Crystal Renn has done her upmost to bring plus-size models well and truly back into the public consciousness and now Australian model Robyn Lawley in intent on continuing to break the tired fashion mould.

Born and raised in Australia, Lawley has appeared on the cover of Vogue Italia, worked with Steven Meisel and was the first plus-size model to feature in a Ralph Lauren campaign. We catch up with the model and self confessed foodie to talk fashion prejudices, aggravating designers and chocolate chip cookies.

YOU ARE KNOWN AS A PLUS SIZE MODEL AND OBVIOUSLY A LOT OF THAT HAS TO DO WITH SAMPLE SIZING, BUT WHY DO YOU THINK THE INDUSTRY FINDS IT SO NECESSARY TO MAKE THE DISTINCTION – WOULDN’T YOU PREFER TO BE KNOWN SIMPLY AS A MODEL?

I think the industry is making such a distinction because it is so rare for any girls over a size 4 to be featured anywhere within the media. I would much rather be known as a ‘model.’ I do not want girls looking up to me and seeing the word plus and then considering their normal sized bodies as ‘plus’.

WHEN AND WHY DID YOU DECIDE NOT TO CONFORM TO CATWALK SPECIFICATIONS?

I was around 19, and yes it was a massive relief for me. It still took years for me to fully gain acceptance of my body. Once I realised that I would never be skinny, I made peace with my self.

HOW DAMAGING ARE IMAGES OF WOMEN WHO FORGE A CAREER OUT OF BEING EXCESSIVELY THIN?

I think if that’s your natural frame you shouldn’t be held accountable for damaging women. Kate Moss got labeled as an anorexic, even though she said she wasn’t, it was just her natural body type. However, the damage occurs when the media continues to only use images of excessively thin women and no other variant sizing.

DO MAGAZINES PERPETUATE THE NOTION THAT THIN IS BEAUTIFUL?

I think it’s a whole mixture of people; I actually hold designers more accountable as they have the real power to change sample sizing. It aggravates me that almost every designer campaign uses an unrealistic frame.

WHICH PHOTOGRAPHERS HAVE YOU ENJOYED WORKING WITH?

I get to work with so many very talented photographers, I relish a laid back/creative photographer. I have had a few photographers in my career that have yelled at me or made me cry, and if they are doing that, I think they are just taking it too seriously. A photographer should always treat the model with upmost respect.

WHAT ARE THE PERKS OF MODELLING?

For me personally, I love that modelling gives me the income and spare time to further my creative projects. I also am very lucky to live in New York – the traveling is good as well but can be very stressful at times, constantly on planes and hotels actually is a lot harder than it sounds.

HAVE YOU GOT ANY PLANS TO WORK IN ANY OTHER ASPECT OF THE FASHION INDUSTRY – OR OUTSIDE THE INDUSTRY?

I sometimes think I have too many plans. I know I want to stay in the industry or at least the creative aspect of the industry. I’m currently designing my own swimwear collection which is due out at the end of August. I also have a food blog called Robyn Lawley Eats. And I DJ professionally occasionally. More recently I have been taking professional photos of my model friends, which in turn has made me a better model. So perhaps in the late future I could be a fashion photographer.

YOU WERE BORN AND RAISED IN AUSTRALIA, WHAT DO YOU MISS ABOUT BEING AWAY FROM HOME?

I miss the nature of Australia the most. It’s a very beautiful country and I really enjoy the outdoors. And it’s always hard to be away from family and friends.

YOUR FOOD BLOG IS REALLY SUCCESSFUL, AND YOU HAVE A COOKERY BOOK DEAL WITH RANDOM HOUSE, HOW’S THE BOOK COMING ALONG?

Yeah it’s going well, I finished taking all the photos and now I’m just perfecting some recipes to make sure all the measurements are correct. It should be due out end of next year.

YOU LIVE IN NEW YORK – CAN YOU GIVE US SOME FOODIE RECOMMENDATIONS?

New York is mecca for the culinary arts because you can find the best food from around the world all within a few city blocks. One of my favorite NY areas to eat out  is Williamsburg. A few of my favorite places are: Mighty Quinn’s for brisket and ribs in the East Village, Extra Fancy in Williamsburg which does the best oysters I have found in New York, Five Leaves for a good Aussie burger and Employees Only in the West Village for cocktails.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE RECIPE AND SIGNATURE DISH?

I have so many now; when I was younger my signature dish was a mulberry tart. Now I get told my choc chip cookies or my turkey roast are the best.

YOU WERE AWARDED MODEL OF THE YEAR AT THIS YEAR’S FULLER FIGURED FASHION WEEK – HOW MUCH DOES THIS RECOGNITION MEAN TO YOU?

It is a huge honor of recognition because fuller figured fashion is what gave me my career. I really do want size diversity. Style really has no specific size.

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Photograph by Mehdi Lacoste

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