Wannabe Christchurch models forced to change in carpark and left fighting for refund after dream turns nightmare

The owner of a Christchurch modelling agency that owes three young women nearly $3000 is claiming the company is broke and has no means to pay the girls.

Denyse Saunders is well known in Canterbury circles for her modelling school and local fashion shows.

But Claire Mclean, Tegan Andrews and Xavi Tamarapa know her as the woman behind the company that owes them more than $800 each, after their calling to the catwalk went horribly wrong.

All three were keen to try something new when they saw a Canterbury Fashion Week casting call for models of all shapes and sizes being advertised on Facebook.

They signed up, and the first step was to pay for a portfolio of pictures the agency would then use to market them.

However Xavi Tamarapa says the shoot was "not what we’d expected".

She says she was surprised there were no changing rooms – or stylist to help – with the five promised outfit changes.

"We had to actually get dressed in the carpark, and it was like open. And then all of like the traffic and stuff was just right there," she said.

They say they didn’t receive the promised hair and makeup changes either.

The photographer was Denyse’s son James Saunders, who later asked them for another $300 to have the photos printed.

They refused to pay the extra, but did attend a one-day "modelling course" included in their fee.

They then received an email from Denyse Saunders, accusing them of "bad mouthing" her, and notifying them they were no longer going to be on her books.

All three deny the claim, and say they asked for clarification about what was said and to whom.

"Still to this day we, we don’t know what we’ve apparently said," said Tegan Andrews.

"It was pretty clear that she already, [had] made her mind up."

With no modelling work and only a few sample photographs to show for their investment, the women took a case against Denyse, her son and the company – and won.

However, a year on, they’re yet to see their money.

The judgment was made against Densye Saunders’ company, of which she is sole shareholder and director.

In a statement issued through her lawyer, Denyse Saunders says she never personally saw any of the money, and that the fee was to cover the cost of the photographer – her son.

She also says the company is in the process of being wound up and is no longer trading.

Documents submitted to the Tribunal in June show Denyse was paid a $6545 dividend by the company from the 2016 year.

The ugly side of the business leaves pretty, innocent and naive hopefuls open to exploitation. Source: Fair Go