Model memories

WHEN fashion consultants at world famous corset makers Spirella needed an extra model to promote their underwear they looked out over the factory floor and one petite woman caught their eye. Shirley Green, now aged 67, had been working as a trainee machin

WHEN fashion consultants at world famous corset makers Spirella needed an extra model to promote their underwear they looked out over the factory floor and one petite woman caught their eye.

Shirley Green, now aged 67, had been working as a trainee machinist in the Letchworth factory from the age of 15. She had been there a year when they asked her to become a model.

"There were some very lovely women working there so I was surprised and honoured they picked me," she said.

"I think it was because they already had larger models, but were looking for someone smaller and I was the right size.


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"I had a 32-inch bust back then so I must have been one of the original size zeros!"

She embarked on the tour in 1955 modelling in fashion shows up and down the country.

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"Before the tour the furthest I had been was London, so it was like an adventure to me. It was very exciting. I loved it."

Yesterday (Wednesday) Shirley appeared on Channel 4's Paul O'Grady Show talking about her modelling days.

Shirley, who lives with her husband John in Takeley - and celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary later this year, said: "I was nervous about appearing on the show when the researcher contacted me, but now I think it's not something I will ever get the chance to do again."

She added: "I believe you should always grab hold of any opportunities which come your way with both hands."

You weren't anybody unless you had a Spirella corset in the '50s and '60s. They enjoyed an international reputation and are rumoured to have supplied members of the Royal family.

"The corsets were so popular because they were made to measure and when you put one on you felt so elegant, but the trade died because they got too expensive," said Shirley.

After touring Shirley went back to her job as a machinist which she enjoyed. She was there for 11 years before leaving to work at Dorothy Perkins in Bishop's Stortford where she also modelled in local fashion shows.

She went on to work in a hardware store also in Stortford.

"I went from bra cups to tea cups," she said.

Shirley has now retired, but says she has fond memories of her time as an underwear model.

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