Gracing both runway and stage, model and award-winning soprano Isabella Moore talks confidence and the importance of feeling seen.
Possessing a combination of poise, glamour and authenticity, Isabella Moore has years of operatic training and performance in her repertoire. She found a new audience at New Zealand Fashion Week 2019, where she walked for the likes of Juliette Hogan and Paris Georgia, providing welcome visibility for bodies that have historically been sidelined by the industry and media. Now signed with industry powerhouse IMG Australia and local agency Unique, Isabella reflects on style, representation and her interaction with fashion to date.
Growing up, did you feel ‘seen’ by fashion media and brands?
I felt like my body was ‘wrong’. I couldn’t fit the ‘cool’ clothing brands my friends were wearing. I was body-shamed by the lack of diversity into believing that my body wasn’t meant for fashion [and] felt I needed to change my body to suit what I was seeing in fashion media, based on the size of the models in advertising campaigns. I’m sure I’m speaking for a lot of women out there when I say I felt overlooked and unimportant; that fashion was exclusively for women who looked a certain way and fit a certain size.
Do you think the industry provides enough clothing options across the size spectrum?
Not yet. After my positive NZFW experience in 2019 I am hopeful for the future, but I believe the change is only just starting. Curve models are now being included in runway line-ups, but not for every brand. So far, only a select few have decided to be size inclusive and even then, there are different kinds of curve! Ideally, I would like to feel confident enough to walk into any store around the country and know that I can find my size, but that’s still not the case.
Do you think the fashion industry has improved with regards to diversity and inclusion?
In 2018 I walked one NZFW show for a plus-size brand – which was amazing, but it was only one show! In 2019 I walked 11 times for eight shows, with the majority of those being for standard-size designers who aren’t specifically catering to plus-size [people]. I still have to stop myself thinking, “I’m so thankful to be allowed to walk the runway for ‘standard-size’ designers/brands.” This mindset is toxic because the media/fashion industry has conditioned me to believe I don’t belong on the runway when really I most definitely deserve to be included.
Who inspires you?
My mother Sina Wendt is a courageous, fierce and intelligent woman who I’ve always aspired to be like. [Tongan plus-size model and the first Polynesian woman to feature in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue] Veronica Pome’e is slaying it representing Pacific people internationally. She’s supportive and generous with her time and I’m happy to call her a friend. I’m also proud of fellow singers who continue fighting despite the harsh nature of the industry; opera is a seriously rough industry to crack and I know the struggle.
This featured originally in Fashion Quarterly Issue 4, 2019.