Cover star Alva Claire on why she almost quit the modelling industry

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.

Alva Claire ((Elle UK/Danny Kasirye)
Alva Claire ((Elle UK/Danny Kasirye)

“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***.

(Elle UK/ Danny Kasirye)
(Elle UK/ Danny Kasirye)

“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.”

(Elle UK/ Danny Kasirye)
(Elle UK/ Danny Kasirye)

The July issue of Elle UK is on sale from June 10.