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