Modeling agency where models have to be ugly before being signed

Most modelling agencies require their talent to strike an exciting look, but that is not the case with the Ugly Models, a London based modeling agency where models are expected to look ugly to be signed on the label’s platform.

Ugly Models specialicises in representing people of any shape or size, with tattoos, piercings, or plugs, anything as long as they don’t look ‘bog-standard’.

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Their stand-out looks make the them popular with designers looking to add some diversity to their catwalks – and several have already been called up for London Fashion Week, which started yesterday.

These ugly modelmake eye-catching additions to the perfectly honed or androgynous models that typically feature at fashion’s annual showcase in London.

“It’s celebrating diversity really and it’s bringing a bit more light to fashion instead of just using the bog-standard models,” agency owner Marc French told AFP.

He cited the example of French actor Gerard Depardieu. ‘I mean look at him: he’s so full of character and charisma. He becomes sexy because he’s so cool and he’s so different.’

Founded 50 years ago, Ugly occupies trendy open-plan space in west London featuring a baroque sofa, brushed aluminium computers and walls studded with photos of models.

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Among them were some tough-looking guys.

Chris, for example, a former soldier with arms as thick as logs, posed shirtless with a 50-year-old brunette in a two-piece suit.

Kris Chesney, an ex-rugby player with Toulon and Saracens, is a man mountain at nearly two metres (over six feet) tall and weighing 135 kilogrammes (almost 300 pounds).

With his shaved head, tattooed arms, rugged face, and body bearing the marks of countless scrums, he is perhaps an unlikely male model.

“It’s a new journey, something interesting, like a challenge,” he said.

Others are on more of a personal mission.

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Sheerah Ravindren, a petite 22-year-old model just 1.61 metres tall, comes from Sri Lanka and proclaims herself a “militant immigrant model”.

Sporting a bare belly between baggy jeans and black top, she has a right nostril piercing and plenty of positive attitude.

“I’m a woman of colour. Growing up, I’ve never seen people that look like me in media, in fashion.”

The agency is however eager to counter any perception that it cynically exploits its models for their peculiarities.

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