ELLE Singapore September 2019: Joan Smalls

There’s a first time for everything… Even for a supermodel at the pinnacle of her prolific career. Fashion’s darling tells ELLE Singapore about self-empowerment, heartbreak and intuition, before the glossy campaigns rolled in.

Dress, $33,610, stockings, $330, pumps, $1,220, and earrings, $940, by SAINT LAURENT BY ANTHONY VACCARELLO.

Joan’s First…

Power Moment

“The first time I stood up for myself was in high school. I was being bullied by someone that was a year younger than me, but had older cousins that would defend her. She would make fun of the way I looked. I wasn’t happy going to school and being around that energy, and I got fed up with it and confronted her. Obviously, this came with a lot of attitude [from me] and after that, it stopped. I think sometimes you just know what to do; your intuition tells you to stand up for yourself and [you] have to listen to your inner voice.

Dress, $7,680, by VERSACE.
Coat, $5,070, and heels, $1,370, by BOTTEGA VENETA.


“My first heartbreak was when my pet Milo died. I was 11 or 12 then, and he never came home and that crushed me. I didn’t go to school for three days because I was crying, hard. I got over the heartbreak by thinking of all the beautiful memories I had of him, and when I painted a portrait of him from a picture I had — that was therapeutic.”

Gown and earrings, prices upon request, by MOSCHINO.

Mantra of the Day

“I pray, say positive affirmations, or set my intent for the day. I’ll lie in bed for five minutes and just welcome the day and before my feet touch the ground, I’ll say thank you. At the back of your head, you want to have a good day, be surrounded by people with good energy, and have a productive day. You want to laugh, you want to love, and you want to appreciate the little things in life. Whenever you have more room in your heart and soul for gratitude and love, you welcome more of it — just make space for it.”

Dress, $6,690, and bodysuit, $1,050, by FENDI.

Photographs: Russell James | Creative Direction: Jack Wang & Jumius Wong | Styling: Jenine Oh | Hair: Hos / The Wall Group | Makeup: Porsche Cooper using Estée Lauder | Manicure: Kayo Higuchi | Model: Joan Smalls / IMG Models | Casting: Steph Celaya | Retouching: Griffin Production | Production: Cinecela | Photo Assistants: Max Bernetz, Adhat Campos and Alex Hopkins | Digital Technician: Tina Zarbalien | Set Coordinator: Roger Dong | Styling Assistant: Alexis Ayala

This article first appeared in ELLE Singapore’s September Issue.