View Full Version : (Plus-size) Sophie Dahl on VIDEO

11th August 2006, 00:22
<br>With viewers in the U.K. ecstatic over Charlotte Coyle's documentary, and U.S. audiences longing to see it, there hasn't been this much British-envy since the Royal Wedding of 1981. Some American visitors are even ruing the Revolutionary War, and wishing that they were still part of Her Majesty's Empire, just so they could have watched Charlotte's program.

Although we have no clips of Miss Coyle's show to provide at the moment, we offer the following video as the next-best thing, and as a consolation for North American visitors.<p><center>* * *</center><p>Charlotte made an interesting reference during her <i>Scotsman</i> interview, when she stated, <i>"I also want to open a magazine and see someone bigger who is a positive role model, such as Sophie Dahl used to be."</i>

With the possible exception of Emme, Miss Dahl was the first true plus-size supermodel, and when she was fuller-figured, she was more gorgeous than anyone else who has earned that title. Sophie's baby-soft, rounded facial features (uncannily reminiscent of Lillian Russell's) and voluptuous figure made her the perfect living embodiment of timeless beauty.<p><center><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/sd/video03.jpg"></center><p>Sophie achieved true celebrity status in Britain, and walked the runway in fashion shows for major British designers. No wonder goddesses like Charlotte still consider her a role model.

Tragically, Sophie eventually diminished herself into just another minus-size waif. But to give fans a taste of what made Miss Dahl so popular, we are pleased to share the following, four-minute video clip of Sophie during the most curvaceous phase of her career, when she was at the very peak of her beauty.

The video dates from 1998, when Sophie's career was gaining momentum. It is part of a British exposť of the fashion world titled <i>Dazzled,</i> and the piece is unfortunately rather joyless. It contrasts sharply with the more celebratory PBS video of Kate Dillon, which we recently posted.

But the difference in tone between the two narratives is somewhat understandable. When Miss Dillon became a plus-size model, she had a significant American full-figure fashion industry supporting her. In the U.S., plus-size modelling was already an established field, and Kate enjoyed the company of curvy celebrity peers such as Mia Tyler. But in England, at the time of Sophie's emergence, "outsize" modelling was still a very marginal affair, and Miss Dahl was, in a very real sense, all alone. This makes her subsequent apostasy somewhat more understandable (if no less regrettable).

It is also worth comparing the downbeat tone of this clip with the celebratory quality that has underscored more recent minus-to-plus transformations, such as that of Crystal Renn. The same aspects of Sophie's career that this documentary laments are those that contribute to Crystal's popularity.

It all proves Charlotte's point about the deficient state of size-acceptance in Britain, as compared with the U.S.

Nevertheless, the following video is aesthetically priceless, as it shows just how gorgeous Miss Dahl was, while she was a plus-size model. The clip includes footage from a U2 video in which the model appeared,<p><center><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/sd/video02.jpg"></center><p>a rehearsal of a play starring Sophie,<p><center><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/sd/video01a.jpg"></center><p>as well as a behind-the-scenes glimpse of her groundbreaking shoot for Swedish retailer H&M.<p><center><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/sd/video04.jpg"></center><p>- <a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/video/sdahl.wmv">Click here to launch video</a> (56 Mb!)

12th August 2006, 21:53
It's wonderful to see the curvy Sophie once more. The video shows exactly why she caused such a sensation when she made her debut. She was as far above any plus-size model who came before her as Mode was above any "plus" magazines that preceded it.

Even though the tone of that documentary isn't as positive as it should be, it's a good example of how a plus-size modelling documentary could be done right. It presents Sophie in a suitably "epic" way (for lack of a better word); especially with the music-video intro. It introduces her as a legend in any creative field might be introduced. The trouble with the Curve documentary is that it approached the models too prosaically. This video clip indicates a better method. The most famous models could be filmed one by one, as a pantheon of goddesses, each with a dramatic intro, showing them in silhouette, or something like that, and an overview of her career signfiicance. "The classical ideal reincarnated...Barbara Brickner" [dissolve from a shot of an Aphrodite statue, to a shot of Barbara posing]; "A model with the face of an angel...Shannon Marie" [a painting transforms into a photograph of the model]. Something like that.

Anyway, I found the full-length version of that 1997 U2 video starring Sophie. It's called "Last Night on Earth," set in a post-apocalyptic London. I wish they'd given Sophie a better dress, but I suppose the eschatological theme warrants unglamorous fashion. There are a few more headshots of Sophie, beyond what you see in the documentary's excerpt.


The music is an acquired taste, but you can always watch with the sound off.