Posted by The Fashion Editor at Large

Oops. I forgot to say the world's top HAND and body part model. But, you know, I really feel it is my duty to bring you stories that illustrate the other side of the fashion bubble. There is a lot more to being "in fashion" than being a designer, catwalk model, photographer, stylist or fashion editor.

Gemma does Avon nail colours

One of the many careers available is as a body-part model. A fact that was highlighted to me when I came across a party invitation in my email in-box from Body London sent by a certain Gemma Howorth. Upon rsvp-ing, and then cancelling due to snow, I eventually met the 25 year old for breakfast this morning and I had a most entertaining start to the day with a charming girl who is so obsessed with the upkeep of her perfect hands she wears white cotton gloves (99p from the Boots the chemist) while on holiday (see below). "That is on top of wearing factor 60 on my hands," she confides, before adding "People nudge each other and point when I lie on the beach. They think I've got leprosy or something. I also moisturize my hands 30 times a day. They get thirsty...In fact they are thirsty now." Then from behind me Gemma spots Pat McGrath (the world's top make-up artist) pop into the cafe for her coffee (she lives around the corner from me) and practically fizzes in excitement.

Gemma sunbathing in her white gloves on Ibiza

I'm laughing, she's laughing, but she's deadly serious too. Hand modelling is big business, lucrative enough that her hands are insured at Lloyds of London for seven figures. Her hands are so precious to her that famously at her wedding 18 months ago, she asked her husband not to squeeze her hand too tightly for a wedding photo, saying it loudly it enough for all her wedding guests to hear. They laughed.

Gemma modelling for British Vogue

Gemma Howorth started her agency Body London a year ago with three models, herself being the "top hands" of the agency, oh and she models her feet and legs too. Now she has 70 models on her books, and in the last six months her men Renato and Ashley have become the top earners thanks to demand for gorgeous man-hands for Blackberry and i-Phone commercials.

In the last year Gemma has been the hands of Kate Moss, Lily Cole for Rimmel, (see below), Lizzie Jagger, Natalie Imbruglia, Kylie Minogue and has worked for Vogue and YSL. "I slip my arms around them from behind and become their hands," she says. "I think its important for girls to know that you don't have to be stick thin to be a successful model." The earning power is good too - a top body part model can earn between £200 and £2000 a day depending on the client. It's not all fashion and beauty: Gemma has been the hands of Sainsbury's and Felix cat food too. She recently spent several hours breaking a chocolate bar for a TV commercial. "What I didn't get was that the model before me said she couldn't do it. How can you NOT be able to break a chocolate bar??!!". It seems there may well be sme diva's in hand-modellling... Not Gemma though.

Gemma's hands masquerading as Lily Cole's hands

"One of the funniest shoots I had to do recently involved my lying on top of the actress Rose Byrne and placing my little finger in her mouth for Max Factor," she says, "Rose was so much fun to work with."

Gemma's hand on Rose Byrne's mouth for Max Factor

A less funny incident was when a naked gold-painted model who was sitting on a high stool with her back to the camera, while Gemma had her arms wrapped around her from front to back, fell asleep on her. "I was basically sitting between her legs, and her breath stank of alcohol."

Gemma at work on a shoot for Intelligent Life

"I did a YSL campaign shot by Solve Sundsbo and they has this absolutely stunning supermodel and I was the hand model... I have to get my hands and arms to look like they belonged on her body. Not as easy as one would think! So I have to crouch down behind her and get my arms underneath her armpits and make them look like they should belong on her body; this is a very common position for a hand model. It is extremely hard as the model is constantly moving and I cannot see what my hands are doing. But as I have been doing it for so long, I know exactly which poses to do and what works."

So how did she get started in the business? "A family friend told me a I had beautiful hands when I was 15, and took me to an agency. I started doing hand modelling and thought it would be a job to finance me through my studies, but I became quite good at it. After doing a marketing degree at LCF I came back to my beginnings and set up the agency."

Essential hand model skills are, according to Gemma, steadiness, patience, great-looking hands and nails, being able to hit your mark under immense pressure and a good, easy-going personality.

Out of curiousity - oh OK, because my nails are crap and her are amazing - I ask Gemma for her hand-care tips and here they are:

1. My wonder product is almond oil. SO good for hands. I also advise my models to eat a handful of almonds a day.
2. For my cuticles I religiously use Phenomen Oil by Jessica
3. L'Occitanne Hand Creme
4. Chanel nail colours. I love them!
5. Drink a lot of milk
6. Avoid doing housework.

Gemma is one of the most energised, positive and together 25 year olds I have ever met, and I wish her all the success with her business.



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