• Dress by One Vintage for MATE

    says, she is never Joan Smalls, the model; she will always be Joan Smalls Rodriguez, their little girl.

    That is not to say Smalls doesn’t expose her fun side elsewhere: the runway she has made her own is also her playground. “I like to mess with the other girls,” she reveals. “We stare each other out as we walk past and try to make the other girl smile. I play with Karlie [Kloss], but she has her game face on and never cracks, but on Karmen [Pedaru] and Abbey Lee [Kershaw] it works. The trick is to do it when you’re going back and they are coming towards the camera, so nobody knows it’s me!”

    Cindy Crawford recently revealed in The Edit that she knew how powerful her personal brand was very early in her career – a self-

    “I think of myself as an EMPIRE. I am super- AMBITIOUS, but never show all of my cards”

    realization that this generation of models has taken on. Kloss, Jourdan Dunn and Cara Delevingne are all honing their brands, whether through social media or television presenting. But Smalls isn’t interested in just being a brand. “I think of myself as an empire,” she laughs, although she is deadly serious. “I am super- ambitious, but also believe in superstition, so I never show all my cards. It is about being associated with luxury brands, being in fragrance and cosmetic campaigns, or creating your own line of whatever it may be, so people associate your name with something, rather than what you are just the face of.”

    Behind Smalls’ glorious smile and sparkling eyes, there is a steely core. This woman has her future all mapped out, and it is unlikely anyone will get in her way. So the winner of Miss Universe 2007 – the year Smalls moved to NYC – should think herself lucky. If this model’s life had taken the pageant path, she wouldn’t have stood a chance.


    Digital style director: Tracy Taylor. Art director: Jon Wetherell. Model: Joan Smalls at IMG.Group. Makeup: Ayako. Nails: Honey at Exposure. Fashion assistant: Helen Broadfoot

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