Boricua morena! Joans Smalls, the stunning Puerto Rican supermodel who famously danced backup in Beyoncé's "Partition" video, covers Lucky's May issue and talks growing up country on the small isle.
“Today everyone is all about organic this, organic that—but that’s just how I grew up, eating from our plantain, banana and orange trees.”
Smalls tells the magazine that although she was raised on a small farm in Hatillo, Puerto Rico, replete with cows, goats, peacocks, and chickens, she always dreamed of international modeling stardom. At 13, the leggy tomboy started competing in — and constantly losing — modeling competitions in her home country.
Moving to New York after graduating magna cum laude from college, she didn't find much success either, until Givenchy's Riccardo Tischi handpicked the model from obscurity to walk in the brand's haute couture show in 2010. "I had been shooting a lot of catalogs up until then. Riccardo bleached my eyebrows and I suddenly became this androgynous, versatile model. It kick-started my career for sure.”
Ever since, she's walked for everyone, appeared in major editorial campaigns for Stella McCartney, Chanel, Fendi, Marc Jacobs, and Balmain, became the face of Estee Lauder, and why yes—backed it up on Beyoncé as a member of the singer's supermodel girl gang in the infamous "Partition" video.
With a stacked résumé that includes be formerly named one of Forbes' "World's Highest Paid Supermodel", Smalls joins legions of multi-hyphenate stars of her era — a label she fully embraces:
"I feel like a good amount of women have used modeling as a platform. People like Gisele and Cindy. And I think that’s really cool, not only for models but for women. It shows you can have a voice and a say. You can have a brand and be your own boss. It's empowering."
“I hate a damsel in distress. I saw the movie Brave and was like, ‘Yep, that’s right!’ …I like an empowered girl who can kick some ass.”
Seems like we can add feminist to that growing CV of hers.
Marjon Carlos is a style and culture writer for Fusion who boasts a strong turtleneck game and opinions on the subjects of fashion, gender, race, pop culture, and men's footwear.