Meet London's Newest Bombshell

Photographed by Eva K. Salvi.
When was the last time a person's style just took your breath away? Last year? Last week, maybe, but it's safe to say that it is a rare occurrence. Well, breathe deeply, because plus-size model Felicity Hayward's got a flamboyant and theatrical fashion sense that makes us want gasp, do high kicks, and throw on head-to-toe hot pink all at once. We first discovered the model-slash-artist on Instagram documenting her wild seaside weekend jaunts, cabaret extravaganzas, and Somerset House showcases. We just had to meet this whirlwind of creativity for ourselves and find out what makes her tick. The short answer: everything.
We caught up with Hayward on a very sunny day in East London to rifle through her wardrobe, talk to her about the plus-size modeling scene, and share beauty tips. Fill your lungs, and come along.
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Photographed by Eva K. Salvi.
You're a model, artist, and club promoter — what would you say is your true calling?
"It is such a difficult one…I'd say artist as it is such a broad term. You can kind of have all aspects of it."

How did you break into the fashion industry?
"I wanted to [study] fashion photography originally and then moved into more art history and archiving imagery. I finished my degree and was working in a vintage shop, and one day, I was dancing in a pub in East London to Diana Ross, and Richard Mortimer of Ponystep magazine scouted me. And, he asked me if I'd do a shoot as Anna Nicole Smith for a story, and I just thought it sounded like a lot of fun. I loved her. And, he said, 'by the way, Miles Aldridge is shooting it,' and that was my first ever shoot. I was so ecstatic as I've been a fan of his work since university. I was working as a barmaid as well and [when the shoot came out] I got an email from Storm Model Management asking if I had representation. I thought it was a joke…but I got signed to its Curve section and that's how it all got started."

House of Johnson dress, Gogo Philip choker.
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Photographed by Eva K. Salvi.
What have your experiences of the plus-size modeling industry been like?
"Mine have been really quite positive. I have been very lucky to have worked with some amazing photographers, such as Patrick Demarchelier and Miles Aldridge, and featured in publications such as Vogue, Glamour, and been on the cover of i-D. I was also the first plus-size model to feature in a TK Maxx campaign and I'm the first plus-size model to pose for a worldwide beauty brand, which hasn’t come out yet so I can’t say who it is, but it's exciting!

"I find with the plus-size industry, we're kind of taken…not as a joke, but we get a lot of attention for our bodies and sometimes it feels a little bit patronising. For example, when I did TK Maxx, I was really excited that they used me as [their] first plus-size model, and I was getting lots of press from it, which was positive and I was very grateful, but do we need to know constantly that I am 'plus size?' Companies should be using models of all shapes and sizes. It really should be the norm, brands should be using models of diversity constantly, rather than celebrating a certain body type. Not all girls are 'skinny' or 'plus-size' — what about the ladies in between?"

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Photographed by Eva K. Salvi.
How would you say the plus-size modeling world has evolved in the two years you've been working in it?
"When I was signed up to Storm, I was one of the biggest girls there. I was a size 18 when I was scouted and now I’m a size 16, for no reason...I’ve just lost weight... I don't think I would have been scouted by Storm if I hadn't been shot by Miles Aldridge because I was a bit bigger. Maybe I am wrong, and that's my insecurities (us models have a lot of them, too!). But, over the last two years the plus-size industry has become more popular and there are lots more girls, especially around the size 14/16. It is showing a good diversity in the industry as plus-size models in the U.K. can start from a size 10."

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Photographed by Eva K. Salvi.
What's something crazy about plus-size modeling that might surprise people?
"I don't know if it is just me, and I'm happy in my own skin and happy in my body, but I have to do a lot of fake laughing [on shoots]...because they assume that you are having to push this idea that you are happy in your own skin. I do think it is the right statement to be making , I am happy and I love my job but, at the same time, where are the cool, edgy [pictures]? You can be just as beautiful and not be laughing."

Do you think there is enough variety of plus-size fashion on the high street?
"No. But, it's a hell of a lot better than it was... Brands are now producing clothes that are equally as good as standard high street ones. That's what needed to happen a long time ago."

Beyond Retro dress, Vintage hat, Dune shoes.
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Photographed by Eva K. Salvi.
What style mantra would you give to a person who identifies as plus-size or curvy, to achieve everything they want with their personal style?
"Try everything on. Don't be afraid to try everything on. Make your own clothes... Try it all. Never let anyone's opinions about you and your weight stop you from being yourself… Choose something you like and go with it!"

What have been the highlights of your career so far?
"Flying over to New York for 23 hours to be shot by Patrick Demarchelier for U.S. Glamour has to be the highlight so far. It was amazing and my first time in New York. And, being shot by Miles Aldridge... I went to shoot for him again with Cara Delevingne, which was interesting, and then he put me in his retrospective book and featured [me] in his exhibition at Somerset House. I think I'm the only plus-size model he has ever used and the fact that he has used me two or three times, that's what I'm most proud of."

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Photographed by Eva K. Salvi.
How would you define your personal style?
"I'd like to say a modern-day Jayne Mansfield. That's how I like to be seen."

You hail from Suffolk but call London home — what do you love about the city?
"I'm from a small town and I left it quite easily. I've constantly got my fingers in so many pies. I'm not just a model; and I thought the city was the place to be. Everyone runs away from home and comes to the city, but I feel like my time may be done here… I love the seaside, I love the sun, and I want to go to America. I have an agent there and I want to give it a go."

Where do you like to hang out in London?
"I've always lived in East London and although I love the city, as much as I can I try and go out of it. My favourite place to go is Eaton House Studio, it is out in Essex and it's basically a Barbie dream house. It is this colour and this colour [points to her flouro pink cardigan and skirt] on the outside. It's a magical venue and it's where I'm having my next art show. I usually spend my time, when I'm not in London, I'll try to go to the seaside, go to Margate…or if I'm in London I'll go to some weird, old pubs or working men's clubs."

House of Johnson skirt, Gogo Philip bracelet.
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Photographed by Eva K. Salvi.
Where do you love to shop when you're in town?
"I think thrift shopping and car-boot sales. I like shopping for things that had a life of [their] own before I started wearing [them]. But, that doesn't mean that I don't shop at ASOS Curve or Simply Be. I do shop at these plus-size brands, but for more simple things like leggings and jeans. But, most of the stuff I've got is for two dollars from a thrift shop. I'll always go adventuring for clothes. I'll always go charity shopping and vintage shopping because most of the stuff is handmade and it's better quality."

Who are your style icons?
"Obviously Jayne. And, Anna Nicole Smith. I've always been into the '50s-meets-'90s look. That Hollywood-glamour-meets-trashy-'90s look. So Jayne and Anna Nicole, really. And, Pat Butcher and Bet Lynch. There is one outfit I wear that everyone says I look like Bet Lynch from Coronation Street in head-to-toe leopard print."

Emma Fielden hat, Vintage top, sunglasses, and bag.
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Photographed by Eva K. Salvi.
What are the five fashion items you can’t live without?
"Gold hoop earrings. Leopard print. And, one thing you'll see a lot in my wardrobe is lot of block colours. I like to wear all one colour in a look. So, hoop earrings, leopard print, biker jackets, and pastels."

Madam Popoff Vintage cardigan, skirt, Simply Be shoes, and Vintage bag.
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Photographed by Eva K. Salvi.
Your beauty look is straight out of the '50s — can you describe your beauty regimen to us?
"I've actually been wearing the same makeup for the last 10 years now. Black liquid liner, MAC Ruby Woo lipstick, foundation, and powder. And, maybe a little bit of blusher. That is all wear."

Simply Be shoes.
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Photographed by Eva K. Salvi.
What’s next for you this year?
"I'm working on an art show called, 'I'd Rather Go Blind,' it consists of 100 portraits of friends, colleagues, and celebrities, people like Sue Tilley, Lucian Freud's muse, she's involved in the art show. It is in partnership with a charity called Young In Prison, which is a charity that provides creative workshops for kids all around the world who are in prison, especially in third world countries… The show is going to be in Easton House in October and then I'm going to travel with it to New York and Los Angeles."
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