PROJECT RUNWAY MODEL Liris Crosse
You may recall Liris Crosse from VOLUP2's editorial of her in Paris. She is now breaking barriers appearing in the world-re-known PROJECT RUNWAY!!! We are delighted for her and wanted to hear more in this exclusive interview. Enjoy!
Tell us how you got into modeling.
I went to a model convention called Model Search America now known as Mogull Talent. I got callbacks from Elite Models, Zoli, Michelle Pommier and Seventeen Magazine but they all wanted me to lose weight. I eventually just moved to New York to pursue commercial modeling since I never seemed to get skinny enough. I stopped by the MSA office to get help and they ended up sending me to meet Wilhelmina Models for their curves board. I didn't know plus modeling existed, but they offered me a contract that day! I was with them for quite some time and made major moves. I'm now with IPM Models in NY, Dorothy Combs Models in Miami & Hughes Models in the U.K.
Growing up in Baltimore, how did that shape your concepts on beauty and fashion?
Baltimore is not afraid to try trends and it has some daring independent designers. I honed my fierce walk there doing local shows, learning how to bring the right amount of drama. I was a country girl who ran the city with my parents so it was like I got the best of both worlds. I think that's why my personal style is classic with a slight urban edge. I'm thankful to have Baltimore artists like Robert Stephens and Carla Williams who helped to prepare me for the big stage!
What drew you to runway?
I grew up watching a lot of FashionTV and seeing people like Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks, Linda Evangelista, Debra Shaw and others create magic and sell fashion. They drew me in! I looked at it as the art of selling a garment or lifestyle at a very early age. Modeling is like acting with no words. I loved their reinvention, poise, stride and the creativity they brought to the runway. I wanted to do it too!
You have been called 'The Naomi Campbell of Plus', which runway model/s has most inspired your own runway presence and why?
Naomi Campbell is my favorite – hands down! She changes the temperature in the room when she hits the stage. Whatever she does is perfect for that garment and designer. I love how she maintains her body still, her stride is powerful and on pace, and her attitude is that of a queen. There will never be another! I pray to one day work with her in some capacity. I call her my model mother because she has coached me from afar and inspired me to be great!
If you could take the runway for any couture designer which would you choose and why?
Right now I'd say Balmain since their line is so sexy and powerful. I'd also say Versace because they've always been flashy and sexy. Lastly, Zac Posen for a fairytale runway moment and for his attention to details.
What was the process like for you to model on PROJECT RUNWAY?
Well its 12 hour days for runway days and 3-4 hour days on fitting days. Your feet hurt a lot and you stand a lot for some of the challenges. But if you love modeling, it's a dream come true! I had the time of my life. I got to wear new custom made designs every week, get hair and make-up done then model in front of Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn, Zac Posen and Nina Garcia every week. I couldn't have been happier!
How did you feel when you found out you would be cast as one of the models for PROJECT RUNWAY? Do you see yourself as representing for the plus size woman?
I literally thanked God and screamed! It came right on time because I asked God to give me a sign to keep on going. I took my role on the show very seriously. It wasn't just about representing myself but also representing the plus community that I feel has been kept in the shadows for years. I wanted to show that plus size women on the runway can look amazing and we can slay it just like straight size models do!
If you could choose any designer from past or present PROJECT RUNWAY shows to design your wardrobe which would you choose and what elements do you most appreciate in their work?
I'd say Kenya Freeman from this current season, because she isn't afraid to design for curves. Her pieces are classy, sexy and there's love in her details. Plus whether it's a jumpsuit, dress or suit, she knows how to find the balance between the client's body and her aesthetic.
We need to see so much more Diversity within modern media when it comes to plus sizes, but also when it comes to ethnic diversity, how do you think the fashion industry can make better headway?
Well they could break up some of these modeling agency monopolies on the jobs so we can get some true diversity. You keep seeing the same models in the same campaigns for certain brands because they won't go against them. If certain agencies only have a couple or hardly any ethnic models, then you won't see much. The fashion industry should also realize that ethnic diversity isn't just one type of look so expand the boundaries of that, and show the true beauty of our America. Rotate the models please! Also we need magazines to start featuring more ethnic plus models in their layouts and articles. There's so many women of color who work in the plus fashion industry who don't get their justice because no one is giving them the platform to speak and show what they can do.
How has PROJECT RUNWAY's decision to cast a more diverse group of models colored both the emerging designers participating, and the audience's reaction?
It's challenged the designers in their design skills and creativity. The audience has been challenged in their perception of what is beautiful and what a plus woman wants to wear. Some people seem to perceive us one way but are learning so much more than they bargained for. I just wanted to humanize the plus client to these designers so they can hopefully be inspired to design more for us in the future and with clarity!
The vast majority of consistently working models within the Plus Industry, tend to hold a proportional hour glass shape, do you see a need for more shape diversity within the realm?
I think shape diversity is great too. You have hourglass, pear and rectangular shape with us plus models on this season of Project Runway.
You are not only a model, but a mogul - you have created LIFE OF A WORKING MODEL BOOT CAMP, tell us how that came about and how people may join.
It happened because I receive so many messages from women asking how to get started or how to maintain a modeling career. So instead of me going back-and-forth with people online, I decided to make it into a class. I offer two classes: Master Class and Perfection In Posing. The Master Class is like the "how to" of modeling. Perfection In Posing is how to perfect your skills on the runway and in front of the camera. I've had women go on to sign with major agencies and walk in major shows. We will have new classes starting back soon, after Project Runway finishes. Details are on LirisC.com
As well as modeling and inspiring women through your Boot Camps, you also act, most recently you appeared as a nurse in the film 'Dope Fiend', what draws you to acting and what elements within acting carry across to the art of modeling?
Like I said, modeling is acting without words so it's fun to act because I can put sound to it. I also get to step outside myself and create a life for a character I'm playing, whether big or small.
Photo by Velvet d'Amour
We had the great pleasure of featuring you in an editorial for VOLUP2 Magazine, do you have any plans to return to Paris?
I would love to come there for work because Paris isn't cheap, but maybe when I make it to London again soon, I will pop over!
Photo by Keith Major
What's next for you Liris?
I shot a major promo that is gonna take the world by storm when it finally airs! I’m also writing a book called "Make The World Your Runway," which is available for pre order on LirisC.com . Plus you can get #LifeOfAWorkingModel merchandise there too. I'm currently in campaigns for Kleinfeld Bridal & Rafaella, a brand by Perry Ellis. I'm auditioning for TV shows & films. Life is good, stay tuned!