[I]ntroducing ‘The Muse’: Hunger’s new weekly interview series spotlighting the emerging cool alt-girls to follow on Instagram now – sharing their thoughts on everything from sexism and social media to fashion and politics. Models who are passionate activists? Pop stars opening up about Gen Selfie? Digi-designers empowering women? Meet your next must-follow. First up, Emma Breschi…
“I ask myself this all the time,” Emma Breschi laughs when I ask her how she fell into the fashion industry. Unlike the silent-muse-school-of-modelling, the 23-year-old newcomer is refreshingly honest on taboo topics (more on that later), a bit goofy and while she grew up in Thailand – moving to the UK in 2010 – peppers conversation with typically British self-deprecation. Of course, Breschi boasts an enviable CV after less than a year being discovered on Instagram and subsequently signing to Models 1 in London. As a photographer, with a particular focus on challenging modern ideas of femininity, she’s collaborated with the likes of Puma, Dr Martens and Malone Soulliers. As a model, it wouldn’t be long before a huge label tapped her. The Queen of Punk came a knockin’ this year when she was handpicked to star in Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood’s AW17 campaign; the first curve model to ever do so (“that was so surreal- I was just laughing to myself thinking ‘why am I here?'”). Emma is much more than a face of a brand – she’s also the voice. Here, she opens up about the female nude in the fashion industry, body image and calling bullshit on the term ‘plus-size’…
Hi Emma! Congrats on your wildly successful 2017 so far – was modelling always at the forefront of your mind?
Never! It’s so weird. When I was a kid the idea of being a model just never occurred in my mind. I don’t know if that’s because I grew up on an Island and we didn’t really have access. My family and I travelled a lot when we were young but then my dad took us on holiday to Thailand when I was six and my dad fell in love with the country and was like ‘okay guys we’re going to live here now’. We moved in 1999 and I stayed there until 2010 when I moved to the UK – so from Thailand I moved to Guilford [laughs].
Andreas Kronthaler for @viviennewestwood AW 17/18 Campaign ❤️ Shot by Juergen Teller ❤️? Styling by @sabina_schreder ⚡️ Hair by @sammcknight1 ✂️ Makeup by @thevalgarland ?Nails by @mariannewman ?? Direction by Philip Wiegard & Bernhard Willhelm ⚡️ Set by @louis.gibson ? ?❤️?? #andreaskronthaler #viviennewestwood #aw1718 #campaign #juergenteller #AKAW1718
"If you’re posing in the nude for that quick fix or attention then you’ve got it all wrong"
How has your style evolved since moving to London?
Fashion wasn’t a thing that was a priority for me growing up – I was a tomboy – l liked dressing like the boys that surfed. I wore board shorts, caps and stuff like that. But I explored more of my feminine side in my later teens. Now, because I’m confident in myself I apply both of those styles that I grew up with together. My boyfriend [who works in advertising] doesn’t understand when I’m rocking a Hawaiian two-piece. He’s like ‘what is this?’ I fluctuate between looking like an old man tourist to an 80s porn star!
What advice would you give to your teenage self?
I know this question is so common but I’ve never been asked it. You only see it on Ru Paul’s Drag Race and everyone’s breaking down like ‘you’re gonna be okay!’ But I would have told my 15-year-old self you are going to understand who you are as a woman, you are going to learn new things about yourself and let go of any self doubt.
"When people say I’m a plus size model, I don’t know what to say because I don’t categorize myself in the way I look"
You’ve posted nude pictures of yourself on Instagram – what about the female form is so fascinating to you?
My mum’s quite religious and sometimes she’s like ‘why are you posting these kind of pictures?’ and I’m like ‘well, mum, I’ve done worse – I’ve been naked prancing around in a forest for work. It’s my job.’ And she’ll say ’yeah but you get paid to do that.’ I don’t agree with that necessarily though – just because I’m getting paid to be naked for shoots doesn’t mean that me shooting nudes for myself is bad. With nudity, if it’s coming from a place of positivity and if you’re being naked to inspire, motivate and project self-love then by all means do it. But if you’re posing in the nude for that quick fix or attention then you’ve got it all wrong.
Some of my friends have been like ‘that’s a bit raunchy Emma?’ I’m like, ‘it’s only raunchy because I’m a curvier girl. Because I have boobs!’ If it was a girl who had smaller boobs they would be like ‘Oh, fashion!’ – because society has put that out there. This whole categorizing women is actually annoying for me, like when people say I’m a plus size model, I don’t know what to say because I don’t categorize myself in the way I look.
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"I fluctuate between looking like an old man tourist to an 80s porn star!"
Talk me through your experience shooting for Vivienne Westwood’s AW17 campaign?
I remember when it came to the group shot at the end for some reason Juergen [Teller] said, ’is Emma in the shot? What is she gonna wear?’ They’d shot all my looks and I didn’t have an outfit. I was like ‘LOL what if I go naked? I could put a plate in front of me.’ Part of me was like ‘fuck I shouldn’t have said anything!’ I was partly joking, but it seemed to work…
Do you think social media has the power to promote change?
With social media it’s kind of like a love/hate thing with me. Some people say social media is so bad for you because it disconnects you from the world blah blah blah and, to a certain extent, its true: if you’re like at home 24 hours on Instagram. But if you utilize social media as a tool to benefit your life or benefit other peoples lives you can do amazing things with it. I am constantly inspired by other people through social media.
You’re a model and a photographer – do both careers feed into one another?
Loads of people ask me which one I prefer and I honestly don’t think I’d be the photographer I am today if I hadn’t become a model; the two go hand in hand. When I’m on shoots it doesn’t feel like ‘ugh, okay I HAVE to do this.’ I just learn so much. With photography, most people know what they like and they have their distinct style. With me, I’m still learning. I try to just tell a story I get very inspired by people that I meet.
Is there anything career-wise you’d love to conquer next?
I’d love to try directing. I loved Zoe Lister Jones’ indie comedy Band Aid – females are doing great things in film today and I would love to be part of that.
You can follow Emma Breschi on Instagram here.