Velvet d’Amour Interview – The World’s First Plus Sized Super Model!

Adultsmart is proud to present the Velvet d’Amour Interview.  Sharing it with our lifestyle community blog.  Velvet is the first plus-sized female to make it as a ‘super-model’ in Paris. She is the founder of Vol Up 2 magazine which has an emphasis on curvy women, as well as those forgotten by fashion.

Velvet d’Amour Interview

Welcome and thank you for agreeing to participate in this interview.

Thanks! My pleasure.

Velvet d'Amour Interview
Interview With Velvet

You were born in USA and achieved a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the NYC School of Visual Arts.  What did you learn there?

Yes, I am a proud native of Rochester, NY. My major at SVA was actually Illustration, because I thought that meant I could make Fine Art and get paid for it, lol But in the end my focus tended to be on photography.

You spent a year abroad in Florence Italy.  What was the inspiration for you to spend time there?

I did. I adored it and it actually gave me the impetus to move to Europe.

As an artist, pretty much everything about Italy is inspiring, especially the men. LOL! Realistically, the vibe of Italy suggests a time when artists were sincerely valued and art was incorporated into every facet of life. Each corner you turn is adorned in sculpture, and even when I studied there, you could come across a random opera singer singing on the street.

They would have an evening where they made a never ending dinner table down the middle of the street, so everyone shares dinner together! Just living in a manner that feeds the soul through connection was inspiring.

James White Instagram

But I was very fortunate to have James White as my Photography teacher in Florence. He is so genius as a teacher. He could see my passion for photography and he would be so supportive and encouraging.

He even gave me a key to the darkroom, which was in this astoundingly beautiful centuries old building. I would spend hours and hours there developing my film and agitating my prints to life.

VolUp Magazine
Velvet D’Amour Photographer

It is there that you developed a passion for fashion photography.  Tell us a bit about that?

I always had a passion for old photos, my parents were much older when they had me so I was always looking at these amazing old black and white pics from the 40’s. My love of fashion and photography initially stemmed from there.

In High School I took my first photography class, and it was fun to try to shoot fashion even at that early age. Then in college I would always peruse photographers like Helmut Newton, Herb Ritts, Bruce Weber, Steven Meisel and Ellen Von Unwerth. They were some of my favorites back in the day and their work definitely influences my own.

But as a Fine Art Major they forced us to take photography with a Pentax K1000. I was so intimidated by technology that I had previously just worked with crappy little automatics. Then I managed to learn how to deal with the Pentax and I really feel in love with the instant gratification that photography provided.

As a Fine Artist I was very interested in figurative studies. So drawing and painting could take eons to complete a concept, whereas with photography in the simple snap of an image.  I have made my statement. Voila!

And at the time very few women were fashion photographers. It was quite cool to delve into a subject that was formerly very much a male terrain.

Plus Sized Super Model
Velvet d’Amour modeling

You then went onto the other side of the lens and started modeling.  How did this happen?

When I was in High School I’d go out and inevitably people would ask if I was a model because I was tall-ish at 5’8. So they had one of those Model Agency Scout things come to a mall in the suburbs where I grew up.  I went and was told,

“you have the face of talent”

At 140 pounds I was too fat to model so they suggested I lose weight. I had been competitively swimming for ages, so my body had that tiny waist huge shoulders thing. Then I did shot-put and discus on track so let’s just say I was hardly the breakable Kate Moss flavored model of the moment.

So I went about losing weight to try to get signed to an agency by doing a 500 calorie diet, which was so not healthy. Since it was the 80’s and most models were on the cocaine diet, lol.   It was no in my plans getting emaciated anytime soon, since your body can’t maintain 500 calories eternally.

To Loose Weight I Went on A 500 Calorie Per Day Diet

So when I started yoyo dieting I gained weight and was having difficulty, as so many young women do, to accept and love my body. I read FAT IS A FEMINIST ISSUE and went to see a therapist. Started looking to try to find examples of bodies in mainstream media, that were like my own, and there were none. Maybe at the Opera but beyond that, nada.

When I started shooting models who were signed to agencies they were the IDEAL. Yet I would see that they too were struggling to accept their utterly idealized bodies! So to me it was a bit of a mind-fuck putting it bluntly.

That no women were loving their bodies!

So given those two concepts, I started to use myself as a piece of subversive art through photography. By emulating the poses and flavors one would see in mainstream fashion magazines but with myself.   At the time it was considered exceedingly audacious, but I was making a point.

First Queen Sized Super Model
Velvet Plus Sized Model

Moving To France I Signed With The First Plus Sized Agency

When I moved to Paris they had just opened the first plus size model agency in France, AGENCE PLUS. Knowing that very few photographers were interested in shooting plus size models, I offered my services and sending a photo showing that I was a plus size woman myself.

They said they would like to meet me first as is normal for photographers. When I went in they said they wanted to hire me AS A MODEL!?! So while I couldn’t get signed to an agency as a young straight size model, I actually ended up getting signed at age 39 and near 300 lbs.

We were able to use all the shots I had created as an artistic revolution. My portfolio and my book ended up standing out a great deal from other plus size agency models. I was the fattest model ever to be signed to a model agency.

Plus Sized Modeling Agency
Agence Plus France

What was most exciting about this was that I had come to love myself.  Thereafter this gift of getting signed came along. That was such a lovely payoff to the self esteem I had worked so hard to build.

For most people this would be more than enough to occupy all of their time but you then became a recording artist.  When did you learn to sing?


I always loved to dance, and in high school they had a SHOW DANCE group. In order to audition you had to sing. So being typical me, I was making fun of singing Opera. The teacher heard me, and said I had A GIFT!

I ended up getting into NYSSMA, which is the best young singers of New York State. There was fortunate enough to spend a summer being taught by the best, up in Saratoga Springs, NY. And from there also studied opera in NYC and Italy.

In 2006 you starred in the film Avida as the main character Avida.  That must have been a hell of an experience! How did it come about that you got that role?

The very first casting I went in through my French model agency was for the role of AVIDA. They were looking for a very fat women who didn’t take issue with being naked. The nudity was part of the film as art and the role was quite interesting. She was an aging singer who had become quite depressed and wanted to commit suicide, in a very spectacular manner.

When I went to the audition I was able to sing some oper. This was quite fun and unexpected, lo,l but because they saw me as ‘too glamorous’.

I didn’t end up getting the role!

Super Model With Super Model
Velvet VIP

So as a sort of joke, you get that I’m a bit of a jokester at this point, lol. I had my friend take THE most unattractive images you ever did see of ME! Then I sent them and thanked them for seeing me as such a glam doll.

WELL they ended up calling me back!

UGLY PICTURES PAY DAMMIT! lol They said the person they had gone with ended up being more American than Belgian. I ended up being more Belgian then American, so they went with me in the end.

I Ended Up Getting The Role Of Avida After Sending The Ugliest Pics

I had a blast shooting it! The guys who made it are kinda like the Saturday Night Live comedians of France. Very antiestablishment Frenchies. Quite funny, always drunk and laughing and having an absolute BLAST while they make ART.

So I had pretty much forgotten about it when they called me in NYC where I was at the time. They said THE FILM HAD MADE IT INTO THE CANNES FILM FESTIVAL!!! Then it got into THE TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL!!!

So freakindeakin cool man!!!

Avida Cannes Film Festival
Avida Starring Velvet

It is a very artsy film, if you like Jacques Tati you’ll dig it.

The difficulty is that there are little to NO roles for women my size in film and that really needs to change. I mean think about how many fat people you see walking down a street. Then think about how many roles in films, let alone lead roles, where they include a fat woman.

How many do you come up with?


And most all involve pure mockery, not any real substance. So it would be awesome if there was more inclusivity within film making. Not just hiring thin actresses to wear fat suits, etc.

What do you feel the main differences are between still photography and moving pictures?

I actually make videos for VOLUP2 now, so I live that difference, lol. I think the possibilities in film are overwhelming when one is accustomed to still imagery. Still photography breaks down a millisecond in time, it literally stops time. Whereas film is like liquid motion it can tell a million stories in a million ways and editing it down can be a bitch.

But it is the future of fashion. I am currently working on a submission to Nick Knight’s SHOW STUDIO which is the Mecca of all Fashion Films.

Global Fashion Studios

And I have to agree with Nick that it is the future of fashion. It isn’t stagnant in any way and because clothes move with you. It’s one of the best ways to showcase fabric which in the end is what fashion is.

I love both arts and think they both have their place in the world.

Then you played as the lead dancer at a Lionel Banjo piece at the Pallais Chaillot at Trocadero.  Did you have any formal dance training prior to taking this part?

I was very into volunteering to help people with AIDS and HIV. As such I worked for a no-profit and was collecting donations which I was rather brazen about, lol.  So at a restaurant one night I asked the cutie next to me if he would like to donate. Ended up becoming great friends.

We both liked Hip Hop so we would go to this tea dance in Paris and spend hours and hours dancing all night there, it was SO FUN! He saw me dance and he was the administrator for the well known Lionel Hoche dance company MEME BANJO. So he said one night that he may have a role for me in their next piece!


I played the role of a vegetarian ogress, lol.  And it actually was performed at the coveted Palais Chaillot Trocadero! I about passed out when I first got on stage. But the most difficult performing is live theater, having 1000 people staring at you while you dance and act in French is beyond the realm terrifying.

It has made everything else seem easy, so I am so appreciative that Lionel who took a risk on me. I was very impressed with the sense of inclusion the world of contemporary dance had. Their bodies tend to be smaller by virtue of the work they put them through, but there was a wonderful lack of judgment. Not only from the dancers but from audiences as well.

I actually started out with dancing for Lionel before I modeled. It was Adam Vidocvic who ‘found me’ before anyone else.

Plus Sized Super Model On Stage
Velvet on stage

As an influencer and female activist, your message has been that using yourself as a vessel of change combating the stereotyping of what a woman should be portrayed by mainstream media.  Where have you been most successful in achieving this?

I suppose by infiltrating high end Parisian fashion through taking the runway for John Galliano.

Velvet and John Galliano

and then Jean Paul Gaultier

Velvet and Jean Paul Gaultier

would be considered my greatest coups. That, and getting into French VOGUE being included in an editorial shot by Nick Knight was great!

One of the preferred images I created with Maya Guez was…

(image too small to publish)

But I made my point by actively working to be included in editorial fashion so modeling for iconic photographers like Daniele Iango… Kourtney Roy Etc. So I feel pleased to have gotten as far as I did to work with so many incredible artists.

Plus Sized Super Model Nude
Velvet and Daniele Iango
Plus Sized Super Model Photo Shoot
Velvet and Courtney Roy

Thereafter, I ended up doing a reality TV show here in France called, CELEBRITY FARM where they ship pseudo celebrities off to work on a farm. But I was so fortunate that the year they included me, we were flown to the South African bush to care for animals!!!

I actually managed to hang in there for 9 of the 10 weeks so I ended up beating out the vast majority of other celebrities. The best part was each week you raise money for your chosen charity. I ended up making around $72,000 for ENFANTS DISPARU which helps missing and abused children and their families.

Plus Sized Super Model On Celebrity Farm
Velvet Celebrity Farm

My favorite part was feeding the crocs! I did get bit by a snake but that probably happens every 15 minutes in Australia. When one isn’t being attacked by a shark, so I won’t end up impressing anyone on here with that ,lol.

You describe your photographic works as allowing you ‘to share beauty that otherwise may be overlooked’.  What do you most enjoy in taking an alternate perspective of beauty?

I most enjoy sharing the beauty that is humanity, because mainstream media completely ignores it. Choosing instead to create optical illusions in order to drive capitalism, versus celebrating the innate beauty that each and every person is blessed with.  I encore bucking the norm and changing how society views beauty, so that it may be more encompassing.

People often want to denigrate imagery which is inclusive of fat bodies in particular. They like to perceive any admittance of such as a ‘Glorification of Obesity’ and therefore UNHEALTHY.

Not Touching On Mental Health Rather Than Body Imagery Is A Crisis

Yet the reality is, by including only images of beauty which are now utterly unattainable- for anyone really. There was a point that like, 1% of the human population who happened to be young, white, able, size 0’s, who were 6 ft tall existed, but now you have all that plus retouching!

So now even those few can’t attain the current beauty ethic, unless they can walk down the street Photoshopping themselves. This creates so much self loathing, which not only fat people are effected by. The preponderance of the population!

So while the topic of Health is the number one reason people cite as their reason for prohibiting fat bodies from mainstream media. They never touch upon Mental Health. And that is genuinely a crisis in modern society.

I have had a look at your magazine and personally love it.  What is the general feedback you get from viewers?

Thank you!

We are fortunate to receive really positive feedback. People are craving to feel represented and I genuinely try to include numerous types of people who fashion has forgot.

Why don’t we ever see burn survivors in fashion? Did you know that burns are the fourth most common type of trauma worldwide?!

Velvet Models

Why don’t we see amputees?

Amputee Model

Or people living with Albinism, Downs Syndrome, Wheelchair-bound, Treacher-Collins, Vitiligo, Alopecia, elderly, different ethnicities, sexualities. The list of people that we systematically exclude is fucking endless, seriously.

Velvet and Racism

But I aim to change that, to ‘be the change I want to see’ in my own very small way. I actively showcase difference and NOT in terms of shock value, (which is where you MAY see some different types of people included in fashion, an able bodied model posing in a wheelchair for instance comes to mind), its more an exploitation of difference then a glorification of humanity.

Everyone has flaws and in your magazine you encourage people to revel in their imperfections.  What a fantastic outlook to have.  Did you ever battle to accept any of your own imperfections?

Yes, sure I did!

In the end the mere fact that I was in a position to worry about my imperfections is a privilege in itself. Just as so many in the world suffer just to simply survive and that I am very conscientious of that.

But there certainly was a time I hated myself mainly because, like so many, I was working inordinately hard to achieve the unattainable beauty ideal. Through crash diets, and doctors would give me metabolizers and appetite suppressants etc etc. This only served to make me fatter ironically.

I remember after losing like, 80 lbs. The hair and makeup people that I was reping at a Hair and Makeup Agent in NYC encouraged me to join a popular plus size model agency there. I went to the open call and was told that – my nose was too wide, my face was too long and my eyes were too close set.

Literally I laughed out loud!

I just couldn’t grasp that beauty could be so formulated! Thereafter, I ended up getting signed by Agence Plus in Paris and made it into so many coveted fashion spaces. This goes to show there is no formula. Period!

But what I think is one of the keys to self revelry is to honor those that came before you. Why put more respect into a system that is setting out to intentionally force you to reject yourself. So that you will invest in whatever they are marketing to you, versus dignifying the millions of ancestors that came before you?

You are a successful woman that has done so much in your life.   Where do you see yourself in ten years time?

Thank you! I very much live in the moment to be honest, so not sure, but hoping to be living each day to the fullest!


Please find Velvet’s links here!

Vol.UP.2 Magazine
Facebook Vol Up 2 Magazine
Instagram Vol Up 2 Magazine
Facebook Fan Page Velvet d’Amour


Velvet d’Amour on Linkedin


2 Replies to “Velvet d’Amour Interview – The World’s First Plus Sized Super Model!”

  1. Just fantastic that you guys are promoting plus sizes. So many people are getting issues including teeth because of bad diet. Eat healthy.

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