Model Alva Claire has said she almost quit the industry as she battled rejection and said she still arrives at work knowing not everything will fit her.
The London-born catwalk star, who made history as one of a trio of the first “plus-size” models to ever walk for Versace, said she had to find the positive in setbacks.
She told Elle UK: “Money dried up. I’d just gone through a bad breakup. I was working in the candle shop.
“Rejection is hard. Especially when your work is your body, and you feel like no one believes in you.
“I knew giving up was a thought that came from a complete lack of representation in everything I was absorbing.
“I’ve been rejected so many times. But it’s important that rejection is seen as a positive thing. It’s not a failure.”
Claire said she moved to New York from London when she felt she had “nothing left to lose”, adding: “I knew nothing was happening for me in London; I knew I needed to be in New York. So I moved.
“I started to see that things were changing over there (New York). I became really aware of these incredible girls in New York, seeing them on Instagram just being themselves, not giving a f***.
“Being like, Yes, I’m wearing this, and I’m bigger, and I look great, and I don’t care what you have to say about it.”
However, she said she still faces difficult times, telling the magazine: “I’m used to arriving at work knowing that not everything will fit me.
“When you have to wear a dress that is cut up at the back because it doesn’t fit you, and your arse is hanging out… I think it’s important to recognise what that does to a person.”
Discussing her first meeting with Donatella Versace before walking in the Versace catwalk show, she said: “She. Is. Amazing. She’s amazing. When I met her, I thought, You are exactly how I imagined. But more sweet, funny, self-aware than anyone could know. And consistent.
“It’s easy to be cynical and think that casting bigger models is done for attention or press. But with Versace – and other shows with Jill (Kortleve) and Precious (Lee) – it’s not just one (bigger) model, it’s not just one show.”
Claire was also part of singer Rihanna’s first Savage x Fenty fashion show and said she was “so nervous”, adding: “But seeing a Black businesswoman in entertainment, fashion, film, beauty and music just… conquering.
“We’ve never seen that. To be there – shaking with nerves next to DJ Khaled! Working with her felt inspirational on another level.”
The July issue of Elle UK is on sale from June 10.