Models.com released their listing of the top 50 models in the world, crowning the Puerto Rican Joan Smalls as #1. Though, as many have argued, she’s not a “household name,” her meteoric rise to the top of the high fashion modeling industry is undebatable.
With her innate elegance and multi-cultural beauty, Joan Smalls has become the defining face of modern luxury. Her unique blend of strength and elegance has captivated everyone from Karl Lagerfeld, Steven Meisel, and Carine Roitfeld. Her flawless bookings raise the bar for models everywhere. Vogue Italia, Vogue Paris, Pop, i-D, V, W, there isn’t a cover she hasn’t conquered, nor a campaign she hasn’t landed. With the coup de grâce of an Estee Lauder contract solidifying her place as the girl of the moment, Joan moved from phenom to full-fledged powerhouse. Few models have seized their moment in such chic style.
Understandably, we are excited about this landmark accomplishment for a woman of color but it’s hard to determine how this ranking will help the enduring problem of diversity in fashion.
Smalls, who is well on her way to supermodel status, can count her listing as an extraordinary achievement that transcends racial barriers…but is another token black model going to bring about lasting change? What about consistently employing a diverse group of models instead of highlighting one among a sea of white faces?
Of the top 10 models listed in Models.com’ ranking, Joan is the only woman of color. The entire list of 50 models includes merely three black faces: Joan Smalls, Jourdan Dunn and Anais Mali.