Yes, that's the actual Mary Dransfield, the future Miss Universe winner!
Mary modelling our Self-Lined Seconde Peau Swimsuit in Sea Grass Blue.
There are a few perks to living in a regional city like Newcastle. One is the opportunity of working with super talented models before they move to Sydney and start charging thousands to get out of bed. I learned this in the early two-thousands when I used to enter sports modelling competitions in local nightclubs. Who did I become friends with backstage? None other than Jennifer Hawkins, when she was just starting to model.
I hadn't seen Jen around in a while (she had moved to Sydney, without letting me know!) when I switched on the TV and saw her being crowned as the winner of the Miss Universe pageant.
It is widely known that every finalist scores 10 of 10 for beauty and poise. All that separates the winner, is her cool head under pressure when she faces those interview questions. Don't we all know how it looks when they fail!
Newcastle—once Australia's most partisan, blue collar, unionised town—is the ultimate training ground for a Miss Universe hopeful. Nothing much shocks you, once you have lived here. As proof of this theory (if Jennifer Hawkins isn't enough), I have a special treat for you all. Here are Mary Dransfield's answers to some questions I threw her, as practice for her Miss Universe finals. No, she hasn't told me she is planning to enter. She hasn't even said she is moving to Sydney. I just know how things go with these Holly Golightly types. You only have to lose touch for a couple of weeks, and the next time you see them they're stars.
Steven: You have met me, so know I am older and shorter than most guys. What would I have to do in order to give up being a swimwear designer, and fly around the world being a male model instead?
Mary: Find someone with a machine that will stretch you out to the ideal male height, 6ft should be great. Let me know when you find one though, I need stretching too.
Mary modelling our special stay-at-home holiday season Plimsoll Line Swimsuit.
Steven: Is it true that fashion brands are getting stingy and that some are no longer giving their models lots and lots of cocaine?
Mary: No comment
[Editor's note: in a later email Mary has indicated complete ignorance of her entitlements under the award. If any agents are reading, please sign her up and protect her].
Steven: A lot of parents with young adult children will be reading this and feeling ripped off, that their own kids are lazy and ugly and not very charming. Is it something they did?
Mary: Hey, I’m pretty lazy too!
Mary in our Plimsoll Line Swimsuit
Steven: Compared to Pride, other brands all use slave labour and incinerate thousands of tonnes of stock they can’t sell, sending black smoke into the atmosphere. Do you feel bad about modelling for them?
Mary: Most brands I work with are vintage stores, including Chinchen st and Morris and Grant Vintage so I can’t comment on that.
Mary in our Plimsoll Line Swimsuit
Steven: If you spoke to a group of school kids about being a model, how would you break the news to them, that they can’t spend the money on lollies?
Mary: Did someone forget to have this talk with me? I’ve been spending mine on lollies!
Steven: I spent 10 years in university to get two degrees and a PhD, and am now lower down in the fashion world than you are, and you’re straight out of school. Is there anyone, anywhere, as stupid as me?
Mary: We are on two different paths. You have an awesome brand with beautiful swimwear and I just have a few photos from random brands and photographers, I think you’re doing better than me!
Steven: I’ve never understood why the fashion industry pays millions and billions to models when we could put the clothes we design on plastic dummies, and take photos of them instead. What am I not seeing here?
Mary: You don’t get to hear the funny jokes I have if you use a plastic dummy!
We think the Miss Universe judges are in for a treat if they meet this plucky Novocastrian. Working with Mary was absolute riot, and at times beautiful, and even reflective. Already my wife Kerry, wants to make an artwork from her (a portfolio of Kerry's paintings can be found here), but like me with my brand shots, she had want to move fast. When Mary is discovered, she will have artists knocking at her door too, for the sheer range of expressive poses and penetrating looks she has mastered.
I got to her when she was just starting out, and was willing to accept a swimsuit I made her as part-payment. There's actually a short video on youtube where I film myself talking while sewing some of the seams. It's not the actual swimsuit, because she thought she was an 8 but in actual fact is a size-6. (Remember everyone, if you are between sizes, choose the smaller, not the larger, because swimwear looks better when stretched.)
Being an owner of a Pride swimsuit, and having done an interview for me, makes Mary the first ever subject in a series of interviews I will be conducting, my "Proud Owner" series, all with proud owners of Pride. I have a few in the pipeline and many more planned.
So how about you? Are you up for the challenge? Send me an email with a photo of yourself in your Pride swimsuit, and I will respond with some questions, tailored as curve balls for you.
Mary at home with her Self-Lined Seconde Peau Swimsuit in Sea Grass Blue.
If you want to book Mary for a modelling job, do what I did, and message her directly on Instagram.
While I find it delightful that most of her work has been for vintage and slow fashion outfits like ours, I'm not here to hold her back if you're from Cotton On or Asos. What you don't pay your workers, you might pay to Mary—and knowing her, she'll pay your workers instead.
The Plimsoll Line Swimsuit that Mary modelled for us is our tribute to the most sustainable vacation decision you could possibly make. Learn the inspiration for it on the Plimsoll Line page.