Tears and tantrums are par for the course on Britain’s Next Top Model, but the new series is shaping up to be more of a bitch fest than ever – thanks to fashion designer Julien Macdonald. The show’s new judge has controversially claimed that plus-size models have no place in the modelling competition.
‘You can’t have a plus size girl winning – it makes it a joke,’ insists the ex-creative director of Givenchy. ‘It’s not fair on them – you’re setting them up for a fall. They are looked down on, they’re frowned upon. A catwalk model is a size six to eight. If you’re a size 14 in a room full of size eights, you’re in the wrong room.’
Despite the face that series founder Tyra Banks is famously proud of her own voluptuous figure, and even crowned size-16 Whitney Thompson ‘America's Next Top Model’ in 2008, Macdonald is proving that not everyone in fashion is keen on curves. And when the new series begins in July – with Elle Macpherson taking over from Lisa Snowdon as presenter – he believes he’s qualified to tell wannabe supermodels the truth about the industry.
‘Just because you’re gorgeous it doesn’t mean you can be a model,’ he says. ‘I had to tell a lot of girls to stop kidding themselves. Some weren’t even tall enough. It’s not ‘let’s find a 5ft 2in model’ – you have to be over five-nine or you can forget it. It’s a competition; it’s going to be tough. The bad go and the good stay and that’s how life is.’
So is Julien right to protect plus-size models from a notoriously bitchy industry? Or should runway girls come in all shapes and sizes? Let us know what you think…
By Caroline Benjamin