Joan Smalls Covers ‘W’ Magazine



I can’t tell you guys how many times I’ve seen a gorgeous model in a magazine or on the runway and thought to myself who IS that? and it’s turned out to be Joan Smalls. Suffice it to say, it’s happened  a lot. Which is why I was thrilled to see her on the cover of W Magazine’s July issue. They’ve dubbed her “The New Face Of Fashion,” (along with Karlie Kloss, who appears on the alternate cover). In the issue both models pose for the demigod of all things photography and fashion, Steven Meisel. In addition to being an acclaimed photographer for US and Italian Vogue, he rocked and shocked the world back in 1992 with his photos in Madonna’s book, Sex. See what he did with Joan (who, right now, is probably somewhere planning world domination) inside.

Joan Smalls for W. Magazine, photographed by Stephen Mesiel

Super Modern Supermodels

“I just have something to prove,” Smalls says. “I know I’m representing a group—black, Latin, whatever you want to put me with—and I want to show that they are beautiful the way they are. I think that’s really important for our youth to see.”W Magazine






Now the writers over at Fashionista made a really interesting point about Joan and Karlie’s cover photos. They noted that W. Magazine features the two women as near-twins in appearance. I agree; from the glowing dirty-blonde hair to the natural, vibrant make-up the two women bare a striking resemblance. I think it’s safe to assume that W. wanted it this way, but it’s interesting to think about why. When I read the Fashionista post entitled, “Joan Smalls and Karlie Kloss Look Incredible (And Alike?) On The Cover Of W’s July Issue” I immediately thought of a classroom discussion I’d had way back in the day on women of color in media, and how they’re often presented in a particularly non-ethnic way, especially if they’re sharing the stage or ad with a woman or women who appear to be white.


But I’m not sure we’re seeing a race issue here; the covers might point more to a certain general uniformity in the fashion world, at least in terms of the “look” models should have. And even this idea is complicated; those who are really into fashion (I’m a dabbler, as of right now) would likely disagree, and argue that diversity exists on many levels in this world. And others might argue that W. was just trying to create a particular type of cover. AKA these models look banging, leave it alone!

What do you guys think of the covers? Beautiful? Bizarre (the uncanny resemblances)? I think, a bit of both. But mainly, I’m glad to see the glory that is Joan Smalls on the cover.



I also enjoyed the article, which attempted to present the two models as around-the-way type girls who were once as unsure of their appearances as anyone else. Both Joan and Karlie seem happy to have been given a chance, and still a bit weirded out by the attention. It’s always cute when supermodels are all goofy and modest. Makes me feel better about their unnaturally distinctive cheekbones. :)

Peep the gallery for Karlie Kloss’s amazing shots. Fun fact: Karlie used to be a ballet dancer.

“It used to be something that I really disliked about myself, being tall and lanky, but it turned out to be the greatest asset I have—how uniquely weird I am.”W. Magazine


“It used to be something that I really disliked about myself, being tall and lanky, but it turned out to be the greatest asset I have—how uniquely weird I am.”W. Magazine

  • Andi

    Holy cow, in that first photo I thought she was a very tan Jennifer Lopez, both of these ladies are absolutely gorgeous, and it’s nice to see a top model with some curves (she’s not “curvy” by a long shot compared to us average-and-proud women but she’s got more curves on her than most top models) :)

  • Andi, thanks for the comment. Joan, like J-Lo, is of Puerto Rican descent; I can see the resemblance too. And yes– gorgeousness!

  • jr

    YES JOAN SMALLS!!!!!!!

    the big question is will Anna Wintour follow suit?!!!


    • jr thanks for the comment. I think, pretty soon, she won’t have much of a choice, lol. #TeamJoan

  • Krissy

    WOW!! Joan is gorgeous! What a face!

    Even though the faces change, I think the standards of beauty are pretty standard and that is why the covers look so much a like (and they are both wearing white, so I think it was intentional). No matter your race, high cheekbones, wide set eyes, symmetry, the “beauty triangle” (cheekbone to chin ratio) is pretty much the same.

    That said, both women have all that going on, but Joan is especially breath taking.

    • Krissy, I agree– Joan is, like, hard to look at sometimes. She’s too much! Thanks for your thoughts.

  • Ben@pr

    First of all, I’m very proud of my fellow Puerto Rican Joan Smalls. You are making your tiny Island very proud. Second, I really liked this article of high fashion and I’m enjoying your points of view, analysis and writing style Shannon, keep’em coming (high-fashion articles). Regarding the “similarity” of these two super-models covers I don’t think is has nothing to do with racial issues at all. In high-fashion photo spreads many realities are crossed and a world of risks takes place. I see it from the perspective that Joan as a black Latina woman can pull off effortlessly looks intended for white woman such as hair color and make-up. It shows her versatility despite being non-white. I really liked the photo spread and the article from W. Eventually, Joan will land the cover of American Vogue and she already landed the cover of Vogue Italia.

  • Ben@pr, glad you enjoyed the post. We got Boricua love over here at PITNB :) I think I brought up the question of race so we might think about a certain standard of beauty– even as you put it in your comments “Joan… can pull off… looks intended for white women.” Is THAT look the standard of beauty? Just a question! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. They’re ALWAYS appreciated.

    • Ben@pr

      Personally and as Latino man I don’t think white people are the standard of beauty but in the fashion world definitely white models are the norm. Right now the only high-fashion new super model who is black I can think of is Joan Smalls. It’s like they have to be really extraordinary to make it if they are non-white.

  • Maria

    Joan is only half Puerto Rican and never describes herself that way she calls her identity multi-ethinic and it’s true.

  • Maria, I kind of thought she did, based on her quote at the beginning of the post. I know she’s black and Latina and she seems to know that as well; but yes, I don’t think she ever claims one without claiming the other. And I think that’s probably the right thing to do.

    Thanks for weighing in here!