The Plus Size Woman’s Champion – CEO of Full Figured Fashion Week, Gwen DeVoe
Full Figured Fashion Week took the “plus size industry” into mainstream this past summer. Unless you have been living under a rock, you have most certainly heard of FFF Week. It was four days of celebration of fashion and curves. The mastermind behind this event, is the CEO of DeVoe Signature Events, Gwen DeVoe. She’s been producing fashion shows, and working with plus size models longer than she probably can remember. She is not new to the scene, and what you all read about in the New York Times, came after many years of hard work and dedication to the plus size woman.
As 2011 begins, we are excited to learn what is to come, and how you can be prepared to be involved.
Maddy: You have been in the industry for many years. Tell me about how you got started in the industry and where your journey has led you?
Gwen: I started out as an Event Planner/Party Promoter who became a free-lance Plus Model, and ultimately ended up as a Producer of fashion related events, specializing in the plus size community. Although I am not entirely certain that event planning (or modeling) was ever my purpose, it is definitely a passion. Passion is more than meeting a goal or being the best at what you do. Passion is what drives you to wake up each morning and love what you do. I sincerely love what I do. The journey that led to my conceptualizing, and producing fashion related events for the plus size community, basically started with what I felt was the lack of trained and professional plus models. I wanted to fill that void, and did so by creating The Plus Academy, one of the first (if not the very first) model development and training programs dedicated “solely” to aspiring plus models.
Maddy: The Plus Academy has expanded in the last year by leaps and bounds; what can you tell us about the curriculum the Plus Academy follows?
Gwen: I am so very proud of what I have created with the Plus Academy. Although the outline of the curriculum is somewhat of a template, what is unique about each location is the diversity that comes from the Directors that run the individual programs. Our common goal at the Plus Academy is to instruct our students in every aspect of the modeling industry by providing them with straightforward, credible and current information. There are so many programs that only emphasize the glamorous parts of modeling. Well, the reality is that 90% of the industry is not glamorous, it’s business and aspiring models should be advised to approach the industry in a business-like manner from the onset.
Maddy: Full Figured Fashion Week will be back in NYC this summer for it’s third year. What can you tell us about this much-anticipated event?
Gwen: Full Figured Fashion Week 2011 in New York City will by far, surpass the other FFFWeek events thus far. I just announced that the dates are June 16-18, 2011 and I already have groups of women who are organizing themselves to travel together to attend the event. This year, I intend to change our event format somewhat to keep current with some of the trends of other fashion week events. This year the event will only be three days in New York but these three days will be jam packed with the excitement and networking opportunities that have become synonymous with the FFFWeek brand. Additionally, we anticipate a huge international presence this year. Exciting!
Maddy: I would not be doing my job if I did not ask this question. Many models want to be in FFF Week. What is your advice to those models looking to submit?
Gwen: Thankfully, the task of choosing models is not mine (smile). However, I do give our Casting Director direction in the types of models that I would like booked. It is extremely important to me to have a diverse group of models of various sizes, ethnicities and ages in the show. My advice to models who are interested in submitting for FFFWeek is simple: 1) Read, read, and re-read the casting notice. Half of the submissions are tossed because the ladies do not read and follow instructions. You only get one shot because there are usually at least another 25 submissions right after yours that are completed correctly; 2) FFFWeek is an annual event in NYC. Start preparing to submit now.
If your images need to be updated, get them done. To cut down on travel expenses and time, most Casting Directors are asking for video submissions. Your video submission has to be on point and to the point. Casting Directors will not sit through 45 minutes of video to see you at 45.7 in the video. The video should be brief and exclusive to footage of YOU; 3) Do not use your relationship with people on the production team to get in the show. If you’re a great model with a look and the runway skills we are looking for, you will get selected; and 4) Getting past the submission process should not be considered a confirmed booking. You will need to attend an audition and you should bring your A-game. We are looking for fresh faces with superior runway skills. Start prepping now!
Maddy: You have been working with plus size models for a very long time, some have moved on to find their way in the industry. In your opinion, what are the makings of a good model?
Gwen: I am fortunate to have worked with some of the best plus models in the industry before they became popular. These ladies are a tremendous inspiration to me and a testimony to what I do. I have watched quite a few of them grow professionally and to this day, I continue to follow their careers. I do not consider myself to be a scout, but I am confident in my belief that the makings of a good model is someone who is hungry, humble, flexible, passionate and willing to be directed. These are just a few traits of a good model.
Maddy: You seem to have really reached the pinnacle of your career. What is next for Gwen DeVoe?
Gwen: I still have so much I’d like to accomplish. I can think of 5 really great projects I would like to start right now, but it’s not time. I think the next step for me is television. I used to shy away from TV but recently I’ve been thinking about having my own show. Television is the fastest way to touch a lot of people in a short amount of time, and I want a piece of that!
For more on Gwen DeVoe or Full Figured Fashion Week 2011, visit www.fffweek.com.