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'I became a catwalk model at 33'

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The fashion industry is frequently accused of ageism, but a Dundee-based model is set to change all that when she makes her debut on the London Fashion Week catwalk at the age of 33.

Elaine Harris, a marketeer-turned-freelance model has been cast by new couture label Kolchagov Barba to showcase its designs on the runway later this month.

In an industry that places a 10-year shelf life on most of its catwalk stars - who often start work in their mid-teens - Harris is breaking new ground.

Remarkably, Harris, who is mum to a 20-month-old daughter, only began modelling earlier this year, after she was asked to take part in a bridal shoot as a favour for a photographer friend.

The shoot won a photography competition and then in April she was chosen over thousands of other would-be models to make it to the final of Top Model UK.

"I'd never considered modelling before," Harris told Stylist.co.uk. "I probably look better now than I did 16 years ago and that's partly a confidence thing. I also started to enjoy working out a little for the first time ever after the birth of my daughter and my body's now in the best shape its ever been."

As word spread, Harris got more modelling offers and quickly began amassing hundreds of Facebook fans, which gave her the push she needed to quit her full-time job.

"After I did my first shoot I just thought 'why not?'," she explained. "I gave up my marketing career because I thought 'if I don't do this now, I never will'.

"As you get older you get a thicker skin and when I get knockbacks, I'm just not as bothered as I would have been when I was younger."

As well as being chosen for the LFW runway, Harris has modelled for commercial clients including Honda and has been flown across Europe to star in campaigns for Italian fashion brand Fullstop and Swedish bike company Thule.

She hopes to be an inspiration to other women who fear that it's too late to pursue a dream of modelling.

"People think 'I could never do that' because the industry is filled with people of a certain age but it goes to show that if you put your mind to it, it could happen for you."

How will you be wearing your eyeliner next season? Will culottes make another appearance on the catwalk? What do models dine on backstage? Stylist's fashion and beauty teams will have the answers to these questions and more at Stylist.co.uk/fashion-week as they report live from the shows in New York, London, Milan and Paris.

Words: Anna Pollitt. Images: Lawrence Juliussen Photography, Sven Van Sweeden, Michael Carver, Peter Jaay, Manifique Nails-Beauty

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