• Skirt by One Vintage for MATE

    If Joan Smalls wasn’t the world’s official number-one model and one of the most recognizable faces in fashion, she would be Miss Universe. Not Miss Puerto Rico, Miss America, or even Miss World – Smalls would have gone all the way, for she is one super-ambitious supermodel.

    Growing up in Hatillo on the north coast of Puerto Rico, Miss Universe could so easily have been Smalls’ fate. The tiny island has borne more of the title-holders than any other, and holds pageants in a much higher regard than modeling. “So many people said I should consider entering,” Smalls recalls. “I went to my father and he said, ‘If that’s what you want to do, then we’ll support you.’ But, you know, it is super-expensive as you have to pay for the gowns, the costumes, the travel and hotels, and I wasn’t ready for my parents to sacrifice that kind of money for something that has a short life span. I had an epiphany and realized that it wasn’t the right thing.” Instead, aged 19, Smalls traveled to New York, spurred on by cable TV shows

    about Naomi Campbell, and fixated on becoming a model. But not just any model: Smalls wanted to be a household name.

    Five years later, she’s achieved just that. From starting out as a catalog model, she walked exclusively for Givenchy Couture SS10. That break subsequently led to her current incarnation as a top runway model for every luxury fashion house; the SS13 campaign star for Versace, Prabal Gurung and H&M; international magazine cover girl; and the first Latina ambassador of Estée Lauder. It is little wonder, then, that when iconic photographer Mario Testino was asked to choose a model to represent his MATE line on the cover of The Edit: he immediately said, “Joan Smalls”.

    “Apart from her beauty, I love her take on life and her energy,”

    “[Mario Testino] ALWAYS creates such a BEAUTIFUL story that takes you on a RIDE”

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