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.”
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 asSunday Times Style Magazine photographed by Cass Bird, and i-D by Mikael Jansson, Matt Jones, and Alasdair McLellan.
Smalls ranked first on models.com
for two consecutive years, and was awarded the title of “Model of the Year” at the ninth annual NYFW Style Awards. As a testament to her star power, Smalls launched a limited-edition cosmetics collection with Estée Lauder, as well as a capsule collection of denim separates with True Religion. 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.”
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.
After a few years of catalog work, Givenchy Artistic Director Riccardo Tisci cast Smalls, exclusively, 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. To date, 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 addition to multiple Givenchy and Calvin Klein Jeans campaigns, Mert & Marcus captured Smalls for seven consecutive Gucci advertisements. Select promotions include Marc Jacobs, Tiffany & Co., Versace, Karl Lagerfeld, Giambattista Valli, Missoni, Hugo Boss, Prabal Gurung, Stella McCartney, David Yurman, Rag & Bone, Lacoste, Gap, Joe Fresh, Target, and H&M.
Off-duty, Smalls is actively involved with Project Sunshine, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing free educational and social programs to children and families living with medical conditions. “I love making people laugh,” said Smalls. “I love seeing a smile.”