The possibility of Gemma Ward’s retirement from modelling has been looming dangerously in the fashion air like a giant fluffy pair of highly unstylish neon legwarmers for some time now. Rumours on the subject have ranged from the plausible to obscene: That she was to quit modelling in pursuit of Hollywood, that the devastation of her dear friend (and supposed lover), Heath Ledger, led her to depression/emotional eating, forcing her to quit, that she will quit Prada and the like in favour of plus sized modelling (can you spot the obscene one?). Finally however, that silly old highly excitable rumour mill can give up the speculations and head back to bed because Gemma Ward has officially announced through her agent that she has no plans to dive back into the modelling world. It’s over, folks. Gemma Ward is quitting the modelling industry. And it’s probably for the best. Hell, if I had half the amount of attention on my thighs as she does, I’d surely be in a straight jacket by now, rocking myself to sleep on an empty stomach.
Unsurprisingly, given the media’s obsession with weight, she regularly makes headlines for being either far too skinny or too ‘fat’; anorexic or a ‘roll model’. International fashion blog, Bryan Boy, hasn’t helped the publicity epidemic; whilst perhaps not saying anything particularly cruel himself (apart from that she could “Give Crystal Renn a run for her money,”) many commentors on his website have been vicious on being presented with paparazzi photos of the 22 year old sporting her new body. Insults include such comments as "homegurl needs a dose of jenny craig and were good to go." Whilst of course it’s clearly something only an idiot would say (if the subject matter wasn’t a clear enough indicator for you, you can tell by the terrible spelling and grammer), such remarks have – at least in part – been blamed for Gemma Ward's decision. Gracing the cover of Vogue for the first time at the tender age of 16 (alongside Gisele Bundchen, Natalia Vodianova and Karen Elson), it shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone that she’s put on a little weight in the last few years: It’s called puberty y’all. In the end, she looks healthy and rather than speculating on the whys, we should consider and celebrate the highlights of the wide-eyed Australian talent’s career.
The Perth-born beauty was originally discovered via Australian television series Search for a Supermodel. Remarkably, she didn’t make it into the finals but thanks to the small amount of publicity she received through the show, before long, she was signed to Vivien’s Model Management. Chris Fox (from Viven’s) remarked that her first impressions of the blonde haired, green eyed young lady were that she was simply “surreal, beautiful, very European, wide-set eyes, angelic, not a skerrick of makeup." Soon, with the help of Fox, Ward was strutting her stuff down Australian runways and a household name (in Australia). Within a year, the soon-to-be-supermodel signed to IMG and was plastered over magazines the world over. She made her runway debut at the Spring Prada show in Milan, all the while garnering masses attention due to her “alien” and “otherworldly” look. In July, 2007, she was named one of the highest paid models, according to Forbes (ranked #10).
Ward has been photographed by some of the best, including the Vogue regular Steven Meisel. In 2006, she played Grace Kelly to George Clooney’s Cary Grant in a Vanity Fair shoot, dressed to the hilt in old Hollywood glamour. She’s modelled for Valentino, Calvin Klein and Prada and stalked the most prestigious runways. The ethereal creature can lay claim to being on over 30 Vogue covers, i-D, W, Time Magazine’s Style & Design issue and Numero, to name just a few.
More recently, Ward starred in films The Stranger and Black Balloon alongside Liv Tyler and the highly respected Australian actress Toni Collette. Considering her highly successful crossover to film, it makes perfect sense for her to give up modelling in favour of a more rewarding (though perhaps not monetarily) career. Although, if she does decide to return to modelling, let’s hope that she’s welcomed with open arms because, despite what crap Lagerfeld and the like might feed us, the skin and bone phenomenon is passé. And truly? If you think Doutzen Kroes, Lara Stone or Gemma Ward are fat, you’re the one who needs a straight jacket.