‘the Casting that left me Feeling Grubby’: Charlotte Connoley to talks Boobs, Kate Moss and her Amazing Career!
Let me tell you about when I first encountered Charlotte Connoley. I was sat in Premier, my first agency, aged 16. By my feet was my satchel, full of school text books and a portfolio with two or three awkward-looking Polaroids. Draped upon my shoulders was my brother’s hand-me-down Adidas jacket, originally purchased from a charity shop, because Richard Ashcroft was his style idol – and my brother was mine. Acne adorned my face, and my retainer was tucked up in the front pocket of my satchel. The definition of awkward teen, and I had somehow found myself signed to the same agency as Naomi Campbell – though I was confident enough, I still had no idea how to act around the agency.
Then in walked Charlotte Connoley. I wouldn’t say ‘walked’, actually. I’d say a mixture of sashay and stomp, airily saying hello to everyone, kissing them on both cheeks and looking like a Goddess. I sat, feeling slightly awed and more than a bit terrified that this was how I was meant to ‘be’. She then got out Polaroids from a shoot she’d just done for AGENT PROVOCATEUR. I remember the pictures vividly – her hair was hugely frizzed up, tiny little triangles covered her fanny/nipples and she was holding another girl by a leash.
Pics are from the photographer Tim Bret Day’s Instagram
I don’t need to tell you that at this point we had little in common, so while I was aware of Charlotte she was, to me, in another world of grown up sexy model land, whereas I was still struggling to walk in the pair of Clarks heels I’d got for castings (dear God).
However, as the years went by and I grew up a bit, we’d have a nice chat on castings and then we did a trip together in Fuerta Ventura for Glamour. As is the case with many acquaintances, we’ve followed one another on Social Media and grown closer – and I love seeing her exciting pics from over the years. We caught up to chat all things modelling. And vaginas. But I doubt I’ll include that stuff here.
R: Hey Charlotte! So I always start by asking how people got into modelling. What’s your story?
C: I sent in Polaroids to Storm when I was 15, and I got signed right away and was doing amazing shoots within weeks. It was all very quick and exciting. For my first job, Calvin Klein flew me out to New York to be shot by [uber-huge photographer royalty – R] David Sims with Kate Moss.
R: Wow! Sorry it’s just I know you as a sex bomb, and here you look like you’re next to a Kate Moss waxwork at Madame Toussauds!!!
C: Oh My GOD! I DO! I was such a dork, I was totally new, and Kate was just so cool and laid back. David asked if I wanted a pic with Kate and I was trying to be cool and said no. Then I was like ‘what am I doing’ and so we got this.
R: So what do you think of starting the job at 15? Too young?
C: To be honest, I wasn’t very scholastic. I was doing a leisure and tourism course – I was going to end up working at the local hotel or something. Modelling was paying loads and I was travelling all over the world – I really do think that, if you feel like you want to pursue modelling then go for it. You can’t model forever but you can go back to your studies at any time.
R: See I disagree, because staying at school kept me grounded and helps with all my writing now. But then again, I was a massive nerd at school, whereas if you weren’t into studies then why would you turn down all that work?!
C: Also I was on my Mum’s passport, so she came around everywhere with me. She was really supportive and it helped keep me grounded.
R: What did your fellow pupils think of it all?
C: The teachers were cool. Some girls were encouraging, whereas others weren’t so great – of course there was definitely jealousy there. I remember going to the local shop to get Dazed and Confused cos my cover with Rankin was out. I suppose moves like that didn’t go down so well, and the edgy pictures were easy to take the piss out of!
R: So what was it like once you went full time?
C: It was all such a whirr, it was amazing. So much travelling. In fact I cringe at how I was in the beginning, and my Dad loves to remind me about the jobs I turned down. Oh the money!
R: The thing is, in those days there was a lot more money out there. Bigger fees for us, and more amazing trips in general thanks to greater budgets – it was easier to say no to work! So go on, what’s the most cringey story?
C: Oh god. So I had just come back from shooting British Vogue in Bali. I had another job option in Bali for, like, 8 grand or something and I just said no, I had to babysit my baby cousin. I was too tired to fly back.
R: Wow! That sounds awful but I’ll be honest: I said no to an option in Thailand once because I’d had glandular fever and I was exhausted, and had flown to Switzerland, the Caribbean, India and…er…Wales in the past two months. What I’d give for those opportunities again – they just don’t exist for most models anymore!
C: I know! It’s painful.
R: So I remember being told about you when I was scouted. I was told that, at 15, you’d done really really well but then you’d grown a pair of boobs a couple of years later and you just couldn’t get that high editorial work anymore. Is that true?
C: Sounds about right. I sometimes feel I started in the wrong time, because look at Lara Stone.
R: It’s true! You’re so Lara. Or rather – she’s so you. I had a similar thing. When I started, I had an alien head on a stickman’s body while mags were full of curvy Brazilians. Then I rounded up at 19 and all the big models were suddenly alien-faced stickwomen!
Sadly for you, boobs are rarely ‘allowed’ in fashion. Did that hinder your career?
C: Hmm. Well it stopped me getting a lot of high fashion work, but of course I got loads of lingerie jobs and Playboy because of them. I’d have to go around my castings with two portfolios: one with the boobs for lingerie & editorial, and one without for the commercial clients.Charlotte in some tropical location for Playboy…While male model mentally repeats matra ‘Margaret Thatcher naked on a cold day’.
To be honest, I love having done both spheres of modelling. When I did high fashion, I was wearing red contact lenses for Alexander McQueen and a Burqa for Hussein Chalayan – all that crazy stuff. But then once I got into commercial and lingerie, I was doing mad things like pushing a Hugh Hefner double down the catwalk. It’s great to have done it all.
R: Looking back at your career, you have any regrets about the nudity or sexual stuff? Not that you should! It’s just, you know, with the Internet now an image can haunt you forever.
C: No! Actually, my husband is so proud of it all. He’s put up loads of my old pictures around our house. I suppose lots of people in my village don’t know about my job and see me first and foremost as a Mum, so when they come round they can be quite shocked! I’m proud of it all.
I did do a casting with a certain infamous [porn-tached – R] photographer. I came out of that casting feeling so grubby. I had taken my top and bra off, and while I have no issue with being topless, I just didn’t feel good about the casting afterwards. I was rolling around on the floor and at one point I said ‘I won’t take my knickers off’ and he said, “Oh you’re no fun.” I felt like I wasn’t going to get a job, just because I wouldn’t get my fanny out. Oh and you sign a release form before the pictures are taken, so I live in fear of those pictures turning up in one of his books. That’s probably the only nudey regret that springs to mind.
R: You’re a proud Mum to two daughters. How is modelling as a Mother?
C: It’s harder, because you don’t want to head into town and miss out on time with your kids for a casting. But I do want to get back into it. I kind of feel like, if I look back at this moment when I’m older, I’ll regret it not getting back out there. On the other hand, it’s a funny place to be in your mid-30s. You’re not young enough for young stuff, and you’re not old enough for older stuff.
R: Well you look amazing. Your body does not look like you cooked up two humans in there, and your skin is taut and glowing!
C: That would be working for Nicola Joss. We do facials that are like a workout for your skin.
R: Sign me up for one!
Thank you Charlotte – I think I’ll be seeing you on castings soon!
Check out Charlotte’s amazing pics on her Instagram
Check out Modeltypeface on Facebook!