Joan Smalls has landed a coveted spot on the cover of ELLE‘s January 2014 issue. The choice has been a range of firsts: Smalls has never been on the cover of U.S. ELLE before, photographer Michael Thompson will have his first cover and spread in the publication, and ELLE has decided to go against its usual TV or movie star cover ways to feature a model who has recently spoken out about racial diversity in modeling.
Smalls, who was the first black model to be signed as the face of Estée Lauder, has said, “People hide behind the word ‘aesthetic.’ They say, ‘Well, it’s just that designer’s aesthetic.’ But when you see eighteen 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.”
ELLE has named Smalls’ feature in the magazine “The Return of the Supermodel.” After seeing the pictures in the shoot, we couldn’t agree more. Smalls is wearing Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci for the cover, and other looks include Chanel, Jacquard, and Gucci. The full story and spread will hit newsstands on December 17.
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(Photos via Elle)