Hatillo, Puerto Rico native Joan Smalls is a supermodel for a new generation. Since 2011, Smalls has starred as the face of Estée Lauder cosmetics, the first of Latin-African-Caribbean descent in the company’s history. Aerin Lauder, the beauty brand’s venerable Style and Image Director, remarked, “Joan is a modern beauty with elegance, style and confidence.”
According to Smalls, she was never “discovered.” Instead, she actively pursued modeling by entering local competitions in Puerto Rico, and submitting photos to agencies in New York City and Los Angeles. Years later, upon graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, an agent in New York City signed the lithe beauty.
To date, Smalls has appeared on the covers of nearly two-dozen international editions of Vogue (including the 2014 September issue of the American edition) photographed by Mario Testino, Steven Meisel, Peter Lindbergh, Patrick Demarchelier, Craig McDean, Mario Sorrenti, David Sims, Norman Jean Roy, Sebastian Kim, and Terry Richardson.
Additional covers include W, V, GQ, WSJ., Pop, The Last Magazine, o32c, Harper’s Bazaar, and Elle, as well as Sunday Times Style Magazine photographed by Cass Bird, and i-D by Mikael Jansson, Matt Jones, and Alasdair McLellan.
Widely admired for her electric energy on set, Smalls is regarded as one of the best in the business. She has a great ability to take direction, and transitions seamlessly from girl-next-door, to silver screen siren, to extreme androgyny. Karl Lagerfeld has photographed her for several of his Chanel and Fendi advertising campaigns, and Beyoncé invited Smalls to co-star in her ‘Yonce’ music video from her self-titled “visual album”.
After a few years of catalog work, Givenchy Artistic Director, Riccardo Tisci, exclusively cast Smalls for the brand’s Spring 2010 Haute Couture collection. Shortly thereafter, Smalls starred in the brand’s ready-to-wear advertising campaigns and seemingly overnight captivated the entire fashion industry. Smalls, who was diagnosed with scoliosis in her teens, has walked over four hundred runway shows, including Christian Dior Haute Couture, Chanel Haute Couture, Louis Vuitton, Valentino, Versace, Prada, Balenciaga, Tom Ford, Jil Sander, Dries Van Noten, Oscar de la Renta, Isabel Marant, Alexander Wang, and Marc Jacobs, among others. Demonstrating her wide range and versatility, Smalls has walked in the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show for six consecutive years, including its Swim Special filmed in Puerto Rico.
In June of 2017, Smalls announced her forthcoming swimwear and lingerie collection in collaboration with size-inclusive and affordable brand Smart & Sexy. Joan will also make her acting debut in 2018 in the Netflix Original film “Set it Up” where she plays the love interest of the lead character, portrayed by Glen Powell.