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Below is an interview and cover from The Sunday Times Style Magazine. Faye discusses her arrival on the scene with Francesca Hornak over coffee in Hôtel Costes in Paris.
You can also read more about Faye in the about section of her blog by clicking here.
Couture catwalks and awards ceremonies are all in a day’s work for Faye Dinsmore. The farm girl from Co Donegal, Ireland, explains how she stays grounded
In person, Faye Dinsmore looks like the girl in the movie who starts off dorky, then — ta-da! — gets contacts and a blow-dry and turns out to be hot. Striding into the Hôtel Costes in Paris, wearing leggings, biker boots and geek-chic specs, she turns the snootiest of heads. On camera, she is a model-booker’s dream. It’s not that she’s a blank canvas; rather that the starry eyes, square jaw and willowy body easily morph from couture clotheshorse to lads’-mag babe. Perhaps this explains her mild identity crisis.
Now 23, Dinsmore started modelling relatively late. She was spotted in 2008 outside Trinity College Dublin, where she studied French and classics. Surely, as a 5ft 10in Mischa Barton lookalike, she had considered modelling? “No. I grew up in the middle of nowhere and had acne as a teenager. So, no, this was never my dream. I feel very lucky.” In late 2010, after graduation, Dinsmore moved to Paris where she signed with IMG, alongside Freja Beha, Gisele Bündchen and Heidi Klum. Lucrative contracts followed, but also couture catwalks and glossy shoots around the world.
Dinsmore is now the most popular Irish person on Facebook. Nobody seems more shocked than Dinsmore. Eyes like headlamps, she rattles away in her bemused lilt: “You know the part on chocolate ads when the girl falls back on this silky-brown, chocolatey thing? They drop you on that from high wires. When I filmed Galaxy, I had to do it so often I got whiplash. Or, imagine being in St Lucia — the hottest place ever — and running up the beach in a giant Vera Wang. That’s why I started my blog: it’s a diary of the craziness.”
Ah, the blog, Dinsmore’s other runaway success. Created to help keep in touch, fayedinsmore.com has gathered a global following. She is now the most popular Irish person on Facebook, with 200,000 fans (Ronan Keating has 35,000). “It just went viral,” she says. “It’s weird, but I guess people love seeing what models get up to behind the scenes.”
The blog reveals a sharp mind and a candid voice that jar with the goofy backstage shots. Dinsmore posts controversial articles on the Irish economy and Chinese parenting, and adeptly opens debates. Her knack for commanding traffic would make web editors weep. “Fashion or nudity?” the blog bellows, flagging up semipornographic model shots and eliciting thousands of comments. “Is fashion elitist?” “Are models too thin?” She’s for ever asking, never answering. Is this the secret to social networking? “I don’t like to waffle,” she replies.
Dinsmore has lately become a patron for Irish style, launching Ireland’s Most Influential in Fashion awards. “I noticed I didn’t meet many people from home in the fashion industry, so I decided to do a little awards ceremony,” she explains. “People could nominate someone, and then vote for anyone — just once. I wanted to recognise photographers, hairdressers — all those people. It went huge, we had hundreds of thousands of hits. The event is on March 31; it’s going to be really good.” Where does she find time to organise an awards ceremony? “I’m sure it can’t be that hard.”
It’s a far cry from Dinsmore’s biblical-sounding roots. She grew up on a remote coastal farm in Co Donegal, the second-youngest of 14 children. No wonder she’s good at getting heard. “My parents are proud. It’s funny — imagine this 80-year-old farmer dad reading fashion magazines. But I love that I grew up in the country, knowing nothing about this world. Like, at Christmas, I went to a fancy party in London, and the next day I was home in wellies on the farm.”
She confides that models use the term ‘real people’ to describe us uglies
Grounding, for sure, but has it contributed to the impostor complex that seems to hover around her? There’s an odd disconnect between Faye from the farm and Faye the model. “I’ll see photos of myself that other people say are beautiful, but I realise a picture of me is not me. That’s an hour of make-up, an hour of hair, God knows how much Photoshop. So when I walk down the street, I’m not the girl in that picture.” Surely she notices how people react in person? The waiter is flirting outrageously, asking if she’s “une modèle”. She bats the question away: “People assume anyone of a certain build is a model. There’s a difference between me in real life and me in pictures.”
For one so magnetic, she seems more comfortable observing others. “I’m curious about what clients want. At castings, I’ll speak only English so they assume I can’t understand French — just to hear what they say about me. Sometimes they’re nice, sometimes they’re, like, ‘Don’t like her!’” Which she seems cheery enough about.
To read the remainder of this interview please visit the Sunday Times subscription website