In arts and music, Swindon has earned a fairly respectable name; but this is not yet the case where fashion is concerned, although Andrew Holden from Haydon Wick is flying the flag for the town and Britain as a designer in New York.
Now a budding fashion model in the United States speaks to Emma Kimber about her memories of her early life in Swindon.
Lindsey Brown, 20, left, is putting a little bit of Swindon style on the catwalk. Born at the old Princess Margaret Hospital, she spent her early childhood in Freshbrook, when her father was based at RAF Fairford with the US Airforce.
“I remember going to school at Windmill Hill where the headmaster Mr Messenger used to always come and get me from the playground because I wanted to play with my brothers in the area for older kids,” she reminisces. “I used to love eating blackberries straight from the bushes and trying to climb trees in Lydiard park; I was quite small so it was more like my brothers pulling me up.
“I really liked the Oasis swimming pool with its huge water slide and I desperately miss the fish and chips.”
Far away from the world she keeps safe in her memories, Lindsey now lives in Virginia, studying marketing and fashion merchandising at university and models in New York and Washington DC. She wants to complete a BA degree and a Masters in her field, and is confident that this is the industry for her.
Commenting on the cat walk size controversy, Lindsey says the fashion industry is slowly catching on that few real people are stick thin and needs to appeal to the real world. “In the US I feel there is a big focus on ‘beauty.’ But they are just catching on that not everyone is a size 2 and that all sizes should be celebrated.
“I’m considered a plus-sized or full-sized model here, so while work is coming in, it’s not quite in the same volume as a smaller person would experience.”
Her modelling is currently tied to the east coast, within easy travelling of her college but she’s hoping work will take her to California and one day to Europe.
London’s fashion industry is renowned for its cutting edge new designers and for spotting fresh new talent in the form of models, designers and trends. But how does America compare? “I feel Londoners have a more realistic view of what a real woman’s body looks like, so I would love to one day work over in Britain and perhaps Milan. London’s fashion scene is booming and their Fashion Week is amazing; it’s definitely somewhere for newcomers.
“I would never rule out moving back. If a good opportunity comes about, I’m there, consider my bags packed.”
Those who knew Lindsey in Swindon will remember a small, shy child – she left for the USA when she was six – but her ambition has certainly given her the boost needed to develop her career. She said, “modelling has taught me to be a more confident and outgoing person. I can still be quite shy, but in this industry you have to learn to break out of your shell.
“I really admire model Adriana Lima who I watched a couple years back in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. She made me think about taking up modelling. It was something about how confident she was walking down the runway. I wanted to learn that.
“I also admire Crystal Renn, a plus-sized model. She’s such a beautiful woman and shows that size truly doesn’t matter – I would love to meet her one-day.”
With a German mother and an American father and after spending her early years in Swindon, Lindsey is a stylish mesh of her backgrounds.
An embodiment of eclectic, Lindsey feels that her personal style can’t be defined. “My mum is a flight attendant, so wherever she goes I ask her to bring something from the country she is flying to.”
Her tip for women looking for the right garments to wear is: “make sure things fit. If it doesn’t fit your body well now, it will never look good. Fashion is made to be creative, so have fun with it.”
Wise words from a young woman who is definitely going places.
• For those who attended Windmill Hill Primary School in the late 1980s, and knew Lindsey’s two brothers: Ian is a father of two sons and works in armaments, and Stephan is father of a baby girl and is an alcohol trading law enforcement officer.