The worlds #1 ranked model, Joan Smalls, is already having a great 2014 and the year hasn’t even started yet. Smalls is the cover girl for Vogue Germany, Elle France and the US version of Elle for their January issues. She is one of the few models the magazine has featured in the past couple of years. While this is another plus for her career, what could it mean for her fellow supes?
With the exception of Kate Upton, and occasionally someone like Heidi Klum, models have been mostly absent from the covers of American fashion magazines. The shift started in the early 2000s when actresses took over, and then singers and personalities and now even the First Lady. With Smalls on the cover of a major US magazine, perhaps that signals the return of the supermodel to the newsstands. If so, I welcome it, if only to break up the monotony of the same bunch of actresses, and Beyonce and Rihanna, that get rotated onto these things. Not only is this a big deal for Joan, this is also the first time that photographer Michael Thompson has shot for the mag. I hope this isn’t his last.
The 25 year-old has been raking in the dough, and snatching campaigns for H&M, Gucci and Estee Lauder. She’s also walked in some of the biggest fashion shows, including Dior, Chanel, Tom Ford and even the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. She’s a favorite of Givenchy designer Riccardo Tisci, whom she wears on the cover and naturally, like every other model, she wants to move into acting to “entertain people on a different level.” Despite all of her successes, Smalls is still aware of the lack of diversity in fashion, especially on the runway. She says that one of the issues is that people hide behind the word “aesthetic” to explain why designers will have mostly, if not all, white models in their shows.
“They say, ‘Well, it’s just that designer’s aesthetic.’ But when you see 18 seasons in a row and not one single model outside a certain skin color…? There are people in the industry who are advocates, who support diversity. And there are people who do not. I don’t get it. Beauty is universal. These doors have to open.”
As those doors open wider, I hope we see more of Joan and her peers not just inside magazines but covering them. You can see the rest of her editorial and read the rest of the interview when the issue hits newsstands on December 17.