was once considered a niche market, the industry is steadily—albeit slowly—embracing a shift. The fall NYFW 2019 shows featured 94 appearances by curve and non-sample-size models (the term plus-size has become, to many, outdated). In the shadow of curve icons such as Ashley Graham and Paloma Elsesser, there has emerged a new wave of faces primed by Instagram, taking ownership of their image and having fun while doing it. But who are they? The next generation of curve includes the likes of Stella Duval and Yasmin Guerts, best friends who dabble in herbalism between shoots (“She’s like the sun to my moon,” Guerts says); and Sonny Turner, who—just one day before this shoot—graduated from university, where she completed a sociology dissertation on the plus-size modeling industry. There’s Lovisa Lager, a Stockholm-based 19-year-old who was scouted on Instagram, and Krysten Sinclair, the Greenpoint-by-way-of-Georgia model who dresses her cat as a vampire. This is the state of the curve.
A proud Southern Californian, Stella Duval has appeared in campaigns for Rihanna’s lingerie label, Savage x Fenty, as well as on the runways of Kim Shui and Miaou.
In her words: “I’ve always loved modeling. As a kid, I would watch America’s Next Top Model and try to pose. I went into an agency when I was around 14 years old, and they signed me, but they had stipulations. They put me on a diet. They were like, ‘Your hips are too big, blah blah blah.’ I was thin at the time, not even grown into my body yet, and they were already trying to shape me into this person. So I ended up quitting and came back when I was 17 years old. The same thing happened—they were putting me on a 600-calorie diet a day. I was like, ‘Okay, fuck this.’ So then I went to college. My friend there was like, ‘Have you heard of curve modeling, or plus-size modeling?’ And it’s just been a whirlwind of good stuff since.”
On herbal remedies: “I’m starting herbalism school to see if I can try and get a certificate. I’m interested in the path for women’s health—’What are alternative medicines to help my period cramping?’ ‘What can I do to help with ovarian cysts? ‘How can I give natural birth?’ You know, doula, midwife stuff. I just did this weird thing called a colonic.”
The 25-year-old Minnesota-born model—and self-described “airhead, but in a smart way”—has appeared in a campaign for Flesh Beauty and walked in A/W 2019 shows for Gauntlett Chang and Kim Shui.
In her words: “I’m a first-generation Mediterranean person. My mom is a Sephardic Jew. I wish people would stop asking me where I’m from. I’m like, ‘I’m from a trailer park in Minnesota,’ and they’re like ‘No, but where are you from?’ If they won’t accept that, I’m like, ‘I’m Icelandic.'”
On philosophy: “I kind of have a Nietzschean approach to life, where, like, if I’m good at a bunch of stuff, the opportunity is going to find me. And then I’ll be ready.”
On creature comforts: “I want a kitten, but I also have been specifically looking for a one-eyed cat. I want to name it Typhoid Mary. One of my first memories about New York was learning about diseases. There was this nanny named Typhoid Mary who was one of the first serial killers, essentially. She had this disease that was undetectable on her, but she would just keep nannying and killing children. She ended up getting her own island in New York to quarantine her. Maybe we’ll go back in history and find out that she was a Gemini.”
Sonny Turner, who hails from Birmingham, England, is already taking the industry by storm with campaigns for Volcom, Nike, Marks & Spencer, River Island, and more. And she just graduated from college.
In her words: “Getting scouted was a massive shock because I didn’t think someone that looked liked me could be a model. I was not really big enough to be plus-size, but not small enough to be straight size, so I was even more confused. But they were like, ‘No, the industry is changing,’ and even just in the last two years I feel like there’s been a shift. I think people like personality now a lot more than just what your body looks like. Social media has a huge impact on it because I feel like you can show yourself how you want to be. A couple years ago, you wouldn’t see plus-size girls in swimsuits, but now they can show they look good in them, too. I don’t really care about being called plus-size, or fat, or whatever. It’s how I see myself, not how the world looks at me.”
On studying: “I literally just finished university yesterday. For the last three years I’ve been getting my Bachelors in Science in sociology, studying in the library all the time or traveling. Now I guess I need to find some hobby.”
On artificial intelligence: “You know how your phone can predict text to you? One of the studies I read for class was basically saying that all forms of media will be able to predict what you want, and then they’ll eventually all get together and we won’t be able to turn the machines off. I feel like if that were to happen, it wouldn’t be in our lifetime. Before that, we need to focus on classism and and sexism and how that all happens. Why are we thinking about machines?”
The Swedish model Lovisa Lager was scouted through Instagram at 17, “flew to London, signed the papers, and started working immediately.” Now, two years later, she stars in campaigns for Nike Japan, ASOS, and Universal Standard, all while working as a content creator for H&M’s new platform, Itsapark.
In her words: “I’ve been working with people who know my size, but they don’t bring clothes in my size, then they get mad that I’m not fitting into those clothes. Like, it’s your job to find clothes that fit me. I think even though it’s changing, it’s obviously harder to find jobs. Especially in Europe. I’m not working as much as other models do, but when I get a job, it’s a great job.”
On her Frank Ocean non-obsession: “I’m not obsessed. [Looks down at her Frank Ocean t-shirt.] I just love him because his music is his music. No one can do what he’s doing. And his lyrics sometimes don’t make sense, but they make sense to him. He keeps it personal.”
The Georgia-born model, photographer, and mermaid enthusiast has shot with Serena Williams for her new brand Serena, and has appeared in campaigns for Rimmel London, among others.
In her words: “Originally I did photography, but at some point when I was 17, I wanted to get into modeling because I saw that plus modeling was becoming a big deal. I think I prefer the term curve, but I mean, I wish we were all just called models because I feel like we’re all doing the same job. But curve feels a little more classy to me. Just cuter and sexier.”
On life off-duty: “I’m trying to learn how to use a film camera. Other than that, I just like to hang out with my cat.”
Hair: Lucas Wilson at HOME
Makeup: Michaela Bosch
Hair Assistant: Yukie Nammori
Photography Assistant: Noah Blough
Fashion Assistant: Dominic Dopico
Makeup Assistant: Kyle Sheehan
Manicure: Riwako Kobayashi
Set Assistant: Alicia Howitt
Special Thanks: Peer Space
Casting Director: Larissa Gunn